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Erik Petersen Of Mischief Brew Dead At 38

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Erik Petersen, the charismatic and captivating frontman for Philadelphia’s Mischief Brew has died.

He was 38.

Although the cause of death is unknown at this point, on July 12th the Upper Darby Police Department tweeted that Petersen had gone missing and was having “emotional issues.”

Petersen grew up fronting punk bands like local Philly heroes The Orphans and later Kettle Rebellion.

After his bands folded, Petersen started to work as a solo act and dubbed his new anarchistic folk/punk direction Mischief Brew. Fleshing out the sound with a full-fledged band–some of who played trumpets, violins and found percussion instruments–Mischief Brew went on to record three full-length records, including 2015’s This Is Not For Children.  The band brought to mind everyone from Black 47 to Crass.

“I can’t think of a better live act on the planet,” SEM’s Matt Sloan wrote after seeing Mischief Brew a few years ago. “They play with velocity, power and grace and every note comes with equal parts heart and nerve.”

Falling somewhere between Utah Phillips and Joe Strummer, Petersen was a magnetic presence, pounding out his anthems with sincerity and truth.

Mischief Brew had last appeared at the Trocadero with Culture Shock and World/Inferno Friendship Society and were preparing for a July tour of Europe.

Jesse Luscious, the General Manager of Mischief Brew’s label Alternative Tentacles posted the following statement on Facebook about Petersen’s death: “We’re heartbroken about Erik Petersen’s death earlier this week. After knowing him & Denise for years, I was super proud that we added Mischief Brew to our roster 2 years ago (following fellow Philly punx Witch Hunt). My deepest condolences and love and support go out to my fellow Philadelphians and friends elsewhere who are grappling with this truly awful news. I wish I was out there with you to grieve. Let’s celebrate his life and art and dance on the ruins!”

Meanwhile, Editor John Gentile had this to say about Petersen: I thought it would be nice to say a few things about Erik outside of the “news” context because he was an incredibly important figure to me. My very first band interview ever was with Erik at Philadelphia’s LAVA space, an anarchist center, for now-defunct Origivation magazine. Erik was full of warmness and always seemed to shuffle a sort of impish glee with a solemn understanding of the world itself. It was a rare combination that I don’t think I’ve ever seen in anyone else.

I had to the pleasure to interview Erik many times, and each time, found him to be a thoughtful, intelligent, gentle soul who truly lived by the golden rule. People often say “So and so was a great guy.” Well, Erik really WAS a great guy and I don’t know a single person who could say anything bad about him at all. He was intelligent, funny, kind, and generous. A better person you’d have a hard time finding. And his music? I, personally, will always treasure that, because it is, without a doubt, some of the greatest music, regardless of genre, that I have ever heard, ever. Erik, thank you for your friendship, generosity, insight, and creativity.

Erik Petersen, you will never be equaled.