The things they covered

Years from now, when he finally retires from his musical career, Bryen O’Boyle says he’ll write a memoir called ‘I Was in a Teenage Cover Band.’

In his 17 years of singing for the eclectic cover act Mr. Greengenes, O’Boyle says he and his band mates endured all of the ugly, strange and unpredictable aftertastes stitched into being a full-time professional musician.

Take, for example, the obsessive girl who crashed one of Mr. Greengene’s shows at a club in West Chester in the late 1990s and keyed both sides of O’Boyle’s new Ford Explorer after the bouncers kicked her out for underage drinking.

“As I’m singing on stage, the manager came up to me and said I had to make an announcement that the police were outside because somebody’s Ford Explorer just got keyed and they caught the vandal,” says O’Bryen. “I had to leave in the middle of the set for three songs to walk outside and there she was with the police, handcuffed.”

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But O’Bryen says his band has also won plenty of loyal supports, with some fans scheduling their vacations around seeing the band perform, or arranging their weddings to accommodate a Mr. Green Genes performance, even though O’Boyle doesn’t consider his band’s playlist to be wedding party music.

But regardless of where Mr. Greengenes performs, their approach is the same – play a lot of cover songs spanning just about every genre. O’Bryen says he and his band mates chose to play a versatile repertoire of cover songs early in their career, at a time when most cover bands stuck to one style. Audiences at a Mr. Greengenes show will hear covers ranging from U2 to Lady Gaga, acoustic renditions of Britney Spears to Rise Against, O’Bryen says.

“We were one of the first bands to decide ‘let’s just do it all’. For us, our philosophy has never changed,” O’Bryen says. “We kind of put our own spin on some songs, but for something like ‘Bohemian Rhapsody’ by Queen, we’ll do the song as it should be done.”

O’Bryen says demand for Mr. Greengenes has been especially frequent for the past two or three years.

Since 2006, Mr. Greengenes has played the post games for the Philadelphia Phillies for events like the opening day block party and the 2008 World Series championship parade.

And the band has been a live staple at Mad River in Manayunk for three years, performing at the bar’s block parties during the Manayunk bike race and Riverpalooza.

O’Bryen and the rest of Mr. Greengenes will return to Mad River again tonight, Friday, May 13, at 9:30 p.m. to perform in the bar’s lodge area, with drink specials from 8 to 10 p.m.

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