OK folks...here we are in the reviews section....it's currently UP TO DATE!! ALL PHOTOS are either by Don or Wendy - or otherwise noted. Ask before using, please...in other words, dont be a dick.
Chron Gen The Brass Shooting Gallery
June 17 Sunnyvale
On a warm rainy Saturday night we traveled to Sunnyvale, one of the newer venues in Brooklyn, where the occasional punk or hardcore show is held.
Entering the front door, you notice that this is one large space, like a giant warehouse turned rock club, with the stage situated centrally in the back. It still looks clean and new, and doesn’t smell like an admixture of stale beer and urine. The sound is fairly decent, at least from the audience’s perspective, and the liquor is just this side of overpriced. All of which is typical of the new millennia.
The first band, Shooting Gallery, is your typical melodic Cali punk knock off circa mid 90s Lookout/Epitaph/Fat Wreckchord bands – [insert any name here.] Although their songs were tight and there weren’t any noticeable flaws to their performance, they weren’t very exciting. Stage wise they remained pretty stationary, no jumping around or twirling guitars these guys, nor was there any real interaction or connection with the audience. Not saying that they were a bad band musically, it’s just that they were like so many others I have seen before…and in that sense, quite forgettable.
The Brass followed, and if their name wasn’t clue enough, their shaved heads and skinhead attire, let you know you were in for a “happy, happy, oi, oi!” experience. Maybe their hailing from such varied locals as New York, Philadelphia and Phoenix, lent them a bit of a different edge to their sound – less Johnny Cash country western drone and more late 70s Oi. Songs had enough of a versatility to hold your interest – with the newer ones destined to be out on an lp in the near future. The music itself borrowed heavily from the likes of Blitz, the Cockney Rejects and at times even the 4-Skins. They even performed a reasonably decent cover of the Eddie and the Hot Rods tune, “Do Anything You Wanna Do.” Definitely a much better experience than the first band. One note though, their live performance had a lot more energy to it than the cd. Hopefully, this will be rectified in the coming release.
Finally, after 36 years, I was minutes away from seeing Chron Gen aka Chronic Generation. In 1981, a much younger, punk me saw the band open up for the UK Subs, along with Anti Pasti and Charge at the Hammersmith Palais in London. Although I recalled it be amazing show, the details had taken that fuzzy edge that only time can do.
Chron Gen started out in Hertfordshire, an area in England near the border of Wales, on a rainy afternoon in 1977. They went on to release their first ep “Puppets Of War” in 1981 (a copy of which I still own). The line up consisted of former members of The Condemned and Optional Xtras, with Glynn “Baxter” Barber on vocals/guitar, John “JJ” Johnson on drums, Jon Thurlow on rhythm guitar and Pete Dimmock, who had replaced Adam Warwicker after the first demo, on bass.
Highlights of their career included joining the Apocalypse tour of the UK with the Exploited, Discharge and Anti Pasti in 1981 (from which I believe an album was released), as well as a tour of the US with the Anti Nowhere League in 1982 (unfortunately they never made it to NYC). During this period they also released the “Reality” ep, which was followed up by the Chronic Generation lp. Roy Horner moved to replace Pete Dimmock after the release of the Outlaw single. The band broke up in October 1984. In 2011 Pete Dimmmock passed away and the three surviving members reformed to play the Blackpool Rebellion fest in 2013 adding Billy Hunts on rhythm guitar. It is this last line-up that recorded their new album, This Is The Age (see record review section.)
After having listened to the cd one afternoon while driving in our car, I was a bit disappointed, the music was decent enough rock and roll…but it was just that…ROCK AND ROLL!. So, I had mixed feeling about how this show was going to roll…
For starters, the second guitar player was absent for this performance, which I’m sure had some effect on their sound. They opened with some of their old tunes, starting with “Lies’ and jumping directly into “Jet Boy Jet Girl”. There was not much engagement between band and audience, other than announcing song titles, and reiterating that this one or that one was off the new release. Talk about shameless self-promotion. In fact, quite a few of those rock and roll clunkers more than peppered the set. At one point, when fans clambered for hits such as “Chronic Generation”, they were told to either wait or that it wasn’t part of the set this night.
Although it was great hearing some of the old tunes again like “You’ll Never Change Me”, “Subway Sadist’, “1982”, it didn’t have the same feel as it might have if this had been decades earlier and they were young men jumping around and acting like the kids they once were, instead of 50+ men reaching out to an audience who more than likely had either not been born or were wearing pampers at the times these songs were released….in any case as much as I wanted to say I really loved seeing them again, I can’t. Even the encore, which was missing the song most people came to here, was a disappointment. Maybe they should have taken the advice of people like the late Micky Fitz, or SLF or even the Buzzcocks and given the fans what they wanted instead of using the gig as a platform for an album that was as similar to their old style as the Rolling Stones to the Sex Pistols.
It was still raining when we left…
The M en tors
with Bab y Sandwiches, Nihilistics,
Chesty Malone & the Slice em Ups
@ Lucky 13
Another sweltering night in the underbelly of Brooklyn, with the soothing sounds of the leaders of the Four F club leading the march. But, more on that later...having been on Wrong Island most of the day, it was needed to have some help covering the show...so openers Baby Sandwiches and Nihilistics were covered by others. Reports conclude the Sandwiches went over well with Larry up to his usual tricks - and the Nihilistics? With these guys, you get what you pay for...and they played tightly, so you couldnt complain about that! As always, Ron - ever the loquatious succubi, was as cuddly as curdled milk set in gangrene. As the years pass, he tends to grow on you like an unwanted STD - and you always love him for it.
The Chesty Malone crew were up next, and played a good strong set with cuts from the new LP scattered in the set - and leaving the crowd with little room to breathe, with Jackie leading the charge ever so quaintly! David Johansen could look to this young lady for some pointers on the art of acerbic one liners - she definitely one ups him from his Dolls days, I'll tell you that much. In any event, that leads up to the final act of the evening...
Having never seen the Mentors before I wasnt sure what to expect. Ive heard all the various stories of El Duce and beyond, but seeing these average looking older dudes loading their gear onto the stage, I wondered how much bite they possibly could pack. Once the black hoods went on, I swas soon to discover the answer...
Dr Heathen Scum [bass and vocals] and Sickie Wifebeater (guitar) are the last original members, obviously. I cant remember the new guy's name at the moment, but his drumming skills outweighed El Duce by an obvious margin...the music was sardonic, subtle as granite, and came off like the down syndrome heavy metal cousins of the Pork Dukes given a weekend pass from the rubber room. Mr Heathen's delivery is quite different from El's, but it's laconic nature fills the void and gets the message across. To get to the point? It was an ok set, played well, but not exactly something Id go out of my way to repeat...but thats my humble opinion - different strokes and all that. After the "group shot" of the Mentors and the Malones together, I got ready to bid the 13 an adieu, after a last beer. Another gig, another night...
Drunx picnic Memorial Day Weekend @ Bar Matchless (day 2 and 3)
May 27 & May 28th
So here we are on what is known as a holiday weekend, which for most people means barbecues and drinking to the point of heightened stupidity. For some of us? It's a time to go to various gigs…such as this one. Put on by another familiar face back from the realms of obscurity, Mr Ralphy Boy –founder of the Squat or Rot movement, and ringleader of the band Disassociate. 3 days, a bunch of bands AND a picnic. Good, eh? I thought you'd agree…
Missing day 1 due to various circumstances, I found myself in the heart of Hipster International, Brooklyn NY to catch Day 2 of the festivities…so grab a beverage and read along, shall we???
I have to chastise myself for not knowing the time schedule of the bands, thereby missing Radiac, who were the openers. Composed of some of the former members of Dead Serious, I've actually only heard their demo, which puts them in a hardcore punk kinda light. Good tunes that probably will sound even better live – but I'll have to do that next go around!!
Next up we're a band called the FTW, out of Brooklyn NY. Founded by former Turbo AC’s bassist Mike Dolan, this band is more NWOBHM than LES gutterpunk. Along with guitarist The Major Nelson and drummer Jason Miraz, these guys have a more than healthy interest in hitting you with heavy yet tunefully thought out songs – played very loud. Playing a set comprised of material from their recent LP “A Vendetta Kind Of Mood”, the FTW come across like Thin Lizzy amped up on more steroids than a pro athlete can ever hope to put in their system. And that? Is actually a good thing! I tip my hat to them for taking a musical path that these days is a lot less walked than one might be inclined to believe. Overall, it’s a classic sound delivered with sincerity and heartfelt conviction. Hope these guys stick around for awhile….
After some air, I came back to a sonic bludgeoning that called itself Killer Of Sheep. Hailing from PA, these guys didn't stop to let you breathe…several short, sharp and aurally violent beatings with a barbed wire wrapped baseball bat is the only way I can describe the set they played. Sadly, that's all I can say about this band – hope to find out more about these guys, asap!!
As for the final band of the night, Hellbent Hooker….nice name, lovely getups, but….uh, no.
Apparently, the first band of the night was Bastard Clan, where their name is quite fitting. Comprised of members of the Krays, the Truents, Drunken Rampage, the Straphangers, Awkward Thought, etcetra and yawningly so forth (musical incest!!!) they delivered a tight and otherwise melodic set, with Jonny Rossado in the front, just singing. Yes, singing! He was definitely into the frontman mode, and delivered the goods with his patented professionalism. But as a side note, cmon fellas….trying to keep up with the family tree roots you guys lay down is getting a bit daunting…and that's being said with a good natured smirk.
Connecticut’s M13 provided us with their usual blast of uncompromising hardcore thrashing, with the ever manically inclined Sam up in the front, keeping your attention with gestures and acerbic asides and song intros…as a live act, these guys are consistent and never fail to deliver less than 110%. Will we be seeing some new material from these guys? Guess we will have to see – but until then, their live set never fails to satisfy…
As for Mad Diesel? Here's a summary. Black Ski masks. 2 singers – one growls high, one growls bowel shakingly low. Chuggachuggachugga goes the guitar….”YO…YO MOOVEDAFUKKUP!!! I SAID MOOVEDAFUKKUPPP!!!”….high growl. Low growl. More chuggachuggachugga. “YO”…… Ok, I think you get the idea, yes??? In all, it's entertaining for all of 10 minutes. Yes, I said 10 minutes – and I'm being generous.
Darkside took the stage as the last band of the night, and as a three piece. Seems the drummer couldn't make it, leaving Rich to do double duty as drummer AND vocals – which isn't an easy task, but he pulled it off - bad knee and all! Musically, they were as dark and abrasively disturbing as always, which served as a fitting capper to a three day weekend…so thanks to the self proclaimed “grumpy old bastard” himself, Ralphy for giving us a show that was a pleasant surprise to the usual doldrums of late. So all that's left is to say adieu, and…….adieu!!
Kings County Kasket Company @ Lucky 13 4/7/17
Although this particular gig was part of a larger event, I will be honest…although musically open minded, I didn't see myself sporting a Stetson, my best Scully shirt and chugging PBR and well whiskey to endure any sort of Hellbilly Hoedown…so I admittedly timed my arrival before the Kasket Company’s set – only to find the show running behind by one band…
The Serpentones took wayyyyyyyy too long to set up – now technical difficulties are one thing – but when the frontman is behaving like a colossal douche…that puts the game at a full count of 3and2, bottom of the 9th…if ya get the gist. They might've had their musical routine together, but regardless of that, their set dragged. And dragged. And……you get the idea? And for all the shaking and shimmying that 2 dancers provided, not a single spark came off that stage to set the place NOR the audience alight. And when the vocals start to come off like Lou Reed as a hick on cheap angel dust? Bad. Just…..bad.
Moving right along, the stage was eventually taken over by two guys with acoustics, a guy with a conjon for percussion – and a chick packing more balls than a Spalding factory.
If you're already familiar with the whole Chesty Malone experience, then you know that anything involving Ms Blownaparte and Mr Van Hoek is gonna be interesting – and may raise an eyebrow or 2…and with this offshoot project, they added to the growing resume in a good way!
The KCKC played a relatively short set filled with covers, some originals and pulled off the set in a way that was entertaining, made one feel inclusive – and overall?? That you could enjoy yourself and be laid back in a good time kinda way – no pretensions involved! Hopefully, this bunch will make more appearances, because in my opinion? A good time in NYC is hard to come by…so when the KCKC come a-callin’- roll on up, people….
Ache Manipulator Krime Watch
Red Death Breakdown
St. Vitus, Brooklyn 3/18/17
Ache, an up and coming New York hardcore band opened the show, followed by Manipulator and Krime Watch, two newcomers – you should check them out.
Arrived late, missing the earlier bands – St. Vitus was packed all the way from the bar to the back room where the bands play. For those of you who haven’t been to this club, it is primarily known as a mecca for all things metal – but in recent times has broadened their horizons to include hardcore and punk acts. Tonight was a mix of hardcore and hardcore/metal bands.
Red Death, was getting ready to go on as Don moved up front to take pictures and I headed out of the way of the moshers to take notes. DHD, the singer, sporting a cut - off Motorhead t-shirt and a long mane of fluffy hair, bounded about the stage, moving from side to side, and swishing his hair in the manner of long hairs everywhere. In between songs he chatted up the audience. At one point, they dedicated a song to Chuck Berry, who had just passed away, stating, “I don’t know if I believe in heaven, but I like to think of him duck walking his way around up there.”
The vocals were raw and at times were dwarfed by the heavy sound of the music. Songs tended to start out fast and then switch tempo abruptly to a more slower mid temp pace and somewhere in the mix added danceable mosh style breakdowns. The crowd danced and dived during the set, which was a little shorter than expected. In many ways, they reminded me of early Inhuman, sans the Prince Valiant haircut. The band currently has a new EP out.
After setting up and doing a short sound check Breakdown took over the stage. Jeff dwarfed the rest of the band, over a head taller than all present. The last time I saw them was last summer at the Dr. Know benefit in Tompkins Square Park -. And on that day, the temperatures were soaring into the mid 90s with the sun beating down on the stage as they pulled off a killer set. In contrast, this Saturday was still pretty damn cold with mounds of snow from what was probably the last snow storm of the season. But both times, the weather didn’t deter fans from coming out to see this band that has undergone so many changes from its early days in the late 80s. Considering the band only had one practice the day before in Yonkers, the set went off really well, with only a few noticeable glitches, which Jeff was quick to smooth out with his witticisms - although sometimes it seems the jokes went over the heads of many. Setting the tone with the opener “Safe in a Crowd”, kids were going crazy as the band blasted out all the old tunes as well as from the later “Blacklisted” period.
Jeff was his usual tongue in cheek self, cracking jokes between songs, heavy on the sarcasm but in a good natured way – moving from side to side, elbow up, holding the mic in that classic pose that is synonymous with his stage presence.
The gig ended much earlier than expected. Shows at St. Vitus have been known to start late and end even late, but a word of caution it seems that now when the ad says 7:30, you should plan on getting there on time or else missing out on some potentially good music. And, so with the crowd thinning and the band heading downstairs to meet and greet, we braved the icy cold for the fun ride back to Bay Ridge. Until next time…..
The Third Kind Breaking Sounds Thrash Inc. Drunken Rampage
Gold Sounds 3/11/17
(Due to work situation we arrived only in time to catch the last two bands, but were able to review most of the show with the help of John Marzan, who was there for the entire night.)
The Third Kind was the first band to take the stage at Gold Sounds. A newer outfit featuring former members of Rejuvenate, New Faith, The Straphangers, All Out War and Vice Massacre, among others, they delivered a solid set of hardcore punk with a touch of thrash metal and grind, for good measure. With Joe V and Taras on guitar, Rich on vox and Shonnen on drums, the band has the perfect combo of quality music delivered with conviction and energetic stage presence. If you are a fan of any of the aforementioned bands or of quality hardcore punk or thrash then check these guys out. In my opinion they were the best band on the bill. They have a demo you can check out on bandcamp. –JM
Next up were Breaking Sounds, an all girl punk band. Unfortunately, we missed them and John was outside smoking a cigarette with the previous band. Hopefully we can get them next go around. The next band up was Thrash Inc., who were repping the "thrash" part of the gig - surely looked the image of a modern heavy metal band , but yes... they were indeed a Metallica cover band. The lead guitar player did the usual hair flying, bouncing about type of shtick, while John held things down on rhythm guitar, sporting the very beginnings of a Mr. T Mohawk. The set was a bit longish and set a bit too much in the "Ride The Lightning " period, but the crowd seemed to like them, dancing about the room. Metallica fans were happy and as John Kray joked, they were getting the band cheap.."only $8 a ticket, not 400 for the fromt row.”
Drunken Rampage soon followed, another all star composite band, featuring veterans of Coney Island High days with Simon (Distraught) on vocals, John (Krays) on drums and Carlos (the Truents) on guitar, and late comer to that era, Spencer (Suburban Crisis/ Krays) on bass.
Their sound was a mix of chaotic organization – fast thrash in the tradition of Discharge English style punk thrash with a mix of crust, in the vein of Conflict/LES late 90s bands. Simon, in the growing tradition of the ever burgeoning 50s club poked fun at the aging process, at the same time belying it by spending the majority of the set bouncing around in the pit. The band gave the impression of a relaxed stage presence they churned out a string of jokes at each other’s expense, while at the same time playing some damned good music. All too quickly the show was over, leaving the crowd clamoring for more. But not to worry, they promised to continue the show the next day at the same venue for a matinee show. Now that’s dedication.
DISCHARGE / EYEHATEGOD / DISASSOCIATE @ Webster Hall (marlin room) 10/14/16
On a personal note, I havent been inside this building since the 1980's when it was called the RITZ - and even then, that was the room next door - literally! Okay...enough memory lane stuff, time to get to the point.
DISASSOCIATE is a band that hasnt been around in many a long year - but in an age where all thats old is new again - they are a welcome sight. Anyone who remembers this band at their height can tell you the tales of sonic carnage left in their wake - and as usual, they are a tough act to follow. Tonight was no different, and I'm sure many in the room would agree! In short - welcome back to Ralphy Boy and his crew....
EYEHATEGOD have been on this tour without Mike Williams, which in itself can be hard to envision...but with Randy from Lamb Of God filling in, it seems that they are indeed doing a respectable job and deserve the props and respect for that alone . Its an odd sight to see them in an opening slot - but it cant be said that they didnt deliver the goods tonight!! But without Mike, there's a certain dynamic missing that can't possibly be ignored - and hopefully he will return soon...
DISCHARGE...ok, where do I start? I will willingly admit that prior to this gig and hearing the new record - I hadn't listened to this band in eons - and the one time I did listen to them was the original lineup reuniting for an LP - and it just wasn't to my personal liking. Fast forward to tonight, and it seems that they've gotten a double injection of sonic viagra, because the version of the band I seen tonight was a steamrolling machine that was most unmerciful.
Song after song after song, it was like being beaten viciously, without any sentiment whatsoever...old favorites, new songs - didnt matter - the level of energy was thru the aged, dilapitated roof!!
All I will say in conclusion, it's pretty simple :
When Discharge hits your town??? GO.
It's a gig well worth going to, and you WILL NOT BE SORRY!!!
HERE'S SOME SNAPS from the ULTRAVIOLENCE reunion @ A7 a few weeks ago...more to follow!!! All pics Copyright 2016
by WENDY EAGER...you know the drill....
Sleep w/Holy Sons
August 25th, 2014
@ Stage 48
With the demise of bands having the ability to play in the downtown NYC area, it seems the venues have all shifted to the upper West Side of Manhattan - usually cavernous in nature, and attempting to be streamlined yet still somehow awkward. Such is the cases in venues likeTermial 5, and Stage 48...
...which brings us to tonights review.
Stage 48 is a decent sized room, with an adequite sound system designed with LOUD in mind...and believe me, tonight it got more than it bargined for!! So now, on with the show...
Opening honors tonight went to the Holy Sons, who I will honestly say are a band that are talented with decent arrangments on their songs but were ( at least in my humble opinion ) an awkward match for this bill. When they played without vocals was probably the best part of their set - HS possessed a Jam Band quality with a definite heavier edge, but it still didnt ever seem to gell into a "tight but loose" arrangment. The audience were polite and gave response at the required moments but the general vibe seemed to be " yeah, okay....AND??????".
I would definitely give them points for holding ground and making the
best of it...after all? I didnt envy HS for being in the position of
opening for SLEEP - its gotta be a tough job. Personally, a band like
Windhand would've been better suited, but who knows why the chips fall as they do....
And now, the headliners... We all know the stories about fighting with record companies over hour long songs. The myths of prodigous consumption of weed and all that goes with it. How Ozzy himself praised them for uncanily understanding the sound and spirit of the early days of Black Sabbath. And even more daunting, how after 15 years since their last recording can put a single out ( The Clarity ) that sounds like they never stopped playing at all??
All questions and doubts were silenced at 10:20 PM, when 3 men armed with 4 Ampeg SVT amplifiers and 3 and 1/2 Orange guitar stacks took the stage, and proceeded to turn the air in the room to the consistency of wet concrete. And yes, unlike MOST bands - the amplifier heads were ALL ACTIVE, and all 60 speakers were on.
Oh, yes... Tinnitus, here we come!!!!!
A healthy amout of the "Holy Mountain" album was aired, along with the aftermentioned new single... While stage banter was practically non existant, the songs seemed to do the communicating for the band - and by the time they unleashed a rather seething, pounding section of "Dopesmoker" on the assembled throng packing this sold out crowd, the unspoken message was pointedly clear : yes, we are back. Yes, this is what we do and how we do it.
And most importantly - THIS IS WHY WE ARE
AND ALWAYS WILL BE... SLEEP!!
W/HUGE, THE BROUGHT LOW
@ SAINT VITUS 1/17/14
Seems to me these days I find myself here at St Vitus quite a bit - and not just to review bands, either...maybe its the whole black walls, inverted crosses and den of the depraved kinda vibe? Who knows, probably all in my head anyway.......
It’s hard to make a solid judgment about show openers HUGE, due to the fact that we caught only the tail end of their set - but from our “ in house sources” also there at the show, HUGE were said to be "a good, solid outfit with heaps of potential" and outright "fucking amazing"...hmmm...me? I'll simply await the next chance to see ‘ em to have a more solid basis to form an opinion!!!
Now as for the next band up (THE BROUGHT LOW), these guys were quite good actually - a demented proto hybrid of the whole MC5/Grand Funk/Nugent/James Gang school of heavy and melodic riffdom - definitely more "rawk" than "hawdkaw", deeming themselves an unusual choice for this particular gig. But nobody made that much of a fuss or gave the band any aggro, so the set went off without any hitch - definitely something in their collective favor!! Which paves the way for the headliners .....
Underdog has always been touted as one of the bigger of the bands of their time period, assuring high energy performances from the band - and almost always generating total gonzo mayhem on the dancefloor... tonight’s set (dedicated to Carl Mosher from the Icemen, who as most know recently passed away) - was less "high energy" and more evenly paced like a strong steady current that fed off the audience and was delivered back into the crowd, with a few power surge spikes added for good measure. On the whole, Underdog delivered a tight, synchronized set that left little doubt as to the bands staying power on the onstage side of things One oddly amusing moment was toward the end of the show, when before starting Back To Back – Richie makes a quip about how this song was “about the days when Russell used to beat people up” – the look exchanged was worth the 20 dollar admission to the gig. After all… violence? And explosive personalities in NYHC ???? Never happened. Right?
Over all else, it was a great evening filled with a LOT of old faces that haven’t been seen at a show in ages, along with those newbies who never have seen the band before, with only the music and assorted tales to go by... Pretty much you couldn’t ask for more on a night like this - but guys....REALLY now…20 dollars is more than a bit steep!!!!!
The High and Mighty
Niagara’s (formerly A7)
The only other time I had been to the place formerly known as A7, was the night before the A7 reunion/tribute show that we had put together at the old Knitting Factory on Leonard Street in Manhattan in 2008. That night before the Knitting Factory show had been a strange experience – strange in that I was returning to the place where New York hardcore had ostensibly began to hang out with bands and friends I hadn’t seen, in some cases for at least twenty or more years.
December 6, 2008 -- For some that night was a new beginning. It rekindled the careers of some of those bands like Antidote and Urban Waste. Others like Rapid Deployment and Ultraviolence came back with vitality and promise. Unfortunately, For other bands the old problems that had plagued their past resurfaced, and for them their comeback dead ended way too quickly. And for many people, not just in the bands, it was the revival of an era and a renewed interest in 1980s hardcore. For many of the people who attended that show it was a chance to see the bands they had only heard on vinyl, or in some cases only read about in fanzines, because some of those bands who played that night never made it onto vinyl.
December 6th became a legendary night. And without that night, the show that happened on December 20, 2013 at Niagara’s may never have happened.
Segue to the present and finding myself back on the corner of Avenue A and 7th Street staring at the door to a bar that housed the club that was once the heart and soul of the New York hardcore scene. Using the words "weird" or "strange" to describe being at that place in this time are quite simply not strong enough. The feeling defies description, the emotion evoked as I walk down the hallway that leads into the room where on a small stage so many bands got their start. Add to that the realization that there is actually going to be a show in that room with some of the actual bands that played there in the early 80s..and... wow! Now that is something else...
The first thing I notice upon entering into that hallowed space with its oh so controversial plaque is that the stage is in the wrong place. In 1981 it was directly across from the doorway. Today the stage is on the left side of the room, right by the commemorative plaque. My eyes keep straying toward the "ghost stage" that is now just a wall upon which a large framed photo of SSD is hung. It is a photo of SSD as I first saw them on that very same stage in the fall of 1981. It was one of my first bunch of shows at the club, when I was just starting to put Guillotine together. I am not sure if the zine even had a name at that point. I had talked to SSD as they were packing up by their van and asked to do an interview. They weren’t all that responsive, let alone warm and fuzzy. They were part of a bunch of straight edge bands that made their dislike of the New York hardcore scene and the kids quite apparent. It was no secret that many of the straight edgers from places like Boston and DC thought we were all a bunch of reprobates back on the lower east side, and didn’t show too much respect. When bands from those cities came here, bringing their fans with them, fights generally followed.
But that was then.
This is 2013, and 32 years into the present. All of us who remember that era and are sharing the same memories of being a kid on the lower east side are gathered into that one room, probably recalling how different it was then. There were no outdoor cafes. There were no chic boutiques. And there were definitely no hipsters crowding the well lit, police patrolled streets.
Avenue A was not a safe place for those people in 1981. It was dark. It was dirty. And it was dangerous. There were the crazies, the Viet Vets, the junkies and the locals who bore no love for the kids like us who hung out in Tompkins Square Park or A7 on the weekends. The Park Inn was where we hung out before the shows and drank beer, because back then the drinking age was 18. The Rasta doorman was a virtual advertisement for cannabis. There was no open container law. Kids drank in the park. Kids drank on the doorsteps. And they went to the Rat Cage, a record store just below 171A, which was virtually open to hang out it 24/7.
These same people who hung out on those corners and in the clubs are now in Niagara’s, many of them married or with careers, all of us 32 more years older. The thing that binds us is a love of the music and the scene it created and for the few hours that follow we are all reliving that dream that was A7.
Due to personal obligations I miss the opening band, and incidentally the only one who never earned their stripes playing at A7...but then again they most likely weren’t even born.
Fortunately we manage to catch the tail end of Urban Waste. Although I would have liked to see Billy Phillips, Andy Apathy, John Kelly and John Dancy up there...the impossibility of that is quite apparent. But now we have the new Urban Waste, with Non Lee, Jimmy Duke, Josh and of course, John Kelly, and seeing them up there I realize they have come a long way. Johnny has done a bang up job of making a come back with a tight, kick ass band. And if they aren’t the original members, they have added a vitality and youthfulness to this timeless band. Rumor has it that in addition to an upcoming tour, a new recording is in the offing as well. Be forewarned!
At this point, the place which was admittedly the size of a postage stamp even back in the day, is packed all the way out to the door on Avenue A, as Mental Abuse gets ready to play. The last time I recall seeing this band was in the mid 80s. They played one of the Guillotine benefits at CBGB. I had wanted them to play the A7 show at the Knitting Factory, but Dave Jones (original drummer of Mental Abuse) had informed us that Sid Sludge was deceased. Today we can see that the rumor was false, because here he is, straight from Delaware, which has been his residence for some time. At first Sid seems a little overwhelmed, maybe from the adulation of the fans, maybe from just being back in this hallowed space. Either way, he jumps back into the spotlight, belting out the tunes like he had never left. Backed by a new band, Sid is all over the place and the crowd joins in, loving them all over again. Chris, a giant of a man, wields his guitar like a tiny tinker toy in his huge hands. The music is timeless and people are going wild, slamming on the tiny dancefloor, which has also undergone a makeover. Eventually the incessant cries for that anthemic number known as "Sock Woman" are answered and everyone gets even wilder that was thought possible. The band does some new numbers, including one which is a tribute to A7. It seems they are going to be back for awhile.
Then it is time to get ready for the next band, The High and Mighty.
The High and Mighty are fronted by Drew Stone, who many know as the second singer of Antidote. Tonight’s show is the dual release of their original demo on vinyl, as well as the re-issue of the Abused’s seven inch along with other material on a well packaged lp, which is on sale in the club. I understand even that most gracious and friendly individual Raf Astor has shown up at one point......
The room has been peppered all night with rarely seen faces such as Gary from Tse Tse Fly fanzine and Doug Holland, who needs no intro..it is almost like a high school reunion, only without the name tags...although given the years those tags might have been a good thing.
As Drew takes the mic the crowd collapses into itself, squeezing more space out of the room, as if that were scientifically possible. I have no expectations, having seen them only a few times back in the day, but if I had, they would more than have fulfilled them, as they explode all over the narrow tiny stage with incredible energy. Drew is a phenomenal front man who knows how to draw the audience out with his anecdotes, animation and charisma. Some of their tunes, are made familiar by Antidote, others are covers of bands like the Misfits, but with all of them, they make the songs their own.
The crowd at this point is like a living, breathing entity, bashing into everyone, even the surprised few standing on the sidelines who have never been to such a show. Old timers mix with an audience that are hearing this band for the first time, getting a tiny taste of what it was like to be a kid on the hardcore scene in the early 1980s, when violence and danger were more than just lyrics in a song. And when the show is over, everyone walks back outside into a world that is dominated by hipsters and transplants, into a world of neon and cafes. Instead of stark deserted streets at five in the morning, watching the sunrise while riding the 7 train back to Queens, they are getting in their cars and SUVs to drive back to the suburbs or to Staten Island.
But for those brief few hours in the back room of Niagara they were back in the world of A7..and that - in the immortal words of Cyrus... was "a miracle!’
Miscegenator Lords of Death Nuclear Satna Claust
The Casualties Negative Approach
Club Europa December 6th
It was a cold gray rainy Friday night. The kind of night that makes your bones ache and your body tell you to stay at home under the covers, like any number of sensible people would be doing – watching a movie on Netflix, eating popcorn or drinking beer and munching on a slice –but not getting on the subway or in your car to head to Greenpoint, Brooklyn and Club Europa. But then again - being hardcore doesn’t exactly partner with "normal" and "sensible." So here we were, the skies pissing a steel cold rain onto a shared umbrella as we sloshed our way over to the club, only to discover a few forlorn, drenched souls bemoaning the announcement that doors would not be opening until 8:30. This was an hour and a half after the time posted on the website, the tickets and everywhere else the show was mentioned.
As the rain continued to slice through our jackets and scour our faces, we retraced our steps through the ever growing puddles back to the car to strategies our next move. At this point I was a little more than angry. Sure, we had a car and could even run the heat. But what about everyone else who didn’t? What about the kids who took the subway and had nowhere to go for the next hour and a half? It wasn’t like the rain was going to stop anytime in the near future. Evidently the club didn’t care or see it as their problem, and I imagine neither did the promoters based on their response when I handed them my tickets. From what I understand this has become a recurrent theme when it comes to this particular piece of real estate.
At 8:30 we once again pulled out the umbrella and stepped back out into the cold windy night, becoming soaked within seconds and thoroughly miserable by the time we entered the now open doors. More positive news awaited as we gave the promoter our tickets and he informed us that not only was the show starting late, but two more bands, neither of which I had the good fortune to have heard before were added. For some, this might seem like a bonus – five bands for the price of three, and an evening where the fans weren’t shoved out the door at 10:30 to make room for the Polish discorama. But all that was assuming the bands were either hardcore or punk, and in keeping with the style of either of the headliners. On a personal note, Don had to be at work at 4:00 a.m.....this was becoming one giant exploding mess..but what the hell, that’s New York for you, and as one dead rock god once said, "where the only people who rush the stage are guys!"
Reaching the top of the stairs we walked into a room bathed in twilight, because no one had bothered to turn on the lights. On a good night Europa is dimly lit, but this time even the stage was dark, as it remained for all the bands. The show could have been in someone’s basement, which would have been way cooler and a lot cheaper.
It didn’t get much better, if at all, from there. The club was fairly empty, which could partially be explained by the situation already mentioned, or by the fact that Negative Approach would be playing a second show at the Grand Victory following this one. This news came as no surprise to anyone, because it has become a given that every major band that plays a Scenic show does a second one afterward, and generally the price is less and the location easier to get to.
That said, around 9 o’clock, Miscegenator, with Jason (vox) and Rich (guitar), both formerly from Asstroland, stepped onto the dark stage. They have been pushing very hard in the last six months, playing continuosly in the metro area. Their music is a blend of raw thrash and noisecore with screemo vocals. Jason’s stage presence with his flying dreads and aggressive in your face stance is reminiscent of Ralphie Dissasociate but on a less perverse tip – there were no bestiality videos showing as a backdrop during this set. Jason reels about the stage as if having an apoplectic seizure, while Dan (bass) plays like he is sawing his instrument, or at least attempting to row across the stage with it. Either way, they are an entertaining bunch to watch, as their music puts your ears on sensory overload.
Some of the audience began heckling the band, but these seasoned veterans gave back more than they received. At times their antics reminded me of slapstick, blending the music and the humor in a way that brought back memories of the Mob or Ed Gein’s Car. Jason at one point even used the phrase, "Nyah, Nyah Ne Nyah Nyah..." Yes, that’s right folks! This was right after he taunted the audience saying "Victory is something you can’t have." This brazen vein of humor was no more transparent than when he noted, "You can’t be a wasted youth forever, so this one is called wasted middle age..." Talk about "Middle Rage!’ Musically a little closer to the Mob than EGC, they certainly keep you on your toes. Which is more than can be said for the next two bands.
For the next hour or so we were treated to metal to the max, with two thoroughly tedious three piece bands that should have gone home and had the Casualties and NA in their place. Maybe if they had been more stylistically suitable, say..hardcore or punk...I might have enjoyed them...but...first up.. Lords of Death? No surprise there as to what they were about. I suppose I could fill a few paragraphs describing their raw thrash metal sound and transposing the same adjectives to descrive Nuclear Santa Claust, but I won’t. If it had been a balmy night I would have just gone outside and hung out. But instead I was stuck in a dark void of screeching guitars and male testosterone.
It was on the wrong side of eleven when the Casualties came on board, the one and only bright spot of color in this otherwise drab black and white evening.
From the start the band overwhelmed the stage, already crowded with their stacks of amps and wireless instruments.
It was a long time since I had seen them and it was clear they were now a first class world touring act. Not just by the plethora of merchandise they had loading down the tables, but by the stage moves and tight, well orchestrated performance. Jorge, no longer brandishing red liberty spikes, appeared subdued at first as he slipped onto the stage in a nondescript hoodie. Maybe he was trying to avoid the spotlight that was recently focused on him when some girl accused of sexual molestation. The band, of course, did not address the issue - unless you refer to Jorge’s speech preceding "Punk Rock Love."
Although Rick, Megers and Jake were animated, leaping around on the apparently all too small stage, moving as if they were playing to the Garden..and the fans who now filled the room were totally into the band..I couldn’t help but feel something was amiss..Where was the raw, unpolished punk energy of yesterday when the stage diving was non stop at CBGB or the Wetlands..or any number of venues of the mid 90's? I guess like Miscegenator said, "No one stays a wasted youth forever.." Or in this case, even a New York street punk.
Unfortunately, because of the previously mentioned reason and Don now three hours away from having to leave for work we had to head out and missed the band we had come to see. How ironic..the first time I was to see NA it was in Ohio on the Crucial Cruise with Cause For Alarm and Agnostic Front (Guillotine Issue 6, 1983) and that night the cops shut the show down before the got to play. This time it was the club itself who did it....draw your own conclusions.
KILL YOUR IDOLS
@ SANTOS PARTY HOUSE
Sometimes I have to admit how much I hate "reunions"...not so much for the bands involved - but for the audiences, usually filled with the same douchebag scenesters that you wanted to faceplant 10 or 20 years ago - and now they are all older, and spouting that 'huggy/kissy/I loveyouman' vibe that makes you wish that for at least an hour - that homicide was legal. With THAT being said....
Arriving halfway thru the set of the second band, I started feeling the way i did when I had seen Black Flag recently; which is to say that quite simply: SOME BANDS JUST DONT FIT ON CERTAIN BILLS. It's not being " a hater ", it's not like I'm being mean - it's a simple statement of fact. Better yet, picture the Ramones and Burzum on the same bill - get the idea?????
Alright, let’s get down to brass tacks here...after a quick changeover, the stage goes dark, and the baying for KYI starts in earnest...but first we must endure an opening tape that might’ve sounded fab at a Venom gig in the early 80's, but unless you're slitting the throat of the virgin you are defiling on the altar while the church is burning around you at the same time before the first song is played – It’s just kinda... goofy. And no dry ice? Fail, man... Just... Fail.
As for the band themselves ? From the moment they walked out on the stage, there was something different about them than any other time I’ve seen them..it was almost as if they had a point to prove - but from when the first chord went up with the lights, you knew it was gonna be a gig to remember - delivered at a volume your ears would remind you for the next day or so.
On a visual front, this band has gone thru more than a few changes, to say the least. To be fair, we all age and our appearance differs as time goes on...but the only 2 members that looked even remotely like their former selves were Andy and second guitarist Brian ... drummer Raef? He never changes - except for the amount of ink!! Meanwhile, Paul (bass) and Gary (guitar) looked like they belonged in Saint Vitus or Goatwhore - my oh my, how the times have indeed changed!!!
Musically, this is the tightest I do think I’ve ever seen them play - and dare I say it : they were primed, polished and super professional. Not that they were ever sloppy as fuck - but this was a sure sign that the 1990's were indeed long past for sure....in short?? I actually enjoyed them for the first time in a LONG time - along with the rest of the over energized, adoring throng that went absolutely batshit crazy for every single song. I'm sure if you weren’t there, you can troll thru YouTube for videos from the gig- and see just what I'm talking about...and if this is truly the last shows EVER - then what a send off indeed. Salude, guys!!!
And to the ROCKS OFF crew-
Big thanks and even bigger love for another major league hookup...
PORK DUKES / THE CLAP
@HANKS SALOON NOVEMBER 26
It's quite ironic that on this particular day - my birthday - that I would be graced with the Gift of Filth. Not just any filth, mind you...but imported filth!! That's right, folks – the PORK DUKES - the original Lords of Lewd were making a brief journey to our shores to spew their curdled cream (in the form of music, that is!!) on selected audiences. A sonic "money shot" for the masses, if you would. And at an intimate setting like Hank's Saloon during torrential rain is kinda oddly pleasing...but, that's just me. And so, on with the show...
Opening the festivities for this dank evening were a band called the Clap - not the same Clap that were from the Long Island / Ground Zero crew (via the mid 90's) - I believe this bunch were from PA (who also booked this mini tour for the Dukes and themselves). They had a good sound, not too mobile (in Hanks, mobility is at a minimum, though...) - but they did come off well received. To get a full perspective on their sound, imagine the singer from Cock Sparrer fronting DOA, and that's pretty much the whole deal in a nutshell. Oddly refreshing, but it definitely takes a few songs to adjust your ear and personal mindset!!
After a brief break, 3 men got onto the small stage at Hanks, 2 of them being kind of small and gnomish themselves..at a quick once over, they (with the exception of drummer Bonk) might resemble jowly pensioners working part time at the local (sex shop) library - but as we all know, appearances can be truly deceiving...a short soundcheck for "testes" and "scrotum", and then it was a high lesson in Provincial Punk Perversion, as told to you by your great grandparents...only served up with PBR and a broken condom. It works, for the most part!!
Tonight's music was most likely culled from the infamous " All The Filth!!" collection, which spans the not so illustrious career of the Dukes. But on a musical level, these guys are amazingly genius - they should've had huge bank accounts decades ago on the almost immaculately constructed pop songs they seem to have effortlessly created. BUT...due to the highly explicit content of songs like "I Like Your Big Tits, Let's See If It Fits", "Penicillin Princess", "Tight Pussy", "Telephone Masturbator", "Making Bacon", "Throbbing Gristle" and countless others - the Dukes aren't – nor were they ever -exactly ready for prime time radio, nor mass public acceptance from the ever widening White and Uptight world we live in. But for those of you who enjoy your decadence in double scoops, thru a Pythonesque "wink wink nudge nudge say no more" filter - then prepare to be entertained in the highest sense of lowbrow!!
But definitely shower before going home, or the spouse will know you've been having fun in SOME sort of illicit way....
Corrupted Youth Wasted Youth Circle One
Narcoleptic Youth Naked Aggression DI
Los Globos dance club, Los Angeles 10/18/13
(PHOTOS UP SHORTLY...)
I had seen a flyer for this show before we left for LA when I was surfing the net for punk or hardcore gigs that were happening in mid to late October. This was the
first time we were actually catching a show in California, and this one seemed more than promising, especially with Fang listed on the bill. They were one of those bands who even after so many
years of reviewing and going to shows I had yet to see. And, with the rest of the line up I was really anticipating going. I also fully expected the show to be packed, if not sold out,
but that wasn’t nearly the case. It was crowded, but not like some of those New York shows where you can’t move a centimeter and the walls are dripping sweat from too many packed bodies. This
show was crowded at times, but not uncomfortably.
Los Globos is located on Sunset Boulevard in the Silver Lake district of Los Angeles, set amongst a strip of small convenience stores, There was a brisk business going on in the parking lot across the street with people extorting drivers to pay for spaces that were normally fee free. Guess NYC doesn’t have a monopoly after all on that con game. The club in and of itself is rather a strange venue. Normally a Latin dance club, one side of the building hosted the punk gig while the other sported DJ fronted dance music, with only a door separating the two spaces. Every time said door swung open the room was bathed in heavy bass dance music and the floor shook continually. In fact, if you strayed close to the merch tables, you got a medley of where both worlds collided.
The promoter, an early twentyish self important toad greeted us at the door, overzealously inquiring as to why we had professional camera equipment and if we were some glossy rock magazine. Sorry to disappoint, bro! His dickishness extended to the creep collecting the cash who wielded his power like his cock was too big to hold in his pants. He was very big on holding court and picking and choosing who could leave and re-enter at his whim. Needless to say, there was no love lost in this punkdom.
The first band on stage was Corrupted Youth, a very mid 90s style punk band in the tradition of Violent Society, the Casualties, et al. They were fast and energetic, and had a definite circle pit going on with punks and skins, if not united, at least not bashing each other, as happened later in the night. The singer, Nacho, was sweating profusely as he stalked the stage, cupping the mic in his hands as he coaxed the audience to become more involved with the music. The songs had enough versatility to keep them interesting and the band seemed to be enjoying themselves, having a definite connection between them and the crowd. Their set reminded me of the shows I missed and loved at Coney Island High when a lot of those previously mentioned bans were first starting out, getting their feet wet. I enjoyed Corrupted Youth..it was a refreshing change from what calls itself punk, or even hardcore for that matter, these days back in NYC.
Wasted Ones, who turned out to be none other than LA’s Wasted Youth, fronted by a young singer. The line up featured the original bassist and drummer, neither who were with them when they played CBGBs back in the mid 80s. That show, which was a Sunday matinee, occurred right after their second and not their best album, Young and Bored, was released. I recognized them before they even played a note mostly because of their guitar player, who looked exactly like he did back then. Talk about Dorian Gray! Well, I have to say I was completely floored by this revelation. I loved their first lp, Reagan’s In. It took me years to recover a copy, after my original was stolen by a former junkie friend.
When the band launched into “Fuck Authority”, I was in hardcore heaven. The singer, who titled himself “the Mexican”, yelled into the crowd, taunting them...”I don’t want to see a single stable person. I don’t want to see any posers..!!” I felt like I was back at that gig of over 20 years ago, with this screaming, dancing mass of kids. It was amazing...it was great... so many of the classic old tunes I had grown up with played again, only this time in front of a fresh new audience of kids.
Wasted Youth was not officially back as a band, as their drummer told me by the bar, during Circle One’s set. It seems he lives in Europe and when he comes back to the States to visit he likes to get back with his old bandmates and lay. He said that by the time they recorded that second lp, he and the original bassist had left the band due to differences in musical direction. But at least for that thirty or so minute interlude we had Wasted Youth back and that was more than worth the price at the door, even with the not so dynamic duo of dickheads and the overwhelming bass beat pounding from the dance club on the other side of the wall.
Circle One followed, and in true band tradition, fights broke out intermittently during their set, at one point clearing a pathway straight out the door. Their singer has a very distinctive style, at times warbling like Jello Biafra, and others spouting lengthy strings of vocabulary in the manner of Greg Graffin. Either way, it meshes well with the fast paced hardcore with its excellent slow mosh style breakdowns. Did I mention that the guitar player is also from Wasted Youth?
The crowd was really ripping it up during the set, at which point the dancing was the most intense and frenetic. The singer took the time midway into the set to strip to his white wife beater t-shirt, his arms sleeved in tats. He was sporting black gloves in the manner of Blag Jesus, which is scary enough, as they launched into, “Let’s get rid of society!” There was a lot of fast energy but after awhile the set seemed to drag a bit longer than it should have and at one point I was praying for it to end os we could get to Fang and DI. Incidentally, no one mentioned what happened to Fang, who neither showed up nor played. Of course, the sheisty little promoter was busy flitting around the place like a firefly ignoring everyone.
Narcoleptic Youth followed quickly on the heels of Circle One, even after the room clearing, table knocking over finale. Their singer had big black Xs where his eyes should be and blackened charred lips that shouted, “Why don’t you kill me?”, as they launched into a brutal, high energy set of thrashy raw music and searing barked vocals. I particularly enjoyed their singer’s comical, sarcastic persona, which acted as a nice counterpoint to the hard hitting music, which made my feet itch to get out into the pit and mosh.
The band announced an upcoming record as they launched into “The CIA killed Dick Clark.” They had this early 80s west coast feel to their music, an admixture of early DI circa “Richard Hung Himself” era and Bad Religion’s “How Can Hell Be Any Worse.” Definitely a band to watch out for, and one of the highlights of the night.
It would have been a perfect evening if the show had segued into back to back Fang and DI..but instead we were subjected to that most boring of boring bands – Naked Aggression. Now, virtually everyone who knows me can tell you how much I detest shrill female singers. And, no matter how good the band’s music may or may not be, those vox can totally destroy it... With Naked Aggression those vocals grated like nails on a chalkboard, damaging the Crass/Conflict style of music. Not that I was ever a crusty fan either, but that short, dumpy middle aged Orphan Annie clone that would have appeared more at ease teaching grammar school, did nothing to enhance the music and only got under my skin. And as if that wasn’t enough, it just dragged on and on in tortuous succession, so that by the time the set ended I was literally and figuratively ready to hurl. Only wished I had aimed at the stage...
By that point I was feeling a bit woozy from the cheap Hawaiian barbecue I ate earlier, but figured I could hold it together for DI. Unfortunately for me, they took a lot of time setting up. Casey Royer, ever the frontman, entertained the audience with verbal quips during the interlude. Once they started playing, however, the set was marred by technical difficulties as the sound kept cutting out. The band still managed to charge through with a string of dynamic tunes including faves like “Hang 10 in East Berlin.” Somewhere mid way the bad barbecue kicked in and I had to head to the bathroom...or maybe it was just too much Naked Aggression in my system! Either way I didn’t get to hear “Richard Hung Himself,” if they even indeed did get to it.
Despite the grand puking finale, it was a really good show and a great intro to LA punk life...
Judge, Murphy's Law, Manipulate
at Saint Vitus, 10/11/2013
(( Secial Guest Review Submitted by Mr Tommi F...))
It was quite apparent from the get-go that this Friday night in Greenpoint, BK wouldn't be quite the average gathering. After having witnessed the two nearly religiously received comeback shows at Webster Hall this year where people damn near lost their minds with an uncontrolled surge of nostalgia, it was clear that seeing the same happen in a place at most a fifth of the size of Webster Hall, could result in a complete implosion of the structures of reality. Or slightly more realistically, a monumentally rowdy night of appreciation for vintage hardcore.
As was to be expected, the average age of the patrons at Saint Vitus that night was yet further proof that neither hardcore nor punk is no longer music for youthful rebellion as much as it is pure nostalgia for people in their mid 30s and up. A point further accentuated by the last minute addition of special guests, Murphy's Law.
The night was kicked off by MANIPULATE, a relatively new addition to the scene in New York featuring members who've been around the block plenty of times in other bands. But they are mostly irrelevant as based on their performance at Saint Vitus, the band stands just fine on its own assets as their take on the dark and metallic classic NY crossover provided an excellent kickoff to the night.
Naturally having just recorded just one demo so far, Manipulate's repertoire is still a little thin, but that'll surely be remedied by time. Extra credit for keeping the set suitably short thus making the most out of a grim early evening opener slot, leaving everyone wanting more, even while being eager for the main act to start.
I have to admit, I was very sceptical when I heard the surprise guest was going to be MURPHY'S LAW sandwiched between two relatively humor-free metallic hardcore acts. It took me at most 15 seconds from their first notes to do a complete 180 on the subject.
First of all, I finally understood why Jimmy G. drags such a huge band along to play his rather simple punk, hardcore and ska ditties. In a place as small as Saint Vitus, the sheer chaos of having that many people on stage playing instruments like an electric banjo (which I swear I've never heard at a Murphy's Law show outside the pre-show line check) and saxophone just creates the perfect storm at the eye of which Jimmy - the born entertainer that he is - is free to cause a ruckus by his mere presence.
In addition to Murphy's Law at this point having a great selection of catchy and anthemic tracks to play, the backdrop of them opening up for Judge gave Jimmy plenty of fodder for very entertaining in-between songs banter and even some surprisingly sincere trips down memory lane. The way he effortlessly went back and forth between his signature snotty stabs in every direction and actual heartfelt emotion was truly inspiring.
The most notable part of the set was its climax where Jimmy was joined by Gorilla Biscuits vocalist and straight edge icon Anthony "Civ" Civarelli to do a deliciously oxymoronic medley of Murphy's Law's Beer and Minor Threat's Straight Edge.
Even with superb efforts from the two first bands, it was hardly unclear who the headliner was that night. From the opening drum beat of The Storm the mood in the room was altered from a regular hardcore show to a gathering of priviliged individuals who were about to collectively receive an unforgettable experience from JUDGE.
While a lot could be criticized about the somewhat shaky actual musical performance of the band, they more than make up for all the shortcomings of not having played the songs all that much in the past two decades with having a body of work that is nothing short of legendary. Let's face it, for most people in the room just having this group on stage lip-syncing to their classic recordings would've been enough to go absolutely mental so it's easy to overlook a slight lack of tightness in the musicianship.
As so often in hardcore, a huge part of the show is the energy that the audience throws back to the performers and as it was in the Webster Hall shows earlier this year, there was definitely no shortage thereof. From the first measure to the last echoing feedback, the entire playing room of Saint Vitus was a hurricane of sweat, flailing limbs, pointing fingers and bodies getting thrown around.
After Judge aptly closed their thundering set with New York Crew (joined by Civ and Richie Birkenhead of Underdog) and the house lights were brought up, it was like a spell had been broken as people slowly sauntered back to the bar and out on to the street nursing the warm and fuzzy feeling of having witnessed a truly legendary band in a venue that truly allows you to embrace the unique nature of the event.
A memorable night of New York Hardcore, indeed
MISSING FOUNDATION, ICONICIDE, BLACKOUT SHOPPERS, SNAPRING
@ HELLHOLE (The PYRAMID)
a)the founding member and frontman for Iconicide,
b) the founder and booker for Hellhole N.Y.C., and
c) not at all a disinterested party in any of this.
This show, which marked the first Manhattan appearance of the newest lineup of Missing Foundation, was scheduled to coincide with closing night for Alles Muss Raus (Everything Must Go), a solo art show by Peter Missing, which opened on August 4, closing day of the 3 part Tompkins Square Park Riot 25th Anniversary. The art show, which I breezed through briefly, was held at Art On A, a storefront gallery run by Wendigo Productions.
Here we find a certain interplay,even co dependence, between deliberateness and expectations. Peter Missing has been in Berlin more often than not for the past 20 years, and so there are a whole generation of consumers, as our “scene demographic” would paint them, whose sole source of anecdotes about these sort of self proclaimed Cultural Terrorists would, by necessity, come from the “weird old people” they’d rather pave over in a heartbeat. In the absence of those anecdotes, any history would be schizoid and fractal.
In their heyday Missing Foundation were a band whose moxy kept apace with their mystique. As with GG Allin, viewers, listeners and audience members got the distinct feeling that they believed what they were dishing out. It’s also the primary appeal of suchbands as Skrewdriver, or Crass. This was no Lee Press-On Bullshit.
Fast forward 20 years, and the city scape has changed, and people have, to some degree, forgotten. Enough so that, at the opening night of Alles Muss Raus, security was posted in the small gallery space to make sure a riot didn’t break out. Laughable, you say? Perhaps it is. It brings to mind a conversation I had with Eric Blitz, previously and currently the drummer for False Prophets, Seth Tobocman, and Artless.We laughed that, the way things used to be, old farts were into the weak shit, and all the new kids were rocking to the heavy stuff. Nowadays a goodly proportion of what gets spat out is weak, and us old farts are still into the heavy shit.
Hellhole N.Y.C. is a Thursday night venue that started its run downstairs at the Pyramid on June 6, 2013.Since then it has changed to biweekly, and stylistically, an attempt has beenmade to mix things up a bit, from “power violence” to yoga and hiphop, with bands ranging from Social Decay to Squirrels From Hell. There are no door polls, payout is by actual attendance, and two direct PA inputs and an almost complete drum set make it virtually “Plug and Play”. Interested in playing or attending? Check out http://www.facebook.com/HellholeNYC. Okay, end of commercial.
First band up were Snapring, a solid metal band from Long Island. Thankfully they were not of the burgeoning breed of Hipster Metal, and brought a nice set of hooks to the table. Even their closing number, “Cheese and Triscuits” (uh huh) moved at a groovy clip, and gave their singer a chance to show his skills on guitar. This was their first time playing in the city, and I’d be glad to ask them back. Only downer is they must be used to Long Island shows, because they finished their set, packed their shit up, and were gone with the wind, so they never saw how the show developed. This being a Friday night show, you’d think they could have hung out a bit.
Blackout Shoppers remind me of Rush Hour (no, not the movie). Picture running to the station every morning,cramming yourself into the same sweaty subway car with countless meatsacks younever actually connect with, or even look at, and know that, half an hour downthe line, there’s going to be a lot of crap you’re gonna have to deal with.
There’s that sort of feeling about a Blackout Shoppers set. Musically it’s picture perfect, stop-on-a-dime. You can look across the subway car and nod, grinning, to one of your friends or co workers. You may even have a good book, or an iPhone detainment system complete with the latest edition of Angry Birds. Maybe you even like your job, or the gallows humor you share with a few choice co workers. But essentially you’re trapped. Having gone to numerous Blackout Shoppers shows, been there for the singalongs, and even booked them once or twice, I’ve seen them get tighter, and more streamlined. Where there used to be that kid standing up at the drums almost comically midsong with that mask/hat pulled over his face, later replaced for a bit by Jim Haas, they now have Blackout Beast, who is completely laid back away from the throne, bit when he grabs a pair of sticks, look out.
Blackout Shoppers aforementioned tightening up is admittedly a double edged sword. Tight and sleek has its merits, but I found myself sometimes 30 seconds or so into a song before I realized what exactly I was listening to. Hearing their sound for the first time, it felt like I absorbed them at a cellular level, and seeing the band play for the first time in months coaxed those cellular memories out, but by the time they had fully reached the surface, it was on to the next song, and so I missed my chance to shout, “It’s nothing new! What I do to you!” when “Passout” came along. If you can, track down Blackout Shoppers’ CD by the same name. You’ll get a better idea of where the band came from, and what brought them to this point. The most lasting impression overall was, and continues to be, one of momentum, and on that merit, they fit the atmosphere of this event nicely.
This December 10, Iconicide will celebrate our 25th Anniversary, and it has been 25 years of a band in aconstant state of flux. Our guitarist for most of 2013 has been Aerik Von,whose current band, Lucifer Jones, just played their first show in support of the 30th Anniversary of Antiseen at Club Europa. In the absence of drummer Maj da Beast, who is currently recovering from colon cancer surgery, we brought in Blackout Beast, who’d approached us a year ago about filling in whenever we needed him.
Blackout Beast had only one rehearsal in preparation for this show, and there were a couple songs in our set that night we never got around to rehearsing. And, frankly, I’m not the best person to ask about our performances. I bang my head against the floor. I spit over the audience’s heads. I play the bass with my forehead. I encourage the audience to kill themselves. Or at least hipsters. At the end of a typical set, if I’ve done it right, I’m not able to string two coherent thoughts together. And I guess that’s part of the appeal, because I looked over at Aerik when we finished, he was wandering around, dazed, muttering, “Everyone… LOVED us!” That at least goes for Pee Wee from ICU, who stepped over from Badburger to catch our set, and commented, with a huge smile, that it was scary how horrible we were. Thanks, Pee Wee!
What more can be said about Missing Foundation that has not been said hundreds of times before? What can indeed be said is that if you strip away the oil drum fires, the
wantonly thrown hunks of metal, and the demolished venue here and there, you have before you a fine, upstanding group of musicians. Of course I was not expecting the barn burners of yore, nor was I
expecting a replay of that time in the annex at
Limelight where Pete Missing relented and played to taped effects over a paper scrap fire in a tin take out tray.
In its current incarnation, Missing Foundation boasts four drummers, bass and guitar, all of whom play to the hilt. Standing by the sound board for most of their set, I could not actually see the band, but what I heard and felt was probably what it would feel like to take the pulse of Godzilla, something alien and primal, but all too familiar. Missing Foundation played for half an hour, but it could have been twice that and no one would have budged. It was timeless. For now, we were at that bonfire, trapped on that train, over those falls in a barrel, but we knew the faces and names of everyone crammed in there with us. Yes, collapse was inevitable. Yes, it was all downhill from here. But at least, for a while, we could enjoy the ride.
Last Call Brawl Downtown Brown Angry Samoans
Bowery Electric September 15
As I mentioned earlier in my intro, September had its highs and lows – and if DOA was one of peaks of that high, then this show was its low with the surprising exception of Downtown Brown from Detroit.
This show followed directly on the heels of DOA at Europa, ending the long weekend of old hardcore punk bands in what I originally thought was going to be an upbeat note, especially as I was a big fan of the Samoans. Incidentally, like with DOA, I had seen them at Gildersleeves for the first time in the spring of 1983, also on a Sunday, Easter Sunday to be exact. We were all pretty young at the time and a few of my friends’ parents wouldn’t let them see the show, a fact that I gleefully rubbed into them for weeks afterward as I extolled the praises of HM Mike and company. This time I was seeing them at the Bowery Electric, a few doors down from the long defunct Gildersleeves.
This was my second show at the Bowery Electric, the first being Drew’s birthday bash (see review section.) The place seems to grow on you, retaining more of an old hc punk atmosphere to it, probably enhanced by the framed flyers and Jesse’s connection to it. Nonetheless, walking down that dark wooden staircase takes you back to the intimacy of small clubs with stages that don’t divide band from audience. Shows where there isn’t a wall of testosterone driven bouncers glaring menacingly at the audience as the stage lights gleam off their shiny shaved skulls.
The place is small, A7 small, and there isn’t a far cry between stage, dance floor and staircase. We got there a little later than planned, but that turned out to be okay, because the show started even later. Maybe they were waiting for it to fill up, but like with DOA, that didn’t happen until close to when the Samoan’s went on.
I hadn’t seen Last Call Brawl since the early 2000s when CB was still open and I was putting on Sunday matinee shows. It appeared that only Chris (vocals) and Mike (Drums) were original members. They started the set off with Josh (former guitarist from Pledge of Resistance), recounting a story of how he met the band when their respective groups were playing a show, I think in Philly, and Chris got trashed, living up to the band’s moniker.
Their music is straight up rock with elements of punk and oi. Chris moved between the stage and dance floor, encouraging people to dance, which didn’t happen. Things didn’t move in that direction until later. The second half of the set was more dynamic musically with a few engaging Oi style tunes such as Beer and Violence.
The big surprise of the night was Downtown Brown, a three piece from Detroit, who, when they first got on the stage with their long hair, attire and number of effects pedals I full expected to be another boring heavy metal band and one I would hate. Boy, could I have been more wrong. Picture the Mothers Of Invention meets Six and Violence thrown in and you get a tiny taste of what this band was like.
The guitarist/frontman comes across as some kind of psychotic samurai with his bizarre facial expressions and mannerisms - as if Mark Farner were being possessed by Ted Nugent. Their songs have the wacked out, tongue in cheek insane humor of the bands previously mentioned, with intros like "this is about white girls who go to tanning salons called Orange Bitch." The music is off kilter with unusual time signature changes that keep you on your toes. And while the sing gyrates and contorts, the drummer beats th crap out of his kit while his long dreads fly around his face like Medusa’s snakes.
Their witticisms and incredible talent make Downtown Brown stand out, particularly in a drab lackluster show like this one. The set was a powerhouse of humor and music with such highlights as the singer started a number with "This song is about being gay, and the year is 1995 and Bill Clinton is in office so it’s okay to be gay." One guy in the audience got so excited, he started dancing around while proceeding to take off his clothes until he crashed into the drum kit. The band didn’t miss a beat, even as pieces of the drums were falling. The singer responded with "You fucked up a perfectly good drum solo."
People were really getting into the unique experience of seeing Downtown Brown as they had the audience chanting "S’mores! S’mores! S’mores!"
There wasn’t really a moment when they weren’t unique, exciting and held your interest. But don’t just take my word for it, go and see them the next time they come around. They are an experience you have to see first hand. I guarantee music an life as you know it will never be perceived the same.
And now for the big disappointment of the evening, and the reason the place had become packed like the subway cars in Japan during rush hour, complete with sweat peeling like paper off the walls.
The Angry Samoans got up to play with only Mike Saunders as an original member. Now I know what you might be saying, a lot of old bands only have one original member, DOA, case in point. Some can pull this off with style and talent, some fall flat like a cake that doesn’t rise in the oven. The Samoans were that cake.
The set opened with Mike giving away a 2XXL"Fuck Lebron" t-shirt to anyone in the audience who could fit into it. And that was about as exciting as it got.
The set was a string of hits starting with Right Side OF My Mind, Give Me Soper, Gas Chamber...you get the drift...but the energy was missing. Even with the Asian guitarist playing his heart out, there was something not quite right and not just that Mike seemed bored, as if waiting for his big payout at the end of the night or maybe a text message on his cell or maybe just to go home and go to bed. In fact, half the time he didn’t even sing, giving that job over to the drummer while he crouched on the floor looking ready for naptime. The only time Mike showed energy was when he switched places with the drummer and took up the sticks for a song or three.
The audience, or at least the majority, seemed to be dancing up a storm, but then maybe they hadn’t seen them in their sarcastic angst driven heyday. I could list the catalogue of songs they played and recite the words to you from years of singing along to my records or talk about how old Mike looked and was he ill? Or even that the rest of the band, particularly the guitar player tried valiantly to breathe like into this tired old horse, but the fact was, I was bored and was thinking if Don wasn't taking pictures across a sea of dancing marionettes we could go to the car and head down to Coney Island, where hopefully we could catch one of the last bastions of the 90s NY punk scene, the Casualties, who still had what it takes. Or as was once said in an old ish, go where "the real punks were." Right, Toby?
Cerebral Balzy TSOL Flag
And finally, the long awaited Flag. I had bought tickets for this show after having seen Black Fag at the Warsaw last June and hearing from Pat Society how much better they were. Well, I can now say he wasn’t wrong. Whereas I had to struggle to suspend by inner cynicism to review the BF shows, I had no such problems after seeing Flag, a band I am sad to report, with their sheer energy and musicianship, particularly with the excellent drumming of Bill Stevenson, blow BF out of the proverbial water.
Irving Plaza, so unlike he other clubs I now frequent, is one of those places that makes you feel like you are visiting an inmate at Rikers rather than attending a concert. I am just waiting for the day a prison matron ask to strip search me. Bad enough that the prices are ridiculous thanks to corporate promoters like Live Nation/Clear Channel that took the underground music out of the hands of the musicians.
The place was insanely packed when we arrived. Didn’t see Cerebral Balzy, but having seen them in the past I didn’t consider it much of a loss. Hometown my ass.
TSOL, on the other hand were on stage when we got there. This is another band I could have missed. I recall back in he early days of Guillotine reviewing their show at Gildersleeves. Can anyone sense a pattern here besides me? I hadn’t particularly liked them. In fact, my closing lines of that review were, "as for me, I’d rather see an oom-pa-pa band." Although I have never seen or heard said type of band, I am sure at their worst they would be equally annoying.
I was standing in the balcony where the most prominent instrument was the bass and the vocals thankfully were a little dim. Jack kept making jokes I couldn’t quite hear. No loss I’m sure given the ones about his mother and shoving something up Dick Cheney’s ass. The stage was very dark, backlit in blue lights. Jack was nattily dressed in a dark suit as he catwalked back and forth on the stage looking more like a televangelist than a punk singer. Some of the songs were downright so slow they could have sent me to sleep. And, oh my God, dare I say it..there was a drum solo going on! Where were the lighters? I felt gypped!
The keyboard player looked like a caricature of Anton LeVey dressed in a Satan suit with his devil lock and pointed goatee. Did I mention how outside of the Doors and the Stranglers, how much I detest keyboards, especially when it comes to punk?
Jack’s vocals were like a cheese grater to my ears under above the cacophony of god awful music. He made some little, and I do mean little ,joke about the drum solo and how no one had probably heard one since the 70s. Oh, goodie, thanks for sharing. Now my life is complete!
The Liberace of punk babbled on about a happy feeling and who knows what else as he began to hop around like a happy bobble head and I prayed someone would do something exciting like taser him. Songs were too long, too tedious and I was happy for it to end..maybe that was what he meant by a happy feeling. For me it was deja vu all over again, when he referred to their show 30 years ago at Danceteria, which he couldn’t even get the venue right....because it was Gildersleeves where I had suffered the fate of seeing this howdy doody travesty of a band....maybe the oom-pa-pa isn’t so bad after all.
Finally, after a long boring wait surrounded by hipsters, scenesters and general sycophants, Keith Morris, his balding scalp criss-crossed with graying dread locks, took the mic and said, "This is a bit of a disclaimer. We are not Black Flag, we are Flag." And with that they launched into "It’s not my imagination. I got a gun at my back!!"
With a line up of Keith Morris (the first known singer of Black Flag), Dez Cadina, Chuck Duckowski and Bill Stephenson, along with a guitar player that could have musically been a clone of Greg Ginn, how could you go wrong?
Chuck looked like an ancient farmer as he hopped around the stage, clearly enjoying being back in the spotlight. At one time he got so carried away he nearly fell on his ass, as he and Dez exchanged amused glances.
By the second song I was hooked, blown away by the very best of BF hits, interspersed with two Circle Jerks’ numbers, "I Don’t Care" and "Wasted," both originally BF songs that Keith took with him and a bone of contention between him and Greg thereafter.
There was just so much energy, it was palpable: Keith with his dreads, almost as long as he is tall, was a maniacal force to be reckoned with; Chuck, a bobble headed body on bass and Dez an intensely insane giant looming down at the audience. Their music dwarfed Irving Plaza as the crowd went wild in a way I haven’t seen since the days of Minor Threat and SS Decontrol.
Highlights for me were...well..everything really...from "No Values", the name we assumed for a band we did with Sid X back in the mid 90s to "White Minority", which incidentally Black Flag didn’t perform in June and for which I was greatly disappointed. Keith preluded "White Minority" with an anti KKK, white supremacist speech and ended with a rant on holidays, before smashing us over the head with that awesome anthemic tune. After "Jealous Again," Keith left he stage and the vox were taken over by hulking long haired Dez, his voice rawer and harder, a great contrast to Keith’s. Dez was maniacal and crazy as he took us through songs we had been waiting decades to hear. The show ended, of course with "Louie, Louie" in true BF tradition.
I could go on and on about how great the were and definitely worth the price, the wait and Irving Plaza’s security goons, but I think you already know that. And if you were unfortunate enough to miss them, I suggest you get to your nearest church, synagogue or pagan altar and pray to whatever deity there is that Greg and company’s lawsuit doesn’t spell the end of this traveling band of miscreants that call themselves Flag.
Stale Phish, Agitator, DOA
Club Europa September 14th
The show started late, with one of the four bands dropping out, presumably at the last minute, and was frighteningly empty when we arrived, so much so that I could count the numbers on both hands. It slowly trickled in to about thirty by the time out-of -towners, Stale Phish, billed as a skate band from Detroit, walked onto the stage.
The singer had a chubby face and wore oversized sunglasses as he announced, "We live by the board and we die by the board." I felt a bit of nostalgia creeping up, thinking back to NYC mid 80s when the Faction and JFA drove into town. In fact, that statement and those bands precluded a lot of their sound, catchy fast hardcore skate punk with raw, scratchy vocals. At times the music was very period influenced, at others there were elements of Blitz and Minor Threat (especially with the last number.) Although the music was decent, it didn’t really grab hold of me, possibly because unlike most skate bands I have seen, they didn’t move much around the stage nor engage in banter with the audience. A better connection between the singer and audience would definitely have helped. However, in all fairness there wasn’t much of an audience to work with and maybe in a different setting they might have been more engaged. If listening to their cd is any indication, I would guess so. It is a good listen. Check the record review section for more detail.
Agitator, who I have heard so much about but always seem to keeping missing, were up next. Fronted by their fierce singer, who reminds me vocally of a cross between Emily of the Straphangers and the vocalist from Proof of Purchase, only more intensely aggressive. The bands is balls (or in this case ovaries) in your face, fast thrashy hardcore. The singer has a way of pushing the audience to the limit, with her no holds barred attitude. This is backed by the powerful bass and guitar. Unfortunately, the same can’t be said for the other half of the rhythm section, which was kind of on the weak side. A more aggressive hard hitting drummer would have really balanced out this band’s style, otherwise a decent enough set.
By the time DOA went on stage the place had filled up. I had talked to Joey earlier, planning on conducting an interview. This would have been the first time I would have actually interviewed the band in a club setting. Previously the places were more unique, in keeping with the multi faceted versatility and personalities of DOA. The first interview was back in 1984 at the hotel attached to the Rock Hotel Club. The hallways were devoid of life, the rooms empty except for rundown stripped furniture. You could hear water dripping down the walls – the perfect setting for a haunted attraction or a murder. The second interview was conducted when the band took the 7 train to my apartment in Jackson Heights and ended in an old man bar and the very last time was somewhere near the Kiev in the old bread truck the band used to tour in. Joey is always interesting and a unique personality, but here in Europa with the bands as background and no dressing room it was difficult to record and Joey needed to save his voice for the two back to back shows, this one and the secret (or not so secret) show that was to follow this one at the Grand Victory. (A trend that seems to be occurring with some regularity for touring bands these days). The up shoot is that the interview had to be tabled for later and will appear most likely in the printed issue of the zine that will be on sale at the end of the year.
So...back to the packed show, which had brought out a lot of old faces that rarely are seen these days like Dave from the Betrayed and Big Vinnie from Situated Chaos, to name a few who made the trek from suburbia to see the band. Hey, guys, nice to see ya! There were also a lot of people who probably had never seen the band but wanted to get a last chance since this was billed as their last tour EVER. Although there was an open window of doubt to this as Joey told me he was giving up music if his political career took off. Good luck, Joey!
DOA played as a three piece, having gone bak to a threesome after Dave Gregg left the band years ago. The bassist and drummer were unfamiliar faces to me, but they played well and kept the rhythm section kicking. But Joey was clearly the powerhouse and the star that kept shining the brightest on stage. It was as if with this potentially final show he had set out with something to prove, wearing the punk style clothes he had made indicative of the band back in their Something Better Change days. He dwarfed the small stage, not just by his height, but by his dynamic presence, spinning his guitar, doing his famous kicks (again something I don’t recall seeing in recent past shows.) In fact, the bad was close in energy, force and set list to what I remember from the first time I saw them at Great Gildersleeves in 1983. Joey is and was a true showman, engaging the audience in a dynamic symbiotic relationship, which includes all, leaving no prisoners behind. Which of course leads to songs like "The Prisoner," which had the place exploding, with even the old timers off their feet.
The set was peppered with such faves as "World War III", "Race Riot", "Fuck You" (the anthemic Subhuman’s song and personal fave of mine), as well s the infamous cover of David Peel and the Lower East Side’s "I Like Marijuana." Joey interspersed songs with little anecdotes and political commentary, which has been his MO. The set ended with classics such as "Fucked Up Ronnie."
Joey is a larger than life person who brings more than one hundred percent to the stage with him. And with him that doesn’t stop once he exits. It is Joey’s persona, not an act or costume that is donned for the moment. Whatever DOA a.k.a. Joey does in the future, the firmament of hardcore punk will burn a little less bright without them. Hopefully, like so many other final tours this one will not be the last and DOA will drive into town again and onto the stage, this time sans the bread truck, which I understand was sadly retired. Great show...we’re gonna miss ya!
@ the ACHERON
So, here I am at the Acheron - and I can honestly say I've never been here, ever. What I found was a medium sized room, decent sound - and a 4 band bill that I was looking forward to checking out...CA is a band I haven't seen in years, and DEAD SERIOUS is a band I've been meaning to check out for awhile, now...(thanks to Ryan and Bryan for the big hookup - much righteous appreciation!!!)
First up was DS...and they pretty much set the yardstick for the evening, as far as I was concerned. Up in your face guitar, and a rhythm section that was brutally synched in a way that didnt leave room for comprimise - or space to breathe...yeah, I like it like that!!! Crowning it off is none other that Ryan Bland - who I've crossed paths with before in bands like Home 33. He's one intense frontman that once the music starts, comes across like the wound spring about to snap - and you cant decide wether to watch him, or move to a safer spot in the room...likewise when his body conducts itself with the force of the music, whereupon he resembles someone in the throes of a shamanist ritual while dosed of mega portions of PCP. In other words? You gotta see it for yourself - and yes, folks - it's as real as it gets!!! I definitely think this is a band to watch out for in the times to come...
Miscegenator were up next, and having seen them before - I knew what to expect. Boasting 2 members of ASSTROLAND, you know it's gonna be loud and brutal...and it was!! Humorous asides from the frontman peppered the set, so you got to chuckle as the band pummeled you and made your ears ring..and ring...and ring...Would love to check out more from these guys in the future...
((Alas, I had to leave due to an early workspot at the job - but NOT BEFORE having a good friend help me out by reviewing the rest of the show...and so?
Now Lets hear from our guest reviewer Mr B.L. to "get 'er done"....))
Enabler were the third band that night. I believe they are from Chicago. I was not familiar with them before and they were really good. Tight, high energy, modern metallic hardcore with plenty of ripping guitar. I hear a lot of Tragedy/From Ashes Rise style "epic crust" in their sound but with more effects. Also worth noting, they have a female bass player that really impressed me. She played with attitude and confidence.. Now, on to the mighty Citizen’s Arrest. They played a fun ripping set, mostly songs from their first seven inch and some newer ones, not much from the lp. Well, the new songs rule and sound like Citizen’s Arrest wrote them in 1990. It must be hard to pick up the same thread 20 years later. I found the band played really well and Janis totally rips on guitar. Darryl switches vocal styles so easily that you would thing he was five different people. And, bass player Joe, added comic relief to the ugly hardcore they are known for. After all, this was "Joe’s Awesome Fest." Well, how did they sound? Awesome...Go buy their new seven inch, and of course, their old stuff is essential. I believe there is a current repress of their first ep available.
Antidote, Ken Wagner Experience
Bowery Electric June 22
This was my first time stepping across the threshold of Jesse Malin’s club, with its walls lined with framed flyers of the bygone era of hardcore punk. There are two levels with stages on each one, but for this show the stage was downstairs. The walls were painted black and the dim lights made you feel like you were descending into the dungeon as you went down the stairs past the bar to the stage area. The dance floor was framed by seats around the perimeter, which is where most of the people congregated that hot afternoon. The majority were of the older hardcore ilk, which could be why there was very little dancing, even with the band’s more than barbed banter on the subject.
This event was the prelude to the upcoming evening’s book signing for Banned For Life, a photo documentary on people who inked up with the Black Flag emblem and how the band had influenced their lives. There were a bunch of tribute bands lined up, including some ex-Flag members, but having just seen the band we decided to pass. We were here to celebrate Drew Stone’s birthday, not sycophantic drivel.
The show started a little later than advertised, which was great for us and we were able to catch the whole thing. KWE got things jumping. The line up was different from the previous one, with John Kelly and Jimmy Duke from Urban Waste on guitar and drums, respectively.
The set was an abbreviated version of the one I experienced the past winter in Bay Ridge (see show review.) This time, however, Ken raved on a bit about all the bullshit he got for covering the music he was around to experience in its original incarnation. It turns out that most people, outside of this reviewer, didn’t get what they had set out to do – which was pay tribute to their peers and have a good time. But, as Ludichrist once succinctly put it, "most people are dicks" and since most of them probably weren’t even born when NYHC started and didn’t experience all the abuse we old schoolers went through to make the scene all nice, cuddly, warm and fuzzy for today’s generation, they probably never will get it!!!
That said, both by Ken and myself, as one could expect it was indeed a TRIBUTE to some great bands that probably won’t be playing any time soon. Ken peppered his performance with mad shout outs thanking all and sundry. There were a lot of old faces from the 80s and 90s, many of whom I hadn’t seen in years. The biggest surprise was seeing Keith Function, of Function Fanzine fame – a great zine for those not in the know. Castle Heights anyone??
As Expected, KWE were great and Ken was his typical ball of energy, traversing the stage and pit with a speed that would have done The Flash proud. I was sorry to hear that this was to be their last stint and that due to peer pressure Ken was moving on to playing in Keep Coming Back as frontman for a band that did all originals. NO COVERS, PLEASE! What a shame since they did them so much better than all those other loser bands that can’t get the music, let alone the energy, right.
Next up..the birthday boy! I have to give Drew credit, not just for looking great for 50 and like Ken, having more energy than people half his age, but because he has no problem letting everyone know that he is 50. Especially in a music genre that condemns the aging process, except for when it comes to the likes of icons like Vinnie Stigma.
Antidote had a fill in bassist for most of their set because Zum was taking time off to be a dad for his young child. He did come up on stage for some of their tunes from the "metal days," as he put it. The set was great – a lot of fast, dynamic tunes such as the glut of the "Thou Shall Not Kill’ ep...with the surprise of "Return 2 Burn" - minus the fringed leather and excessive hair. But this wasn’t the SlimeLight, thank God!
The "intro" provided by none other than Paul Cripple (Reagan Youth) was great all by itself...
Again, there wasn’t a ton of dancing with the exception of Josh, the new singer for Urban Waste, who was bouncing around for a good part of the set.
The show seemed to end all too soon and then everyone was being herded upstairs for them to make room the evening addition, as mentioned earlier. People lingered, chatting with old friends. It’s funny how "regular" people get reacquainted at weddings, funerals and high school reunions. Old school hardcore people do it at shows like this one.....It was great fun and I can only say I wish it happened more often. And that KWE were here to stay. See ya at the next one! —wje
Black Flag The Warsaw June 14 & 15
I was a young kid in the hospital in 1980, at the height of my punk rebellion phase when I first heard Black Flag. I had refused to wear a hospital gown, instead sporting a paint splattered t-shirt when I took my bass into the lounge to practice. During that stay in which I walked out on night before my surgery, I saw Black Flag on televison being interviewed and although I didn’t "get barred for life", I did go out and buy "Jealous Again." In 1982, when I was doing the early issues of Guillotine, I was excited to hear Black Flag was playing and got ready to review an awesome show. And then there was Henry Rollins on the stage, fronting the band. What a disappointment.
Fast forward to 2013 and the announcement of a Black Flag reunion with Ron Reyes (a.k.a. Chavo) backing the palce he belonged - fronting one of the most influential bands in hardcore. I immediately bought tickets and when they added a second show, I bought them too. Even arranged my vacation so that I could return for the dates. I wasn’t going to miss out on this momentous event.
And then of course, there was the second Black Flag, consisting of Chuck Dukowski, Dez Cadena and Keith Morris. And, if rumor proved true, this version calling themselves "Flag", was the better band. It was beginning to remind me of the late 70s when for a brief time there were two Clashes. Two incomplete parts of one whole. Holding on to my two sets of tickets I consoled myself with the notion that Black Flag in essence was Greg Ginn. And their quintessential sound was due to his unique guitar style. And Ron was the frontman that brought White Minority into our homes and angry little hearts.
The first show was Friday, June 14th and I was still on West Coast time having just returned home in the wee hours of that morning. All the opening bands were SST rejects so we decided to leave at a ‘guesstimate’ time to catch just Black Flag. With some luck, we only suffered through half of he prior band’s set, a real rock ‘n roll snorer, that played infinitely longer than they should have.
And then there was Black Flag with Greg Ginn looking like a clone of Joey "Shithead" Kiethly of DOA fame, complete with quirky head jerking motions. And in the middle of it was Ron Reyes, now a chunky middle aged man, belting out the tunes we had come to hear and love.
Before I continue, I want to stress that this is a difficult article to write, what with so many passionate people saying such passionately negative things about the band and these shows. Some of these things have validity, some not so much. First, I want to mention that the show was at the Warsaw, a club notoriously known for its terrible sound system and which hampered other band’s such as the Rezillos’ performance.
On the first night we were standing closer to the stage on the fire right, and on the second we were further back near the sound board and that time the music was clearer, much less muddy and distorted like the first night. Believe me, it did make a difference in the writing of this review. If it had been based just on the first night it could have been much different. Since we were there for both nights, rather than two separate reviews which would be nothing but redundant, especially because they performed the exact same set, I am giving an overview.
The first night seemed lackluster with little or no contact between band and audience. The second night Ron seemed to loosen up, talking and connecting with the audience, establishing rapport that was all but missing on Friday. There was more of an energy, a spark of vitality on that night. Friday seemed more like a dress rehearsal. The songs were a mix of BF’s latter day experimental rock, but the majority was the early stuff – Revenge (the opening song for both nights), Jealous Again, Gimme Gimme Gimme, Rise Above, et al... My only disappointment, and one which I was certain would be rectified on the second night (and wasn’t) was the absence of White Minority. Come on, this was what Ron was know for. He was synonymous with that song. It was a song Trenchcoat Army recorded on its cd and we had performed with Dennis Fed Up on more than one occasion. It was too cruel of a joke, but nonetheless it never happened. I ran into Greg after the show, when he was surrounded by nubile young sycophants hanging on his every word and asked him that same question. A little snotty and flip, not to mention high, he flippantly said, "I thought we were know for Six Pack." Six Pack? Yeah, right! Keep smokin’ and trippin, Mr. G...
All sarcasm aside, I was still happy that I had the opportunity to once again see this legendary band, or at least some portion of it. And most important not see it with that overblown egocentric snake oil salesman Henry. But I was a little disappointed that I wasn’t that young kid and this wasn’t 1980 and Chuck wasn’t on stage with his mile high mohawk. But for 2013 it wasn’t that bad.
In September I will see the next installation of Flag and give you an update. Until then, Rise Above! wje
Punk Rock Flea Market @The Underground Events Center
June 8th Belltown, Seattle
Finger, Chaotic Noise Marching Corps, The Piniellas, Witches Titties
Before I go on vacation I generally look to see if there any hardcore or punk shows going on. It is often hit or miss – usually miss – with shows usually before or after my trip. The one place that doesn’t apply is Seattle where there is almost always something going on.
This time the show was in Belltown, a few steps away from Pikes Place Market and one of my fave record stores, Singles Going Steady.
Before getting into all things punk, I want to talk about the dying breed called "record stores." Look around the city (NYC to be exact) – most of the record stores are long gone, with the exception of a few like Generation Records on Thompson Street. Everyone goes online for stuff, downloading it to their iphones or ipods, like all good hipsters. Me? I am a dinosaur that still likes a good piece of vinyl in my hands. And I particularly like going to other places and finding stores like Singles Going Steady where you can run your fingers through stacks of eps and lps. Look at t-shirts and stickers, check out flyers and fanzines. It has a great selection of hardcore and punk and the owner is friendly and willing to play your discs for you before purchasing them. Last time we were there he bought copies of the Sexual Suicide ep from us. This time he remembered who we were, and in a music scene where you become forgettable the minute you walk out the door, that is incredible. Not only that, he also is a font of information on where to go, and if I hadn’t already known, he would have sent us directly to none other than the Punk Rock Flea Market. Did I mention he also gave us a box to mail our records home in? Ahhh..heaven!
After putting our records in the car we had rented we headed over to the flea market, where for a dollar you could check out all the merch, listen to a dj, hang out at the bar and in the evening, listen to bands. People were selling stuff both indoors and out, everything from artwork made from lps to jewelry to used clothes to instruments. The styles ranged from goth to street to punk and everything in between. The great thing was that everyone seemed to be having a great time. The bar served vegan and non vegan food, which they gave away for free later in the evening. The DJ was super friendly and stuck a mic in my face asking me to shout what punk meant to me...hahaha!
We missed the first two bands because we were busy checking out the sites, including riding this amazing ferris wheel on the pier that gave you a great view of the Olympic Peninsula, but got back in time to connect with the Witches Titties (not my supreme choice for a Wiccan name, but then again the were about as bizarre as their nom de plume.) They were a screamo no wave girl group fronted by two singers. The experience was akin to being battered by a screeching train wreck with amps on overload. The girls in the audience went wild over the band, dancing their hearts out on the floor. The band announced that they were going on tour soon to California and asked the audience to help out by purchasing merch. Sorry guys, but that little piece of vinyl didn’t make it back in my box from Singles Going Steady, keeping me and my cats’ eardrums intact for another day.
The Piniellas, the last act of the night, were the polar opposite of the no-wavers. A three piece band, they follow in the footsteps of the Ramones, and their latter day clones the Screeching Weasel and the Queers (speaking of which, as this goes to print or up on the site, on July 25th they will be somewhere in the southeast recording with Joe Queer - looking forward to this!!! )
The drummer, who is originally from Queens, shared mutual acquaintances and we reminisced for a bit. The other two members were much younger, full of energy - and a pleasure to get to know. I understand Lief
( the band’s bassist) is the resident heartthrob, but you wouldn’t know it by talking to him – he is so down to earth and non-egocentric. He also shares Don’s obsession with Chuck Berry and old Power Pop - a rarity in this day and age!
Musically, the Piniellas are clearly enamored by all things Dee Dee, Joey and Johnny, complete with the stances, jumps, the blitz of downstrokes, and the 1-2-3-4. Their music is lively, energetic and as power pop punk NYC as you can get without actually being there. The show occurred at the same time span that Arturo Vega passed away, and the band memorialized him on stage more than once.
The band was fun, highly danceable and worth checking out. So when they do make it back east to the real "Ramones’ Country", you should definitely check them out. They have a cd available (buy it, you cheap bastards!! DB) and you can get it by contacting them thru FaceBook. And yes, for the digital hipsters and ‘netgeeks - the songs can also be checked out on ReverbNation.com
The Punk Rock Flea Market was a blast...great to have people having a good time without cliques, egos and attitude, something else NYC is known all to well for....wje
The Minor Cuts Truth In Needles
Gas NYC The 86'ed
The Ken Wagner Experience
Wow! Here I am writing my first review for Guillotine in nearly a decade or so. If someone had told me a year ago that we would be launching this site and publishing the zine again I would have said, "You’re loco, man!" But thanks to Chris Wynne stirring a fire under my ass here we are ONCE AGAIN!
No Quarter is one of many unassuming bars along Fifth Avenue in Bay Ridge, Brooklyn, my home for longer than most of our readers have been alive. It is usually a quiet sleepy street once the shops have closed up for the night. Third Avenue has always been more the party strip for someone unfathomable reason. Anyway, this night was no exception, especially as this was the day after our first major snowstorm. I had fallen the night before on the ice and now sported a shiny new leopard cane (no one can ever say I don’t do it with style!) And so I hobbled the few blocks over to the place in the sub-zero night with the stars overhead and our feet crunching in the snow that had yet to be shoveled.
One thing I must say about the promoter, Wandy Blackheart Weiss (who put the show on along with Alex Fela - who seems to be behind most of these Bay Ridge gigs) - besides being a wonderful person, is the way in which her shows are run, and tend to carry themselves out with efficiency and order. Usually in a small bar that puts on shows occasionally there is some chaos and gaps between bands, but this wasn’t the case with this show once it got off to a start everything ran well.
The Minor Cuts opened the show. Their sound is reminiscent of some of the mid 90s punk bands that played the Wetlands and Coney Island High matinees, and they would have fit comfortably playing with Banner of Hope or Blank 77. Their bassist was sporting a Kraut t-shirt so you knew the had some roots in the music, especially on the early 80s melodic tip.
Their music is mid tempo punk with al little of the GBH/Discharge fashion to it sans the rapid fire fast paced element. At times the singer and guitar player shared vocals, with their strength in the singalong chorus. Songs ranged from "Follow You Home" in which they laughingly promised to do just that to one about the zombie apocalypse that never happened (their words, not mine.)
I was surprised to find myself enjoying them because I am notorious for not really caring for female vocals, something to do with high pitched sounds. However, I found by myself liking this young entertaining new band. You can also check them out on facebook or their 4 song cd demo which they had at the show.
Truth In Needles were up next. Not only have I seen these guys many times, but my band, Sexual Suicide, has played with them and been on some of the shows I have run. They have even brought their drum kit when the club had none. Great bunch of straight up people!
Their music is an Oi/hardcore mix with elements of the 90s new school hardcore style that was indicative of Castle Heights (Jackson Heights, Queens - for those not in the know), minus the crazy ju-jitsu moves and windmills. The sound was very tight with enough variety to the songs to hold your interest. "These Are The Boots Of A Working Man" is thematic of their image and style, a great little Oi number with a hard kick to it, and which finally got the crowd up and dancing.
Their last number, I believe was called "Fuck You, Fuck You, Fuck You!", a lively HC punk Oi blend with a catchy chant, and whose words I believe are self-explanatory. Definitely a band you don’t want to miss when you find yourself seeing them listed on Facebook.
GAS NYC were up next. They were definitely of the very heavy metal garden variety complete with the obligitory scooped,"low end" amps, detuned guitars, and coming across like an artifact from the old Castle Heights/crossover sound days.
I have never been a fan of ‘THE METAL" oranything close to it, so in all fairness to Jonny Kookland and the band, they didn’t rock my world, or even tip the boat a little. The singer (Jonny) wore a gas mask and opened the set up with a shout out to a member of Merauder. Metalcore to the max with songs like "I Got Kicked Out and Had a Gang Bang at my Mother’s House" or "Let’s Go Kill Some Prostitutes." Songs (at least title -wise) are reminiscent of NRSV heavily crossed with vintage GG Allin. I could see them at a St. Vitus matinee with bands from New Orleans like Soylent Green or Outlaw Order. Definitely a scary bunch you wouldn’t want to hook up with in a back alley.
On a somewhat more amusing note, they ended their set with an LL Cool J cover of "Momma Said Knock You Out." ‘Nuff said.
The 86ed followed. There was an embarrassing moment when the band first showed up to the club. Their singer was Xed to the max, and Don and I took a look at him and said, "Oh, that must be Anthony from Tears of Frustration’s new band." So, I went up to him and said, "Hey, Anthony, not going to say hello?" For which I got a blank stare and was told, "Whose Anthony?" In fact, his name is actually Angel and his dad played in a hardcore band back in the day in Italy called Bella Muerte.
The crowd went wild once they started playing, so I guess everyone else knew he wasn’t Anthony haha! Their music was a new school hardcore mix(although I guess by now it probably isn’t so "new"). This is the kind of band that would have had a lot of finger pointing going on in their set in the 90s, yo!
Even though their sound was a little less of the darker metal than was characteristic of bands like Indecision, there were definite similarities, especially in the charismatic connection between the audience and singer. Angel even went out there punching the floor and moshing to the music.
There was the whole youth crew image intermixed with the more metal mosh parts, maybe it was the Youth of Today hoodie or the Judge t-shirt. And, dare I say it, at one point I even spotted a windmill or to in the crowd!
The Ken Wagner Experience followed and let me say, although I have never been a fan of bands that make their entire set a string of covers, I actually really enjoyed this one. And, so okay, maybe it is because I was around in the early 80s and knew all or most of the bands they covered, but these guys also brought back the fun and energy of that period which was missing for far too long.
They played well and without seriousness which made them all the more refreshing. And Ken, vocalist, had more energy that the kids who were mostly half his age, jumping on top of everything that wasn’t nailed down, reminiscent of Bruce Springsteen back when he was starting out his career as an unknown performer in Asbury Park, NJ.
The KWE consist of Ken Wagner (vox), Johnny Waste (guitar, original member of Urban Waste), Jimmy Duke (current drummer of UW) and Drew Stone (bass - singer for Antidote).
"Fun and games in old school land" opened up with "Sonic Reducer". I wasn’t sure how the audience would react but they jumped in with youthful abandon, as did all us old schoolers,. I even dropped by cane to mosh, of course, paying the price as I hobbled home later - but that's another story!
Ken did a knock out imitation of HR! Covers included "White Minority", "I Love Living In The City", "Men In Blue", "Police Beat’, "My Rules", and a whole shitload of others. And if you don’t know whose songs they were, look them up! Or in the immortal words of one sxe hardcore during a Casualties show when no one (audience OR band) knew the words to a SLF cover except him, "go home and do your homework!"
They ended their set with "If The Kids Were United," an irony which wasn’t lost on me. And, for those not in the know, Major Conflict, the other band Johnny Waste is known for, always ended their sets with this song – sort of an in joke, or not. They absolutely floored me from start to finish, and I hope this "joke" band keep on with it for a long long time!
The Straphangers followed in the wake of "The Experience", and what a tough act to follow. I know for sure I wouldn’t have wanted to be in their shoes.
There was still a good sized crowd left to watch them churn out their string of fast paced hardcore tunes. There have been a few line up changes recently with a girl guitarist replacing Larry Left and a new bass player (I still have to get their names for next time so hang in there and apologies to all and sundry.)
They are a great bunch of people who I have seen kick some major ass for the past few years. Unfortunately Don had to be in work for an early shift so we left midway before their set ended. But I can pretty much guarantee that they were well worth hanging in there to see.
All in all, Wandy and Alex Fela put a great gig together, with no fights, no attitude and top notch music. Looking forward to the next one on the home turf.
...NEW HAPPENINGS IN THE REVIEWS SECTIONS...and MORE to follow!!!!
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