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.
Bowery Electric April 2
Maafa Scum City The High and Mighty Crossfire Rebelematic Fahrenheit 451
First time since the beginning of the Pandemic my feet crossed the threshold of The Bowery Electric and it was as if the finger picked up from the pause button and life was as it had been, with the exception of a few mask wearers, reminders that everything was not as it was – but life had indeed changed, for many of us in irreparable ways and that these bastions of hardcore and punk are our safe spaces, our enclaves to heal, shed anger, bolster us to go once more out into the world such as it is. So how fitting that the first band was Maafa, fronted by Flora Luccini, full of spit and vinegar making no bones that this is all about woman power. Backed up by a kickass bunch of musicians, with special props to the percussionist who ended their set with a foray into the pit, with his Djembe attached. The music itself is one of those defying categorizations with elements of African. Brazilian and just plain in your face hardcore to keep the set interesting and the rhythm flowing to a steady danceable beat.
Turns out this was a two stage show, so up the down staircase we went to see Skum City, housed in this little alcove of a room, more like an afterthought, or “The Old Office” in the basement of the Knitting Factory when it was on Leonard Street (one of those flashback moments to the A7 Tribute show we hosted there in Dec 2008). The way to the back was past the crowd surrounding the bar and the round merch tables lining the walls nearly obscuring the aperture leading almost directly on top of the band. Correction – The basement at KF was palatial compared to these digs. But veterans and troopers like they are Skum City took it in stride, emerging in the wake of such bands as Blackout Shoppers and WWIX in the first decade of the millennium, they added adding their own brand of hardcore punk to the afternoon festivities. Raw unabashed, take no prisoners tunes with irreverent lyrics about ”my balls” joyfully rendered by Andrew, their current frontman, who managed to make the small space appear a comfortable fit with room for the dancers to move without getting an elbow in the eye. Good thing it wasn’t Hangman in the room! Hurry, get the medics! With their original drummer Beast back on the skins, bringing it all back home, it was no surprise to some of The Shoppers crew in attendance.
Even as the last strains of “Skum City’ were still hanging in the air the room was already emptying for the next downstairs installation and despite myself I trudged down to the dungeon to watch The High and Mighty with Zum back on guitar. The set was a greatest hits off the original demo and of course included Sham’s “Borstal Breakout”, which for some reason wafted nostalgic memories of The Ken Wagner Experience playing the local dive bar in Bay Ridge in the not so distant past. As a frontman Drew does engage the crowd interspersing his patented charm with some barbed acerbic comments, this time the victim being Axe, who as it happened was celebrating his birthday and more than enjoyed being in the spotlight of the moment. As expected, the music was its old school self with kids and no longer kids moshing it up to the delight of the photographers standing guard around the perimeter of the stage. On a more amusing note, Drew gave a little nod to current events as a segue into “The Past Comes Back To Haunt Me’. No comment on that one…
With the band exiting the stage the room cleared like roaches when the lights go on and by the time I got to “the closet”, well…actually you couldn’t get there, not even five feet near…without pushing people like dominoes…resigned to hearing the band and their newer thrash/metalcore tuneage with some pretty raw screamed vox from the bar where I got to hang out with old schoolers like John Watson and a bit more recent comers like Lisette and Rosie, while still picking up the sounds of the Crossfire crew. Next time, guys!
And then... there was Rebelmatic. A long way from the streets near Sweatshop Studios on Montrose - when no club would open their doors, Rebelmatic carved a name for themselves using their own sound system and gear to take the show to the streets, even when it was balls cold out there in winter. Fast forward two years and they are on the stage at The Bowery Electric just as powerful and crazy, amazing and versatile as ever. With their signature “Rebelmatic” clarion call to arms and their unique mixture of hardcore, funk , jazz and just plain rock and roll they are comparable to none but themselves. With frontman, Creature, drawing the crowd into the magical world of their music, which is some of the best tunes to come out of a New York band in quite frankly a very long time, leaving everyone including myself sweating and breathless from the heavy dancing in a no air zone, the thought did cross my mind more than once - how the hell was Fahrenheit going to be able to top this bunch?
AND THE ANSWER IS…
FOLKS ??? THEY DID..
It had been more than two decades since I saw this band take their music to the stage. And at the time, much like Rebelmatic, their style was in contrast to the norm of that time, a seesaw ride between old school, they added a heavy blend of hip hop to the heavy metal core mix and scythed a place for themselves into the hardcore scene. And so they did again, coming on as a powerhouse from the very first note, in a word the sound crashed over the audience like a tidal wave and the room exploded in flailing arms, crowd surfing and pure unadulterated energy - like a blast of fireworks in the harbor. Armando, a bit older and now sporting glasses didn’t spin like a top or jump around in the air anymore but he sure did know how to hold the crowd with his charisma and his patented gestures and mannerisms that brought the pit up to ultimate fury. Covering both BURN and FUGAZI had the crowd riled up even more, especially when Dave Enziguri took to the stage to share in the vocal spotlight for a surprise guest appearance.
Of course, “Too Blind To See The Light”, brought out fairly early in the set, was the pinnacle moment, although sounding a bit heavier than I remembered, nonetheless I had to content myself with
moshing it up on the upper level where on wrong move could have sent me plummeting on the hapless bystanders below. With the band and the jumping and the mania of the moment there was one of
those epiphanous moments when everything came together, and the night was just that much more brilliant from the energy that traveled from band to audience and back again. When the last notes
rang. When everyone had to clear out for the next show. When the sweat hadn’t dried a drop on the floor, and everyone grudgingly hit the stairs there was that moment when you know you had
experienced something really special. And that was it. If you missed I – well, what can I say???
Wait for the movie.
– until next time –
Who else if not Paul Bearer would book a show creating a mini gathering of no-nonsense negative bands and misanthropes of all ages? The paradox is that this supposed negativity is a fiery, energetic, creative, sarcastic blend in addition to being just plain fun – everything hardcore punk should be.
All the bands brought energy and fun, unfortunately the same couldn’t be said of the crowd – a rather lifeless, respectful, non-moving middle-aged gathering.
I’ll start this show review in the reverse order with YDI whose EP ‘A Place In The Sun’ is in my top 10 of worldwide 1983 hardcore releases and that year was packed with incredible hardcore, just saying. No Nonsense speedy thrash monsters with a growl reminiscent of the early80s Virginia hardcore band, United Mutation and later Sheer Terror. The lyrics are a mix of dark adolescent rebellion like ‘Mad at the World’ and ‘Kill My Family’, goreish ‘Out For Blood’, ‘Zombie Youth’ and good-old down to earth youthful intelligent punk anthems -- ‘1983’, ‘Not shit’ and “Categorized.’ That ep stood the test of time and the band sounded tight. Their ep is being sold on Discogs for $650+, so Brooklyn scenesters who did not go to the show – shame. You missed something special.
In 1982 The Nihilistics promised that just in a few short years they’d all be 6 feet under. And look at this – 40 years later most of them are STILL HERE (RIP Mike). That makes them probably one of the longest continuously running punk band in the world with most of the original members still with the band. And these haters, these cynics, these pessimists play countless benefits, help with countless causes and put on a damn good show. Though I must say that the line for after the show blowjobs have shrunk considerably.
Apologies to Battalion Zoska, fronted by formerly Pat Lech of Violent Society, although their set sounded tight and boisterous, I heard it mostly from the bar area, so I don’t feel like I’m in position to comment further.
The surprise of the evening for me was the EXECUTORS, a band from New Jersey who has been for around nine years and counting. Not a hint of metal in any of their songs, which is always a great relief to my elitist punk ears. Instead they presented a variety of material covering a variety of punk/oi/hardcore sub-genres all executed expertly, effortlessly, passionately.
These guys deserve a much larger, livelier audience, but even as an opener they brough fire, scorcher and annihilation. Here are some of the songs I remember and some crude labels I’ll attach to give you an idea of the band’s sound. ‘Brain Basher’ – UK-82 lightning scorcher; makes you want to get in a pit immediately. ‘How many more years’ – great melody, Toy Dolls sounding sing a long ‘Predator’, ‘Scum son’ – GBH ‘Let there be chaos’ – straight blast of Poison idea, Verbal Abuse style hardcore. ‘Survive’ – reminiscent of openings of class of ’81 British OI ‘Last week I was a hero’ – homage to NJ heroes like Wretched Ones/Broken Heroes ‘Added aggravation’, ‘No choice’ ‘Blind Technology’– street punk when that term actually meant something, meaning ABH, Ejected, etc. It should be obvious that with so many labels, the band has lots of influences, but they don’t drown in them; they create a coherent, unique and memorable style of their own. You should definitely check them outlive or in the absence of a chow on Bandcamp, they have quite a few releases.
Because the show started before earlier than listed and the first band The Great Lie went on around 7:20 instead of 8:00pm I missed them, I understand that part of the review is being done by Don Dissension. Otherwise a great show with great bands.
Idol Existence Dead Blow Hammer Crazy Eddie
Bridge and Tunnel Brewery, Ridgewood - February 19,2022
Like a lot of this part of the Queens-Brooklyn border the venue looks like a basement show that happens to have a bar. Giant brew kettles protected by a cyclone fence with Christmas lights woven through it was the backdrop for the bands on their nonexistent stage.
Idol Existence from PA, a slap dash composite band that had less than a month to pull a set together opened this cold evening with a blast of metal. And to make things a little more interesting introduced their drummer Angela who gave the audience a taste of 70s rock and roll with the obligatory metal drum solo, heavy on the china cymbal.
Next up, from out of the ashes of Against The Grain, like a phoenix, rose Dead Blow Hammer. Since taking back the stage, they have managed to bash their way through the ranks with some really kick ass old style hardcore, which is no surprise to anyone with OG veteran Rob Kabula on bass keepin’ it real. AG on vocals added that great blend of humor, energy and gymnastics into the mix. The band was in rare form this evening, AG crawling and rolling on the cement floor that surely had seen its share of beer spills, while the rest of the band leaped and cavorted wherever they could find space -- all this while the cameras kept rolling for an upcoming video that everyone is eagerly awaiting to see on YouTube. The band was tight and the music highly moshable, which of course I did – they just keep getting better and better each time I see them, like a fine-tuned well-oiled machine.
Crazy Eddie, a band that seems to have taken the scene by storm since they first started playing half a decade ago, finished off the night. Chucky Brown, former bassist of Abject, was the penultimate front man, sporting a face mask around his lower face, wrap around shades in a room that surely had no light to speak of and a baseball hat jauntily placed on his head. Joking and moving about on stage, I was struck by his uncanny resemblance to Joey Downlow. All it needed was a Paulie’s mom joke. And if this wasn’t more than a coincidence, the drummer was formerly with DL after Raef exited the band. The music was as entertaining as their antics. And why not with this all-star lineup which even included Kevin from Fahrenheit 451 on bass? Check ‘em out. I guarantee you will leave the place smiling.
It was a night of some of the best of the new crop of hardcore along with an audience that was there to support a good cause, namely our veterans, who surely deserve our support. There was even a surfeit of Crazy Eddie beer to quench all and sundry who were present at this fun filled event.
THE CASUALTIES w/DRUNKEN RAMPAGE, ROTTING STICTHES
@Trans Pecos 2/20/22
Basically, this is ROUND 2 of what I ‘ll call “GUILLOTINE goes to Ridgewood”, as this is the second show in 2 days – and only a few blocks away from each other! So, I’ll keep this quick and to the point as possible, since a more in depth review shall be in actual handheld print at some point soon enough. And so – off to the land of the hanging plant and disco ball – yes, you read that right. Like the cool kids say – if ya know? Then ya know…So what happens next, you ask? Well…..
First up is the Rotting Stiches from Atlanta, who are touring with the Casualties as we speak. Musically, this bunch is furiously filthy and gloriously thrashful. They indeed brought the game to the crowd, and their singer spent practically the whole show being on the dance floor with the teaming crowd, who totally ate up everything the RS crew had to offer. This was a great start for the evening and gonna be hard to top – but I knew things were about to get really interesting……
“Punk Rock isn’t supposed to be pretty…so we’re here to help bring the UGLY back to Punk Rock…just like all of YOU are”!!” With that shot fired across the bow, Simon Trolley and Drunken Rampage pretty much blasted Trans Pecos all the way across Wykoff Ave, and back across again; this with everything this bunch has on full display at all times – period. The usual between song banter was shorter than usual, but as comical as always – and yes, all the usual slagging of rock stars, turtles, backpacks, supremacists (and whatever else I missed) was there for all to see & hear. Couple of new tunes were tossed in as well – rounding off what I would call a high energy sweatfest of UGLY Punk Rock. After this? I wasn’t sure I was ready for The Casualties – it’s been a long, long time since we’ve seen them. So now, the countdown begins…
Police sirens!! Flashing red lights!! And out come The Casualties. This is the second time I’ve had the pleasure of seeing them with Dave in the band and they have really come full circle. Right from the jump… Holy shit, these guys were fucking hungry!! Time has turned Jake, Meggers and Rick into a pounding, lethal machine that seemed almost unstoppable. And Dave? This guy looked like he was having the time of his life up there – and in the crowd – and all over the fucking room. While it was great to hear some of the old “classics”, the newer stuff was definitely in your face and got your attention. Ending the night with “We Are All That We Got” was a great way of closing their set – and made me realize that these guys are still contenders that have every reason to still be here – regardless of what the new jack shit talkers out there try to say.
On that note? Great Weekend, great gigs…
Back on the roadway I go. DB
"4 bridges, a 1/4 tank...and all I got was a guitar pick!!!!"
BUT WAIT!!! THERE's MORE!! Here, submitted for your utmost approval, we have ...hey wait a second - this is starting to sound like an intro blurb for an E.C. Comics tale. BUT.....let's dive into a review PACKED with LOTS OF LOVE for a band spawned from Lodi, a delusional old cretin who thinks it's 1979 all over again - and some good 'ol misogyny tossed in for good measure!!! Well, there was ONE good band outta the whole deal, anyway...but please - read on!!!
Probably the last thing I expected to be doing this past Saturday night was to venture over the Goethals Bridge into New Jersey with the goal of a VFW Hall in Lodi (hometown of The Misfits – which probably the whole world knows by now) to see a show billed as “They Came From Lodi.” But, in my defense, I was lured there by the misinformation that Mourning Noise, a horror rock band from the early 80’s, were staging a reunion.
So several bridge tolls later we drove into a parking lot in the middle of nowhere suburbia to be escorted through the proverbial backdoor by the erstwhile, and poorly informed, substitute drummer for Secret Subway, a non-band whose name was about as exciting as it gets. I will mention that someone very close to me (I will leave that to your curious imagination) filled in on bass, with nary a practice and a brief listen to an ep that should never have left the vault – and so here we were.
What can you say about a VFW hall that looked like it had never hosted a band before – no stage, no working full bar (does a keg count?), lucky they had toilets. But they tell me the staff were nice and friendly (this being the staff themselves.) But I will say the circling carrion crew of vultures aka photographers that roamed the non-stage area snapping away as they slithered and slid across the linoleum floor were the highlight of the otherwise YAWN evening. In fact, it was more fun snapping pics of them then a barrel full of monkeys.
Back to non-band number one, Secret Subway. I guess the big secret was that they managed to play at all. Tony Mundane, the singer/guitar player made it a big point of listing his credentials, which included meeting his wife at Hurrah’s back in 1979 but couldn’t remember the detes, and that he had recorded this little vinyl ep that he just had to put out after over 40 years so we could all enjoy another 30 minutes or less of mediocrity at its finest. All I can say is somethings were meant to remain unreleased, and what was boring in 1979 is unimaginably more so in 2021.
Next up, Voice of Doom, which started their set with a massive dose of smoke machine which is always a joy when wearing a mask and being an asthmatic. Gag! Cough! Of course, since these guys were from Lodi vis a vis Hackensack, they were an original band that were a tribute to The Misfits, so you figure it out. If you are a horror rock fan with a love of Jersey and Glenn, Jerry et al then give these guys a spin. They have 5 CDs and an ep so there is plenty of material to check out. Nice artwork, pins, etc. Did I mention they were the nice guys of the night?
And then….DA DA DA.. the promoter that gives new meaning to self-promotion, not to mention asshole – headlining this one trick pony show came on stage…none other than self-titled Robby Bloodshed, a moniker that was about as impressive as the singer/guitarist himself. Sporting a copy of a Gibson Explorer, made infamous on the early NYHC scene by guys like Jet Suicide & Bobby Steele, Robby Baby was about as impressive as his copy. In fact the whole setup was a copy – copy horror rock clothing that would have brought a tear to the eye of the Hot Topic community, copy Misfits, horror rock aka schlock rock and a real gem of a human being who made it a point of abusing this here Guillotine writer. Yeah, really loved being called “a cunt’ and “a bitch” simply for asking that the bands get payed for their time.
No worries guys, he received a few good punches after he raised his hands to me, and there would have been more if the Three Stooges bouncers hadn’t charged at me – since Mr. Gutless ran screaming to get help when I defended myself. What a way to end a Saturday night….Mourning Noise never played…and all I got was a pic, not even a Pepsi! -- wje
No Idea The Last Stand The Nihilistics Eddie Sutton’s Leeway NYC Murphy’s Law
Amityville Music Hall March 7th 2020
With so many clubs closing, it seems lately that we have been traveling further and further to get to hardcore shows, so it was no surprise we found ourselves facing the Saturday night traffic on the Belt Parkway heading east toward Long Island and the Amityville Music Hall (AMH), missing the tail end of Long Island’s No Idea. The club was packed within every available space with sweaty bodies unafraid to get in close even in the midst of the Coronavirus scare. In fact, without exception bands were making light of the current situation, passing jokes around the stage like a collection plate, with Mike Scondotto setting the pace, “Move up we’re corona free,” as one lone brave soul began to skank his way into the pit, while the tide pool of photographers slipped in closer to the stage, like the arms of a starfish.
For those few of you who still haven’t seen The Last Stand, a hybrid of 90s hardcore bands Shutdown and Inhuman, their music is a blend of the new and old school with a metal element definitely in the mix. Mike, in his signature baseball cap and moustache, looked every inch like a NYC cop, as he dedicated numbers to all the bands, including the Nihilistics and Murphy’s Law, as well as the audience in general. As the set progressed bassist Dion De Nardo did a few old school style leaps while Stephen Della Croce, the other Shutdown representative, bounded about on the left side of the stage. As the band launched into one of their traditional Minor Threat covers “I Don’t Want To Hear It’, Mike quipped that “You got to live for now. I don’t see any of you wearing masks,” as he also announced an upcoming split 12” with the band One Choice. In fact, the topic of contagion ran rampant through the set, even as mike told his usual stories, much in the way Paul Bearer peppers his set, with Mike’s being shorter and less rambling. In tried and true fashion, they ended with “Big Mouth”, the Gorilla Biscuit’s song that found itself on their most recent recording, “This Is Real” (out on Irish Voodoo Records).
The Nihilisitcs were next up at bat, as Ron toted a six pack of Bud tall boys under his arm, which he later liberally baptized the audience with. The set opened with Ron’s tried and true insults hurled at the audience before launching into “Working Class”. By the time they hit the first bars of “Welfare For The Rich”, Ron was smacking the lights and beating on the mic stand, which had the crowd going ape shit. In fact, at one point in the set (during “The Good Life”), he was chewing on the bassist’s headstock. At another, he was teasing the audience with sexual innuendos about his “dad body.” Always the immoral icon, Ron embraced his irreverence, and the audience were putty in his hands, as the band, including the infamous Ajax on guitar and original drummer Troy, kept on churning out such classics as “Funeral Dirge”, “After Death” and “Love and Kisses”, one of my all time favorites. At one point Jimmy G. even slipped onto the stage to join in with the festivities. IF you missed The Nihilistics this go around, then you missed seeing true genius at work – one of the bands left who aren’t afraid of this PC word that has taken over hardcore and punk.
After the attack of The Nihilistics, Eddie Sutton’s Leeway was almost like going from a racing car to a Volkswagen or an afterthought. Even with the place wall to wall people and the crowd totally into it, it seemed a bit too milque toast for me. The online feud that had been raging through FB between Ron and Eddie also appeared squashed based on the lack of drama onstage, which would have been no match in any case, sort of like Bluto versus Olive Oil (for all you Popeye fans still alive out there).
Eddie was praising the old school bands throughout the set, in particularly Jimmy and Murphy’s Law, even giving a shout out to ex - Leeway guitarist Mike Gibbons (in the audience that night), as he swayed his skinny self on stage, holding the mic close to his person like a lifeline. The music was the same crossover thrash metal that had made Leeway a breakaway band in the late 80s, but as Eddie put it, they were” only a tribute band – but a damn good one”. ‘Nuff said.
Unfortunately, due to the clocks moving forward that night and Don’s having to be at work at the ungodly hour of 5am we had to miss most of Murphy’s Law’s set. I am told that it was as amazing as always, with Jimmy’s sharp wit and humor and Raven’s incredible saxophone making it a night to remember.
Half Earth Ice Cold Killers Too Many Voices
Scooped Up Point Blank
Shillelagh Tavern, Queens 2/22//20
As we navigated the industrial area we were traversing on our sojourn to locate the Shillelagh Tavern, a small unassuming watering hole in Queens, I wondered not for the first time how would anyone even find this place ?
When we did arrive at the unassuming building, my first impression was, “Here we go again. Another little hole in the wall with no stage and a bunch of bored locals who could care less as to who was playing.” And, whereas I got the first part right, there truly was no real stage; the second part couldn't have been more wrong - because the clientele were for the most part pretty attentive and involved with what was going in the backroom area. The interior was certainly smaller than Mother Pugs, with a narrow bar area leading into a small room with raised round tables surrounding pillars that hugged the “stage area”, giving new meaning to terms like “close quarters” and “cozy.”
Featuring Ryan from La Magna on bass, Half Earth from Sound Beach, a small town on the shores of Suffolk County, LI were up first, playing some pretty decent mid-tempo post hardcore tunes, much in the style of late ‘90s Victory Record bands. The singer, Dressed in John Fogerty flannel and sporting a baseball cap, giving the impression of a working-class band, the singer was slowly pacing the perimeter, interspersing raw screams in time to the music. The set ended with “Resignation”, a number that remined me of the old Astoria band, Coldfront.
Ice Cold Killers, a NY band that has been making the rounds for some time , were up next. Their music is a blend of Oi!, American style and working class street punk, highly melodic and danceable, which if you were ever a fan of The Pist, early Dropkick Murphys, or even 45 Adapters, a band whose t-shirtthe guitarist was sporting, then this band would put your toes to tapping. They certainly had the tiny place packed with sweaty dancing bodies. Their singer, who was doing double duty as bass player, pelted out the tunes to such danceable number as “Street Fight” and “We Are The Enemy”. A Few of the songs at the end of the set were reminiscent of Motorhead sans Lemmy’s gritty vocals. They are in the midst of putting out a new record, so be sure and look for it.
Too Many Voices, a Long Island band featuring Jeff Kaplan from Two Man on bass and Jerry Carbon from Half Earth on drums, were up next; and judging by the enthusiasm of the crowd were the reason for so many braving the cold night to venture into no man’s land. Jeff, who had been out of action for a few months dur to an injury to his leg was still recuperating, yet he stoically donned his bass and stood throughout the set, playing with dynamic fervor.
With several records under their belt, the band has picked up quite a following, all here to listen to the highly melodic rock and punk style they have clearly embraced. DJ (vocals), sporting the standard backward baseball cap, was bouncing back and forth as he moved around band members on the crowded piece of a stage, holding his mic aloft as he crooned out the tunes in a clear, melodic voice. Their music had hints of older bands like Avail and Dag Nasty, but clearly has their very own distinctive style, which has kept them going for eight years and counting. Vinnie Segura (Situated Chaos) got up to close the set, singing along to their cover of a Dag Nasty tune and a fitting conclusion to an all too short set. Mad props to Jeff for playing through the whole set and never once looking like he needed to sit this one out. Thumbs up!
Scooped Up, from Connecticut, a three-piece pop punk band with some raunchy tunes once again changed the tempo of the show. In between numbers, they joked about subjects that would have put a smile on Bedpan Fight’s collective faces. Musically they had some elements of early Pansy Division or even the Groovy Ghoulies. A funny and fun-loving trio , they added a refreshingly lighthearted element to the show (see record reviews for more detes.)
And finally, Point Blank, truly the stars of the night took to the stage running and never stopped the flow of energy. Switching to his traditional gym shorts, Ken Wagner grabbed the mic and launched himself into the seminal pit, dramatically gesturing to the audience like a Shakespearean actor, all the while belting out the lyrics to the fast-pacedhardcore tunes. In the tradition of such legends as Raybeez and Roger Miret, Ken takes the music to the people, becoming one with the audience, and the response is electric. Their sound is tighter and faster than their earlier days with some kick ass mosh parts guaranteed to put a smile on any OG fan’s face. While Ken stormed the small dance floor, even joined at one point by Frank (bass), the rest of the band, led by Danny Derella, legendary guitarist for the original Underdog and a helluva nice guy, kept the music hitting into you like a pounding heart.
While the photographers vyed for their place to snap away that memorable shot that rockets them to Bob Gruen fame, Ken and company kicked out the jams for their 30+ minutes of music, thus ending an awesome night in a little-known hideaway in Queens. -- wje
Mr Bungle @ Brooklyn Steel.
10/11 February 2020
((photo and text -- paul mileman))
It seems more people were glad that they got to see Mr Bungle than how Mr Bungle actually sounded tonight. I’d seen various YouTube videos over the past week from previous shows and didn’t really hold my breath for tonight. I knew from the start I’d more than likely be disappointed. I had tickets for both nights and after the first night I would have sold my ticket, but I wanted to see Antidote, so I went anyway for more punishment.
I got into Mr Bungle after listening to their self-titled release, then started digging around into their numerous demo’s. There was a certain progression with the band finding their own sound and direction in each of these demo’s from their first thrash demo in 1986 to the more ska/thrash/experimental tracks of the late 1980’s. These demo's showed great potential, with their debut LP being a testament to this. I managed to see them live in 1995 in Paris and London. They split up for good in 2004, or so we thought.
I always thought The Raging Wrath of the Easter Bunny demo from 1986 was the poorest of them all. Eight tracks, badly recorded on a Tascam four-track, with little to no redeeming qualities. The sinister Grizzly Adams and the track - Evil Satan being the best of a bad bunch of tuneless thrash songs. For me, it was teenagers mimicking their thrash idols in bands like Metallica, Slayer and Anthrax. It was nothing new and nothing groundbreaking, however their mix of different styles were the foundations for the next demo’s.
Bassist Trevor Dunn said in the UK rock publication Sounds in 1991 “After about a year we got tired of playing speed metal and wanted to do something a little more creative. So we just stopped and started writing our own style of music, which was influenced by bands like Camper Van Beethoven, Oingo Boingo, Bad Manners and kind of funky, ska oriented stuff”.
This is obvious in the next demo’s and these helped Mr Bungle obtain a record deal with Warner Brothers. I don’t know what happened, but the word was that Mr Bungle no longer held the rights to their own songs, hence the choice to do the demo instead. Which to me make no sense as they were doing all sorts of cover songs anyway, and who wouldn’t want to take a record company to court and sue them to get your own rights back?
When the Bungle hype was released late last year with cryptic messages on Twitter and Facebook.. I felt something big was on the cards. I knew I had to get tickets for whatever was planned and hoped New York would be a part of these dates. When Mr Bungle said they were only playing the 35 minute The Raging Wrath of the Easter Bunny demo, I thought and hoped they would fill the odd forty minutes remaining with other interesting creative songs. However, tickets were sold out within seconds, an extra show was then added to combat the ticket touts. That didn’t really work, with fans buying tickets at three to four times face value, with people coming from all over the world. Three of the original Mr Bungle members - Patton, Spruance and Dunn were joined on stage by ex-Slayer drummer Dave Lombardo and Anthrax guitarist Scott Ian. The support bands were announced a month or so after the shows sold out, and I was pleased to see New York's Antidote added to the second night.
Upon entering a very busy venue (uncomfortably so on the Monday night) with large queues around the merch desk, which was practically devoid at this point of merchandise. (I heard there were people outside queuing well before 6pm) I managed to take my position towards the middle of the venue. Antidote entered the stage to a warm welcome mixing up their tracks from their 1983 classic 7 inch EP " Thou Shall Not Kill" and their 2012 release No Peace In Our Time. They also pumped their set up with other hardcore punk classics such as Black Flag’s " Rise Above", Fear’s "I Love Living in the City" and Minor Threat’s" Filler". The sound was great and Antidote sure looked like they were having fun on stage. They had nothing to prove to anyone and after forty minutes of what can be described as an enjoyable set, left the stage with large grins on their faces.
f you listen to the actual Mr Bungle demo there are really only five true thrash tracks on it, the other three - Grizzly Adams, Evil Satan and Hypocrites are not. These last three songs weren’t played at all, which makes you wonder why they said they were going to play the demo, then turn the whole thing into a thrash show. Eighteen year old kids going on fifty-four and playing these five songs that haven’t really ever been played live before, well not past 1987. Patton said on the first night that “this is weird, we’re playing songs from over thirty years ago, and what’s also weird is that you all paid to see it.”
How many people would have heard the first demo in 1986 and paid to go and see it? I’m waging not many. I wonder how many downloads of the demo have taken place since
the announcement of these shows? And how many of these new fans got into Mr Bungle from listening solely to the said demo? If this wasn’t Mr Bungle it wouldn’t have sold out.
Like I said, I went with an open mind, but was vastly disappointed. I never liked the thrash stuff. I get they were going to to the demo in it's entirety, but I hoped for more. A thirty-five minute demo, minus the eight or so minutes from the songs they didn’t play, turned into a one hour fifteen minute odd thrash show. I was more interested in what cover versions they would do. A token Circle Jerks song and The Exploited’s Fuck the USA thrown in there with other thrash songs that were lost in the mix. This is the sort of music you get tortured to. After over an hour of listening to this, I was ready to confess to anything.
The highlight of their set was the opening track, a theme tune from Mr Rogers A Beautiful Day in the Neighborhood, with an evil chord or two stuck in there to set the tone for the evening, a glimpse of something interesting appeared with a unknown track Methamatics which the chords and chorus from Love is a Fist were incorporated, but then everything dissolved into thrash once more.
I’ve seen on Facebook that those who dare to speak out and say that this is garbage are shot down with a barrage of abuse. Ok. I get it, you paid your money to see Bungle, and you saw them. Sort of. But that was not the Mr Bungle I grew up listening to, and I doubt if it was for you either, but judging by the reactions post-gig, the thrash metal world seemingly has a new supergroup, and I was there to witness it’s rebirth. Mr Bungle is back. What happened next is anyone’s guess. --Mileman. 12 February 2020.
RBNX Defcon1 Gamma Ghouls
Dead Blow Hammer The Last Stand
Mother Pugs 1/24/20
You are almost always guaranteed a good time whenever you take that trip over the overpriced Verrazano Bridge to a show at everyone’s favorite self-titled “dive bar’, Mother Pugs. This unassuming venue is located on a street lined with small business in a quiet neighborhood in Staten Island. From its exterior Mother Pubs gives the illusion of your typical old man’s bar, and upon entering you might even assume that to be true. On any given night the clientele is more prone to order a draft beer or a shot of whiskey, rather than a Brandy Alexander. And if you did ask, you would probably the first one to order. But on Friday and Saturday nights when the bands are piling in and Jeff Altieri (Enrage) is pouring behind the counter while Phil Cadaver (The Blame/Rapid Deployment) is working the sound, the place is transformed into one kick ass venue, a place where bands and fans are on equal footing and most importantly a place that feels like home, much in the way clubs like A7 and CBs felt in the old school days, when the ethics of ’81 hardcore punk was much more than just words shouted out of a mic. This show was a perfect example of this, even with its little glitches here and there. And what a fun night it was.
RBNX, a highly energetic threesome from Poughkeepsie, NY were the first to step up onto the small stage. Unfortunately, I didn’t get to hear their music until later, when I l was riding home. The CD that Mike (bassist) gave after the set, along with a plastic boomerang complete with hand drawn band logo, was incentive enough to arrive earlier next time. They are a fun band you don’t want to make the mistake of missing when they are playing in your part of town. [see record reviews for more detes on the recording]
Defcon 1, a NJ based hardcore band, and another three-piece outfit, were up next, bringing some decent high energy tunes into the mix. Jeff, who does double duty on bass and vocals, has the kind of hard gritty voice that makes you think of Sheer Terror, so it should come as no surprise that they also cover “Here To Stay’, and do a damn good rendition of it. With Steve P on guitar and Ed on drums rounding out their music, the set was a strong heavy mixture of hardcore and metal with some solid breakdown for any mosher in the house.
The third contender of the night, the Gamma Ghouls, had the misfortune of technical difficulties with the bass head, which was a shame as they are a very interesting outfit that appears highly influenced by a certain band that hails from Lodi, NJ. This was most evident in the vocals and of course, the titles of their songs, heavy on the horror movie tip. “Plan 9”, one of their catchiest numbers, epitomizes their melodic singalong style, the kind that has everyone running up to the mic to sing along on the choruses. Despite the unfortunate stats and stops caused by the sound problems throughout the set, the Gamma Ghouls pulled of a good performance like seasoned veterans. Can’t wait until the next time our paths cross.
Next up was a band that I had been waiting to see ever since Rob Kabula sent me a copy of their demo tape. And, yes, it is that Rob Kabula, legendary bassist for Cause For Alarm and Agnostic Front, OG veteran of the early 80s A7 days. Not to mention one of the cast of characters to have been part of the Crucial Cruise #6, made infamous in issue #6 of Guillotine.
Back in the ‘90s, Rob along with the rest of the Dead Blow Hammer boys started a heavy old school metal tinged band called Against The Grain. Their split ep with Downlow has the distinction of being the first release Guillotine put out under its own label in the late ‘90s. Dead Blow Hammer is the phoenix that rose out of those ashes, and it was mid exploding how great it was to see these guys, full of piss and vinegar, banging out some hard and heavy tunes, which had be right up there dancing along for a song or two. Much love to these guys – AG, Rob and the crew. Hope they stick around for a long time to come.
Then Brooklyn’s own, The Last Stand, followed suite, with Mike Scondotto dedicated a number in memory of Vinnie Value, a great drummer and wonderful person, and a much loved member of our NY hardcore family.
As one would expect after seeing this band many times, their music was a wild explosion of hardcore and metal with Mike’s crazy back and forth movements, while wielding the mic like he was ready to go to war. Like a sword. Like a club. Or more appropriately, a hammer, dedicating “Where Were You”, to Dead Blow Hammer; fittingly a more old-style hardcore tune. Another dedication was made to Dave from Vision, a sad reminder of how many people we have lost in recent times. And is their custom, the LS finished off with such classic tunes as “I Don’t Want To Hear It” and “Big Mouth.” And if you don’t know who did the originals, well, then turn in your hardcore membership card at the door. ‘Nuff said.
Last up was Urban Waste, a band that needs no introduction. Since their return at the A7 tribute show that Guillotine presented at the Knitting Factory in 2008, this band has been one of the most hard working outfits, making an incredible comeback John Kelly, the sole original member, along with Josh, who replaced Kenny Ahrens (RIP) and Non Lee (replacing John Dancy), have breathed new life into the music. Tonight, Josh exploded onto the stage like a human cannonball, and never stopped. There was a strong kinetic energy to the set as they traveled down the memory lane of the early classics from their now legendary ep, songs we have all known and loved, along with newer tunes, which have become classics in their own right, and ending the evening with a high note of positive energy.
Recreational Outrage Bedpan Fight
The Great Lie D.I.
The Kinglsand 1/17/20
After suffering through a mind-numbing week of “working for the man” and the mid-winter doldrums we found ourselves trudging over to The Kingsland on one of the most frigid nights of 2020. This show had been originally scheduled for December 21st but was moved up to this evening without any apparent notice, but thankfully in the era of social media it wasn’t hard to get wind of the change. So here we were bopping into one of my lesser fave clubs and just missing Recreational Outrage because of the usual nonsense that always precludes entry into this “palatial” establishment. Luckily..we were able to catch Bedpan Fight’s entire set, which made up for all the BS preluding to it.
Bedpan Fight never fails to give a stellar performance and this show did not disappoint. This highly entertaining band with its crazy hi jinx and good natured, raunchy brand of toilet humor has been making the rounds since 2014. This particular night had the distinction of marking the return of their original bas player, dubbed “The Doctor”, because of her pinnacle achievement of receiving the degree of PhD. Hailing from various points of origin in the North East, the foursome yucked it up with the likes of such little ditties as “I Want To Motorboard Your Mom”, “Shit My Pants”, “Fuck Yourself” and Drinking Buddies”. Sporting oversized wild Hawaiian shirts and bounding about the stage cracking jokes with carefree abandon, Brandon and Tim (vocals and guitar) cracked jokes that kept the audience laughing right through to the very end of this entertaining set.
The Great Lie, hailing from the heartland of Long Island, a distinction made all the more apparent by Kerry (vocals) sporting a white t-shirt with LONG ISLAND emblazoned across the chest like a billboard. The band took off running and soon had the dance floor moshing it up as they kicked out some hard-hitting heavy metal/hardcore tunes. The energy and power of this band hits like a lightning bolt from the sky, sizzling the audience with their music. Which is no surprise considering the collective background of its band members. Starting in 2014, original members once included Mark (bass) and Harry (drums) from the first round of Two Man players, but now has the rhythm section of John Lafata and Scott Martin, so you know they kick some mean ass. [For a whose who of members that run the gamut of some of the more legendary LI90s band check out our review of them in the record section]. With this in mind, it is almost redundant to add that their music was a powerhouse of the heavy and the hard from start to finish and that Kerry could have won an Olympic gold with the speed and agility he exhibited. If you haven’t seen them then look forward to when you can.
And then finally…it was DI’s time to shine. After a long hiatus, having not seen these guys since October 2013 when we had the opportunity to spend an evening at a punkfest at Los Globos in Silverlake, a suburb of LA, where they were the headlining act. And, incidentally the original LA’s Wasted Youth made a guest appearance. For some this evening was a first time run in with the band, such as a twelve-year kid who was there with his dad, both fans of the same band. (Yikes! And Yikes! Again!)
With little pretension and no ego histrionics, the inimitable Casey Royer assumed his rightful mantle of punk rock royalty, looking a little older and a little longer in the tooth in the seven-year interim, sporting a backwards baseball cap. That said, from the minute Casey grabbed the mic he was very much his usual energetic self, as the band treated everyone to the hits they had been waiting for, from “Hang Ten…”, “Richard Hung Himself”, “OC Life”, and “Guns’, to the ever classic nod to his Adolescents’ days, “Amoeba,” The set was interspersed with some of their newer numbers including their most recent ep additions, such as the soon to be classic “Surf Punk in the USA”.[see record reviews]
The crowd as to be expected lapped up the tunes like a cat with a bowl of warm milk, dancing with carefree abandon in the now packed to the gills room. Of course, Casey interspersed the songs with his pearls of wisdom, which no show would be complete without..and then like a balloon bursting it was all over. The lights went on. The crowd dispersed into the night. Everyone a lot happier. Walking out into the frigid night air with a shit eating grin of satisfaction, ready to face the weekend ahead.
w/ Opulence, Chesty Malone and the Slice ‘em Ups, School Drugs, Drunken Rampage
And so…here we are at yet another Kingsland show – only this time it’s to say bon voyage to Poison Idea. The second of two nights, and everyone who is everyone ( big name scenesters and those who think they are ) is here to be a part of the whole circus. So before I continue, let me first thank the folks of Chesty Malone for putting one of on the list, that was cool of you guys. 30 dollars for one ticket was steep, but biting the bullet is sometimes required! Which brings me to the next farcical moment of the evening which STILL has me shaking my head…
After greeting the security for the required pat down, I was told by the “doorguy” the show was sold out – so no ticket. Been there, done that –my problem was soon solved. But not before watching some people responsible for this show display some of the most unnecessary “flexing” I’ve dealt with in years. Childish disagreements aside? I should have taken this as an omen…
So where was I…oh yes, the review!!!. So anyway, this is my second go round with the band Opulence – and I still haven’t figured them out. There’s just something about them that rubs me the wrong way, I’m still trying to figure out in what capacity. But just like the last time I encountered them (opening for Hank Von Hell) – I simply STILL can’t find anything Opulant whatsoever with this lot. Sorry…..
As for Chesty Malone, they barnstormed the small stage like bulls in a china shop – but this isn’t unusual for this bunch. Asides from a little bloodletting with Jackie’s knee – and some eloquently placed sarcasm (“sorry were not YDI….” sneered Jackie at one point), their set was a bombast with very few moments to breathe, which kept you alert and very aware. Newer tunes like “Everybody Hates Me” and “Satanic Brooklyn Scum” were included from the newest single, but before you knew it? It was a wrap. But wait!!! It wasn’t over yet…
School Drugs, hailing from none other than the Jersey Shore ( they mentioned that at least 3 times in their set, so…) were a bit of a shock to my system. I’ve heard the name before but was unsure who they were – not after tonight! Seems that along with other Jersey bands I’ve come across in recent times like Hot Blood , School Drugs tap into this one particular sound and delivery lifted from that early 80s wave of NJ and give it some proper justice. Their frontman twists, contorts, jumps, thrashes around and howls like a man possessed – making their time on stage eye grabbing and entertaining at the same time. They definitely got the goods on stage, so if they’re on a bill somewhere near you? Give em a try…
At this point, Drunken Rampage need no introduction, seasoned vets every member. Ever the loquacious bunch, each one of these guys could give any stand up comic a run for his money, hands down. And frontman Simon Trolley caps it off perfectly telling tales about backpacks, beer bellies, and the inability to afford meds among other things. The tunes are all high energy cathartic blasts the are powered by the energy feeding off the kids in the front. DR’s set blew by pretty quickly as a result – leading us to the point we knew was about to arrive…
By the time Jerry A led Poison Idea onto the tiny stage, the room was too packed to contemplate the idea of breathing. After the first few songs, I moved further back to get some air – and for some reason, getting photos was more than a little difficult for me (an unusual scenario)…the vocals came thru a bit weak, compared to the rest of the band. And while they played a bunch of decent songs for the faithful – and the crowd reaction was strong – it just seemed…kinda anti-climatic? I dunno…I just felt there was something missing – at least for me.
So post mortem- all I can say is this :
Sometimes? “Farewell Shows” are more hype than actual substance. Your welcome to disagree, but then again…..next time YOU write about it. - DB
w/AGNOSTIC FRONT & DROPKICK MURPHYS
Wells Fargo Arena Philadelphia, PA 12/14/19
From its inception, hardcore punk was always about community. It was always about friendship, about the connection between band and audience, which often were one and the same. There was never meant to be a barrier between the two; and this has for the most part held true up until the present, with the exception of stadium/arena rock, in which there exists a large gap between band and audience and the connection is severed. Unless you are willing to spend anywhere from several hundred dollars and up for a floor ticket, the band appears as a tiny image, unless you came equipped with opera glasses or binoculars, or the stadium has their screens turned on like they do at hockey games. For the most part, the shows are held in sports arenas, where it is also more than likely you will have to pay top dollar for the privilege of parking, not to mention the cost of a beer or mixed drink. And merchandise is double or more of what you would pay in a club. So to fully experience a show at a Wells Fargo or Prudential Center, one is guaranteed to leave with more than just empty pockets or a zero balance on their bank card. And that is why arena rock, in my opinion, sucks. It is one of the biggest corporate scams in the music industry, and is everything to avoid. Unfortunately, sometimes it turns out to be the only avenue open to see a band like The Misfits, and that is a damn shame. Especially as for many of the people attending such as show, this is their only opportunity to ever see the band.
As these venues go, Wells Fargo is definitely a cut above the Prudential, where the seats are graded in such a way that when you stand there is no incline, and instead it is like looking down the sheer walls of the Grand Canyon, which is a little scary when you are trying to also dance in place.
The sound is also a cut above. At the Prudential, The Misfits sounded muddy and a bit distorted. In contrast, at the Wells Fargo there was a cleaner, crisper sound. But that said, I certainly preferred seeing the band back in the early 80’s in clubs like Great Gildersleeves and Irving Plaza, even with the wall of feedback which was their trademark back then.
Although we had the best seats $100 could buy, the bands looked small enough to fit in the palm of your hand at that distance, which is kind of amusing after having just seen Agnostic Front the night before up close and personal at The Blackthorn, where I was up on the stage happily snapping pictures.
Speaking of Agnostic Front…I was wondering how their sound, which is so patently a New York club affectation, would transcend to such a completely different plateau. But, transcend they did. In fact, their music appeared stronger and more dynamic in this massive space and Roger’s voice carried itself well.
The set opened with a number of songs off their more recent albums (recent being a more relative term), before stepping back to older, familiar territory with “The Eliminator” (a nod to Vinnie’s old band) off the Cause For Alarm lp, and then “Power” and “Victim In Pain” off the self titled album. During, I believe it was, “Power”, Vinnie made his way into the crowd, dissolving the man made barricade and bringing a sense of the old school camaraderie, like a breath of fresh air into the show. Roger was able to capture the crowd with his stage presence and had them in the palm of his hand during “Crucified” and “Gotta Go”, which had the crowd signing along in unison with the band. The set ended on an amusing note, with Roger extolling the praises of fellow NYers, The Ramones, and actually covering “Blitzkrieg Bop”, for which my sensibilities will never be the same.
Next up, was a band that in another lifetime I would have been extolling praises over their musical ability and catchy barroom toe tapping tunes, but like I said, that was back a decade or two ago – the band I saw on the stage in Philly was not the one whose ep I first reviewed in 1996 nor were they the one I saw sharing a bill with Digger on small stage upstairs at Coney Island High on a weeknight in early ’97, with their original singer Mike swung his arm back and forth like a drunken sailor to some of the catchiest Oi Punk Irish traditional tunes I ever heard. There was magic that night. There was magic in those first eps and on their debut lp, Do Or Die. But no insult to Al Barr, who was great when he fronted The Bruisers, but as time went on and members left, the music lost that magic and what was left on stage at the Wells Fargo was nothing like the band that I once considered one of my favorites. But that as I said, was a long time ago.
This version of the Dropkick Murphys that I saw before me was a well polished hybrid of mainstream rock and roll with clear cut Irish music complete with tin whistle, bagpipes and fiddle that dominated nearly, if not all, the tunes. There wasn’t a hint of the songs that had epitomized their early style. Ken Casey, the only original member extant, had dropped his bass for sharing the vocal spotlight with Al Barr, and together they still couldn’t hold a candle to Mike’s resonant vocals.
In keeping with the season of all things merry, they produced a black humored Christmas tune, from their bag of limited tricks. “The Season Is Upon Us’, the video that acted as a backdrop to the song, left me feeling a bit cheated. Even their attempt to reconnect with their punk roots by covering “I Fought The Law”, a song made infamous by The Clash, who incidentally also covered it themselves, just didn’t make up for what they had left behind. For what it is worth, they were polished and professional and fit in well with the thematic of festival and arena rock sensibilities, and as I understand they sell out shows, but for me that magic they left behind, wasn’t worth the price they paid.
After recovering from the disappointment of the boys from Boston, and what seemed like a forever wait, the gang from Lodi, New Jersey took the stage as if they had never left it. Glenn, Doyle and Jerry with newcomers Dave Lombardi, drummer for Slayer and Acey Slade, surrounded by two giant Halloween pumpkins, their patented trademark, had the crowd on their feet, roaring. Glenn grabbed the mic, shouting to the audience, in one of his more pumped of moments, how they had been told back in the day that a punk band could never sell out Madison Square Garden, yet last October they had done just that and “fuck the music industry asswipes that said otherwise.” It was a crowning, triumphant moment that was a long time in coming and set the mood for the rest of the night.
In contrast to last year’s show in New Jersey, on this night the Misfit’s set was seamless, the music tight and powerful, with the energy palpable. And this time, the three original members standing appeared to be a real band and not three individuals sharing a stage. Don’t get me wrong, the glamour of the moment didn’t hide the fact that cold hard cash, and lots of it, drove this show forward, but nonetheless it was definitely in the memorable category that made it one I won’t soon, if ever, forget.
They opened with “Death Comes Ripping” from Earth A.D., followed by “I Turned Into A Martian” and “20 Eyes” (in reverse order from Walk Among Us), which by this time had everyone standing in front of their seats [which was also in direct contrast to the other show where I alone was standing, surrounded by “sitting corpses.”]
And the hits just kept on coming – “Vampira”, “Mommy Can I Go Out..”, “London Dungeon” [which had me recalling an interview I did with Bobby Steele in his old LES apartment years ago, where he recanted the story behind that song], “Teenagers From Mars”, “Children In Heat”, et al. Glenn was very loquacious this go around, chatting up to the audience and the band, as he moved ever closer to the edge of the stage reconnecting with the fans, while Jerry and Doyle wielded their axes as if they were real weapons, complete in all their horror makeup glory, a fact made more apparent when Jerry broke at least three basses during the course of the evening. With so many great infamous songs to choose it was one roller coaster of a ride – for me hearing “Horror Business”, “Astro Zombies” and my very favorite, “Last Caress”, were the peak moments as I tried to dance and not fall down the bleachers and break my neck. I know Don didn’t appreciate my using his arm as a ballast.
Although they played for well over an hour, it ended all too soon, with a four song encore that finished with “We Are 138” and Glenn promising to see everyone real soon – a far cry from the firm goodbye of yes, the Prudential Center. Do you hate that name yet?? And, yes, here was this amazing band standing proud in their moment of triumph in the home of the Flyers (not my fave team btw) making a promise that hopefully was not of the moment and we too will come back to see them somewhere which hopefully doesn’t involve getting on a plane and flying clear across the country, because one thing is for sure, I wouldn’t want to miss the grand finale a repeat performance would surely be. And, yes, it was for once not raining when I stepped outside into the parking lot. -- wje
Sick Of It All - New York Dive Bar Tour
w/Gilligan’s Revenge Agnostic Front
The Blackthorn, Queens 12/13/19
Right before the final Christmas rush, NYHC fans had the opportunity to experience two legendary hardcore bands, Agnostic Front and Sick Of It All (not to mention Gilligan’s Revenge for this show only) teaming up to play a series of local venues across four of the five boroughs in what was dubbed “the Dive Bar Tour.” The order of the shows which ran the course of four out of five days, started on Wednesday at the Bowery Electric in Manhattan, followed by Mother Pugs (SI), this show and ending at The Kingsland on Sunday in Brooklyn. [For those NYHC Bronx residents who might be feeling left out, during an interview with Lou after the show, I asked what happened to the Bronx. It seemed the venue that fit the bands’ needs was not available for the night they wanted and the logistics just didn’t work for them playing solo on Saturday while AF was in Philly – see interview for more detes.]
Now…back to the show at hand...the reason for choosing The Blackthorn, located near the old Lamour East, over any of the other venues the bands were playing came down to simply it being the best place to take pictures. I would have loved Mother Pugs, especially since my friend Phil from The Blame/Rapid Deployment does the sound there and it is a really good place to hang out and is also unfortunately underrated because it is in Staten Island (not a cheap or easy place to get to) –unfortunately it also has the tiniest of stages and short of standing on top of the bar, photographing the bands was a distinct impossibility. That said..it turned out that Friday the 13th, of course, was one of the worst nights to be out with a rainstorm that was more a nor’easter. When we got to the narrow streets off Queens Boulevard, we couldn’t find parking anywhere and wound up having a fifteen minute walk through deep puddles and bone drenching gales that left us completely soaked when we finally made it past the security and Nicky Camp, never a pleasant experience. Of course, by this time Gilligan’s Revenge were halfway through their set, which was the other main reason for choosing this particular show as I have being a long time fan of them. [For those of you not up on your hardcore history, Gilligan’s Revenge were an Astoria based band from the early 80’s. For some reason, which has always remained a mystery to me, and right around the time Anthony joined the band on vocals, they changed the name to Token Entry. I can still remember when they announced this fact to me during an interview in my old apartment in Jackson Heights and me asking why? Gilligan’s Revenge was just such a cool name.]
So here they were back on stage again –original members Ernie on drums and Johnny Steigerwald on bass, with Anthony Communale, their second singer after John left, and Jason “Jay Sin” of Warzone and Gray Area, rounding things out on guitar. The music, which epitomized the sound of Queens hardcore of that early 80”s period, the kind I cut my teeth on back in the day, was blasting out from those speakers making me feel all warm and nostalgic. My only regret, besides missing part of the set, was that they didn’t play my two faves – “Astoria”, a great singalong tune which had all the kids screaming out the chorus back in the day at CBs, and a sight to behold, as well as their awesome cover of the old 60s band The Rascals’ song “Good Lovin’’ – a song that was always guaranteed to get me dancing my ass off in the pit. But all regrets aside, it was good to see them back up on the stage where they belonged and hopefully it will happen again sometime in the not too distant future. Nice to see all of you guys!!
By the time Agnostic Front were setting up their gear, this sold out show was pretty packed and I was starting to dry out from all the heat generated by so many sweating bodies. Perched up in the corner of the stage with my trusty camera in hand, I waited for AF to ascend the stage and put on a show that would knock everyone’s proverbial socks off. And they did not disappoint.
Roger was excited to be back here, and was looking forward to his family arriving in from Phoenix to see them play the next night in Philly [see separate review]. The crowd by this time was like a wave of swarming, swaying bodies, leaning over the stage, screaming for the band, and just screaming along to many of the old faves, of which there were plenty through the course of the set.
Vinnie was bouncing back and forth on the stage, wielding his guitar like a club, swinging it over his head and posing for photo ops as Pokey (drums), Mike Gallo (bass) and Craig Silverman (guitarist for Slapshot) banged out the music along with him. Roger stood out near the edge of the stage shouting out the tunes in his distinctive style that we have all come to know and love including “Victim In Pain” and “Your Mistake” as well as the classic cover of Iron’ Cross’s “Crucified”, which they have since embraced as their own, as well as the Warzone inspired “Gotta Gotta Go”, alongside newer songs, including “Old New York” which everyone had seen on YouTube by now. The set ended with Roger announcing that they were shooting a live video recording of a very new song “Urban Decay”, giving the audience instruction on what to do during the various takes, which amounted to about three or four before they called it quits. Looking forward to seeing the video when it comes out, hopefully in the early New Year.
As the band left the stage, I had a brief opportunity to talk to some of the guys from SOIA before they took their turn at bat. I was particularly interested in their reaction to playing Mother Pugs which is most definitely a step back in time to the old small clubs that hardcore got its start in. This being the no frills era, with no deli platters or cases of cold beer, and definitely no back stage dressing room for warm ups – and as an interesting aside, a lot of bands it seems tend to forget those raw, gritty days that made hardcore what it is..thanks Mother Pugs for keeping the true spirit of hardcore’s flames burning!
Now, as we all know, AF is a tough act to follow and many people might be intimidated in doing just that, especially with their moniker of “The Godfathers of Hardcore”, but SOIA are no slouches and their creds are pretty amazing in and of themselves. Although, as Lou said, props to AF and Murphy’s Law, bands that he still looks up to, feeling a little uncomfortable to be the headliner of this night’s festivities. But as we all know, SOIA is a band that never fails to put on a world class performance nor are they one to make anyone feel left out. These seasoned veterans have been churning out their now infamous brand of hardcore since the mid 80s and still convey the same power, freshness and energy they brought to the stage more than 30 years ago. Lou is the penultimate frontman, engaging the audience from the minute he takes the mic in hand, joking, telling personal anecdotes and making everyone feel like this is one big family. Pete, the other half of the Koller brothers, still does these amazing leaps and spins like he is still 20 years old and if he does break a sweat, he never lets the energy let up, from first to last note. With Craig Setari on bass and Armand Majiri on drums, both of whom I have known since the Straight Ahead and Rest In Pieces days respectively, the music is a powerhouse that shreds, tearing down barriers and bringing everyone into their inner circle, where the high priests of hardcore give their benediction, and by the end of the have night, everyone has become cleansed and renewed in the HC temple of SOIA. And if the band didn’t’ cleanse you, the torrents of rain waiting outside certainly did. --wje
HANK VON HELL
@Brooklyn Bazaar 8/8/19
Here's the scoop on Mr Von Hell. Former Turbonegro vocalist takes a 10 year vacation - gets clean and sober, and puts out a solo LP...and decides to tour. only problem is with getting a USA visa....sooooooo....here we are on a Thursday night, something like a year after the fact - awaiting to see the man in action. Sparse turnout aside, Hank himself is entertaining, but talks a bit too much and gets a bit akward to say the least. Visually, his band isnt bad and they pose and do odd things at the appropriate times - and some of his solo stuff like " Dirty Money" aint too shabby...but the best reactions were for the tunes that sounded like vintage Turbonegro. And (of course) some Turbo Classics were dropped, sending Hank Devotees into "Denim Exctasy" - as to be expected!! On a whole, this show left me in a odd place...I feel Mr Von Hell coulda brought much more to the game musically - it just seemed like something was lacking tonight. But if I had to pay the 30 dollars door price for the gig? Oh, FUCK NO....
As for the opening bands? Opulence had a frontman who looked suspiciously like Snidely Whiplash - and contained Sean from the Toilet Boys on guitar - but there wasnt much opulence found here whatsoever...sorry, I'll pass.
The Spiders (not from Mars) were actually musically well organized - but they made me feel I was back in the late 70's bar scene, craving cheap warm beer to help deal with the post nasal drip from less than stellar yayo...if you lived it, you KNOW - if not? You aint missing much, baby....let's leave it at that.
On the plus side? I got to hear "I Got Erection" being sung by the guy who sang it the first time around...if that means anything...
w/KILLER OF SHEEP, NO REDEEMING SOCIAL VALUE, RAMALLAH
@ ST VITUS
Apparently this show was such a hot ticket, that bands were added last minute (or before we knew about it ) , due to the fact that Silence Equals Death just walked off stage when we got there!! One of those shrug the shoulder moments, but even still…annoying to say the least!!
I’ve already seen Killer Of Sheep before tonight, but this time? Insanity. Industrial strength, rapid fire hardcore punk straight outta the early 80s – but with tremendous staying power and frenetic energy that leaves you happily exhausted, and questioning what the fuck did I just see…I’m gonna tell you this – ANY BILL YOU SEE WITH KILLER OF SHEEP LISTED – GET YOUR SORRY ASS TO THAT SHOW!!! Your new favorite band awaits ya…
No Redeeming Social Value STILL have what it takes to “rock the party”, but guys…waiting for “Wasted for Life” to drop??? The natives are getting antsy, brothers…who’s legs we gotta break to make this happen?? Ok, seriously now… this was a fun set by the Brothers Miller, inc…you got “More Tattoos “, “Skinheads Rule”, dudes dressed as chickens and 40oz bottles in the pit, and at least one or 2 new tracks from the new LP… NRSV always seem to know just how much to give a crowd, and it works every damn time. Got to catch up with Dean after the set about what’s coming up for NRSV – and let’s just say …on second thought – you’re all just gonna have to wait and find out!! Which brings to the next portion of the show…..
Ramallah contains the one and only “White Trash” Rob Lind , formerly of Blood For Blood. But all that aside? I dunno if I’d classify them in the Hardcore category – mainly because there is a lot more going on musically than anything one dimensional. Lind himself was engaging with the audience while pacing a circle into the stage , delivering between song asides with that accent thicker than New England Clam Chowder – definitely salt of the earth, no pretensions whatsoever. The set was musically tight, and showed a lot of promise – maybe I’d need to hear them another time or two to get a better idea of where they’re doing – but from a first impression? Not a bad start…
The last NYC appearance of SUB ZERO was at the closing of the much lamented Grand Victory (RIP) where they blew the room to splinters and ashes, pretty much. They were the perfect band to close the clubs doors, in my opinion…so when I heard they were playing a one off show for 2019?? Somehow I know this was gonna be a blowout – and disappointment was NOT gonna be in the cards…
The one thing about these guys that set them apart from a lot of the other 90’s crop is that along with Queens bands like EGH, they were truly a “wild card” band - you never truly knew what would happen at one of their shows. Heavy ness and high energy between band and audience sometimes made for a volitile setting – and yes, it was something you had to see to believe. And tonight?? In all honesty?? From the minute they took the stage, they started an assault that didn’t let up till the last note violently faded…and the audience themselves took the show to a whole other level – when notorious dance pit terrors like “Uncle Jigs” Dijan from the old Castle Heights days get out on the floor – you realize that things just went into overdrive – and you either choose to join in, or run for the safety of the back of the room!!!
So in short, the true testimonial of tonight’s show was all the happy people that filed out of Vitus, sweat soaked but obviously happy to have been part of one of the better shows to hit that smallish stage in some time. SUB ZERO came to crush – and that mission was accomplished – with some help from a few good friends…lets hope it wont be another 3 years till the next time!!!
ANTI NOWHERE LEAGUE
w/Razorblade Handgrenade, HUGE
and 45 Adapters
The Kingsland July 1st
Oh boy, another sold out show at The Kingsland on a hot sweat dripping, bodies packed shoulder to shoulder Monday night! What more could a girl ask for?
Razorblade Handgrenade opened the festivities with Wes (singer) beseeching the small yet growing audience to get a circle pit going, which was kind of amusing with Sean (bass) and Wes bobbing up and down on the stage like corks (shades of House of Pain!)
The music was a mix of styles, including hip hop, thrash and new school hardcore/metal. Hey, don’t forget your roots! The best part of the set for me was the DRI lighting fast thrash guitar parts in some of the tunes, which all had a number of styles and time changes thrown into their mix. The most constant part that sticks in my head, was the endless litany of a call for that circle pit, even with Wes asking the audience, “Does anyone even know what a circle pit is. After all, it is 2019.” Go figure!
Songs were dedicated to old school punks, OG hardcore and even the Pyramid Club, where the band played way back when they first started in 2006, when the club was still offering Sunday matinees.
Huge took the mantel next, fronted by Russell Inglay, who is a man who needs no introduction, with his street cred dating to his early days with Murphy’s Law when he could be seen with his skateboard, at a time when skating was considered outlaw and no one wore Thrasher t-shirts without being a part of the skater culture.
I must say, having seen Huge more than a few times in the last few years, they just keep getting better and better. Russell was totally into the game; animated, full of energy, he ran about on stage, joking around with the audience. At one point, he even jumped onto the railing itself and literally walked it like a tightrope. The set included all of the songs on their now classic ep. One of their songs had me scratching my head as Russell dedicated “Hot and Cold” to all of his “friends in Astoria.” Some of the highlights in the midst of a great set which include some awesome guitar riffs by Gerry Franklin, included “Move”, which was a memorable 70s style blend of punk and rock and roll, followed by an excellent cover of DOA’s classic “Last Night.” Kudos to one of my favorite OG people for making their part of the night so awesome.
By the time 45 Adaptors were on stage the room was packed all the way to the bathrooms. Gerard, as could be predicted was a little on the inebriated tip, which was cool because his one liners are guaranteed to offend all those whining PC people who shouldn’t have been at this show to begin with. He is probably the only person I know who can say “tepid applause” and get away with it, or dedicate a song to his “micro penis’ or have a song about “fucking someone in the bathroom.”
The band's music is a heady mix of fifties style rock and roll with elements of Oi, skinhead and country music which is very very danceable. There was mention of an upcoming record, as they trotted out the newish tune “Now or Never”, which will be featured on said lp. The set ended with the triple header of “Don’t Trust Anyone Who Doesn’t Dance,” a cover of the Cockney Reject’s “Oi Oi Oi!” and of course, “let’s Get Loaded”, which of course, they already were. As always, thanks guys for all that feel good music.
And after 40 minutes of waiting in the sweltering packed sweatbox, the anxious crowd were treated to Anti Nowhere League’s string of hits.
The band had come a long way from my first encounter with them in early 1982 at the old Ritz in Manhattan where the opened for the UK Subs. And here they were, 37 years later in a packed venue in Brooklyn. By this point, visibility for me was out of the question, but from what glimpses I could get of Animal, he looked good for an old geezer. Not that I’m one to talk!
The set opened with Animal shouting, “Brothers and sisters, how are we doing? Are you ready to party”, before launching straight into “Can’t Stand Rock and Roll”, as a sea of phones replaced the once traditional lighters, and everyone tried to outdo one another capturing that certain special moment for posterity, or at least Facebook.
The sound quality fluctuated throughout the set, at times coming out muted and fuzzy, and at others, loud, hard and clear, which at time could be a little disconcerting. Otherwise it was a great show with the band covering their catalogue of hits likes of “I Hate People”, “Let’s Break The Law”, “Woman,” “So What”, and of course, “Rallph Mctell’s classic “Streets Of London.” Animal declared him “the last cowboy” before getting everyone to clap for Charlie Harper, the greatest punk rocker that ever lived, which of course, launched them into “I Want To Be Like Charlie Harper”.
Some songs stood out and grabbed you by the proverbial crotch, while at others, the music was a backdrop for the drama surrounding the stage. All in all it was a great night with great bands..and really, what more can you ask for? -- wje
Maximum Penalty King Nine Backtrack
Brooklyn Bazaar June 28
Thanks to NYC Friday night traffic, a short half hour ride on the BQE turned into a two hour nightmare and we just managed to squeak into the early part of Maximum Penalty’s set. I hadn’t seen these guys in a number of years and in the interim they have become notably tighter, especially with the addition of Eric “Goat” on drums. Their music is a blend of old and new school hardcore but with a patented twist that is uniquely their own. Jimmy’s voice has that resonating quality that manages to carry and hold the notes at just the right moment, while at the same time being able to dodge the dancers that crash onto the stage, at one time I swear even landing square into his balls. No mean feat! Unlike many of the newer hardcore bands, Maximum Penalty’s songs have distinct elements to each of them, so that although they flow effortlessly from one into another, they don’t sound like one continuous song. We were treated to a set peppered with great tunes, as the band sweat their balls off in a sold out club where the gymnastics brought more than a bit of Castle Height into the pit. The energy was palpable and made for a fun and memorable, did I mention danceable, performance.
Unfortunately, I can’t say the same for the two Long Island bands that followed, along with their clueless caravan of followers who seemed to think that hardcore was an action movie in the making. King Nine, a more heavy than hardcore band, had the stage stomping as they crashed around , sometimes even looking suspiciously like they were posing for those special shots for budding female photographers looking to become the next BJ Papas (as if!). Musically, the sound had more in common with everything metal with a smattering of new school pretension. Halfway through the set, Nick (bassist) , let his man bun down and with his free flying hair looked every bit the Frodoesque metalhead he most likely was. Then, of course, Dan (singer) tore off his shirt to reveal a road map of ink across his chest. None of which impressed me, as I yawned my way through the screechy vocals and steady stream of one long ho hum song in the downtuned key of C...
After King Nine, I might as well have hit the road, especially after waiting for an eternity for Backtrack, who should have taken their name more literally, to set up. The best that can be said for them is, their adoring fans loved them and the dancing was the most fiercely violent I have seen in years, taking it up to a new level and bringing it onto the stage. Sometimes, though, that just isn’t enough. -- wje
W/Crippled Earn Bastard Clan The Last Stand
The Kingsland 6/14/19
Friday, June 14th we found ourselves back on Norman Avenue heading towards The Kingsland, a club that has been hosting a good majority of the hardcore and punk shows in recent times. Prior to its renaming, “The Place” was a local bar that had a backroom where many NY bands could play. The new owners added a stage and sound system and it has since become one of the prime spots for touring bands. One of the drawbacks is the aggressive security and door staff, who have adopted the practice of major venues like Irving Plaza and The Gramercy, with their search and frisk tactics, some of which appears to be totally unnecessary and overly aggressive. Tonight’s show was no exception.
Once we made it past the goon squad, the place was packed for a great show with three talented local bands plus Ignite, from OC county, California. This was my first time seeing Crippled Earn (and yes, that is how they spell it!) a hardcore band from the Bronx who have been kicking it since 2017. Tyler Guida, a passionate frontman whose lyrics each have a back story that relates to his personal experiences such as disappointment with friends and family and the hardship of trying to survive in a city where the disparity between the wealthy and the working class grows exponentially. Right now he is ranting about his fifteen minutes of fame and his excitement at being on the same stage as one of his favorite bands, or as he puts it, “since I was a little dickhead one of my favorite bands was Ignite and I am enjoying being up on the same stage as them.” At times the music had an Oi element to it, reminding me of bands like Truth In Needles, especially on the singalong choruses. Tyler tended to dominate the stage, pacing back and forth, emulating the emotion and gestures of Richie Underdog, while the rest of the band churned out some pretty rocking tunes. Definitely a good first impression to start off the night.
The sets were pretty short for all the opening bands and with the time constraints seemed a little rushed, most notably when Bastard Clan were up on stage. Usually there is a lot of friendly banter between members, which often is inclusive with the crowd, but tonight was more subdued (which the guys attribute to sobriety as well as the shortened set --- see interview- ed.)
If you are not familiar with this band, who already have five years of playing under their belt, they have an all star line up with John Rosado (The Krays) on vocals, Carlos Cartagena (The Truents, The Krays) on lead guitar, Brian “Shonan” (Suburban Crisis, On The Offence) on drums, John Strapp (The Straphangers) on bass and Taras Appuzo (All Out War) on guitar. The thing about this band is that they are all really good musicians n their own right who have come together to play some really tight melodic and catchy tunes. John’s distinctive melodic vocal style which Kray’s fans are quite familiar with, along with his stage presence a blend of humor and familiarity, add the right blend to make this band stand out. They have just released a brand new cd on Dead City Records, which should be available as we speak at Generation Records.
After the set we traipsed outside to interview three of the Bastard Clan a block away from the club, since the goon squad seemed to take great umbrage to having it conducted so near the door. While this is going on, The Last Stand are on stage, but no worries.. because Chris Wynne of In Effect has been kind enough to give us his take on the set.
“The Last Stand hit the stage just around 10:15pm busting out with the title track to their 2017 ep “This Is Real.” They played for just over 30 minutes playing songs off their releases that date back to their demo which came out in 2011 with everything they played being well received by the nearly packed out house. A cover of “Big Mouth” (complete with the BIDDIP-O intro) by Gorilla Biscuits closed out the set on a high note with a bunch of people grabbing to sing along to the GB classic” – courtesy of Chris Wynne, IN Effect
By the time we got back inside the place was so crowded you couldn’t squeeze into the main room even with a shoehorn, and watching the band unless you were a member of the NBA was out of the question. Thankfully, there is a screen directly across from the bar where you can watch the bands antics, but unfortunately, the music is less audible.
The first time we saw Ignite was back in the mid 90s at clubs like Coney Island High and The Wetlands – the music was a powerhouse of melodic Cali style hardcore punk and more than 20 years later the sound is as powerful now as it was then. Zoltan “Zoli” Teglas’ vocals have this distinctive quality that are comparative with Greg Graffin (Bad Religion) and Shawn Stern (Youth Brigade), vocals that have a power and energy that breath emotion into each and every song. In fact, Ignite covered “We’re Only Gonna Die” off the classic “How Can Hell Be Any Worse” lp, bringing goosebumps to any true Bad Religion fan.
At one point, early on the set, there was some altercation in the crowd, but thankfully it was squashed quickly and the show went on. The hour-long set was a catalogue of so many of the songs the band has gifted us with during their long career. Interspersed. Zoli, spoke passionately about issues such as immigration, communism and the current political climate – issues that have personal meaning to him.
Introing a tune off “War Machine”, Zoli spoke up about “the bullshit they are trying to pull right now about us going to war in Iran..why should our people go to war.. No wars with Iran.. no wars anymore.. why should our people die for nothing.” Some of the songs were sung in Hungarian and Bulgarian such as “Slow Down” about “freedom..about a small town and communism. It is close to our hearts.” The set closed with the anthemic “Freedom”, the music and words ringing in everyone’s ears as the band said goodnight, leaving us to take in the passion and meaning behind this amazing band and their political and socially fueled tunes. It would be amiss of me to end my review here without adding that bands like Ignite are so much more than their amazing stage show, they are political and social activists who use their music as a platform to engage their audience and make them aware of the importance of issues that affect all of us, not just here in the US, but globally. It is great to leave the show, hot and sweaty and energized, but is its even greater to take those words to heart and do something more with them than just going home and listening to their records – taking action really is the first step to the embodiment of “freedom”. Until next time, wje signing off….
SICK OF IT ALL
w/La Armada Slapshot Snapcase
@ Irving Plaza 6/8/19
Irving Plaza has the unique distinction of being one, if not the only, venue in New York City left in existence that has hosted first punk and then hardcore shows, since 1978. I first saw bands like the Dead Boys, The Stranglers, The Specials, Madness and Nine Nine Nine, to name a few, back in 1980. And In 1981 I experience my first taste of hardcore at a show there featuring the Stimulators, the Necros and the Circle Jerks where I was introduced to slamming for the first time. So for me, coming back to this anachronistic site nestled between 15th and 16th Street on Irving Place, is like revisiting an old friend, where pretension is discarded at the door and everyone comes together to be part of the musical experience, so it is fitting that a band that defies pretention and emotes inclusion on all levels should be heading this Saturday night’s festivities.
The first band, La Armada, whose roots extend back to the Caribbean but make their home in the Windy City, got the show off to a rousing start with their unique blend of styles. By the time Slapshot took to the stage the club was packed with wall to wall sweaty bodies and a circle pit had opened up in the middle of the room. Carrying the torch of Old school Boston hardcore and dressed in regulation black with one member donning a Bruins baseball cap, a not so surprising tribute to the team who are tied for the Stanley Cup as of this writing, the band beat out a steady onslaught of Boston hardcore tunes, epitomized by the anthemic “I’ve Had Enough.” From up where I was standing in the balcony the hardhitting sound of the bass and drums was like a primal scream of rage roaring out over the crowd; while Choke’s facial expressions and gestures emoted pure passion in perfect synch with the music. Although there was no gymnastics or bounding about the stage, the energy of the band was like a living force that blasted its way through the entire set from beginning until the very last note of “Step On It” died away.
In contrast to the brutal force of the Boston quartet, Snapcase had the dance moves down pat but without the powerful onslaught to back it up. Since the first time I was introduced to this band from Buffalo, NY at Coney Island High back in the 90s I have never quite got the appeal of their post hardcore emo style. Their intro tape set the mood for the performance, a dark and foreboding semi hypnotic instrumental, which when the lights came on, revealed the band clad in plaid shirts and trendy facial hair, led by frontman Darryl, whose dramatic movements made me think more Broadway show tunes than hardcore music. Strategically the guys jumped, they leaped, they moved to the beat of their own muse as Darryl leaped to the barricade to connect with his mass audience who swayed to the mid tempo beat. During the pauses when the collective members switched instruments, and they did this quite frequently, Darryl regaled the audience with such inciteful comments as to how they were getting old, but would never be as old as SOIA or Slapshot, a jab at humor which was as impactful as their music. It was a long drawn out sigh that went on for way to long until finally they left the stage and presumably the audience with a collective sigh of relief as they awaited the band that everyone had come to see.
After the obligatory wait while the gear was set up for the main event, the strains of “Welcome Back’, the theme from TV classic “Welcome Back Kotter”, announced the presence of the band who have now become legendary in the annals of hardcore history took to the stage. What can be said about SOIA that hasn’t been written already in countless music zines during their 30 plus years of history? They are a band that gives their all every single time from the moment they hit the stage running and after the last note is finished take the time to mingle with the audience – because unlike so many, this band truly is the epitome of what hardcore is and always should be – by the fans for the fans.
And..this night was no exception. With Lou’s screamed “Let the games begin,” they launched into a steady stream of tunes both old and new, covering the very fast early numbers to the slower more mid tempo ones but always with this insane frenetic energy that just keeps hitting you like the proverbial baseball bat. The amazing part of this is, these guys have the agility and stamina that few bands, if any, can match, and they do this while beating out the most powerful of tunes. Pete’s spinning in a circle, leaping up and down relentlessly and repeatedly while never missing a note is a sight that has to be seen to truly comprehend. And while the music is beating its way into your soul, Lou is reaching further inside with his words, whether it is telling the back story to “Crazy White Boy Shit” or referring to their first song ever written as “the Bohemian Rhapsody of hardcore.”
The place was an eruption of adulation as the audience expressed their love for this band that has given so much of themselves at every performance. What more can I say? SOIA stole the show and the soul of everyone present and no one even had to sign on the dotted line. Until next time…signing out..wje
THE ACCUSED A.D.
@ SAINT VITUS
W/64, DARKSIDE NYC, THE END
After getting the starting time for tonight wrong on my calendar , wound up missing out on openers 64, which kinda bummed me out…any project with Gary Bennett involved is usually worth checking out, so I’m sure there will be another opportunity to see 64 soon enough!! As for the rest of the evening?
Darkside are always great to see, but they aren’t for everyone, sonically. Powerful yet disjointed, and with Ritchies vocals teetering the tightrope of extreme and straight up doom style. In between the songs, banter was at a minimal…but you could see the vibe was straight up and laid back at the same time. Those who were brave enough to come in the room were into the tunes, and gave Darkside a good reception..for some reason, it didn’t seem like their set lasted that long…and after a rather short change over, The End were up next…
The End were tunefully thrashy for the most part, and metallic in various parts – with a vocalist who knew how to keep above the volume and then some!! But for whatever the reason, they just couldn’t keep my attention past the first few songs, and again… I can’t figure out why , but maybe it’s just me. Look me up and give em a try – maybe you’ll see/hear something that missed…
Ahhh…the ACCUSED A.D….I’m not gonna lie, I’m only slightly familiar with their recorded output, and never seen them live – EVER. Which turned out to be a treat, because asides from all the metallic widdlie-diddlie fretboard gymnastics, the Accused were pretty much a powerhouse band that were quite relentless – and their frontman Blaine is one of the sickest, most dementedly energetic guys I’ve seen in awhile…if you genetically spliced NYC scenester Johnny Stiff with a bridge troll? You’d get Blaine!!
One thing worth mentioning…this show should’ve drawn a LOT more of a crowd than it did. Why so few bodies in the room?? Cmon, you fuckers…get off the couch and start supporting live music again!!! In short, this was a pretty good show , considering that it was a Thursday night. But still…more people need to come on out to support bands ( and the clubs hosting as well!! ). It’s about time, yes??
@LE POISSON ROUGE 5/22/19
The last time the Undertones played in NYC was 14 years ago, to be exact. They had reformed with a new vocalist, and released a brand new album- then vanished again. So of course when it was announced that they were coming back, tickets flew quickly!! One sold out show led to an added show, which would serve as the first gig of a somewhat short tour…but no matter. Expectations ran high, the energy levels in the room were in the red – one of Ireland’s finest bands ever were due on stage. And??? They didn’t disappoint one bit – but first? The opening band…
I had last seen this “band” about 15 or so years ago, and was never quite impressed with them – for one reason in particular – moving up the ranks by playing up the “cutesy” factor without paying real dues is something that never sat right with me, ethic wise. So imagine my surprise when they turned up opening on what’s considered a “plum gig”… either way, things hadn’t changed in their 15 year absence. In other words? A shuck is still a shuck. Nexxxxxxxxxt!!!!!
As for the Undertones? They played it smart. When you don’t visit America for a long time, you keep the recent material to a minimum – and crank out the hits. And the O’Neil brothers have more than a few under their belt to satisfy an audience!! As for former frontman Fergal Sharkey, at this point I think people are used to the fact that he’s long gone – because the packed room enjoyed the Paul McLoone fronted band with all his showy but good-naturedly goofy antics without any issues whatsoever. So from opener “Family Entertainment “ to ender “My Perfect “Cousin “, you definitely got yourself what some might refer to as a “cracking show” on all levels. And I imagine that they will go down a blast at this years edition of Punk Rock Bowling, so…..catch em if possible – you WON’T be disappointed at all.
EYEHATEGOD, NEGATIVE APPROACH, SHEER TERROR
Since there were quite a few ads for this show all over cyberspace, it was hard to keep tabs on who actually was opening the show…but either way, we had just missed Phobia (according to a few of the people we knew at the gig), and Sheer Terror was up next. And since Reverend Bearer never disappoints, this kinda crowd made the prospect of how ST were gonna be received all the more interesting…..
After a meetup with none other than Brother Gary Mader while waiting to get inside, we soon got ready for what shaped up to be one evening that ensured to be heavy as fuck.
Sheer Terror gigs aren’t just about the songs they play – it’s also the interactivity between the audience and Paul – and sometimes, that can literally be half the gig. But tonight, the usual caustic barbs that Bearer levels and roasts those foolhardy enough to rise to the occasion were oddly subdued. The band seemed like they were just having low key fun, and they just didn’t give a fuck either way. They were happy to have women up in the front getting into the music, as opposed to the usual “buncha fuckin’ugly mooks goin “….(insert a spot on imitation of the typical drunken dude up in the front at a ‘hawdcaw’ show). As for the tunes? They knew the proper mix of old faves and newer stuff – and left it at that. And when it was over, that was all. See ya later, and goodnight. And then….?
“Yo, check it out. I’ve been here since 4 o’clock, and I’m ready to fuckin play, let’s fuckin GO!!”…ahh, John Brannon. As cuddly as a rattlesnake, with his expression permanently stuck in a grimace that makes Ted Cassidy (Lurch from the Addams Family) look radiant. But Negative Approach? Holy motherfucking Jesus…BANG!! CRASH!! WALLOP!! BLUARRRRRRRRRRG!!!! Then a pause…”yo, check it out”…now repeat. I’m gonna be straightforward here – I haven’t seen something like this in quite some time!! NA are a very well oiled machine set to decimate… my only gripe? How about some new material, guys? You’ve been back together for quite some time now – we all love “Ready to Fight”, “Nothing” and “Tied Down”…but it’s 2019. Seriously. At least consider it, ok???
Eyehategod. What can I say about them that hasn’t been said before?? With the absence of Brian Patton, there ARE times when you feel a void in that somewhat suffocating sonic wall that falls on you when EHG play . This particular lineup of the band is probably the best one yet – who definitely are holding their own in all ways possible - but on this particular day? They were no match for the brutality and energy level Negative Approach slammed out. Having to follow NA is a difficult task, but EHG tap a different vein and hit you in a different way – so there was a little of something for everyone at this gig.
Over all? The lineup of bands were pretty solid, which made it a fun show. Although the Kingsland is the furthest thing from my favorite club, the good time had tonight made me forget about the “being squeezed in a shoebox “effect. Till next time from the great indoors…..
Burn The Skies Ugly (Boston) Sick Minds (Boston) Enziguri
Alouth Record Release show
February 2 at The Nest
The Nest, located on Flatbush Avenue in East Flatbush is one of those newish clubs that seem to be popping up with increasing regularity in the ever popular borough of Brooklyn. At one time just the mention of Brooklyn brought up images of Saturday Night Fever, John Travolta and disco dancing at one end of the spectrum, and unsafe streets, organized crime and shoot outs on the other end.
You mentioned Brooklyn and it was one of those places no one wanted to move to….Now fast forward to 2019 and you have the influx of out of state hipsters taking over the borough, one neighborhood at a time, mass gentrification and a popularity that has rents equaling or surpassing those on the other side of the East River. And the Blue Bird Lounge, in which the Nest resides in its nether regions, located at the crossroads of new and old epitomizes this dichotomy, with the old guard residents rubbing shoulders with the hipsters all sporting the perfunctory beards and retro uniforms – at least upstairs in the lounge area with its neat little tables and spotless bar. Naturally, the two of us who fit into neither world, stand out like the old school hardcore punks that we are, left to wonder why we are here and what the fuck is going on with this show. Until someone points in the direction of the cellar door and we enter the nether region they call The Nest, where it is dark, dank, and dare I say it, a little bit crusty – but, wait, there a few things here you don’t see in any hardcore or punk venues – a little electric fireplace standing cozily on the edge of the stage, just waiting for someone to come by with a hot cup of cocoa and marshmallows. Instead you get a lot of kids that look suspiciously like they took the wrong turn to a frat party or could be extras in a high school alterna - movie, but of the “Rock ‘n Roll” kind. Which kind of sets the mood for the night, if you get my drift…
The first band we saw was Sick Minds, a five piece band from Boston, who filled up the tiny stage so that the singer spent the majority of the set prowling the perimeter of the front of the “stage”, getting up close and very personal with the crowd. The music was an a mixture of straight up hardcore with the “modern” hardcore thrown into the musical stew. The audience responded to the call of the music with wild abandon, slamming and smashing into each other. I think I event saw a windmill or two, almost, but not quite on par with the old Castle Heights variety.
Travis (vox) seemed fixated on addressing the audience as the collective “Brooklyn”, almost as if this was a sporting event (kind of poetical fitting as it was the eve of the Super Bowl) and reminding me of a certain singer from Inhuman in his effort to entice the crowd into action – and this crowd..well..they assumed the mantle and the moniker with total glee…embracing these New Englanders as their own.
Enziguri from the Bronx followed Sick Minds, and maybe if they hadn’t, the Bostonians (let’s hear it for the fire department!) would have made a better impression – but let’s face it, these guys fucking not only blew them away, but out of the ball park altogether. I don’t know if you, dear readers, have had the good fortune to check out these guys, but they sure can rock and ROCK HARD! Dave (vox) has imprinted some of the mannerisms of Lou (SOIA) into his stage presence, with a dash of the late great Raybeez, particularly in the way he relates to the audience and carries himself in the pit. The rest of the band have that pounding energy that makes you want to get up and mosh until the sweat is dripping in your ears. They leap, they jump and they bash their instruments in a way I rarely see these days. The songs were fast and furious in a set that for all its thirty minutes or so seemed over way to soon, making you want to hear more.
This stellar performance was capped off with a shout out to one of New York’s own late great legendary hardcore guitar heroes, Todd Youth, which made me like them all the more, as if that were at all possible. I understand they have a new record coming out, that Dave said was going to be entitled “Bronx Zoo.”, and I for one can’t wait to hear it.
The show concluded with Alouth, who were celebrating the release of their record, which I didn’t recall them mentioning on stage, but then neither did a see a physical copy of one anywhere, but that said, they are indeed an odd band, as indicated by their unusual name. Their set opened with a reimagining of the theme song from Stranger Things, one of my fave shows. (As an aside – can’t wait for season three to be released on Netflix on July 4th).
As to Alouth, their audience seemed to be in a feeding frenzy, the way they moved about and around the stage, dancing to the admixture of hardcore, experimental, I don’t know how to categorize life form of music. To be frank, the fast hardcore stuff was done well, and for the most part the band was tight with only a few missteps, but that is to be expected when playing live and transitioning styles the way they did. But for this OG girl, the newer shade of h/c punk or “Brooklyn sludge” – their self entitlement, left me a little on the not so happy side of the spectrum, so to speak. But I give those three guys mad props for tackling a large variety of music styles and incorporating them into a single song and by extension a whole set.
All in all, a good and unique intro to the “basement dwellers’ and The Nest – keepin’ it real in Brooklyn.
@BOWERY BALLROOM 5/12/18
W/ Mos Generator
(FOR THE FULL REVIEW, IT WILL BE IN THE UPCOMING PRINT ISSUE OF GUILLOTINE…IN THE MEANTIME, ENJOY A EDITED REVIEW, SOME PICS AND A LITTLE VISUAL FROM THE GIG!!)
A Friday night I n the lower east side of Manhattan, a sold out show with some seriously heavy hitters like Fu Manchu – man, it feels like 15 or 20 years ago indeed!! This was a ticket I surely couldn’t pass up for any reason without kicking myself afterwards…and no, there wasn’t one reason NOT to have a good time at this gig. So, lets go past the bouncers at the door – and see what unfolded…
Once you get past the the bar hounds soaking up UFO’s and pale ales galore, the small merch area was BRISTLING with activity – both bands represented with much gear/vinyl – fairly priced, and merch peeps weren’t dicks – a most refreshing change!! But, what about the bands?? Read on…
Mos Generator are definitely holding true to the riff ready heaviness and halcyon 70’s sounds, flexing sound and chops – very, very loudly, I might add. You kinda get caught up watching ‘em, to the point that the set breezes by in a way that’s kinda unexpected!! Definitely a band to catch if your mind is a little more open than usual…..
No intro, no pretense, and no warning – here come the Fu. With the amps balls up loud and thoroughly fuzzed as fuck – “Eatin Dust” kicked in, letting us know just what’s up – and the onslaught didn’t let up once!! A fair amount of the newbie “Clone Of The Universe” is served up, and was received well, responses were loud as the band themselves…lots of classic chestnuts served up, and loudly appreciated for sure – but the clincher was new tune “I’ll Monstro Atomico” in the usual place of “Saturn III” – where Bob Balch more than proved his point with style and taste, and some tripped out finesse for good measure!
After a small wait, we were given a choice by Hill for the closer…it was down to “Boogie Van”, or “Godzilla”….we got the ol green firebreather (while next night in Philly, THEY got “Boogie
To sum it up? This was a powerhouse of a gig, all killer delivery of some great songs- and Fu Manchu steamrolled their way thru the Bowery Ballroom. End of story. Till the next time…..
W/Super Hi Fi, Beat Brigade
Ok, lets start with a simple truth. Yes, Ive seen the Bad Brains on a few occasions – and no,Ive never seen HR’s solo act . While I truly respect their place in music history, Ive also never been one of the NYC contingent that jocks those guys to the point of nausea and ridiculousness. That being said, I was curious to see HR’s more….”spiritual” side. Having run across him in the flesh at recent and various gigs, the man is super mellow, polite, and more prone to sit with you on a porch, sipping a cool drink while discussing Jah’s teachings and mysticism – a stark contrast to the backflipping, screeching feral frontman from the days of the infamous ROIR cassette. So now, lets descend down the stairs of the Bowery Electric, and get right to it…..
Managed to see part of Beat Brigade’s set, and to be succinct – if you remember the 3rd wave of Ska, you can get the idea of what was going on here…these guys were around along with the Toasters and Urban Blight, so it was like revisiting the days of Wetlands (RIP) but on a smaller stage scale. Not too bad, but not something I’d seek out on a regular basis…
Brooklyn’s own Super Hi Fi brought trombone tweaked Dub stylings to the stage next, and mixed it up with some funkified and slightly rocked up grittiness – keeping you interested and entertained at the same time. They didn’t overstay their welcome, and the good time vibe that they brought gave the room a relaxed, yet upbeat feel that is an always welcome thing. Definitely check them out should you have a chance!!
When HR came down the stairs from the backstage area, it kinda set the tone of the rest of the evening, as in slow, unhurried and somewhat serene. Starting off by taking the time to shake hands
with almost everyone in the first 2 rows in front of the small stage, he repeatedly gave thanks to the assembled, blessing all of us time and again. For a few minutes, it felt more like a traveling
revival show with musical interludes tossed into the mix – but then again, that’s the whole thing that made this rather surreal.
The songs played were slower, ethereal and much more thought out that what one would tend to expect from HR – especially if you had never seen nor heard his Human Rights project before.
The set was well paced, and things did pick up a bit a little past midway in when the beginning bass notes of “Leaving Babylon” hit the air – the air in the room almost crackled as the old Bad
Brains chestnut got an airing…the same reaction happened with “I Love I Jah”, and set closer “I And I Survive”.
In total, HR was well received and his audience treated the man with respect and reverence – usually reserved for those who’ve more than paid their dues…and despite whatever controversy has surrounded HR’s past (which we will not address here, go Google that on your own time) – tonight was simply about connecting with his followers – and the simple gift of music – delivered by one finely oiled band that knew exactly where to place everything with precision .
A worthwhile Thursday evening well spent, if I would say so myself.
Once again, we found ourselves in Greenpoint, heading over to the Brooklyn Bazaar, one of the main contenders for hardcore shows these days. And, as could be expected with a show of this caliber, the club was already packed upon entrance, and the feeling of being a sardine squeezed into a shiny silver can only got worse as the night progressed.
The first band we encountered was Krime Watch, a mostly female fronted band from NYC, whose internet credentials listed them as a blend of Japanese punk and hardcore, as well as “one of the most exciting bands to emerge from New York in recent times.” Well…you know what they say…about seeing is believing..and in this case..well, let’s just say, if that were true, we would be in a sorry state indeed. So where to start? Image-wise, the band had it pretty much together, musically, was another story. The vocals were a bit strident and were dwarfed by the overpowering sound of the bass. The singer did her gymnastic best, along with posturing and parading around on stage, to get the audience excited, but the band just didn’t grab me. At times, the music was downright sloppy, and others, well, they were just plain out of tune (*Sorry to say, but in the modern world? Sloppy doesn’t make you punk rock anymore. It just makes you look stupid and all out goofy …DB*). They couldn’t even seem to get the opening strains of “Lexicon Devil” right, as they launched into another of their disjointed punk tunes. Sorry to the sisterhood and all that, but Krime Watch just didn’t rock my night. Maybe next time.
By this time, the BB was packed tighter than John Holme’s rubber, and probably just as uncomfortable. And into it stepped, King Nine, with their raw vox, and heavy bass and drums; a heady mixture of 90s hardcore and heavy metal making them perfect as a prelude to the likes of Outburst and Killing Time. As if this wasn’t enough to make one nostalgic for all things Castle Heights and the Queens connection , the abundance of windmills in the crowd downright brought a tear to the eye. Ironically, they announced with pride that they hailed from Long Island (Can’t imagine why?). At times, King Nine’s musical style was reminiscent of bands like Coldfront and Silent Majority, especially during the slowed down parts, and a niche few bands have been able to emulate. Their singer, at one point, announced the upcoming release of an album, so keep your eyes and ears peeled for it, kiddies.
Then it was time for the main event, the one two punch of Outburst and Killing Time.
From the first shoutout, Outburst, a band with its roots firmly embedded in the late 80s, showed everyone present what made a hardcore band great and how a killer show should be. Of course, with Mike Dijan on second guitar, how could it possibly be otherwise? Outburst drenched Brooklyn Bazaar with a set of sweaty, ballsy, powerful music, with verbal quips coming like a string of meteor showers, between tunes. “If you aren’t angry, then you aren’t paying attention,” paved the way for a set of nonstop, powerful action, with a constant stream of bodies diving of the stage, which was already engorged with a who’s who of wanna be photojournalists, videographers and scenesters. The action was like a chase scene from ‘The Taking of The Pelham 123’. Highlights, and there were many of them, included a dedication to Mike Williams, frontman for EyeHateGod, who thankfully is well on his way to recovery from his liver transplant. (And who seem to have taken up a semi permanent residency at St. Vitus, when in town), as well as a cover of Kraut’s “All Twisted”’ touted as “the song that changed my life forever,” as well as calling Ezac up for “The Hardway”, the band’s most notable anthem. The band ended the set with a verbal attack on Nazis, sort of a non sequiter, so to speak.
Then it was Anthony, still larger than life, boldly bald with a goatee, sporting a black and white signature bowling shirt, stomping his way onto the stage as if beating his own different drummer rhythm into the night. A man and a band that need no introduction, took over the night as if the rest of the evening was a mere hors d’ouevre; the music as fresh and electric as if it had just been written and the audience was hearing it for the first time, which many of them may well have been doing. The audience, responded to the challenge, with mass pandemonium and insane abandon, much as had been done back in the day.
The band was mobbed, even more than had been evident during Outburst’s set, as everyone who wanted to make a name for themselves was in the forefront, like a sea of detritus, when suddenly the smoke machine erupted, like a cloud of DDT spraying the stage, but clearing nothing. At this point, Tony chose to give credit to the author of much of the band’s lyrics, Tony Draigo (drums), with one of his signature backhanded compliments. In between the lengthy catalogue of hardcore hits, Tony rendered a running bio of his life, including memorializing EJ Vodka, writer for Guillotine zine, as being responsible for “his introduction to hardcore.” Everyone who Tony mentioned was, of course, not left untouched by his barbed sense of humor, which we have sicne come to know and love, much like a grumpy old bear, even BJ Pappas, one of the best hardcore photographers and a wonderful human being and myself (referring to the man reviews of Token Entry in the 80s), leaving me standing there with my ears red from embarrassment, were not exempt from his monologues. Each song, “Used To It”, “NY Changeable”, “Fools Die” and the list goes on and on, had a little back story to it, making everyone feel included into the tiny insular world that is the core of the long lived NYHC family. Like the scene itself, the music reflected the changing styles of the decades, as it covered the band’s growth, from its inception in the late 80s as Raw Deal (with 4 of the original members on stage) to Killing Time, concluding with the late 90s. At one point, they covered “Outgroup”, a Major Conflict classic, which also saw Lou from Sick Of it All joining them on stage to sing along.
There was a sense of belonging, of being part of a long history standing up there on that stage, not just for me, who had been there from the very beginning, but for everyone who was there to celebrate this legendary band and most importantly, its singer, and a living history whose days are far from being over. Kudos to Killing Time, and even crabby old Anthony aka Tony, someone whose quips are right ther with Paul Bearer and Ron Nihilistic. We love you!!!! Did I get it right, this time?????
Third Annual Take This Bird & Shove It Fest
(Hostile City Class War Productions)
Philadelphia, PA Thanksgiving Weekend (2017)
So here we were, the weekend after Thanksgiving at our favorite sister city. And what better way to celebrate the night before Don’s birthday than at a “hardcore, punk & Oi fest” at The Voltage Lounge. The two day event featured such bands as Abrasive Wheels, Lion’s Law, The Pist, The Press, Sniper 66, DDC, The Oi Scouts, 45 Adapters, Combat Crisis, Duffy’s Cut and more.
So on Saturday, the second day of the event, as the sky darkened and the streets turned to shadow, we wound down along the narrow cobblestones of Old Town toward the main thoroughfare and across the highway that ran under the Ben Franklin Bridge toward the club. Even though the night was warm, especially for late November, the streets we walked were sparsely populated, making it feel like a ghost town or NYC in the early 80s. The block on which The Voltage Lounge fit in well with the atmosphere of the lower east side in that era, deserted with a hint of danger lurking in the corners, the only human life forms, punks and skins smoking near the doorway. It had been a few years since we had been there, around the same time of year, to see the old Brit punk band, The Blood. Nothing much had changed in the interim. Same seedy décor, same ancient bar. and an upper level, a great place for bands to sell their merch.
We arrived; just missing Jason from Violent Society’s most recent band, Duffy’s Cut and were a little bummed since we had yet to check them out, other than on CD. But on the upside, there were still a few cool bands to check out, including NY’s own the 45 Adaptors, the newest version of the old NY Oi band The Press and Lion’s Law, a band hailing all the way from Paris, France.
Other than looking a little longer in the tooth than our last encounter with them, the 45 Adaptors still managed to exude the same well mixed blend of Oi, melodic infused street rock and punk, along with a raucous blend of good humor courtesy of Gerard’s shenanigans – a mix, I might add, that always makes for a good time and gets the audience up and dancing. On this occasion, Gerard made it a point, several times, to mention that he had been sober, or as we like to say “nailed to the X”, for the previous three months and was determined to make up for lost time. And, indeed, he did just that, swilling his way through the entire set, frequently announcing between tunes that he was “shit-hammered” - and slowly removed various articles of clothing until he was in a wife beater t-shirt, which thankfully was the extent of his exhibitionist tendencies for the night. Bu that didn’t mean the one-liners stopped, with some of his quips like “one of my favorite things to do is have sex in the bathroom. It is so romantic” making me feel we were back at CBs hanging out with Milo of Urban Riot. Ahhhh! Skinhead love, even better than the “punk rock” kind! But seriously folks, all kidding and h-jinx aside, the 45 Adaptors showed they still had the spunk to make things right and keep the music alive and kicking. And in the immortal words of Ira Ostrell, “a good time was had by all.”
Unfortunately, the same could not be said for The Press. Shortly after news hit the street of Andre’s death, there were rumors of the band getting back together, and they did play a show at St. Vitus that occurred during a time when we were out of town and missed. So, with high expectations, I went up to the stage expecting to see John Monaghan (original guitarist for SDP and The Press) and instead was met with a sea of unknown faces and a whole lot of attitude. With an introduction like that, I guess I shouldn’t have been surprised by the caliber of the music, as well. A bunch of bald, middle aged men singing “Is it any wonder?’, was like watching a train wreck or, like listening to The Business through a Victrola. Just wasn’t happening. Once in awhile the bassist mustered up a modicum of energy, and there were a few moments when they played “Join The Union Boys” and “The Shot Heard Round the World” where there was some spark, but for the most part, they were a disappointment. Not even Gerard joining them on stage in a monk’s costume or their performing Blitz’s “Propaganda” could save them. It was a dismal resurrection of an old band who should have kept the nail shut tight on the coffin after Andre’s passing.
If The Press was the low point of the night, the headliners, Lion’s Law was the opposite. Taking the stage with a blast of intense energy and powerful tunes, this young bunch of skinheads from Paris, cleared the cobwebs from the rafters and brought the club back to life. Watty, frontman for the band, belted out the tunes in English, as the band kicked ass behind him. In contrast, to the rawness of his vocals during the set, his voice was a mild mannered timbre as he spoke out to the audience in broken English between numbers. At one point, when there were some technical difficulties, and there were a few, he quipped that, “this would be a good time to tell a joke, but the only kind I know are in French.” With lines like that, how could you not love them?
Watching this band was like walking into the Queen Vic in Ealing in 1981, just a bunch of lads sharing a pint, kicking shit up and having a good laugh – it was that kind of music and that kind of energy. It was the kind of music and energy I don’t get to hear that often, especially from a new band. The crowd also felt it, going wild for them, singing along and dancing to the music. This was my first encounter with Lion’s Law, and I promptly bought the two eps they had for sale, after the set. As a rule I generally don’t like anything French, particularly based on our one and only visit to Paris – but this was one bunch of Parisians I can honestly say I liked. Look for an interview with Lion’s Law in the upcoming print issue of Guillotine. -- wje
L.A.M.F - the 40th anniversary of the 1977 landmark cult classic LP by the Heartbreakers with Walter Lure, Glen Matlock, Clem Burke and Mike Ness
For those of you in the know, this “celebration” was also done back in 2016, to somewhat disastrous results – most of the blame laying on the shoulders of a walking cock knob named Tommy Stinson. Also on board for that ill fated voyage was a somewhat clueless Wayne Kramer – who while associated with Johnny Thunders in the band Gang War…lets just say that on paper, it seemed to be a great – if unusual idea…leading us to the present time.
Opening the festivities was none other than another New Yorker who has more than woven himself into the fabric of NYC’s illustrious underground history – Jesse Malin. His name these days is associated with popular rock clubs (Bowery Electric, and the late and much lamented Coney Island High) and watering holes (Niagra, which also was the same building as A7, a highly regarded underground musical landmark for Hardcore Punk music). But tonight, he not only served as an ambassador who helped put this particular show together, he also took the role of opener. Flanked by what appeared to be a 6 or 7 musicians, Malin gave you highly polished songs that were more slated for larger theater stages and airplay on WNEW FM radio than the scuzzball streets of the disgustingly hipsterfied Williamsburg.
I will give Malin credit , though. For all of his “adultness” and obvious progression since he first showed up as a 14 year old kid in a band called Heart Attack, he still retains a tight grip on his youthful punk and hardcore aesthetics – and getting most of the room to chant a line from a Bad Brains song was clever – considering a good chunk of the room wouldn’t know who HR or Dr Know were if they ran into them in the street…
After Malin’s set, we got to wait for the main event…which I was having doubts about. Having seen a bit from the previous evening at the aftermentioned Bowery Electric, my concerns were with having Mike Ness from Social Distortion handling the Johnny Thunders role. While Johnny had a higher register and a somewhat narcoticized whine, Ness has a lower register – and as any SD album can provide proof – a lower and somewhat annoying whine as well. How this would pan out? Tick tock goes the clock…
Taking the stage to the sounds of the original Heartbreakers opening tape, the band filed out and took their places…and yeah, there was a tension in the room…will they?Wont they? Sink or swim??Pass or Fail?? Somewhere, I could feel Johnny and Jerry smirking and niggling – while Billy Rath rolled his eyes and said “well, here goes nothing”….
So….the verdict? Well….there are a few things to note here. While Mike Ness wasn’t suited for the part – he DID give it his best shot. He even humbly told the packed room that his voice wasn’t suited for the job – but he would give it his best. His guitar playing, though – was crisp and 99% on point. So Johnny should’ve been somewhat happy…or I’d like to think so. As for Glen Matlock?? He is more than capable of holding down the Billy Rath role, but THE VOLUME…sir? You’re not John Fucking Entwistle . Settle DOWN, Grandpa. And the vocal contributions? Uh….no thanks. His version of “ I Wanna Be Loved” was like a pensioner on bingo night doing bad karaoke to Eddie Cochran records. Just keep holding down the bottom, Mr Pistol…..
Which brings me to the subject of one of the biggest walking erections with ears alive – who calls itself Clem “I still wanna be Keith Moon” Burke. While a damn good drummer, his attitude is enough to make someone wanna rearrange his dental work with a steel capped Dr Marten boot. His whole “I’m a PRO” routine left me more than a little cold…ya see – the spirit of the Heartbreakers is kinda “loose and stupid” as Walter Lure has stated to the press in recent times. So a note to Clem : while you are indeed a contemporary of the Heartbreakers, save the cliched grandstanding and overblown attitude for Blondie. You claim your participation is paying tribute to Mr Jerry Fucking Nolan – than act like it, boy!!! Reign yourself in, son…ITS NOT ABOUT YOU.
Oh, Walter, Walter, Walter….the sole survivor. It’s hard to tell what he’s thinking sometimes – but his face can tell more than a few stories. And tonight? There were more than a few points where he seemed like he wanted to be anywhere but on that stage. Well into his 60’s, you can tell he still loves music, and still loves to get up and play – he certainly has his chops intact!! He always struck me as the one Heartbreaker who could always be counted on to deliver the goods, whilst Johnny would be falling on his face. But tonight? It seemed that he was taking a back seat, where as the other guys should’ve respectfully deferred to him a little more. It’s purely my opinion, but Walter should’ve had a bit more control up there than having an egotistical dolt like Burke trying to run the show. You can agree or disagree – but I’m calling it as I saw it unfold from the stage.
Oh, I’m sure the methadonian geriatrics who still think their say matters, and who think Max’s Kansas City is alive and well were howling in equal portions of joy and derision about the set tonight…but as for the newbies who don’t get the whole story, myths and all warts included?
Just get a copy of the album. Listen to it. And enjoy the spirit of the music for what it is. And remember – anything that gets reissued every year and people are still drawn to it like moths? Is purely a true piece of rock and roll history – which probably pisses the Jann Werner’s of the world off. Ain’t that just- to coin a phrase - Like A Mother Fucker……
Hatrabbits, Nervous Triggers, Kill Your Idols, The Pist, Citizens Arrest and The Degenerics
Brooklyn Bazaar Saturday, November 4th
Brooklyn Bazaar was treated to some really great hardcore on Saturday, November 4th. Although we did not see the two opening acts, we were told by the other bands that they truly rocked that evening. What we did manage to catch, however, was still a great bunch of bands giving their all.
Upon my arrival, Spag , frontman for Two Man Advantage, informed me that Kill Your Idols were about to make a surprise appearance momentarily. And, never ones to disappoint, the band treated everyone present to a tight and powerful blast of old school hardcore with just the right dash of heavy metal licks courtesy of Gary. As would be expected, the audience was right up there with them, joining in on the choruses, as Andy leaned off the edge of the stage to share the mic, bringing back memories of the 90s and CBs matinees. Ron Grimaldi of Deathcycle got up to add his dramatic presence for the third song. There was enough finger pointing and moshing to send any fan happily into hardcore heaven. Of course, the abbreviated set (unfortunately over all to soon) was an admixture of all the faves, including “Can’t Take It Away”, "Falling Down Again" and more. As the band announced their last tune of the evening, Andy gave props to Citizen’s Arrest for being one of their biggest influences and an inspiration in forming KYI.
Many people who have been attending hardcore shows in NYC and LI recently will recognize the name of Al Pist as the guitarist for the hardcore punk band M13. But for those who are in the know, before there was an M13, there was The Pist, a Connecticut based hardcore band fronted by none other than - you guessed it - AL PIST! That band, formed in 1993, put out a great bunch of hardcore/punk/oi tunes before they disbanded in 1996. Fortunately for us, they do get back together from time to time to make the rounds, and lucky for everyone on this particular night, they were there to make some rocking music, in all their hc punk glory.
From the moment they took off on stage like a jet careening down the runway, it was all speed and energy. Starting off with “We’re the Pist,” as fast a paced 80s style hardcore tune as any fan could ask for, they plowed through such classics as “Dead In Its Tracks” and “Fuk Shit Up”, with all the fervor and drive one would expect from this bunch. The audience stomped and stormed the stage to the best of the music. Occasionally there was a pause while the band took a breather, and Al gave little segues into the songs, such as his vehement anti Nazi speech.
The Pist were followed by Citizen’s Arrest, a NY based late 80s/early 90s hardcore trademark band, who appeared to have most of their original members including Darryl on vocals. Before the band played a single note, the stage was suffused in smoke that changed color, and which then proceeded to make its way through the crowd until the whole room looked like a Halloween horror nightmare, albeit nearly a week late.
From there, Citizen’s Arrest’s music erupted with the force of demons blasting from the tomb, with Darryl’s raw vocals ripping holes into your eardrums and the music beating a thrash beat that would have done DRI proud. There was tons of energy pulsating from the stage and was mirrored by the crowds frenetic dancing, suffused in blue and red beams of fog.
Darryl was in full glory, trumpeting out to the crowd, “I can love the Mets, he can love the Phillies, but one thing we can all agree up is fuck Donald Trump!”
What can I say about such a legendary band? They were hard. The songs hit you like a hammer. They were everything you would expect and more. And they ended it all with the classic, “Serve and Protect.” And this would have been the way to close what I considered an incredible night.
But there was more to come ..there was The Degenerics to contend with.
I would like to say I stayed and listened to their set and had nothing but praise…but I would be telling a tall tale. Half a song in, I went downstairs to wait twenty minutes for the world’s worst veggie burger and fries.
After returning to catch the last of The Degenerics, I can say that it was clearly a toss up over which was less impressive, the burger or the band…maybe they too like Mongrel Bitch, will send me food samples…but this time please send some booze..preferably not arsenic laced. --wje
Diablo Fest Brooklyn Bazaar 9/3/17
This year’s Diablo Fest, hosted by Danny Diablo of Crown of Thornz and Skarhead fame, was held at the Brooklyn Bazaar, the Sunday before Labor Day. Although we were not there for all the events, which include vendors, tattoos, video games and food, we did manage to see some of the bands that played. The full line up include The Bad Racket, Black Punk, Man Without Plan, Ache, Ninjasonik, Goretex, Show Me The Body and Burn. Musical styles ranged from hip hop to hardcore. As can be imagined, the latter was more to my taste.
We arrived on the scene as Ache was stepping on to the stage. Featuring Ryan Bland on vocals, with Ryan S. on drums, Rey on bass and Dan and Matt on guitars, they are a dynamic force was raucous music fills the room on first contact. Ryan, whose roots stretch back to Home 33 from the mid 90s, has a flashing and dramatic presence, and with the thrash metal overtones of the music, was the best act of the night.
From Matt and Dan’s stage moves to Ryan’s angst driven, screaming vocals, the set was as action packed as one could ask for. The room filled up once they took to the stage, as Ryan dedicated a number to “friends who have lost family member to heroin or what to kill themselves,” offering positive support and comfort with his words. Like a human dynamo, Ryan follows his words with had gestures and emotion, at times crouching, moshing and skanking about the stage with the music as his backdrop.
For some reason I kept missing their set the last few go-arounds, a mistake I won’t miss any time soon.
The next several bands, whose sound was on the hip hop tip of things, and were either introduced by or featured Danny himself, were not the music I personally listen to. I give them props as part of an exciting evening.
The final band to close the show was Burn, featuring original members Chaka (Orange 9mm) on vocals and Gavin (NY Hoods, Absolution) on guitar. It had been more than two decades since the last time I saw these guys, but the heavy blend of new school hardcore metal mix that is their trademark was still there, loud and clear for all to hear. The audience was wild in their adulation as the band blasted out a string of tunes that would leave an indelible mark on the evening, as well as concluding the event.
RAT BONES 50TH BIRTHDAY BASH @
(Featuring Cold As Life, Lethal Aggression, Reagan Youth, Mental Abuse, Urban Waste, Caught In A Trap, ACHE, Full Scale Riot, Downlow, Mugs)
Walking up to the club, it was mayhem outside for sure…but it was the sight of the chalkboard outside that made it feel like almost like a 90’s CBGB matinee show!! All this under one roof?? Damn. Well, it was a party for sure – that’s no lie…and for one of our own, it was sure to be a day to remember!
Due to working late, I was saddened to miss the return of Downlow and ACHE, who never fail to deliver the goods…my spies did divulge that the first five bands all went down loud and heavy, and the mood was festive and all about having a good time – and keeping the music furious and hotter than a blown fuse box…so, lets now pick up where I walked in…..
Urban Waste, or John Kelly’s Army as I like to call them, were nothing short of unstoppable. Josh has at this point firmly entrenched himself in the frontman spot, making himself the one indispensable member of the revolving door of UW. He works damn hard up there, and his enthusiasm is damn infectious – making going to see UW refreshing again…now can we have a new full length, please???
A blast from the past in the form of Mental Abuse then arrived to keep the frantic pace going…the sight of seeing Sid Sludge up there backed by 2 members of Social Decay was more than enough to keep the room interested and got more than a few bodies moving. And cmon…getting to hear “Sock Woman” live is more than just a plus!!!
What happened next was nothing short of a musical tsunami…now, we know their frontman has passed on…and supposedly, there isn’t one original member left…but when Lethal Aggression got on that stage???Lucky 13 was pretty much blown into shards of pressboard… and the dance floor was moving from the stage, to the back of the room – and back again!! The music, the crowd – the whole thing – was absolutely SEETHING. Hell, even the birthday boy himself got up for a song with LA! By the time they got off stage, the gauntlet was thrown down for sure…how do you follow THIS?? Well…..
The newest version of Reagan Youth were up next, and after Lethal Aggression? It was like night and day. I will give Spike Polite from Sewage major props for taking on the role that is quite unenviable, to say the least. But the “new songs” that RY are playing sound more like in the vein of Sewage than anything RY could – or should – be capable of. Other than that, I can’t think of anything to say more on the subject…
The capper for this evening were Cold As Life, straight outta MI…and with all due respects – they’re just as I remembered them. Heavy, metallic and beat down flavored – vintage Castle Heights kinda stuff – which is why I lasted for only a few tunes. Powerful as a motherfucker, but never exactly been my personal cup of tea… but I respect ‘em for what they do!!
So either way, thanks to Rat Bones for the hookup (along with Brother Dixon at the door – much respect always) – and thanks for a day of musical madness that took me back about 20 some odd years!! Enjoy your 50th year, RB…and may you have many more to come!!!
GBH/CASUALTIES/DOWN WITH RENT
@ the Gramercy 9-9-17
First off, a very big thank you to Jake Casualtie for the hookup at the door…and a rather large FUCK YOU to the Gramercy for denying my camera entry. I’m sure if my name was Bob Gruen, the right cock woulda been sucked, and there woulda been no problems whatsoever – but whatever…the minimum wage muscle monkeys at the door wouldn’t hamper MY good time, that’s for sure!!
Due to the ever popular practice of early start, early end – we caught the last half of Down With Rent’s set…they were pretty lively, and actually liked the set closing cover of the Crass chestnut “Do They Owe Us A Living?”…looking forward to checking out the demo they gave us!!
The Casualties were up next, and this was an important gig, at least in my eyes. In recent times, controversy has followed the band to varying degrees – and now it’s been capped off with Jorge Herrera finally leaving the band after 20 some odd years – putting the newest addition Dave Rodriguez (Krum Bums, Starving Wolves)in a not so envious position…and THAT’S where the biggest surprise of the night kicked in…
Taking the stage without even blinking, the Casualties went on like a hail of bricks, with no room to hide or seek cover from…and the mixed crowd of punks, some skins and a slew of metalheads were loving it like they just found free money for several rounds of drinks on the floor!!! The set was peppered with a vast array of the band’s material, and the presence of Dave gave the band a newfound energy boost that kinda took me back to the later days of Coney Island High when the Casualties were first becoming a force to be reckoned with…the other surprise was the appearance of Colin and Jock to lend a hand with 2 Ramones songs – otherwise? I think it’s safe to say that the Casualties will be moving forward, without a hitch. While Jorge should be acknowledged and respected for his time served - the torch has been passed – and from the looks of it, Dave will do the band’s legacy justice.
Next up to the plate were a band who need nary an intro…and yes, along with Sabbath and Priest, GBH do hail from Birmingham. And all these years later, they still pack a decent sized wallop when
they hit the stage…and while Jock and Ross have long since changed their respective looks, Colin still looks almost the same – well…almost. He still has the stance and the jumps, which says a lot!
With a new LP hitting the stores in November, they played 3 new tunes from it, as a glimpse of what’s to come – sounded pretty promising, actually. But until then, we got the new nuggets surrounded
by stuff from all points of the band’s storied career…pounded out as only these Brummies can do it – balls up, with no brakes.
Some amusing moments from tonight came with Jock opening “Sick Boy” with the notes to the song “Black Sabbath”, and being chided for it, scripted but all in good fun…Colin’s intro to “Big Women”, dedicating it to “us” stating : “we wouldn’t think of coming to NYC and not playing THIS”… almost makes me wonder what he’s saying to our NYC show going females??
Dirty ol geezer, that Colin….that, and when the band dragged “Diplomatic Immunity “ out, silencing the guy who kept yelling for the song with “give THAT man a teddy bear!” Along with the sight of a stage diving Bat during the same tune, it added to the atmosphere…and the fact Bat didn’t break his neck in the process was cool as well.
Wrapping up with “Maniac”, it was all a done deal and a wrap…with the paid muscle boys howling the usual monotone drone of “THESHOWISOVERPLEASEEXITTHRUTHEREARDOORSGOODNIGHT” spiel..
Fun show, great crowd, good times…now, where’s my car keys…?
Walk The Plank, Two Man Advantage, Iron Shiek
August 8th Amityville Music Hall, LI
The problem with shows on Long Island on a Friday night in the summer, is not just having to rush home from work, grab a quick bite and get on the road, that would be too easy…no…it is driving on the Belt Parkway/Southern State, with its crawling line of cars snaking their way along the cost of the south shore..until a slightly over an hour drive becomes a two, sometimes three hour drive – until you begin to wonder why you ever got in your car in the first place. So naturally we missed the first few bands, which would have left me more upset, since I always like hearing new and upcoming hardcore bands, but in this instance turned out to be a blessing, which was made apparent when I opened the door to the Amityville Music Hall, and was blasted by a wave of heat that sent me scurrying back the way I had come. Marc, bassist for Two Man Advantage, who was working the door, informed us that the air conditioning had broken down earlier that afternoon, and as you can imagine, mid-August in a club with no ventilation is like a visit to the netherworld.
SO…..armed with a Jack and Coke…I felt like..okay..this is cool..no biggee..I’m hardcore…but after awhile I too started to stink just like the rest of the sweaty bodies crowding into the space, and it was none to pretty – more like a barnyard of animals that needed a good hose down. But despite the heat, the sweat, my complaining it was a fun show and there managed to be a good sized crowd, and a lot of them were actually dancing it up.
I will admit, I missed the band before Walk The Plank, just because of that oppressive heat – but thankfully, caught all of WTP’s set. They are a hardcore band from DC, fronted by Ian on vocals and Alex on guitar, and they are a hard hitting straight up old school hardcore band with a massive dose of energy. They were just coming off a European tour, which as everyone knows, doesn’t often have certain amenities such as air conditioning, and they were looking forward to being back in the states for just that reason – which they joked about – this being their first stateside gig. They were promoting their new album, which is definitely one you should add to your collection.
Ian was quick with the jokes and one liners, saying something about life being like an album. Despite the sauna like conditions, Ian was wearing a long sleeve t-shirt, as he careened all over the room, bouncing about in the pit. And when he was on the stage, leaning precariously over it into the audience, shouting for them to “wake up..It’s Friday night on Long Island!’ [reminding me of the old intro to Saturday Night Live- ed] and shaking a bottle of water into the crowd for emphasis.
The songs were fast, danceable and very very high energy and even had a message to convey – “education should be a right, not a privilege.” Other members playing that night were Tim on bass, Chris on drums and John on guitar.
As an aside, their very friendly and likeable merch guy is in a band called Ruin By Design, and they have a demo which is definitely worth more than a listen – check them out on FB.
Of course, Two Man were as amazing as always. It was Marc’s 50+ birthday and so naturally, much to his dismay, he had to succumb to chugging down a beer ‘with the Two Man.” The set was a laundry list of all their most famous numbers, including my all time favorite off their first cd, “Last Night I Dreamed About Hockey.” And, okay, I will admit it, even with the heat, I managed to mosh during the breakdown, as the sweat ran rivulets down my face.
The room was probably explosive with the heat by then…I know that both the drummer from Walk The Plank and Two Man mentioned afterward how they had nearly passed out on stage.. Even Spag, who is usually insane with his antics, was fairly sedentary during this go around. However, in spite of it all, Two Man certainly gave everyone their fill and more and celebrated marc’s birthday in the style he deserved.
After their set, we did an interview outside on the stoop down the block from the club, where we could hear bits and pieces of Iron Chic, the last band standing. Ashamedly, I was glad to be outside, which did feel a bit like sitting on an iceberg after the previous few hours…no disrespect to Iron Chic..who from what I could hear were quite good…until next time -- wje
Tabitha Memorial Show
July 15th at The Old Breed, Corona, Queens
Tabitha “Diva” Montenera was an artist whose artwork appeared in magazines, galleries and public displays. She began her career in the 1980s as a graffiti artist, in what was then a male dominated field. In that respect she had a lot in common with me, who started Guillotine in 1981, as one, if not the only, woman putting out their own zine.
Tabitha was 45 years old enjoying her life, and her marriage to Larry O, original bassist and founding member of On The Offense, when she was diagnosed with stage 3 lung cancer. I didn’t have the good fortune of knowing her personally, but her tragedy is one we can all share and send our heartfelt wishes to her family and friends.
And, that is what some of us did, on that afternoon on July 15th – thanks to Javier and DJ Gorilla, who hosted this show, along with Sean Finn Lee (former member of On The Offense) who MC’ed on stage. The benefit/memorial show, whose proceeds went to Tabitha’s family, ran from mid-afternoon into late in the evening. The line-up that played while we were there included No Dice, Truth In Needles. All Bets Are Off, Close To The Edge, None Above All and Examine. But there were other bands on the bill who deserve a mention for giving their time and support – Fragmented, Vincent Price Is Right, Rebelmatic, Enziguri, Total Waste and On The Offense (although I cannot say for certain if and when all of them played.)
The show was in the basement of an apartment building on Roosevelt Avenue near Junction Boulevard. And, although it wasn’t sweltering hot, like a few weeks later when the air conditioning gave out at the Amityville Music Hall, making it feel like a night in Hades, it wasn’t exactly Eskimo country in that basement either. Ahh, summer in New York City! There were a few scattered tables and a stack of chairs in the back of the room, as well as a small makeshift bar that sold a limited choice of beers – very DIY. There was also two bathrooms, a plus in my estimation!
When we entered the room, No Dice was doing the last few songs of their set. The music was decent but with the acoustics of the place, it came at you like a wall of noise – which in some circles isn’t such a bad thing. I didn’t have enough time to give a fair opinion of their music or style, but hopefully that will be rectified the next time we cross paths.
Truth In Needles, the self-proclaimed working man’s band followed. We have had the opportunity to both play with them, as well as put them on our shows at The Charleston and the Trash Bar (RIP). They opened the set, of course, dedicating their first song..you guessed it, “to the working class” – an Oi tune “Boots of the Working Man” –and a very catchy sing along number. Their songs still have that raw blend of hardcore and Oi, which make them a very danceable band…and there should have been more of a mosh pit going on..but maybe mid-afternoon is still too early for some boot stomping action. Each song was dedicated to someone or something, whether it was “all you lifers”, “punk rock” or “the crew.”
Close To The Edge were up next, with Jamie Hamma, as always, a goofy looking presence standing a head taller than the rest of his bandmates. Sporting a head of hair and a bit more girth, he started out pretty mellow, content to just sing those songs..but by the third tune in he was back to proselytizing, nattering on about FB, John Joseph and quarterbacks…blah blah blah! If you are familiar with his previous bands, Dealin’With It and Abject, the music follows in that general format, but with less of the humor (particularly Dealin’ With It – who always made me laugh and were my personal favorites.) Still, when Jamie isn’t a-rantin’ and a-ravin’, they are a decent band to watch.
None Above All, were up next, with their singer yelling and bouncing all over the place. The music was in keeping with the rest of the bands on the bill; raw mid tempo hardcore with shouted/screamed vox. The volume was high and heavy, with the rest of the band pretty stationary, content to let the singer sweat his balls off, in an ever growing hot and sweaty space. The set transformed into a more new jack metal core style midway through, and I kind of zoned out near the end.
By this time it was already into early evening, and if I had been outside I would have seen the sun starting to set, but instead we stayed to watch Examine, Sean Finn Lee’s current band. They were a little slower tempo than On the Offense, with more of a metal edge to their hardcore, but definitely had a distinctive style, which made them stand out. At the end of their set, we headed over to 74th Street in Jackson Heights to get our fix of the excellent Indian food they have to offer. I understand that the show went into the later hours and gave a fitting send off to the passing of someone who died way to soon.
RIP, Tabitha!! -- wje
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…
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.
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