- Man About Town
Guess Who's Back
New York Waste, Mar. 2003
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Yeah, January slipped by me with no column. I enjoyed last months NY Waste, as I hope y'all did, sans Man About Town (did anyone notice?) - but it feels so empty without me. So here are a few February highlights.
SKÜM farewell gig at Continental, Feb 2nd
Yes, NYC has suffered a great loss with the move to L.A. of lead singer Fern Burns of Sküm. Several bands turned out to stage this farewell concert for the band and loyal fans. Vulgaras started out, in their first show with newly-added guitarist Malyk and bassist Ameryka. Velocity's performance was enhanced by a center-stage monitor playing a hot (woman-on-woman) porn tape, seen through a blood-streak monitor face. Avid Sküm admirers Dirty Mary followed, rocking the crowd into a frenzy. Then the crowd got one last look at Fern in her signature leopard bikini bottom and "Let's Go To Sleep" baby nightie (tastefully torn to display cleavage). She seems irreplaceable, but the rest of the skumbags are looking. The show wound up with Reverend Tribble and The Angels. In the past, the Reverend played decked out in a white preacher's suit, and two angels go-go dancing. They've stripped it down to more basic rock 'n' roll form, appearing in [not all that] plain clothes, and the three angels playing instruments and singing. The sexy witty songs and musical energy stand on their own, and this more "honest" format works for me.
Joe Strummer Tribute at Continental, Feb 8th
Myriad bands took part in an evening of Clash covers in memory of dear departed Joe Strummer. Bob Gruen donated a large print of a photo he took of Joe atop the RCA (now GE) building, the Twin Towers appearing above his raised fist. Joe's image hanging above the stage while each band played his songs reminded us why we were there.
The show was a veritable marathon, but it left the crowd calling out for more - I'll just mention highlights: The Hypertonics ("London's Burning"); Czech ("Bored With The USA"); Napalm Stars did a couple of covers, and Tim Napalm sang a moving Clash-styled song he'd composed just after Joe's death called "I Come From A Place Like Any Other;" Charm School did "Clampdown" and "Should I Stay"; this was immediately followed by Detox Darlings' version of the same song (a few such back-to-back repeats made me wish the bands had compared playlists). The Bahamas enhanced the Clash sound with a 3-piece brass section, and Push did a song too. "Brand New Cadillac" was a perfect choice for Joker Five Speed, followed by the Japanese Spunks on the same song. Walter Lure and The Waldos followed with "I Fought The Law," and Johnny Thunders' "London Boys." When Daniel Rey next performed "Train In Vain" he was joined on harmonica by none other than Trigger in a rare stage appearance, and various Bullys members. Danny remained on guitar as Mickey Leigh came up to sing "Clampdown," and Joey completed the Bullys on stage with "Tommy Gun." Finally, lead singer RobDaly of Plastic Eaters sang "White Riot" backed by Sammytown Jones.
I try to be totally positive about all things (yawn), but I have to mention - I wasn't the only one in the crowd who, veins pulsating with Clash blood, was put off by the repeated switch to random pop tunes on the speakers between each set. A more consistent mood could've been sustained with a DJ playing selected 70s punk tunes.
The Don Hill's BITCH shows keep getting better (as I keep saying), but one night a month can't handle the bursting energy of all of NY's female rockers. So Lourds put together the first Medusa Festival at CBGBs, correctly billed as "8 Female-Fronted Bad-Ass Rock Bands." (Well OK, we had to settle for 7, since there was a delay and CBs wouldn't give an inch when asked for a little extra time.)
The New York No Stars started out the show (at the ungodly hour of 7 PM!). Meghan's totally enchanting lead vocals were supported by Brucifer in his first appearance with the band. Next, the four lovely ladies of The Drive blew me away with their hard metal sound. Portia (who many know from her stunning vocal performances at BITCH shows) then showed her guitar mastery, joined by her funky rock band, including Brucifer (again) on guitar, and two hot backup singers whose movements got our blood boiling. The throng's energy was raised to an even higher pitch by Queen V, who remains the central focus of her band as she's joined by ever-rotating supporting members. MC Lourds then took the stage, sweeping her followers away with her powerful voice and amazing violinistry. Ah, but we were not to see the premiere performance of Purple Pam's Demonica, as her guitarist (Brucifer, who else?) was delayed when he ran up to Joe's pub to play with Jayne County (as good an excuse as I could have come up with). It was back to power hard rock when Tang, with Bonnie and Denny sharing leads, came on, and the gala evening was wrapped up with the inimitably talented Felicia Collins and Bitchslapp.
Besides the all-too-common reversion to plain pop tune CDs between the sets (I mean, it would've been so great to fill the gaps with chick rock), plenty of folks grumbled about the plethora of chairs and tables cluttering the dance floor at CBs (whassup wid dat??). It's hard enough for performers to try to inspire standing couch-potato crowds to move a bit, but give 'em a seat and they sit and stare like it was a TV show, except during the most exceptionally irresistible acts. We must all battle creeping stasis!! Remember - you're never too old to rock and roll, and you're never too young to die...
On the other hand, there is more to life than hard-n-heavy rock. Steve Blush has started hosting "Rock At The Park" Mondays at The Park (10th Ave. & 17th St.). At the first night on Feb. 24th in that comfy setting, we were treated not only to another side of Steve's DJ'ing, but the mesmerizing sounds of Mad Juana, followed by several of the ladies from BITCH shows singing to the accompaniment of Brucifer on solo acoustic guitar. A great night - I'm looking forward to more Mondays.