Robert Lund - Man
Some Big Shows
New York Waste, June, 2003
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Some folks expressed surprise that I'd be found at a Procol Harum show, but 30 years ago (before I'd found the path to corruption), I was a huge fan of theirs. Matthew Fisher's organ parts gave their music a classical flavor that appealed to who I was then, and Fisher still makes the Hammond B3 sing like Bach (well, almost). And Gary Brooker's characteristic voice still sounds the same, though he looks very much like an aging english gentleman at the piano with his blazer, white hair and whiskers. In his book, "Rock Till You Drop," John Strausbaugh pleads with all aging rockers to stay home, and stop trying to capitalize on their past hits with nostalgia tours. Procol Harum played some new numbers off a recent release, and I'm not sure it's the kind of music that would appeal to me now. But their classics strike a deep chord within me and many others, so I'm glad they're still performing. Of course, The Bottom Line is a dreadful place to see rock groups - all those tables and chairs, waitresses serving food to the ass-bound audience, and it's impossible to stand anywhere near the stage. I waited on line for an hour-and-a-half for my standing-room-only spot by the bar. Hardly anyone dances at most rock gigs these days, but this crowd was an extreme example. A rare bunch to see in a club, these folks made me feel like a kid (as opposed to usually being surrounded by "my kids" in the local scene). I was treated to a 90-minute wait among slouching pot-bellies talking about their suburban houses and cars, the "good old days," and moaning about how there's nothing going on any more. No wonder I hang out with people half my age! But all hail Gary Brooker!
My Fishbone albums got lots of houseplay back in the 80s, but I'd never seen these guys, though I'd heard their gigs were wild experiences. So I was thrilled to hear they'd be playing Don Hill's, and they lived up to everything I'd heard. The place was packed more tightly than I'd ever seen it. No chance of getting to my regular spot up front, but when I spotted the drummer making his way through the crowd to the stage, I jumped in his wake and let him part the bodies for me, landing me up close. They started right out with "Party At Ground Zero" only blocks from there(!), and continued delivering frenzied favorites as the crowd shouted along the lyrics. The tightly-packed bodies provided a great surface for crowd-surfing, and it was well worth enduring the mashing and moshing in there - until a big body landed on my head, and my strained neck muscles prompted me to seek refuge a bit further back. Great music, great workout!
I was so bummed to find both Cramps NYC concerts sold out weeks in advance. But a friend who works lights at Warsaw got me in to their May 16 gig at the Polish National Home, and my life was saved. What a wonderful venue! You have lovely Polish dames serving you mountains of Pierogi and Kielbasa, preparing you for the human blender of the tightly packed crowd! The Cramps "no cameras" policy meant this was a real-time-only experience, but see photos elsewhere in this issue. It was well worth the constant battle to stay on my feet amidst the crush of the throng up near the stage, and every song in The Cramps repertoire was greatly enhanced by seeing Lux Interior sing them from only a few feet away. This awesome intense dude imparts such a sense of decadent irony to the lyrics, these songs will never sound the same to me. And he pulls the audience in with his frequent interactions with the folks up front - like grabbing the head of a dude in a front-row wheelchair, snarling "ARE YOU LISTENING TO ME??". So real, so bizarre! I also got my first taste of Detroit's Von Bondies, a perfect opening band, blending strains of The Ventures and Iggy Pop into a dark Cramps appetizer.
On the local scene:
As tired as y'all might be of hearing me rave about Don Hill's monthly BITCH shows, I have to say this one was really special. Despite the magnificence of the regular BITCH lineup, the club felt it was becoming just a bit repetitive, predictable, so they skipped April and put together a May lineup of first-time bitches. I heartily accepted the assigned task of virgin recruiter, and these new ladies burst forth with a power that confirmed the power of female-delivered rock, backed by the superb house band. See them in action at BITCH 26.