Friday, August 19, 2005

2 Gigs in One Night

Now that's rock n roll

The Violets
@CBGB's Lounge
New York, NY - August 18, 2005

Eveytime I see this band they are more solid than they were last time. My only contention is that they should not end their set on a ballad. They need to go out with a bang. Leave the crowd wanting more.

Holly Golightly
@Mercury Lounge
New York, NY - August 18, 2005

4th time seeing Miss G and the band and they were more fiesty and rockin' than ever. The songs had more punch than usual, and Holly played around with her voice, getting uncharacteristically loud and guttural. Smashing show.

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Thursday, August 18, 2005

A Chicken Stompin' Good Time

The Knitters; Phranc)
@Irving Plaza
New York, NY - August 11, 2005

To call this a rare treat is an understatement. Making only their second album in 20 years, and having been that long since they played Irving Plaza, the amalgam novelty (though calling them a novelty may be considered an insult so it is pre-emptively withdrawn) that is the Knitters came barn stormin' through the Big Apple in a dusty blaze of honky tonk rockabilly fun. Comprised of X's John Doe, Exene Cervenga, and DJ Bonebrake, the Blasters's Dave Alvin, and bassist Johnny Ray Bartel, this band of premiere talent showcased what made their respective bands so awe-inspiring: Punks with professional musicianship. Beginning with a trio of ballads by Doe and Alvin, the Knitters proved that you can start off a show with slow songs and still manage to pump life into the crowd. Exene's voice, which is a 50/50 affair on the 100% otherwise perfect X songs done live, is 100% immaculate for the Knitters. The slower tempo and lighter fare that the Knitters offer is what Exene needs to keep her voice in control (though bona fide should and do relish her wild vocals when X is performing). Of all the songs of note, X's "Burning House of Love", which is excellently composed but whose original recording was too 80's, is made totally perfect as done by the Knitters. DJ Bonebrake's stand-up drumming with tin can for a bass drum is the perfect touch along side Bartel's upright acoustic bass.
Opening act Phranc - self-described as your "typical American Jewish-Lesbian folk singer" wowed the crowd with funny, snappy numbers of leftist or comic appeal (or both as is the case with her love song to Condi Rice), or delicious covers such as Cash's "I've Been Everywhere". A perfect night of folk, country, and rock.

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Tuesday, August 02, 2005

Heaven and Hell: 2 Nights With the Dirtbombs

The Dirtbombs; Knights of the New Crusade
Hoboken, NJ – July 28, 2005

It’s almost becoming like clockwork…a workhorse…a machine…but each time it is authentic, pounding, sincere, and above all, full of rock n roll. Nothing, no one, not a damn thing is better live than the Dirtbombs. Period. End of story.

This night’s big feature was an epic ending jam of “Granny’s Little Chicken”, showcasing the talents of each member…and just when it seemed that drummer Ben Blackwell was ending the night in style, fuzz patriots Ko Melina and Troy Gregory returned to distort us into oblivion. The finale knocked any slight worry that the show was getting redundant (perish the thought) but the next night would prove to be infamous, almost with a sense of purposely eliminating any sense of reliability in the Dirtbombs live universe. Opening act The Knights of the Crusade, who I became familiar with due to a friendly guy in the crowd, were Middle-Ages dressed Californians who sang themes of Protestant Christianity to their West Coast mesh of surf rock, hardcore punk, and slight reggae. The gimmicky humor wore thin; especially with the detailed hateful rants that started to seem more earnest than sarcastic. It’s a mystery, keep it that way, and keep on your way boys.

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pictures from Maxwell's (via my friend Roxxan of the Blanche Manual and our Dirtbombs legion My Space page) accompany these reviews.

The Dirtbombs; The Flesh, Tralala
@Knitting Factory
New York, NY – July 29, 2005

It was supposed to be a culmination of rock n roll majesty. The Dirtbombs were breaking the record for most times I’ve seen a band live ever (five) and in a single year (four). It was the proof that this band laid claim to the title of Greatest Live Band Ever. But alas, things were not to be perfect…forces beyond our control overwhelmed the rock gods…and the night would go down as one of the infamous in Dirtbombs history. First the bad stuff, and first the most serious: Ko slashed her hand up after breaking her string in the first song. Troy, like Batman, carries her off. Coming back later, her bandages come undone, and again she’s taken off. What we thought was hammed up drama was serious business as Mick told me later that Ko had a panic attack. Mick initially told the crowd that they would only play 1 or 2 more because Ko was going to the hospital but the band kept going. But there was more disaster: something that could be foreseen in the minutes before the show began. Unlike all the other times I’ve seen the Dirtbombs, including the night before, the band could not set up their equipment like they were their own roadies…Mick especially. In 24 hours, it seemed, they had become superstars. The crowd cheered…and it was an especially manly, testosterone charged yell…and sure enough, when the good times started, a mosh pit broke out. A mosh pit…. yes the Dirtbombs are a fast hard rocking band but they are also primarily – and this is straight from the voice of Mick Collins – a dance band. There is no call or place for this type of violent behavior as a form of good time anywhere, but especially at this kind of show. A bunch of us in the crowd, who love to dance and rock out were suddenly the uptight ones, as we had to protect ourselves from these jackasses. And it just got worse and worse: a crowd surfer and one asshole jumping up on stage to put his arm around Mick during “Stop”, and later returning to pretend to play Ko’s bass (to Troy’s shocked look). No respect. And on top of all that…some girl holding a stone statue over my head to take pictures of it. (What the hell???) Yet on this night it was the power of rock n roll that held out…and unlike the White Stripes, where the battle with the Moshers and the Band Crashers (more figuratively than literally) was lost…on this night, the real fans won out. The Knitting Factory security deftly and with stealth removed the 6-10 moshers causing a ruckus. And when drummer Pat Patterson began the beat for Iggy Pop’s “Lust for Life”, the nervous but positive smiles on the faces of Mick and Troy soothed the crowd, and when Troy took the vocals (he was a hero multiple times this night), things started to fall into place, albeit with much shattered nerves. The dancers got their groove on as the band went through the set list…and when Troy took my request for “Encrypted”, the night was saved for sure. After the show, Mick was nice to the stage crashing asshole that got up on stage during the equipment clean up! But that’s Mick, not me. I asked Mick afterwards, if they ever dealt with moshers before and he said recently in Germany (I wonder if that should be surprising…just kidding). And so ended a night of high charged disaster and rescue. Nasty moshers but stronger dancers. Slashed hands and freaked fuzz masters but reliant, resilient musicians refusing to surrender to the “Hex” as Troy Gregory dubbed the night (after Mick broke his strap…did I not mention that happened too?)…It was the night from hell that somehow got to heaven anyway.

Oh yeah, there were opening acts…the Flesh who I hadn’t seen in quite a long time…and who were all funky and groovy and almost hiphoppish (normally not my bag, but I had reasons to enjoy it this night)…and Tralala…another gimmicky thing based in garage rock and pop. 4 sweet tarts singing in front of 3 musicians. Good music, excessive gimmick, and only 1 of the 3 really fit the visual mold (the one who didn’t look like a model).

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