Tag Archives: Music

The Black Lips – 9.19.07, New York, NY, Music Hall of Williamsburg

The Black Lips

The Black Lips – 9.19.07, New York, NY, Music Hall of Williamsburg

For all the legends and myths in circulation about the wild debauchery of The Black Lips’ performances, when the band played New York’s Music Hall of Williamsburg on September 19th, they were far more professional than their reputation would have you think. When, for instance, bassist/singer Jared Swilley’s bass broke, rather than letting the set lose momentum, the band continued to play while Swilley frantically corrected the problem. Once Swilley was back on the horse, he apologized for the technical hiccup. Granted, one might question if puking on stage is “professional”, but when guitarist/singer Cole Alexander vomited, it was ever-so-casual, the way most of us nonchalantly glance at our watches. Alexander’s mannerly barf aside, it was the crowd that was foaming and rabid.

Not only was the house teeming with girls in feathered headdresses and grown men dropping from the rafters (one almost hit Tim), but the show was covered by everyone from small time bloggers to CMJ. This is no doubt credit to the Vice media-conglomerate and hype machine. With VBS TV’s recent broadcast of the band’s misadventures in Israel, The Black Lips have the feel of the company’s house band. But the hype from Vice is warranted. The album Good Bad, Not Evil is not only The Black Lips shining moment thus far, but its Gonzo attitude, totally weird, nastily comic and politically charged nature, make it one of the best albums of the year, hands down.

And as for the live show, while the days of urinating in each other’s mouths may be behind the band in their new-found spotlight, The Black Lips put on one hell of show. As their albums have always hinted, the performance is a different beast than the record. The most mesmerizing part of the show was drummer and wild-arm, Joe Bradley. In a zone of his own, Bradley was a war-path-drum-freak, full of frantic screams, crazed “Ah-ha-ha-ha-has!” that were terrifying as hypnotic. A man possessed, Bradley alone made the concert.

Click here to see photos from the show.

Clockcleaner – 9.13.07, Philadelphia, PA, First Unitarian Church

Clockcleaner

Clockcleaner – 9.13.07, Philadelphia, PA, First Unitarian Church

Though Clockcleaner’s Myspace page features a photograph of Philip K. Dick, if the band were to have a science fiction doppelgänger, it would more likely be Harlan Ellison than Dick. Like Ellison, who is more known for his persona, editorial rants before his stories and general outspoken views, Clockcleaner is likewise known (and celebrated across the web) for their caustic antics and disdaining opinions of the Philadelphia music scene. Clockcleaner legend has garnered the band press everywhere from Vice Magazine (check out the Vice Web-isode on VBS.tv Practice Space) to the Philadelphia Weekly, which most recently declared Clockcleaner “Philly’s most hated band”.

The question is: Is Clockcleaner really chaotic evil? Clockcleaner’s recent gig at the First Unitarian Church in Philadelphia proved two things, the first being that “No, Clockcleaner is not the anti-Christ”, and the second being that the overall weirdness of a venue can always outdo whatever schtick your band has up its sleeve. Go to Google and type in “First Unitarian Church”. Click the first hit and take a good gander at the church ladies and bingo night. The dimly lit basement where Clockcleaner frontman John Sharkey dry-humped a fan onstage may very well be the same place bingo night is held. But for all of Clockcleaner’s antagonism, the band’s act is just that, an act. From bassist Karen Horner’s opening announcement that she broke her finger “fingering” her boyfriend, fans and band alike seemed in on the joke. Albeit, a lot of the jokes were fairly crude, but they were jokes nonetheless.

In the end it is nice to know that there are bands like Clockcleaner out there who want to do more than just play music by putting on a show and stirring people up in an attempt to shake complacency and mediocrity. Hopefully Clockcleaner will continue to stir the shit and eventually challenge their newly anointed nemesis, the Philly band Man Man, to a rock-off, milk challenge or whatever. That will be a show that no one will want to miss.

Click here to see photos from the show.

Marah – 9.7.07 Philadelphia, PA, Johnny Brenda’s

Marah - Live at Johnny Brenda's 9/7/07

Marah – 9.7.07 Philadelphia, PA, Johnny Brenda’s

Certainly, songs and showmanship are important to any band when it comes to making it. However, more important is timing, luck and who gets behind your music. It’s unfair but a reality, just as it has never seemed fair how a truly incredible band like Marah barely even makes a blip on the radar. With their forthcoming Angels of Destruction, Marah will have released six proper studio albums, a slew of EPs, a DVD, a live album and a Christmas album in there somewhere. Yet outside Philadelphia, they are virtual unknowns. As Bob Hill recently pointed out in Crawdaddy when writing about Marah’s spiritual cousins, The Hold Steady:

There is no Lester Bangs to saddle-up alongside Lou Reed, no Landau to proclaim the future of rock ‘n’ roll, no William Miller to tell you Russell Hammond isn’t really the golden god he claims to be. There is only a watered-down wasteland of Web logs, anointing bands like the Cold War Kids and the Arcade Fire as the second coming. That type of atmosphere is the bane of great retro acts like the Hold Steady, Marah, and Jesse Malin.

While bands like The Hold Steady are perhaps now on their way to success and do suggest that great music can make it, Marah has been left behind, still playing the local circuit. And as usual, their first of two shows at Johnny Brenda’s found the band in top form. Most excitingly, their live set proved what everyone knew too, that without misdirected production values, songs like “Float Away” are forces to be reckoned with.

In the end though Friday Night, September 7, 2007 came and went at Johnny Brenda’s. And whether anyone ever recognizes them or not, that night Marah were gods and floated away with the best of them.

Click here to see photos from the show.


Quote taken from Bob Hill’s article “The Wild, The Innocent, and The Craig Finn Shuffle”, Crawdaddy, March 16, 2007.

The Hold Steady – 8.9.07 Brooklyn, NY, Prospect Park

Hold Steady

The Hold Steady – 8.9.07 Brooklyn, NY, Prospect Park

In a recent interview Iggy Pop talked about the difference between playing music in 1965, as opposed to 2007.

“In 1965, when great young white artists in the English-speaking world were successfully re-channeling hillbilly and black music– you know Bob Dylan, Ray Davies, Pete Townsend, Keith Richards– they didn’t get any money at first. They were all broke. All those giant people had to stay around quite a while to cash in because the industry ripped them off more efficiently. The information wasn’t as widely available as it is now. Now, like I’m sure the Killers have a great record deal, and a lawyer to track their publishing and a guy to renegotiate their European cash flow streams and all that. It’s just different. I don’t know why.” – Iggy Pop

Certainly, the statement must hold true for some bands. However, contrary to Iggy’s statement, in the era of internet boom, surely just as many artists (if not more) are getting ripped off by charlatans, bandits and thieves in that ephemeral dream of making it, cashing in and getting paid to do what you love. And of the bands who are out there, you get the feeling that The Hold Steady have paid their dues.

When singer Craig Finn thanked the audience for the opportunity to play for them at the free show in Prospect Park, NY, on August 9, 2007, one was left with the profound sense that the man was truly humble. And what a show. Not only was the band incredibly tight, but there was that wild-alive electricity between the band and the audience you get 1 in every 10 shows. So if, like me, you came 3 years late to The Hold Steady, my advice is go out, buy all their albums now and catch them live.

Click here to see photos from the show.


Iggy Pop quote taken from Pitchforkmedia interview by Bret Gladstone. Click here to read the full article.

Interview with Dennis Dragon of the Surf Punks

Formed in 1976 and borrowing elements from punk and surf rock, the Surf Punks were a completely singular if not unique musical phenomenon. Irrevent, funny and totally original, the Surf Punks would release five albums, Surf Punks (1976), My Beach (1980), Locals Only (1982), Oh No! Not Them Again (1988) and Party Bomb (1989). In the following interview, Dennis Dragon, drummer and founder of the Surf Punks, talks about the band.

Dennis Dragon 1985 – Click on image for a bigger version.

For more information on Dennis Dragon’s current work, visit his website by clicking here.

Interview follows.

With all the information out there on the internet, surprisingly there isn’t a whole lot about the Surf Punks. Additionally, your albums are quite hard to come by. “Surf Punks” on Day-Glo is next to impossible to find, and compact discs of “My Beach” go for 90+ dollars on Amazon used vendors. Do you think any Surf Punks albums
will see rereleases?

Since Epic Records owns the rights to the “My Beach” album, the ball is in their court. I personally have a few unopened copies of our original Day-Glo record and would consider selling some if the price is right. I have recently re-acquired the rights to “Locals Only” and will probably re-release that one at some point.

Continue reading Interview with Dennis Dragon of the Surf Punks

The Fucking Champs, Philadelphia 2005

A full set of mp3s (pretty damn good quality for a bootleg, I have to admit) of this show can now be found here. It didn’t seem like they played for 52 minutes. Time must have flew since I was enjoying it that much.

A crappy recording of the Washington DC show the day before can also be found here.

The consensus on the internet about The Fucking Champs is that no one can really make up their mind about The Fucking Champs . Just about every net reviewer seems to wonder if they’re a joke, as if all their guitar virtuousity could only be accompanied with tongues planted firmly against cheeks. And, everyone has some wacked out visualization of them, how they’re a mix of (insert really good riff guitarist here), (insert something metal-ish here) and (wildcard here: some dead composer, a video game or maybe a nothern European country). To me, The Fucking Champs fall somewhere between Thin Lizzy, Deadly Towers, the Baroque period and my own guitar awkwardness.

But one thing is certain: they’re not cool.

Continue reading The Fucking Champs, Philadelphia 2005