Tag Archives: Blondie

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A Raucous 40th-Anniversary Party at Music Hall of Williamsburg

December 1st, 2017

L.A.M.F. 4oth Anniversary – Music Hall of Williamsburg – November 30, 2017


There’s a lot of talk about how the Lower East Side is not same as it used to be. Hell, the name of The Bowery Presents hearkens back to the glory days of the late ’70s when a few bands set the town—and the world—ablaze with a new kind of fury that hadn’t been witnessed before. Bands like Ramones, Television and the Patti Smith Group all turned rock and roll in on itself, showing how bloated it had become. This new class would behead bands with 100-piece drum kits and 15-minute flute-driven epics about mystical creatures to bring the genre back to its sneering basics. Punk made the Bowery famous worldwide, and one of its hometown heroes was Johnny Thunders and his band the Heartbreakers. With their seminal trash-rock opus, L.A.M.F., Thunders and his band were probably the most rock and roll out of any of the ’77 class. They stuck to the same basics that had been taught to millions by Chuck Berry while adding some of the era’s reckless abandon. (The band also took advantage of their junk-saturated environment more than their peers, and Thunders passed away in 1991.)

Last year, keeper of the NYC rock flame, Jesse Malin, assembled an all-star tribute to play the L.A.M.F. record in full. Needless to say it was a boozed-up blast. This year marks the album’s 40th anniversary and they pulled out all the stops to do it again at a sold-out Music Hall of Williamsburg last night. With a lineup of original Heartbreaker guitarist Walter Lure, Blondie drummer Clem Burke, Sex Pistols bassist Glen Matlock and Social Distortion singer-guitarist Mike Ness, the band ripped through the full LP, trading off vocal duties throughout. Malin (who also opened the show) joined them for a few numbers but seemed to know his place and cleared the stage so these punk legends could hold court.

The band was loose and some numbers ended in charmingly sloppy ways. You could tell this was getting Burke a little agitated, but in defense of the Heartbreakers’ reckless spirit, Ness said that no one cared if the songs came out perfect. The band left the stage once they completed the album and came back to do an encore of Heartbreakers rarities and even a couple of Thunders solo tunes. Malin returned to sing “You Can’t Put Your Arms Around a Memory,” from So Alone, and Ness took on that album’s slow-brooding title track immediately afterward. The show ended with Lure singing the Heartbreakers song “Too Much Junky Business.” It was a great night that transported everyone to a more dangerous and unpredictable era of rock and roll. —Pat King | @MrPatKing

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A Sold-Out Sunflower Bean Party at The Bowery Ballroom

February 26th, 2016

Sunflower Bean – The Bowery Ballroom – February 25, 2016

A Sold-Out Sunflower Bean Party at The Bowery Ballroom
It doesn’t take much to turn something ordinary into something festive. For The Bowery Ballroom last night, all it took was some streamers hanging from the balcony and Mylar balloons (birthday-party chic?) to turn the rock club into party central. For Sunflower Bean there were plenty of reasons to celebrate: new album, hometown show, achieving “keep hearing their song on SiriusXM” status and that important on-your-way-up milestone of selling out the Bowery. After a good and rocking are-you-warmed-up-yet opening set from Honduras filled with Flying V guitar solos and plenty of fist-pump adrenaline, the packed house was ready for the party’s hosts and guests of honor, eventually chanting, “Bean! Bean! Bean!” as they took the stage.

Looking at the three members of Sunflower Bean, it seemed like each major high school clique got to send one representative to the trio. And their music felt the same way, deftly combining nerdy prog, stoner metal and cool-kid indie rock into a high-energy rock show of the sort that rightly fills a room with slam-dance-y kids and nodding, appreciative insider elders alike. They opened with “Human Ceremony,” the title track off that new LP, Julia Cumming’s gurgling bass riffs matching Nick Kivlen’s tie-dyed guitar riffs in the middle. By the third song, the appropriately named “Tame Impala,” off last year’s EP, Show Me Your Seven Secrets, the trio had already channeled some combination of Black Sabbath, Rush and Blondie, and the front half of the room had devolved into a happy mosh pit, unable to contain the energy with mere head bobbing any longer. After Cumming chugged a possibly unnecessary Red Bull, they launched into “2013,” drummer Jacob Faber driving the trio like a high-end sports car in a commercial, beginning as a groove-rock thing before a swerving metal explosion and whiplash 60-to-0 ending.

At this point, there was no going back, the energy increasingly ratcheted up onstage and in the audience with each song. They bounced between brand new tunes, older numbers—one felt like just an excuse to jam out, Cumming ending up in the audience dancing, rocking the bass and looking good doing it all the while—and plenty of crowd-pleasing material off the album, all showing off their wide-ranging influences and skills, and with “Easier Said,” they showed they can do a very radio friendly indie-rock song as well. All parties, no matter how great they are, must come to an end, and Sunflower Bean encored with “Come On,” putting an exclamation point on an evening filled with them and ensuring that everyone there will RSVP ASAP when they get their invitation to the next one.
—A. Stein | @Neddyo

Photos courtesy of Julia Berke | juliashootsfilm.tumblr.com

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Morrissey Returns to New York City to Play Madison Square Garden

June 26th, 2015

Going by just his last name, Steven Patrick Morrissey rose to fame fronting the influential alternative English four-piece the Smiths. But following the band’s fourth studio album in four years, the Smiths broke up in 1987 and Morrissey launched his own acclaimed career. His first solo album, Viva Hate (stream it below), arrived a year later. “All by his lonesome self, the Smiths’ founder might be expected to dig into his well-documented obsessions and really wallow. Surprisingly, the wailing soul’s solo debut is a tight, fairly disciplined affair. Viva Hate reveals the talents of its maker: innocent vocal hooks and vivid guitar riffs belie twisted lyrics full of the usual bizarre imagery, provocative observations and campy asides,” said Rolling Stone. Since then, Morrissey (above, performing “There Is a Light That Never Goes Out” in Live at the Hollywood Bowl) has remained busy touring and recording—and being outspoken about a variety of topics. The singer-songwriter’s 10th studio album, his first in five years, World Peace Is None of Your Business, came out last summer. “His distinctive take on life remains characterized by a literacy in his lyricism and musicality as influenced by old standards as it is by the subversive punk he came of age listening to,” proclaimed Paste. “With a title like World Peace Is None of Your Business, you know before even diving in this will be Moz in top form.” Coming back to the United States to support the LP, Morrissey plays Madison Square Garden tomorrow night. And as an added bonus, local legends Blondie open the show.

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Blondie – Rough Trade NYC – May 19, 2014

May 20th, 2014

Blondie - Rough Trade NYC - May 19, 2014

Photos courtesy of Dana (distortion) Yavin | distortionpix.com

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No Reason to Fear Avey Tare’s Slasher Flicks at The Bowery Ballroom

April 22nd, 2014

Avey Tare’s Slasher Flicks – The Bowery Ballroom – April, 21, 2014

(Photo: Jeremy Ross)

(Photo: Jeremy Ross)

With a band name like Avey Tare’s Slasher Flicks, you’d figure the music would be weird and spooky. And what do you know, their sold-out show last night at The Bowery Ballroom was indeed just that. The spookiness was mostly provided by the stage setup, which included oversized skulls, like leftover Halloween decorations. These were lit with colorful projections to a somewhat trippy effect while the band remained cloaked in the dark shadows between them, virtually invisible to the crowd. The weird was provided by the music, played by Tare (Dave Portner), from Animal Collective, on guitar and vocals, Angel Deradoorian, formerly of Dirty Projectors, on keyboards and vocals, and Jeremy Hyman, formerly of Ponytail, on drums. The set list was mainly comprised of material from the trio’s lone album, Enter the Slasher House—songs that combine the aesthetics of the member’s musical roots.

As the set began, the music seemed to resist melody altogether, feeling almost like a collage of sounds and lyrics. With Deradoorian and Portner pushing the boundary between an almost doo-wop-y pop and free-form psychedelic, it was Hyman who became the focus, his drumming added to the chaos while controlling it and reining it in. Eventually, the show found its groove without sacrificing its quirky, rotated feel. The Billy Joel–on-acid sound made way for a Blondie-cracked-open-and-scrambled disco feel, with Deradoorian filling in with pulsing basslines on her synthesizer. It was like your eyes getting acclimated to the dark, finally seeing the details of the musicians lurking between the skulls and hearing the music they made for what it was. And as it turns out, the Slasher Flicks are nothing to be afraid of. —A. Stein