Tag Archives: Chuck Berry


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


A Night of Enjoyably Bizarre Music

November 6th, 2012

Fort Lean/TV Baby – Mercury Lounge – November 5, 2012

TV Baby

If you go to as many live shows as I do, sometimes you’ll often catch a pairing of two bands that don’t seem to make any sense together. Which is what happened at the late show last night at Mercury Lounge. However, it was the rare circumstance where the wildly different bands expertly complemented each other. Fort Lean began the night. And lead singer Keenan Mitchell eased his way into the set, at first crooning into his microphone nonchalantly. As the night progressed, Mitchell became more animated, wildly shaking his impressive mop of bleached-blond hair and stretching toward the ceiling on his tippy toes during the highest points of the show. Yet it’s Fort Lean’s unsung rhythm section that powered the band. Drummer Sam Ubi and bassist Jake Aron locked into each other hard, and for most of the night stood as close to each other as possible, as if their rhythmic power emanated from their proximity. The band treated us to a preview of songs from their forthcoming EP, Change Your Name, out next Tuesday. Rabid fans in the packed room yipped and shouted their approval at the quintet, and eventually one particularly enthused audience member was swept up by the election spirit and attempted to start a chant of “Four more years!” He wasn’t a partisan supporter clamoring for the reelection of President Obama—he just didn’t want Fort Lean to leave the stage.

But at some point, they had to give way to TV Baby, the new outfit from two-thirds of electro-noise band A.R.E. Weapons. Singer-saxophonist Matthew McAuley and guitarist Brain (not a typo) McPeck posed a stark contrast to the impeccably dressed, youthfully energetic up-and-comers who populate Fort Lean. McAuley sported New Balance sneakers and a zippered V-neck sweatshirt tucked into his dark pleated khakis, while McPeck rocked a penlight in the pocket of his spread-collar Oxford shirt—they looked like their board meeting ran late and had only a few minutes to prepare before the show. But looks can be deceiving. The duo clearly took a page from the punk-rock playbook and dementedly bounced around the stage to the driving electronic backing beats of new their self-titled concept album. During the climax of the most intense songs, McAuley looked as if he were convulsing. At one point, he threw his microphone stand to the ground with such a huge force that it broke. “I’m a numbnuts,” was the apology he gave before transitioning into a cover of Chuck Berry’s “Maybelline,” a fittingly bizarre ending to an enjoyably bizarre evening. —Alex Kapelman