Thursday, June 25, 2009

Boro 6 Music Fest

7:47pm Friday June 19: Ace Case, the Host of Friday night’s installment of the Boro 6 Indie Music Fest and front man for the Cross Town Country All-stars, strolls into my bar looking as dapper as ever. “I knew I’d find my son talking to some pretty filly at the bar.” It’s important to note that there’s a bit of a running joke between Ace and I, where people seem to be under the impression that he’s my dad. I was however talking with a friend of mine at the bar. I excused myself and we made our way to Tierney’s Tavern in Montclair where tonight’s festivities where being held. Ace clued me in to some of the finer points of Tierney’s as we made the trip. He told me to make sure I had one of their burgers. Everyone knows I’m a sucker for blondes and good pub food, and If I can't have former I'll be needing the latter

Upon entering Tierney's, Ace informs me that the Kitchen is downstairs (I’ll need to order the burger there) and the venue is upstairs. For the sake of continuity I’m going to add my Tweets as the night went forward.

Here at the Boro 6 Indie Music Fest With Ace Case. We enter and are greeted by Deivito and Katherine of Bern and the Brights 8:39 PM

Deivis Garcia (Deivito) and Katherine McGowan (Bern and The Brights) greeted me as I walked in. Deivis shows me around gives me the ten cent tour. He also tells me to make sure I have a burger. Themes for Frances are doing a sound check as Kagero shambles in with their gear. Deivis greets Kaz of Kagero. There’s a short conversation. Kaz nods and they shake hands. Shady dealings, I say! But I guess we’ll have to see what that’s about later. I found a spot at a table and unpacked my gear.

My camera bag over the last six month has become a sort of portable office for me. 8:59PM

This is the first time Im gonna get to see @kagero in full force. Im fucking psyched! 9:10 PM

Jennifer Schwartz just hit the scene looking as fashionable as ever! 9:36 PM

Jennifer Schwartz is Newark bar, Kilkenny Alehouse’s rock queen and coordinator of events with Lowel Craig. She is also the Singer/Guitarist of Una Pong, who is also playing tonight. This will be the first time seeing them live, needless to say I’m as anxious as a teenage girl with a backstage pass.

Ace Case introduces the crowd to Ben Franklin and things get under way. Ben Franklin is Billy Grey, rocking the guitar and mic. This gentleman does some outstanding pickin’ and grinnin’. His songs are pseudo-politcal. Seems like a serious message sugarcoated with a punch here and there of touch and cheek comedy. His song Teamwork is a perfect example of this. Ben Franklin’s sound could be described as the music of Violent Femmes with a little bit of over the top brashness of Tenacious D.

Kagero steps up to the plate almost before I can get my next beer. They start it up with Jethata. Deivis stirs the crowd with a bit of stomping and clapping. Kaz (guitar vocals) introduces the rest of the band. Wynn on drums, Rob on bass guitar and backing vocals, and JW on violin, This Japanese Gypsy Rock band is one of the most unique acts I’ve ever seen in local music. If you have a taste for something fun, and you enjoy a good story this band is right up your alley! You can’t help but dance to it. I ran downstairs and snagged my burger and ran back upstairs. Mere seconds before Deivis broke the ice, I jumped in right past him and started dancing. Kaz and Wynn came out into the crowd, and I found JW a stool to stand on. It’s become a tradition of the band to perch their august violinist on a chair while he does his solo for Grappa. Later, Deivis jumped in for the final howl for Red and Black. So that was what that huddle was all about earlier! The crowd got into the groove, everyone was jumping and dancing then as abruptly as it started Kagero came to a thundering halt. Everyone saluted the band as Themes for Frances took the stage. Robbie informed the crowd that you could download their new EP on their website. I highly highly suggest you check this out.

@jhwhit and of course Kagero just gypsy punked my face off....have you seen my glasses? 10:24 PM

I composed myself. By composed I mean I went to the bar for another Guinness, and started on my burger. As I munched down Themes for Frances started up. Joshua Steele (vox/guitar) Christopher Solinski (bass) Jason Tangney (drums) Jason Malmstrom (guitar) make up the Jersey bred foursome.


TfF has a grunge style similar to Sonic Youth and Sound Garden. They have a garage rock sensibility. Their speedier harder parts regale Nirvana’s In Utero album. You can hear an influence of Color and the Shape from the Foo Fighters. They certainly bend these influences to their own sound. Unique guitar hooks coupled with Josh’s emotive vocals and Jason’s steadfast and open drumming mark these chaps for there own niche in the local scene. I look forward to seeing where they go from here.

Ace Case introduces himself disappears and resurfaces with guitar in hand. A brief interlude by Ace while Una Pong sets up. Douglass MacArthur (the HA HA HA song) is one of my favorite Ace Case specials. I picked up a great Johnny Cash style shot of Ace. Of course we all joined in for the chorus. Ace has a morbid sense of humor that really comes across when he plays this song.

Una Pong’s sound is a self-described watery analog. That term goes a long way towards colouring their sound. Jen’s Voice was distorted and robot for The Doctor Examined Me... it had a very 8 bit Nintendo feel. As the songs progressed there was a definite kinship to soundtracks for NES games like Ikari Warriors and Astyanax. Which to me are some of the best OST for games that were ever put out. UP’s tone had this dystopian sort of hopelessness about it, a sort of Big Brother is finished watching feel. Elizabeth Walsh (bass) and Jen trade off vocals during songs. Lu Norte(keys) had some sort of malfunction on the keyboard at the start of the set, which sadly never got resolved. It didn’t stop him from adding his own brand of moral support! Adam Budofsky (drums) was the backbone of the group, driving on the endeavour and adding to the suspense created by Jen and Elizabeth. The crowd got moving as the tension mounted. Then without any warning I was pulled onto the dance floor by one of the band’s fans. We danced until the end of the set with the other revelers.

Highly exhausted from the previous five bands I renewed my vigor with another Guinness as Frozen Gentlemen took flight. I was ultra excited to see these dudes again, after previewing them at Kilkenny alehouse back in March. They got right down to business as usual. They brought the rock and the crowd returned full force with the dancing. It seemed like the crazier the band got (including removal of shirts and full use of the stage) the crowd reciprocated in kind with more dancing and singing along. On their third song Deivis came up and played the distortion phone. After the shirts came off I overheard behind me “Take off your pants!” Thankfully the band did not comply. I could only imagine the kind of reaction that the ladies would have replied with after their pants came off. At that point not succumbing to the whims of 30+ twenty something girls in the room would have been a feat of will. I’m sure KISS would agree. As far as their sound, FG is sort of like the Bee Gees on amphetamines. I have to stress the good Bee Gees. They have a one of a kind style that mixes dance with rock in a way I think gets everyone involved physically, if not emotionally as well. Mido Santantos (vox, keys) is the band’s Front man calling the action and tickling the plastic whites). Quan James (vox, guitar) sings back-up with Jackie Meyer (vox, bass), together they fill out the band’s rock and funk end. Hollywood Charter (drums) tosses out a beat that ensures no one is gonna be sitting down when these cats get going!

After FG was finished, I had to admit that I was as well. Ace and I said our goodbyes and and headed for the car. On the way back to Chill Town we discussed among other things, how well the show went off over all and how the Montclair scene really bring it to the table by means of talent, support and a cadre of fans. Then we got into a discussion about Black Flag. Before I knew it we were back at Lucky 7 Tavern. I packed up my gear snagged my bike and went home, secure in the fact that Rock and Roll is alive and well in Montclair New Jersey.

Back home from Boro 6 fest. Exhausted, sweaty and feeling 21 again. Music achieves for me what make up does for 40 year old housewives. 2:33 AM

Wednesday, June 17, 2009

Otto's Shrunken Head for MISFITS night

Wednesday June 3rd: My old roomates Tim and Fish were playing a Misfit's set at Otto's Shrunken Head. I had marked this as a must see event. The last time I saw Slaw play live it was in our old Basement on Hamilton Street in New Brunswick. Back in that time they went by the name Fun Ghouls (which is to me the best name of a Misfits cover band ever)! So I geared up and headed out into the rain to 14th and B in Manhattan. This is my first time at the Shrunken Head. They have a pretty cool little tiki bar vibe. Beers are $5(this is Manhattan after all). As soon as I walked into the bar Tim(bass/vox), Fish (Guitar/vox), Cheeseman (drummer/vox) and LANDPhil(guitar/wacky boxes) greeted me at the door. I hadn't seen Fish or Cheese for about five years, it was a tear filled reunion of bittersweet memories and ........ HA that's horseshit we immediately assessed the current situation. There were 5 guys all without beverage. We took the bar by storm, I indulged in a Coney Island Beer. We spent the next few minutes recanting our days on Hamilton Street.

So after a few beers and a walk down memory lane, Ghouls Night Out rolled out the red carpet. Glen-nora Danzig[The Stuck Ups](vox), Aileen [Corita](guitar) Tibbie X [Kissy Kamikaze] (bass) Miss Carrie [Kissy Kamikaze](drums) make up the all girl quartet. They all play in other bands and it looks like they get together for their love of Horror Rock to play out their day dreams (or nightmares) as Ghouls Night Out, a Misfits Cover band. They were well received by the crowd. Everyone was singing along and pushin' and shovin' to get near the mic. These femme fatales dressed the part right down to the skull style make-up and the skeleton gloves. Girls who play Misfits covers.... I have to admit I had a crush on all of them. I'm sure Freud would had something to say about me lusting after four girls dressed like guys in a band I like that modeled themselves after the undead (aside from the obviously necrophiliac associations).

Enough about my obsession with code blue. Slaw took the stage. Tim, Fish, Cheeseman, and Landphil played their Slaw originals. Gitty songs that are reminiscent of Black Flag's Nervous Breakdown and Minor Threat's Salad Days. They grinded through their set and then rolled into some Misfits covers. Hollywood Babylon, Nike A Go-Go, Teenagers from Mars. Then they did something I hadn't expected. "Zac, get on stage for this one!" Tim yelled. OH CRAP! What did they have in mind? Fish started up the song. "WE ARE 138!" I toned in, "WE ARE 138!" I was on stage signing along. I hadn't been on stage since they played a show in my basement about 5 years ago. It was too much fun. I have the bug again. After that we went into Gimme Gimme Gimme, by Black Flag. And after that I jumped off stage. They played a few more I recorded and took some pics. There's a rumour that there might be a video and some pics cycling around somewhere of me with Slaw. But for now you have these two videos and the pics I took.

Killkenny Alehouse w/No Pasaran and The Invisible Lines

Saturday June 13th, 8pm. I bust out the door of my job and hightail it directly to the PATH. I went from the PATH to a cab outside of Newark Penn Station, to 27 Central Ave. Kilkenny Alehouse. Jennifer Schwartz had put together another show, which by all indications promised to be killer.

I walked in as Sons where making their moves on the stage. This outrageous growl punk band played about five songs after I walked in. They were unchecked aggression. John (vocals) was prone to manic episodes as well as one depressive moment when he sobbed on stage. I overheard that during their first show (this being their second) he was dressed in a Santa outfit so that made the sobbing a little more disturbing. I heard influences of Minor Threat from Matt,Brian (guitar) and Butch (drums). If I could describe Sons without having your hear them, imagine One Handed Scissor by At the Drive In, during the chorus, but the entire time! It was harsh, brutal and more raw that than a maki combo. The band is still working on its name however and they may change it in the near future.

Invisible Lines
made their mark next. They are Alan (Guitar, Bass)
Greg (Guitar, Bass, Drum Machine) Michael (Drums)William (Guitar, Bass, Vocals). A sort of Conspiracy Surf Rock group. IL brought some sick energy! Songs like Do Not Be Phased that started with a prelude on the drums and guitars are the harbingers of a serious driving song. That’s if you drive in the Demolition Derby! It's a great thing coming out for a show and seeing a band you've never even heard of before that just rocks your mind away. After the show I caught up with Will. It seems IL will be recording a new album soon I personally can’t wait to get my grimy paws on it.

Andy Borsz and Sara Cavic are Slasher Risk. It’s extremely hard to put into words what happened in the next 20 mins. Suffice it to say that if music was sex, this is the craziest exhibition I’ve ever seen. Andy played the Guitar while writhing on the ground then dropped it and jumped on to the drums while Sara manipulated sounds on the guitar. They traded off from playing guitar to drums messing with the speakers. It was about as close to performance art as a rock show can get.

Reeling from what I had just witnessed on stage I took a moment of refuge in a bottle of Budweiser. Chatted it up with some folks. These show have become a serious social event for rockers in Brick City and areas surrounding. Each time there are brand new faces and some old reliables as well.

Jennifer Schwartz of Una Pong and Ryan Havers of the Vontons took my attention away from my elixir. There was to be a guitar Toss-off. Jen vs Ryan in an all out no holds barred battle royal of guitar/wits/ and shit-talking. The guitar finesse was on par the tossing was well received, I have to say the shit talking was much to be desired. I heard ZERO your momma jokes and a very low amount of cursing.

Here’s a quick lesson in History. No Pasaran: propaganda slogan used to express determination to defend a position against an enemy. It was most famously used during the Battle of Verdun in World War I by French General Robert Nivelle. "¡No pasarĂ¡n!" became an international anti-fascist slogan.(wikipedia) Ok lessons concluded. Now since you have a little background, Its easy to conclude that with a name at that level of concept the band itself must breathe lightning and smoke thunder. Well if that was your assumption True Believer , then you ain’t just whistling Dixie! No Pasaran is Eric Mason (Bass, Vox) Tom Barret (Drums) and Romel Espinel (Guitar, Vox). This Clash style set up is a full force post punk band. Think Husker-Du meets Mission of Burma, with a dash of Boy Sets Fire. It’s heavy and its thrashing. They beat you over the head with guitar and bass and rip the carpet right out from underneath you with the drums. I highly suggest you make sure you see these guys the next time they get out for a show, which I believe is going to be The Groove on Grove on July 8th. In fact, say hi if you make it out. I’ll be there. I ALMOST FORGOT TO MENTION, Eric decided to chug a good 3/4 of a bottle of Heine's Famous Malt Vinegar. There are pictures, it was not the most intense event of the night but it definitely punctuated the evening.

Drunken Sufis
complete the line-up with some resolute Political Psycho Punk. Billy Delerioso takes the low end. Slinky keeps the beat. Renzo rounds out the band on Guitar. Billy and Renzo the share responsibility of vocals. DS Started off at 90 mph, and remained reckless for their whole set. It was part message part farce and all fun. They took full advantage of the ample room in the hall and came out into the crowd screaming! When they finished up I was pretty positive I couldn’t handle anymore rock for the night.

Jen offered me a ride back to the PATH. I’m never one to make my life more difficult so of course I accepted. We bullshitted about music, and what we were trying to achieve in the last five years, and how those paths always lead back to music someway or another. Relationships and what not, y’know the stuff you bullshit with a good friend at 2am on your way to the PATH. I got to the station and wouldn’t you know it the train showed up right as I got to the platform. Everything seems like it’s falling into place for the Rocker Tycoon these days.

Sunday, June 14, 2009

Confessions of my Undying Love

Dear Madam,

I'm Drowning. It's been about a year since we became acquainted. Truth be told I doubt either one of us thought this would ever go this far. We were introduced by mutual friends and I'll admit not much for first impressions. And to be honest some folks I know called you a jaded harlot bitch queen. So our ensuing courtship was delayed a bit. After time I came to realize they were jealous ex-lovers and pathetic admirers you had spurned. So one night I conspired with you to meet. We exchanged numbers and met that subsequent Tuesday.

Of course as with most girls women your age I figured I'd likely deal with the bland conversation of your ex-girlfriend's crimes against you, and that you'd leave me alone for far too long to check your make-up in the bathroom. Imagine My utter elation when you indulged me with your stories of travel and new bold fashion tastes. We chatted about science and philosophy and even comics! Before too long and after several drinks we were both pretty drunk and it was last call. I'd like to tell a fairytale to our grandkids one day about how we kissed good night and went our separate ways only to meet later that week. We both know that wasn't the case. You certainly had other designs, altogether. You whispered to me, "Please take me back to your place." Of course I complied.

We whirlwinded into my place I threw on my itunes, and you ravaged me entirely. It was sexy! It was dirty! It was raw! And I fell for it hook line and sinker. I had to see you again! You obviously had other plans. I woke alone the next morning. I could still taste your lip gloss in my mouth. There was a note on the bed.

"Good times, Maybe I'll see you soon, Cutie!"
Hearts and Power Chords,
the Local Music Scene

Yes I called the day after. Damn the social bindings that state otherwise! I know a good thing when I see it. But you didn't answer. In retrospect I guess I'm happy you didn't call the cops when I started texting you daily. I even (I admit it) stalked you on facebook and myspace. But to my credit you were leaving comments on my page and you did accept my friend request. YOU EVEN TAGGED YOURSELF IN PICTURES I TOOK OF YOU OUT ON THE SCENE!

Social Awkwardness kept me from saying hi in person. It was like you were always with some other guy. "Turns out the Jackals were right!" I thought, "Harlot, Skank, Floosey!" But my heart knew otherwise. Months went by I grew cold, several relationships crashed and burned. When I saw you out you asked how things had been and how I was doing. "Like you give a shit!" I replied. And we'd argue about how much of an asshole I'd been the past few months. I couldn't do much more than agree with you and walk away. I was drinking a lot, my ambitions were lack luster and my love life was pretty hit and run. I guess I was missing the message, in that haze.

One day I'd had just about enough. I spent the weekend locked up and just figured out where I was headed. The only thing I've ever been really good at is taking pictures. I had some old photos of you when we hung out in New Brunswick circa 2002. I called you up, and you dug the idea. So I started taking pictures of you. You liked them! I was happy, you where happy, I even started writing about your adventures. People liked you! They wanted to know about you. So I asked questions and you answered. I did some video of you being you. People liked that too. We've been doing this thing where we hang out almost every weekend and a few times during the week for like six months now. I know you like me. I can see it in the pictures. I'll just be blunt. I'm drowning here! will you go steady with me or at least consider me on a reoccurring one night stand basis!?

Guns and Roses,
Zac Clark, Rocker Tycoon

Thursday, June 11, 2009

Flashback to 2002

I found some pics shot back in 2002 when some friends and I used to run shows out of our basement. Back then I was just a straight edge kid hanging out in mosh pits and drinking Mountain Dew. I shot bands like Paulson, My Chemical Romance, and Armour for Sleep, some of these bands went on to make something of themselves! My friend Paul Cox (currently of the Wayward Winos and I worked on a scene zine we produced in out of our room called The Alternative. It's been 7 years and a lot has been going on since then but you can still see my style in these! Take a look at these shots!

Tuesday, June 2, 2009

The Rocker Tycoon turns 29 with The Great Nostalgic

Firstly, I want to impart to you a little life advice. If you decide that you should want to go out on the eve of your next birthday, take it easy. Try to keep a low profile, just enjoy the night’s entertainment, have a few drinks. Most importantly, make a break for the door before twelve. I’m a huge fan of the irish exit. That’s when you politely excuse yourself (normally pretending to go out for a smoke or to get some air or use the rest room) and then leave without saying goodbye to anyone. It might seem rude at first but believe me, if I had taken my own advice I would not have been so hungover on my birthday proper. Thanks to a few friends and some really great bands I erred on the side of a mind-shattering hangover on my birthday. I'm quite sure I manifested forms of telekinesis previously unheard of by mankind that day.

It all started when I walked into IM Automata Chino to see Marshall Mann behind the bar. I had been cleverly planning not to see anyone who’d know it was my birthday that night. Marshall, a friend of mine and fellow bartender, knew all too well. Shots flowed as u say usa took the stage. A happy go lucky group of troubadours. U say usa is Steven Nelson (vox,guitar,harp) Leif Nelson (drums) Mike Ishaya (bass). Steve also rocked the harmonica during the show. Their set was energetic and punchy. They went well with the whiskey that was forced upon me.

As I spiraled into a cavern of intoxication. Mister Badger set up! Mister Badger is Julia Rogers (bass, cello, lead vocals) Jahna Rain (guitar, vocals) Jim Geyer (ukulele, banjulele, Hawaiian steel guitar, plaid pants, strange accents) Zachary Eldridge (drums, percussion, cuteness, xylophone, vibraphone, sound effects). What a cool little band! Really cool sound. Jim's cavalcade of string instruments punctuates the band's unique sound. Julia and Julia sound like cherubs with guitars, and Zachary's percussion expertise carry's the whole thing steadily onward and upward. You can tell all 4 members of the band are having a great time, they’re all smiles and winks.

The Great Nostalgic got in touch with me a few weeks prior to make sure I was gonna be out at IMAC to see them. I have to say I’m flattered that a band all the way out from Austin Texas even knows about the Rocker Tycoon! All hail the power of the internet. The Great Nostalgic is Abram Shook(Guitar and Vox), JoBeth Cox (keys, vox) Mike Faircloth(keys), Vincent Durcan (drums), and James Miller (bass). Vincent and Mike ground the Band suberbly with all four wheels on the ground. Jobeth and Mike on the Keys add an element of kickshaw that most bands seem to overlook. The first thing you’ll notice about this group is Abram’s voice. It’s calm but hauntingly disturbed. It’s really hard to put it into words. It’s like the scene out of Akira, those children are so calm, but there’s something that doesn’t touch the ground about them. JoBeth tones in and it almost gives you goose pimples. The songs ranged from country infused new wave (County Line) to dance hall romps with a blues twist (Young Lovers). Music like this wasn’t produced when I was younger. You can hear influences from David Byrne, Joe Stummer, and the Killers all in the same song.

Looking back on the last 29 years, it’s interesting to see the evolution that music has taken. It’s wild to think of the amount of time I’ve been alive as an era, but if you listen to just the music that I’ve heard in that time, it would be hard to even think of it as just one era. So much has happened in the last three decades. Even the way the industry works has changed. Hell, the way we find out about new music has changed. The Digital Age has ushered in people like myself and Brooklyn Vegan as liaisons to the next big thing, musically. That sort of power wasn’t even a thought in my mind when I was 22 writing paper music zines to hand out at house shows. It’s been an enlightening time. I look forward to that role as the years continue to slide by.

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