Monday, August 31, 2009

The Natch and Victor Bravo at the Iron Monkey

Crazy writers hat. Check. Pens. Check. Laptop. Check. Shirt, Tie, Check Check Hangover DOUBLE CHECK. So I took a trip out today to write up Friday night’s show at IMAC. It was far too beautiful tosit in my apartment and write on a Sunday morning. The Wifi is free over at Marco and Pepe on Grand Street. Why not induldge myself in a classic writer’s atmosphere for once?

As I was saying, Friday Night I took a trip out to IM Automata Chino in Jersey City. To see a few bands I hadn’t heard of: The Natch and Victor Bravo. I arrived at 9pm sharp expecting music to be in full swing at the venue. Turns out there was some type of legal issue and the music was being held in the Iron Monkey proper on the second floor. I took the stairs to the second level and saw they were setting up. So I decided to hit the roof deck for a few Aventinus pints. I spoke with the owner over a few glasses and he assured me that venue would be up and running in two weeks and while they were getting things in order it would give them time to rearrange the set-up of the bar (I’ve always contested with him over the placement of the bar and the stage). So I guess you have to take the good with the bad, lemonade from lemons so to speak.

As I walked down to the makeshift venue I ran into Trish Naudon(formerly of America’s Sweetheart) Overjoyed I asked if I had misread the bill and they were playing. She confirmed the latter over the former and told me that they were now The Natch. The band’s old singer/guitarist left and they became the Natch. So I geared up for a reunion with some old friends! The moral here? Support your local band... when that band becomes another band... support that band as well! Slightly more congealed now the Natch is everything I dug about AS. Chris Thomas (guitar) and Paris Mancini (bass) trade off vocals and Trish (drums) fills in with a little backing! Sick Guitar, catchy lyrics and poppy drum, it’s just fun rock and roll. Like a good old fashioned (the drink), simple and straight-forward, but with a little flair to make things interesting!

Trish warned me to be ready for Victor Bravo. They’ve been touring together for a few shows. I obliged her that I’d stick around. I snagged another beverage from the roof and locked in for Victor Bravo. First impressions are so important. I go as far to say that in the music industry they are 90% of the battle. Already having the backing of my friends in Natch I suppose I could say VB had a good standing with me before they played. After their first song though I was hooked! Collin Daniels (guitar/vox)and Daniel Collins (drums) were destined to rock together! I’m not even alluding to their epithet concordance. Like the White Stripes meets Black Flag (Black Stripes …no that wouldn’t do….. Certainly not White Flag….there’s nothing White Flag about these guys). It’s pure kick to the groin writhing in agony rock! Holy Cow! Just …wow! Like the first three bites of a bowl of Frosted Flakes with extra sugar! PURE FROSTING! They were finished almost before I felt like they started! I can’t wait to see these cats again. Mark my words! These gentlemen, and I use the term loosely, are in for very big things. You must check them out!

Jersey City’s Aquatic Funk rock band Rainbow Fresh rounded out the set. They're a sort of bass driven lounge funk. I can see why they ended the set. Perfect way to calm me down after the last set. Rich Chip Kenny and Adam have put together a very tight ship. A well-oiled machine of good times. This is music you can sit back and drink a margarita to. Chip’s bass and Adam’s guitar are a harmonic convergence. Kenny and Adam on Drums punctuate the vibe well. Afterwards I took my leave and headed back downtown quite impressed with my night, which according to this 48 hour hangover, had only just begun.

Friday, August 28, 2009

Through Sound and Time pt 3: 1997

As I began to develop a taste for music, I picked up a job at the local comic shoppe. Legends Deptford in the Deptford mall soon became my second home. My manager at the time was Marc Leone. I idolized this cat! He was in with the ladies, he knew a fuck ton about music and he was a pretty supportive guy to a young, Zac Clark. I remember when I really started forming a decent music library he said that it was cool to watch me sort of decide that I was going punk. Now that didn't mean that I was all about spiking up my hair or accessorizing via Hot Topic or anything like that. I just started listening to faster music picked up some Chuck Taylors and that was about it. But that was a few years later.

1997 I was 17. I didn't have a car yet as I barely had a job. I had just given up my job at the Old Country Buffet and Legends was the place to be. I have picked up Smash Mouth's Fush You Mang on Tape! Yep on tape! And I was rocking to the ska beat! Reel Big Fish's Turn the Radio Off was one of my favourite new songs and I did a lot of my clothign shopping at Shifty's. I wore corduroys instead of jeans, and I played a lot of Magic: The Gathering. This was also the year I decided it was time to lay down the Boy Scout dream. I went into full on geek mode!

Things changed for me musically when I purchased Harvey Danger's Where have all the Merrymakers Gone?. This was the first I bought an album and was totally blown away by the songs I didn't buy the record for. Songs like Jack the Lion. Or Terminal Annex. My personal fav being Wrecking Ball. This the kind of music I was not listening to. There was really nothing just like it. I mean they had their hand roots deeply in punk but then there was the complexity of the lyrics and the music (instrumentally speaking).

I had just started reading Kingdom Come by Mark Waid. Like I said previously I wasn't classically tutored as far as reading went. If Salvatore was my Salinger, then Waid was my Orwell. And I was sure of one thing, if Big Brother had superpowers things would be a lot worse.

But the book that really blew my mind that year was Kraven's Last Hunt. Spider-man. I know it sounds silly, but this book single-handedly threw me for a loop. I'd hate to ruin it for you but the villain pulls a Cobain. I was not expecting that. He'd beaten Spider-man assumed his role as Spider-man and after everything was over he didn't have anything left to do. So he put a shotgun in his mouth and ended it. I had never seen anything remotely close to that in a comic. Talk about a spirtual awakening. Why are we here? What does it all mean? What do I want from my life? So many questions for a kid in 11th grade.

Wednesday, August 26, 2009

Through Sound and Time pt 2: 1995

Skipping forward a bit. 3 years to be exact. Christmas I received a few albums. But the top two by far were 1. Presidents of the United States of America Eponym album (I rocked that Album so much it stopped working. A few years ago and I had to buy it on Itunes. My teenage years certainly had a soundtrack!) and 2. The Empire Records Soundtrack. I remember thinking I sure wish I could work some place like that. Where all these characters hung out and waxed intellectual about music and stuff like that, and then caught shoplifters and stuff like that (I'd later get my wish.) This was about the same thing I started playing Magic: the Gathering and Dungeons & Dragons. The Rocker Tycoon wasn't just a music geek, I had my hand in many pots, stirring things up.

Empire Records had a ton of great music:

1. Til I Hear It from You - Gin Blossoms
2. Liar - The Cranberries
3. Girl Like You - Edwyn Collins
4. Free - The Martinis
5. Crazy Life - Toad the Wet Sprocket
6. Bright as Yellow - The Innocence Mission
7. Circle of Friends - Better Than Ezra
8. I Don't Want to Live Today - Ape Hangers
9. Whole Lotta Trouble - Cracker
10. Ready, Steady, Go - Meices
11. What You Are - Drill
12. Nice Overalls - Lustre
13. Here It Comes Again - Please, Please
14. Ballad of El Goodo - Evan Dando
15. Sugarhigh - Coyote Shivers

Not all of it I'd claim to be a huge fan of now. But I can listen to that album still front to back today and remember what it was like to be fifteen and it makes me smile. Songs like Ready, Steady, Go a Billy Idol cover by the Meices and I Don't Wanna Live Today by the Ape Hangers were the beginnings or my punk rock influence.

So what was I reading then? I had picked up Homeland by RA Salvatore. The Legend of Drizzt. Say what you will about the classics, but to me this will always be the book that made reading a pastime for me. I was whisked away to Faerun's Underdark into the City of the drow. The main character was an outcast in a city of a treacherous malicious race of evil elves. This was a standard fantasy novel. Swordplay Magic Political intrigue. This was the first time I really got to understand allegory and how it could be used to open a mind to the world around it. I start paying more attention to the ways of people.

I'd say this book and it's two sequels are responsible for my acute judge of character and for a fair amount of my attention to detail. Salvatore's battle sequences proved to me that you could imagine a scene far better than any movie could convey it. I hold that truth today whenever I write. I still have an overactive imagination to this day, and anytime I'm alone in the dark I like to imagine I'm stalking the halls of Menzoberranzan, sword in hand, out to defy the Spider Queen herself....... Whoa! Sorry, there I go again.

McMickle Bros. EP Release party a Lucky 7 Tavern

Some people are blessed with powers far beyond that of mortal men. Take me for instance. I have the uncanny ability to be able to cook, bartend, video, photograph, and write a blog all at the same time. No joke! I really did that Saturday August 22nd at Lucky 7 Tavern in Jersey City. I think Teddy Roosevelt said, “Some men are born great and some men have greatness thrust upon them.” Like I said though, I think he said that. What I mean to say is I know Robin Williams said it when he played him in that museum movie with Ben Stiller. Anyhow I’d say greatness was thrust upon me that very night. The funny thing is I can tell you the exact time and place of my baptism by fire. At about 7:00 The Porchistas entered the bar and kicked off the McMickle Brothers EP Release party. I know it’s not the most glamorous way to realize that you’re a super hero. No lives were saved, no enemies defeated and certainly no radiation was involved. I don’t wear a cape and cowl, opting for a porkpie hat and a vest instead. There are better origin stories. But I’ll say this: My genesis had the coolest soundtrack, by far!

The Porchistas are Deivis “Deivito” Garcia, Alan “Sucia” Smith and Adam “Devil-Hands” Falzer. This merry band of troubadours calls Montclair home. They specialize in a funk fusion of folk and spanish rock. Their original work is fun and easy to dance to. They have a way of making cover songs totally their own. Porchistas’ vocal stylings coupled with their instrumental finesse really makes these cats stand apart from the crowd in the local Scene. I doubt you’ve seen anything quite like this before.

After The Porchistas warmed up the crowd the kitchen took a hit that was like throwing a pack of rabid wolverines into a shark tank. For the next 40 mins my life was chaos. Hamburgers, Pizzas, Chicken Sandwiches, and Hot Wings flew from the kitchen as I rushed between bar and grill. My only saving grace was Kiwi the Child. Vera’s soothing voice and Alex’s guitar stopped me from going positively postal. Sadly during the rush I hadn’t the time to get over and take some pics and vids, but as luck would have it they played last Wednesday at the Groove on Grove. And I still have some exclusive and previously unreleased pics and video. Kiwi the Child is a reggae rock duo. Like The Wailers meets Batman and Robin. Scratch that! More like Dave Hillyard meets the Wonder Twins! The set itself sounded great. I only wish I was able to get a visual as the bar was packed with people enjoying the music.

After I sweated out my time in the kitchen Tip Canary sprung into action! Robbie and Wes are another dou of local rockers. They specialize in storytelling and spoken word with guitar backing. Songs like Doobie Blues pt 1 and Apple City are some of my favourites. Material ranging from getting hassled by John Law or dealing with a girl’s lame excuse to not give you her phone number are just part of the daily grind for these fellas. It’s familiar ground for me as well, in fact we’ve all been there before. Robbie leads the rants with a cynical but optimistic tone, and Wes backs him up with a greek chorus type inquistion. This normally goes off to a tangent from time to time, but it’s all in the sake of comedy and rock. Few can combine these element so well! “Normally you can find Wes and I on a Friday or Saturday night grabbing a slice of Pizza or a Sharma around 3-4am on the Lower East Side.” Robbie tells the crowd, in case anyone’s phone mysteriously stops working and they don’t have a pen and paper, but maybe they still wanna get in touch for something potentially meaningful down the road.

I had just finished working as Kagero took the crowd by storm. Kaz, JW, Rob Simpson, Mr Wynn, and Kate are a Brooklyn Japanese Gypsy Rock Band. Now that’s a music genre! This group is heading the way in the JGR wave that will soon take over the world the way the Beatles headed the British Invasion of the 60’s. Each member has their own unique style. Kaz plays the part of the lead man so well you’d think he took lessons from Chuck Norris’ School of Charisma and Raw Awesomeness. JW makes the violin dance sing and cry like some kind of steampunk puppetmaster. Rob’s bass is solid rock and roll, like his collection of 80’s metal t-shirts. Mr Wynn plays the Chindon drum like a man on fire. Whats a chindon drum? You’ll just have to see for yourself. Newcomer or at least I should say this is the first time I’ve seen her with the band Kate fills out the band on orchardian. Just when I thought this band had achieved perfection they go and add a piece to the puzzle that goes with their sound like Peanut Butter and bananas (If you haven’t tried it, take my advice it’s unconventionally amazing, like this band)! The bar became a dance hall! JW’s solo for Grappa featured Deivis “Deivito” Garcia hanging on JW’s back and crying while he played. It’s impossible to deny this band’s star power. You see them once and you know the words to the songs you can’t help but sing along and dance with the crowd!

So we were here enjoying all this rock for one reason. The McMickle Brothers geared up and began rocking our faces off. Matt and Sam are actual brothers. Matt “the Red Knight” does most of the singing and plays the guitar, Sam lends his voice every so often and beats it out on the drums. They are the White Stripes of the local scene. They keep it simple and head straight for the highway with songs like Finish Me and Dancing for the Smokers have become anthems that their fans know well enough to scream out all the words to. I took a quik break to clean up the kitchen while they began. At the climax of their sixth song I sprung into the door from the front and joined the already excited crowd with some dancing. Deivito and the Porchistas members of Kagero Tip Canary and Kiwi the Child all joined in. We couldn’t help it, there was a steady wave of hooting, hollering and stomping. They played two encores! The crowd couldn’t get enough. James Dower who runs the Live Music Events at Lucky 7 Tavern nearly had a mob on his hands! They couldn’t be sated by just one more song!

After the Live music was over DJ Leonard Smalls (Lucky 7 Tavern’s resident Jockey of Discs) took over. The party continued on through the night and this was about the time I had my first drink. I checked the clock. It was only 11:30 pm. I ordered up a few shots of Jameson, a Vodka Redbull to re-charge myself. I thought if there’s a time and a place to start drinking, spatially and temporally, I wouldn’t have it any other way. As the swelling is going done from the hangover that ensued shortly after I woke up this morning, I promise myself to only use my powers for good.

Friday, August 21, 2009

Through Sound and Time part 1: 1992

So I’ve been reading a lot lately, old comics old books I’ve read. I think its pretty cool going back and doing this, because I can remember where I was when I had first read them. Not only where I was but who I was, and what I was listening to as well as how I viewed the world at that time. Every time I think my writing is getting a little raw or mundane or I'm just churning out information on a schedule I stop and I take in information see how other people are doing it, and normally that sets me straight. If not a couple shots of Jameson normally does the trick as well.

I thought I’d take you on a quick time travel journey dating back to when I purchased my first album moving forward to today. I’ll be adding one entry each week. Just something that should be a nice quick read.

Let’s start this off in early May 1992. Rap was the popular sound I was ending 5th grade and my pop bought me my first CD player. I was listening to Y100 a lot on Philly radio. My dad also told me I could pick out one CD. Here was a moment that could have easily determined the rest of my life. In one hand there was Kris Kross - Totally Krossed Out, in the other was Genesis - We Can’t Dance. I knew every kid at school was rocking Kris Kross. But I really dug that I Can’t Dance Video on MTV. At the end of the day I sided with Genesis. I actually ruined this CD from playing too much. My favourite song on the album was Driving the Last Spike. At this same time I was dealing with the most horrific plight any child has during the summer. The dreaded summer reading program. I was heavy into Greek mythology at the time but they wouldn’t let me read that for the program.

I chose to that year to take a desperate gambit and pick the most obscure book book in the fiction section I could find. The plan was to pretend I’d read it and just make up a plot. I opted for Dear Bruce Springsteen. I can’t lie it was a good summer for being a kid and shirking responsibility. I read the first chapter and made up the rest of the book. Mrs. Morris bought every word of it. And I went on playing flashlight tag and perfecting my skills at Super Nintendo all summer as most children my age probably did. Personally I believe challenges like this most likely were more stimulating than actually reading the book. Sure anyone could write a book report and tell the truth, it took real courage and a good amount of imagination to make up a book you’d never read.

Thursday, August 13, 2009

P.T. Walkley, 9th Grade English and the Living Room

So it's 9:15 on Tuesday August 11th. I swing into the Living Room (154 Ludlow Street) in New York City. Earlier that night I had received a personal invite from PT himself via Twitter. I was bummed that I missed their short performance at All Points West. It's actually a great story you should read it on their Myspace Blog. In fact, it's stories like that that really get me into a band. Something personal, something so defiant in the face of Mother Nature. It's very Old man and the Sea. And here I am in 9th grade English again (which would be the third time around, since 9th grade English wasn't my thing the first time around). Anyhow I'm sitting here as the band sound checks and I'm thinking my spot in the room, the only one left, has to be the best one! I'm right up on the stage. The waitress swings by to check the level of my Guinness, it always seems to need a refill. I'm in a perfect spot to just chill out and enjoy the band. I have my pad out, and the angle is great for pictures and video. What more could I ask for?

PT says hi to the crowd and with not much more that a nod and a wink they start into their set. I must say that I'm be a bold faced liar and carpetbagging Californian if I said I wasn't enthralled with their sound. P.T. Walkley is Lizzy Lee Vincent, (electric guitar) Marc Trachtenberg (piano) Nicky Kulund (Drums), Dave Kulund (Bass), Michel Walkley (percussion) and of course P.T. (guitar,vocals). Folk Infused Country Story rock.... yea that sums it up well. When did all this "call back the good that was country music" start up. It seems like there's a real trend happening in the north west US these days. Country Rock is once again a variable music genre. Not that corny these colours don't run, or right wing shoot a gun style country, or some way too hot model singing cheesy country love songs country. Nope, A good old fashioned guitar forged story driven country style rock band! With songs about foulplay, and a little neurotic tune here and there. This is good stuff! The band is having a good time! They're all smiles and head bobs, its great to see that energy!

After the set I took a moment to say hi to the band. PT and I chatted for a second I bought a Cd and was off on my way back to Jersey City. It was a quick night I got off the PATH in Jersey City at 11:15pm. I still had time to get drunk for cheap at my bar!

Saturday, August 1, 2009

All Points West - How to Pack Light For a Day Festival

Back by popular demand and instructional video on what to bring and what to wear, at All Points West! Find me for a free drink ticket at tonight's after party!

Indie Blog Directory