The Brighton Bar is an ill lit, dingy, and cramped rock club. Speakers and amps rest upon plastic milk crates. A poorly aged punk with a disheveled head of frizzy hair pulls out his bank card, dipping into his savings for a Rolling Rock. A rusty ladder hangs vertically next to the stage, the eye is led down the rungs to another section of wall, where the band names etched into the wood read like a guest list of East Coast Rock and Roll Royalty…Bruce Springsteen, Bon Jovi, John Eddie, Ween, Inspector 7…This is the type of place where bands put in time, where they do their dirty work, and it’s perfect in every way.
The reason elder statesmen of the scene, young punks, and myself were jammed into this Rock and Roll roadhouse, shoe-horned up against the stage, and constantly jockeying for position, was to win an unhindered view of two celestial beings, gods amongst men in the ‘70s, and still reigning supreme in the eyes of the 50-plus people in attendance.
Standing less than a yard from me, slinging sweat of their scalps with every thrust of the pick, was Sylvain Sylvain, axe-man for the New York Dolls, and Cheetah Chrome, lead shredder of The Dead Boys, not to mention the rhythm section from Joan Jett and the Black Hearts, Thommy Price on drums and Enzo Penizzotto slapping the bass. These founding fathers of Punk Rock have joined forces to blow minds as The Batusis.
Touring on its self-titled four-track EP, the Batusis play a hard rocking style of music featuring Sylvain’s maniacal circus clown-like vocals, Chrome’s explosive and grinding guitar play, and thunderous beats pounded out upon Price’s drum heads.
The band cruised through an 11-song set including its four originals as well as covers of Johnny Thunders & The Hertbreakers’ “I Wanna Be Loved,” The Velvet Undrground’s “Femme Fatale,” and to the pleasure of all in attendance The Dead Boys’ “Sonic Reducer,” and the New York Dolls’ “Trash,” and “Jet Boy.”
Batusis perform “Trash”
What was viewed on this night was something special. Throughout the entire performance The Batusis commanded the attention of everyone in the audience, including the supporting acts that stuck around to watch, and who were seemingly the most overjoyed people in the room.
The most vocal was Damion DeStefano, bassist for Tango Machina.
“What’s the matter,” DeStefano yelled at members of the audience (most his friends and family), heckling them for minding the ringing in their ears. “Haven’t you ever been to a rock show before!” He questioned before proclaiming “The Batusis are my favorite band!” Sylvain acknowledging his kind words with a ghastly grin.
Tango Machina is a trio of hard rockers from Monroe, NJ, whose multiple tempos caught my attention. They played tight and fast like Agent Orange, ripping holes in the walls with repetitive machine gun guitar riffs on songs like “Warning.” However, like Fugazi before it, Tango Machina is capable of blowing out speakers with strategically placed sludge bombs in tracks like the band’s single “…The Combination Is Explosive,” which can be heard and downloaded below.
This three-headed Gorignak (the rock monster from Galaxy Quest…in other words Tango Machina is a rock and roll monster) played like a well oiled machine and were quick with a joke in between songs. I was surprised to hear from drummer Brian Winters that the band had only been together since January.
Los Angeles glam punks Prima Donna, flamboyantly clad, played an impressive show. Fronted by Kevin Preston, former member The Skulls and Green Day’s 2008 side project Foxboro Hot Tubs, Prima Donna utilizes aspects from both bands creating a hybrid act complete with a pair of thrashy dueling six stringers, Aaron Minton on the sax and ivories, and of course Preston, the hopping ball of fire who did his best Iggy Pop ripping his shirt off mid-set.
If Mott The Hoople was ruder, cruder, harder and wanted to “fuck you, but not love you,” (Preston’s words not mine) Prima Donna would be nothing special. However, that’s not the case.
Frankenstein 3000, a collective of local journeymen musicians, was the fourth act on the bill.
Led by Keith Roth, who moonlights as a DJ on Sirius Satellite Radio and NJ 95.9 The WRAT, Franky 3K is more of Hard Rock act with Punk and Hair Metal undertones. Even Roth’s looks convey that message, at a quick glance the man resembles Steven Tyler.
That isn’t to say his band didn’t kick ass. A squealing guitar tandem led by Roth and Tommy Tafaro set the room ablaze. Eric Hoagland with his crouching tiger style of play, Crocodile Dundee Hat, and New York Yankees sticker on his bass was a fan favorite. And Clint Gascoyne on the throne was a jackhammer throughout the entire set. Catch these guys in a video below and on August 28th at The Stone Pony, you’ll be glad you did.
Frankenstein 3000 performs “30 Days”
And to think I almost didn’t catch this show, disheartened by the fact that none of my friends wanted to come with. You guys missed a good one. Stay tuned for an interview with Tango Machina and possibly Prima Donna as well.