As I roamed around The Bowery last wednesday evening, weaving up and down darkened, and eerily silent, side streets, amongst brown brick apartments, and elder statesmen of the St. Marks Place freak-punk scene, clad in sleeveless leather vests, form fitting plaid jeans, nose rings, and a spiked dog collar necklaces, the excitement that lay ahead at The Morrison Hotel & Gallery allowed me to pay little mind to the belligerent, stumbling, and grumbling individual that banged into my shoulder, pointed down a twisted byway, and stated “That’s the magic street.”
I thought Manhattan’s own fearsome four-piece, The Postelles, an act that has caught the ear of Strokes axe wielder and co-producer of the band’s self-titled debut (due out next week) Albert Hammond Jr., was a group that simply desired a return to its roots and figured that playing a free basement show to a 125-person, invite only, audience was the best way to go about it. I was only partially correct.
In fact, the reason why I was standing only 18-inches from bassist John Speyer on such hallowed ground as the birthplace of American Punk-Rock, the venue was formerly known as CB’s 313 (as in the gallery and performance space associated with CBGBs), was due to faulty photography from a Postelles show past.
“We played here five years ago for this high school thing,” said front-man Daniel Balk. “It was still CBGB’s back then. Although a lot’s changed, it’s nice to know one thing this place still believes in is no air conditioning.”
The Postelles perform “Boys Best Friend”
Prior to The Postelles manning the miniature basement stage, Speyer to the right and six-string hit-man David Dargahi to the left were hidden from sight behind concrete pillars according to a handful of patrons, the speaker of the house introduced us to the shoddy snap shot that made this night possible.
This black and white was so blurred and distorted I couldn’t tell if I was about to witness a rock show or had been duped into some sort of experimental rorschach test. The former was truest and The Postelles ripped through an 11-song set in a 60-minute time frame.
The Postelles perform “She She”
A mentioned prior this was a barely publicized event played to a tiny crowd, however it wasn’t the type of sing along love fest one would expect from an audience of fans, friends, and family. I was probably the only member of this crowd who’s sole interest was The Postelles’ seductive blend of Punk-Rock, Garage-Rock, and Motown stylings.
The Postelles perform a new, untitled song:
As well as being the first person in the basement that wasn’t a bouncer, my photographer Arno, or the the pair nerds that ripped on him for “using a Nikon camera at a Cannon sponsored event,” I was the only one in the venue that knew every word to every song that wasn’t a member of the band. I didn’t expect anything in return besides the perpetual play of appetizing tunes. But when Balk announced to the audience “This is our last song of the night. It’s the single off our upcoming debut album and it’s dedicated to this guy down in front,” pointing to me, “I see what you’ve been doing all night,” I became overjoyed and lifted my drink to the band. About a minute into the track that will make this band a dorm room name, it hit me, The Postelles just dedicated “White Night” to yours truly. What could be better?
Answer: An encore that saw The Postelles pay homage to the hallowed ground we stood upon with a cover of The Ramones’ “Beat On The Brat.”
The Postelles perform The Ramones’ “Beat On The Brat”
I am forever grateful to that poor piece of photography developed back in 2005 and to Cannon for hosting Your Second Shot At The Morrison Hotel featuring the band behind my favorite album of 2010 to date, The Postelles.
- Looking Glass
- 123 Stop
- Boys Best Friend
- [New Song]
- Sleep On The Dance Floor
- Little Sister
- She She
- White Night (dedicated to me)
- Can’t Stand Still
11. Beat On The Brat (The Ramones)
Two Shows For The Price Of None (Part 2): The Gay Blades In The Basement At Webster Hall…
After the final fist was tossed in the air to a blistering rendition of “Beat On The Brat” it was off to The Basement at Webster Hall for the headlining set of Jersey’s own traveling Rock N’ Roll Circus, The Gay Blades, for the final date of the band’s Savage Basement Tour.
“It [the tour] was a good time,” said a raspy James Wells (a.k.a. Clark Westfield) outside the venue prior to the show, “but if we ever do something like this again I’m bringing my own sound system because my voice is destroyed.”
He could have fooled me. After spending a week playing dimly lit basements with poor acoustic work, Wells and company (Quinn English [a.k.a. Puppy Mills] on drums and Mike Abiuso on keys) seemingly a bit drained of energy, still managed to blitzkrieg the club with an hour long set of old material, new tracks, and an acapella chanting session that exhibited the type of power musicians can have over the individual.
After the trio ripped through the sonic napalm that is “Rock N’ Roll (Part 1),” the opening salvo on the band’s latest release, The Gay Blades followed up with total contrast. There was no musical accompaniment, no light shows, stage antics, or sing alongs, only Wells, front and center, free-styling in such a low tone of voice one could only make out every fourth word. But his words didn’t seem to matter.
What occurred during this solo performance was one of the most amazing happenings I’ve ever witnessed at a show: Like a priest in a musical house of worship delivering the most captivating of sermons, the entirety of the raucous audience transformed into a silent congregation, almost genuflecting on the dance floor in honor of this Holy Trinity of Gay Blades. There was total silence. Even the bartender halted sales so as not clank glasses. When Wells’ mesmerizing murmurs concluded the group of pastoral patrons erupted in one singular roar, cheering in the name the Westfield, the Mills, and the Holy Abiuso…rock on.
“I only did that because I thought you guys were tired,” joked wells to the audience. “I’ve been locked in a basement for a week. I was bound and gagged and left in the dark. I’m kidding. Do you guys like basement humor about serial murders and stuff like that?”
The Rock continued with a new track “Mick Jagger.”
“That last song is off our new album Savages which is for sale in the back at our lovely table run by those lovely people,” said Wells. “Here’s the deal, you buy a record and I don’t have to get a fucking job, that’s what it comes down to. Unless your offering, in which case I can send you resume`.”
The Gay Blades closed with their hit, and my personal favorite, “O Shot.”
“This is our last song,” said Wells. “The lyrics may not make much sense but at the end of the night, you should have had a lot of fun.”
We certainly did.
- Hey She Say
- Why Winter In Detroit?
- Mean Muses
- Try To Understand
- Rock N’ Roll (Part 1)
- The Gay Blades’ Hymnal (Acapella)
- Mick Jagger
- O Shot
(more photos from this night coming soon)