I went out last night and saw Savage Republic, Mike Watt, the Urinals, and Human Hands at the Knitting Factory in Hollywood.
Wow that was good. A reunion/nostalgia gig like this is always doubtful (will they be fat and old and boring? will they do smooth pop?) but my faith is restored. I had four great sets of music, I saw some old friends and enemies, my ears are still ringing, and a gay man hit on me. What more could I want from a night out in Hollywood?
It was very odd seeing four art-punk early-80s acts in a shiny club with food and tables. At one point Greg and I were eating our salads and watching the band and he said “This is coffee-table book punk!” which was kinda true.
The music was truly amazing. Savage Republic’s industrial Middle Eastern atmospheric drone thrash sounds as fresh now as it did in 1982. I’d always had some problems with Ethan Port’s manic personality and questionable percussion, but he was in excellent form last night and really added a lot. The guitar overload (sometimes two or three basses at once!) and the hammering drums were amazing. Altogether the perfect reunion gig.
Mike Watt is the Crazy Old Prospector of rock ‘n’ roll now. You know that character in the movies who looks like Yosemite Sam and tells people there’s something down thar in the mine? That’s him. He’s the best poppin thrashin punko bass player in the world and his band is tremendous. Just him and a Hammond organ player and a really great drummer.
The Urinals (or 100 Flowers) played a fine, fine set. Art-punk with flair, John Talley-Jones’ wonderful flat vocals, lots of energy and fun. I’d go see them every night if they were the house band at a bar. “Reject Yourself” made me so happy.
Not sure what to say about Human Hands. They always were an oddball in the old scene and now they appear to be some kind of punk pop act. Dennis Duck is still one of my favorite drummers and the guitar work was really nice but the whole thing was confusing. I’ll post more if I figure it out.
Pics to come when my laptop is fixed.
Social notes: What a weird scene. People I hadn’t seen since 1988, some of them completely unchanged which is much scarier than being older, fatter. Old friends and old enemies both. People whom I never knew by name but I recognize from being in the “scene” 20 years ago. An older (10 years older) gay man who was in the whole Theoretical avant-party scene hit on me, and I almost wanted to lead him on to get stories about that stuff. Theoretical makes me sad when I think about it because it was such genius stuff and now most of them are dead.
Anyway, everyone should go buy at least one Savage Republic CD. I recommend “Tragic Figures”, myself.