Major music movements have escaped me. I missed Brooklyn and the skinny jeans shaggy haired new wave. I’m not old enough to remember the hay day of the actual CBGB’s and its’ piss filled ambiance that spawned some of the greatest rock bands in America. Low lit black boxes that often act like Petri dishes of creativity.
I couldn’t help stop and have a silent moment in front of John Varvatos, as I went to the Bowery Electric – to watch a svelte black kid in tie-dye shorts screech about “Getting High” (Mykke Blanco). The store has now taken over the Morison Hotel: the rock gallery once next door.In Times Square, under the Mamma Mia sigh – Rockers play two stages, there’s the prerequisite food trucks, token shitless women; boobs out flaying in the wind, shirtless young men and wide eyed tourist. But the festival is a casualty of the heat as people watch a set and run to the air conditioning of the M&M store.
Times Square might not be cut out for a music festival, but Manhattan desperately needs one.
I still have David Johansen stuck in my head, from a few days before. One man – drummer and a stool, his lyrics voice and expression. In stark contrast to the over produced music of our day. I felt this massive connection to the past and loved it. I almost saw the sex, drugs and experimentation that birthed our modern culture.
Skateboard kids, piecing, Mohawks and tattoos feel mainstream – nowhere near rebellious. Nowhere near the statement of subversion they once where. I’m struggling to grasp, what our own symbols of rebellion are. All I can think of are the Guy Fawkes mask of Anonymous and an American Apparel tank top. The stayed crowd that’s turned up to see the performers seem almost pro concert growers, the denizens of yesteryear cycled through a few rounds of rehab. Or kids who just discovered rock for the first time, rock that didn’t get churned through the music production machine.
There’s a magic moment that happens when the performance becomes personal and intimate a new sense of discovery. I went to The Box on Friday night, largely because I like the venue. It to has gone from hot club, to bachelorette party haven to stalwart fixture of New York. I remember when a male burlesque did a finger supported back flip on a massive black dildo. Almost every performance artists worth their salt has gone through the space.
Wrapped up Endless Boogie set, I sipped quietly from a flask. Looked down at the crowd and just got excited about being alone. This isn’t the kind of music that I would pop into my iTunes. But I loved it none the same. It’s different. I like different. Then VietNam followed and I was transfixed by the jittery viola player next to lead singer Michael “Jesus Beard” Gerner.
The heat won, I went home, it was a long day. SummerStage finished the festival. With Guided by Voices teetering drunk on a Central Park stage and War on Drugs as one of the few opening bands. I really liked the fresh sound and cool feel of the almost techno-jazz The Pains of Being Pure at Heart. It took me a while to simmer in their music. Then I got it and liked it.
I didn’t know what to expect from the CBGB Festival, it felt like global warming stood in the path of good music, as I was walking from one venue to another, I expected trees to light on fire and for me to almost fait on the melting pavement. This might be the aftermath of a once important ear. The attempt of festivalgoer’s and organizers to bring out the old guard and make it new again. But I’m glad the music was there. I’m glad I listened. I’m glad I took pictures. I’m glad I was able to see something that felt actually truly real.
Tags: 2012, Bowery Electric, cbgb, column, Duff McKagan, Endless Boogie, Guided by Voices, Guy Fawkes mask, John Varvatos, Mamma Mia, Manhattan, Mohawks, music, music festival, Mykke Blanco, New York, photojournalism, review, robert pollard, SummerStage, The Box, times square, War on Drugs