Monday, April 19, 2010

Styrenes - Kohoutek -- Velvet Lounge - April 18 2010

Kohoutek - I've extolled the virtues of this band before, so suffice it to say that they should be worth a viewing for anyone that likes psychedelic rock. I thought they nailed it well tonight. They kind of started with Pelt-like ambiance built into free jazz then into hard psyche rock, back to psyche free jazz and finished with a rock out. The drums seem to be the key as the percussion items and mallet/stick choices change the foundation considerably. The guitarist grabs the cue. The bass holds it down. The saxophone chooses his spots and two noisemakers, an oscillator/machine guy and a guy with a guitar on the floor do wild things as well. Good stuff Check it out. And, as usual, if this band opens, expect a good headliner.

Styrenes - I was looking forward to the 35th anniversary tour of one of Cleveland's lesser known pre-punk band. Pere Ubu was the famous band (along with the predecessor Rocket from the Tombs and splitoff Dead Boys), with the Mirrors and the Electric Eels having a cult reputation along with the Styrenes. These members moved around a bit, but we had a great lineup with Paul Marotta leading the way, joined by Jamie Klimek (Mirrors) and John Morton (Electric Eels). This was a fascinating glimpse into the curious world of pre-punk. Around 1976-77, punk rock exploded quietly in NY and loudly in London. There were many bands in those cities along with LA, SF, and Cleveland most notably where "punk" found them. The Cleveland bands had all the attitude and kicked out killer music in a variety of styles that all worked. Paul Marotta (a ringer for Harlan Ellison in looks, voice, and attitude btw) controlled the show nicely, playing piano, acoustic guitar and doing most of the lead vocals. His keyboards prowess surprised me a bit and he was in great shape all night. Jamie Klimek played guitar and sang some leads. The rhythm section has worked with Marotta a while and was solid all night. John Morton looked an older version of scary and wild as he did back in the seventies, but surprisingly played guitar quite effectively and added some theremin. Morton was in his whole world the entire night with his slow set-up which took about 10 minutes longer than the rest of the band as they watched, instruments in hand. Wild guy, wild music. The set was brilliant. Everyone contributed and the songs were sarcastic, rocking, varied and a lot of fun. This isn't a sound many people are able to create and pull off successfully. I am amazed that it worked so well in 2010. Sadly, people that think they are punk rockers were no where in sight. This is the real deal folks. If you spend your time in the bathroom spraying that spiked mohawk or posing with that leather jacket, you lose.

Quotes of the night: From the Styrenes set as best as I can recall--
Morton reacting from inaudible drummer comment during prolonged setup "Shut the fuck up, shut the fuck up!"... ...Marotta-"All we can hear is John (in monitors)" Klimek-"Less John, way less, no his playing his great" Morton-"I don't need this shit, other people want me"... ...Marotta-"Is there a hospital near by? There is? And they are skilled enough to get John's foot out of his ass?"... ...Morton (re Klimek) "I just want to say what a pleasure it is to play with this man. I love him, he's amazing..." Klimek-"Oh, he says this every show, I don't know if it's sincere"...

And there was an absurdity to it with Marotta seemingly able to keep everything together and I think they all really enjoyed the show and playing together. Yet this is the beauty and the danger of early punk, will it fall apart horribly or come together brilliantly? I was on the edge of my seat and watched it come together brilliantly.


planckzoo said...

It was a great show! I've been waiting for years to see the Styrenes, and the show was great.
It is a shame few people showed up,they really missed a fantastic show.

David Hintz said...

Great. I should have mentioned that even though there weren't many there, the people there seemed to know exactly who they were seeing and why. So the show went well, but the band deserved better for sure.

snailhook said...

i'm glad you guys were two of 25 that showed up for a terrific set. not one single person from the dischord scene bothered to show up. not surprsing, but still disappointing. the first three nights were all marked by sparse attendance, so dc isn't the only lame place in the northeast. apathy reigns everywhere.

the styrenes are the real deal. down-to-earth gentlemen, who still know how to rock out and create some memorable moments. each song was a rock 'n' roll gem.

Jstant said...

It's more than a little disappointing that people that purport to be into, or, have supported the DC punk scene over the years couldn't be bothered to check this show out. Same thing goes for people that consider themselves to be fans of outre or off-the-radar music. Yes, there were a few of the Velvet's usual stalwart retinue there, but where were the DC musical pseudo hipster name droppers and pontificators of taste? Oh, I forgot...pseudo being the key descriptor.

"On the values by which this world makes its heroes
then the best violinist ever was Nero,
because he had the most Press
and his fire gimmick was simply the best."

planckzoo said...

I filmed the encore on Sunday,here it is. Not the best quality, but it is watchable, and better then a camera phone capture.

David Hintz said...

The insular nature of this scene has been here a long, long time. I haven't always lived here (in fact only about six years off and on) and I certainly have seen some things like this elsewhere. But it is a little worse here and it gave the impression that it was a little more of a welcoming scene way back in the early days. I will leave others that have been here through it all to discuss better than I can for this is a big topic. But I find it fascinating that there were 25 rabid fans at this show, a few thousand old rabid fans at the Moody Blues show and a whole lot of young people gabbing and texting at many shows in between. I am still trying to figure it all out. But the bottom line as you all have stated was how a whole lot of people missed a one-of-a-kind event that I will always remember fondly.