Live Show Reviews The Lounge

SPUTNIK : Luna Lounge – New York City

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December 7th, 2001

The New York City indie-scene is bracing itself for the next fresh thing. Since the Strokes (only a short while ago) made their paces through the Luna and immediately jumped to the mainstream modality; scenesters have been pondering? Is indie-local-rock gone? A thing of the past? A treasure once forgotten?

And then one finds answers. . . .

Enter one band, who goes by the name of Sputnik. Featuring past members of Longwave (Genie Morrow/vocals), Saccharine (Mike Rains/ guitarist & David Blake /bassist) and Scout’s current drummer (Nigel Rawles); Sputnik has only been together for a short time. Yet, they graced the stage at Luna Lounge and displayed some of the finest sounds out there. Each member was clearly unique in style and delivery – which produced an organic multi-faceted sound that ranged from mood-satiated melodies to powerful poppy guitar licks to country-style finger-pickin’ and beyond. Providing structure to the band is Nigel Rawles and his dead-on style of drumming (not to mention his funny antics when interacting with members of the audience). You couldn’t help but find yourself loving these guys!

Songs that I really enjoyed from their hour set included “Take Me to the Powerlines” a catchy pop song in which Genie sings about the adventures of travelling with a new love. I found the lyrics swirling in my head days later. Also played was, “Sputnik” a song about the fifties space dog and his lonely days in darkness. Between Genie’s accordion playing and her intense gaze past the audience it produced an eerie feel. One couldn’t help but empathize with the poor pooch. The band also played a cover of the Brain Wilson song “Warmth of the Sun”. The layers of music kept the band exciting and mesmorizing to watch. They didn’t settle into cliched alterna-rock indie-crap. Their creativity shown through. The originality was wonderful to witness!

It’s amazing to think that this band has just started. Since this be the case; I cannot wait to see what they hold in store for the future. If your ears are ready for something sweet, refreshing, and new – get out there and check these guys out!


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Live Show Reviews The Lounge

Cavestomp Festival : Brooklyn, NY

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November 2, 2001


Cavestomp Festival is a weekend long garage festival arranged by Stevie Van Zandt (ex. guitar player for the East Street Band and star of the Sopranos). This yearly festival has been happening for the past four and has brought well-deserved attention to bands like the garage-stompin’ Swingin’ Neckbreakers from New Jersey. This year the show took place at the Warsaw – the Polish-American Club of Williamsburg which also happens to have the most rocking jukebox I have ever seen! It was a gem! The great light show, cheap beer, and cool hip crowd made up for the crappy sound system. And of course, the show produced the moddest scene witnessed by this writer since the 3-B Tavern’s GarageShock of 1998!


The evening began early with a band called the Priests. Can I offer some advice? Boys, please drop the attitude and get a hold of yourselves – just because you are playing with a drunken Stevie gives you no right to act like spoiled celebrities. This band began their buzzed-out set and quickly ended it three songs later. The reason? The drummer broke his stick and they didn’t have another – boo-hoo. After a major pout session from the band – they removed their gear and left the stage. It’s interesting that the second band arrived and played without a hitch – drum stick and all. Hmmm. . . .makes me wonder?


The second band was The Waistcoats from the Netherlands. There must be something in the air in that part of the world because they seem to produce some of the finest garage sounds out there. This band was no exception. The Dutch band surfed their way through an hour of fine mod music. Their cool attitude and California beach-babe looks gave their standard garage rock a memorable sparkle. The band consisting of Jan Velderkamp (guitar, vocals), Evert-Jan Kloosterboer (bass), Jack Othius (drums) and Gerry Burger (organ) can be checked-out on Alopeia Records. I’m diggin ya baby.


Well. . .well. . well. . Billy Childish was next to grace the stage. I was so excited to see him – considering that the last time I went to see him at the Middle East in Cambridge he had laryngitis and was unable to sing (1998). (It was so depressing). Billy Childish, hailing from Kent, U.K. spent his early years working the docks. After realizing it wasn’t his gig, he began singing, writing early fanzines, and immersing himself into the new punk scene. He began recording his own music in 1979 and has proven himself an artist, an author, spoken-word performer, musician and a renaissance man of the punk movement. Billy Childish is the ultimate rebel of rock and roll and is often referred to as, “the archetypal outsider of music.” As you can read, I cannot write enough words of amazement for this man!


Billy has played with numerous bands (word is that “arrogance” sometimes gets the better of him – oh, that Billy) including The Headcoats, The Milkshakes, Thee Mighty Caesars, and the The Stash (A Clash cover band). At this show, he played with his newest friends, The Buff Medways. This band consists of Johnny Barker on bass and Wolf Howard on drums. These guys complemented Billy so well that it seemed that they have played together for all of eternity!


These guys were absolutely amazing! I spent the hour set spell-bound! 67y is not the neatest guitar-player not the most on-key singer – yet, his stage presence is powerful and enticing. His sounds were the most hard garage-stompin’, hip-shakin’, beer-swigin’, rock-and-roll that I think I have ever heard! The band played covers of the Who and Hendrix – but mostly stuck with oldies and goodies. The crowd was going wild! I mean, boys were actually screaming like little girls! Billy even surprised the crowd with his spoken-word artistry where the only notes were produced from his voice. His vocals told of growing-up in the working class of England and they were beautiful. I am telling you – I was completely blown-away.


Apparently, I was so blown-away that the rest of the bands playing seemed second-rate (zzzzzz. .. ). I wished that Billy would return to the stage. Realizing this to be an unrealistic desire after a terribly boring set from the Downliner Sect, I put myself on the train and went home.


For me, being at Cavestomp was equivalent to being a little kid in a candy store. Unfortunately, like a sugar-high; the buzz wore off early and I found myself needing a nap.



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Live Show Reviews The Lounge

Harvey Sid Fisher, Live at the Milky Way

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The Harvey Sid Fisher show at the Milky Way (Jamaica Plains, MA) this past Monday was not to be missed. If you have a zodiac sign (and I know you do), Harvey has a song just for you. For those of you who haven’t heard of the master showman from Los Angeles, he has written songs on three subjects: astrology (one for each sign of the zodiac), golf, and relationships. More on this after a few words about the opening act.


Opener Dr. Nancy Mrzocek was her usual frenetic self. She rocked harder than normal by starting the set with a rif heavy song called “Maybe You Love Me”. However, the next song was a half-assed attempt at reggae. Her band, the personnel of which is different for every show, was a rock trio lacking the keyboards she normally performs with. She spent the rest of the set waffling between rock songs and a lounge style, performing the proven crowd pleasers “Cosmic Pow-Wow” but also throwing in a lame version of “Take the A-Train” and inviting the audience to come see her jazz set sometime (no thanks). The crowd here was not into it, either because they were just waiting for Harvey’s set or because her singing ranged from “dying cow”, and “atonal” to just plain “can’t carry a tune”. In the past the singing was overlooked because she was fairly entertaining but overall a lackluster performance this time around.


Harvey took the stage at around 11:45 and was every bit as good as expected. A true showman, Harvey was dressed for the performance in bright red shoes, and a white suit with a pastel purple shirt. Backed by a local trio and dancing backup singers, he started the set by asking for requests from the audience. This was just a formality though as he promptly launched into “Aries” which I don’t think anyone had requested. He then continued with “Aquarius” and “Gemini” before breaking from astrology songs to do “the Olympic Song”, in honor of the upcoming summer games. This one was a sing along of sorts, imploring the crowd to yell “ra, ra, ra,” at the appropriate times.


Next he performed “Party Hard”, the first of his relationship songs, making sure we understood that they’re not love songs, but actually about couples fighting. This song got pretty saucy with a chorus that included Harvey singing “you’re gonna scream for your daddy” and the backup singers moaning in response “oh, oh÷daddy”. He then continued with astrology songs, doing “Libra” (a true standout), and “Virgo”. “Capricorn” was also turned into a sing along (which I unwittingly became party to when he handed me the mic) with the refrain “I was born a Capri, I was born a Capri, I was born a Capricorn”. The entire audience was swept off their feet, save for a lone heckler who was quickly ostracized by the crowd and relegated to the back of the room for his own safety.


Harvey saved his best relationship song for near the end of the set. “Talk to me” is a duet where the woman says “talk to me”, the man says “not today”, “talk to me”, “I don’t want to play÷please go away”. Needless to say he performed all twelve astrology songs to avert any rioting that may have ensued if anyone’s sign had been left out. He did not however, do any of the golf songs, despite “God of Golf” being a popular request. The last song of the show was a rousing extended version of “Taurus”. The set was running late and the club was trying to close so, apparently to save time, Harvey actually changed from his white suit back into his street clothes while still onstage performing!
The Astrology songs are timeless classics because the lyrics portray the characteristics (real or perceived) of each sign so well; such as “I’ll crusade for a cause and defend underdogs, I’m almost too good to be true” for “Sagittarius” or “I am the one you can rely on, I am the shoulder you can cry on”, for “Moonchild” (Cancer). I urge anyone who has not seen Harvey’s video of the astrology songs on the Daily Show or elsewhere, to go to Harvey’s website , check out the lyrics and order a copy of the video because (my) words cannot accurately describe his mesmerizing effect.


-Margot Edwards

Copyright © 2000 Music is My First Language. All rights reserved

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