One Wasted Summer

By chuck.foster

After six months of hibernation, it was time to come out of the cave.

My summer officially began July 5th when I went to the Knitting Factory to see the 400 Blows, my old friends from LA.  It had been a long time since I had seen them and I was going through major withdrawals, especially after receiving an excellent 2xLP/CD last year (“Black Rainbow” on Rehash Records).  Their show did not disappoint, despite being an excruciatingly short half hour.  In fact, they’re better than ever - a tightly bound wall of feedbacking syncopation.  Afterward I did a drunken interview with Skot and Christian (Ferdinand held the fort at the merch table) that will be in the printed version of the New York Waste.  They have a new 7” out, “The Sore Thumb” b/w “The Biggest Hit Yet”.  Get it.

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The following Sunday, I returned to the Knit to see Vaz.  Vaz is a duo comprised of Apollo Liftoff and Deft Garlands, aka Paul and Jeff ie bassist and drummer of Hammerhead.  When I was a pretentious 19-yr-old indie rocker, Hammerhead ranked highly in my world of the Jesus Lizard, Six Finger Satellite, Slug, Karp and godheadsilo, so it was mighty cool to meet some heroes from my musical upbringing.  More importantly, they are two cool, humble, human beings, depite having been in a major band from the 90s Midwestern Noise Punk scene that went all over the world.  Vaz is no mere continuation of Hammerhead, however.  Nowadays, the duo produce a sonic wall of sound comparable to a rocket launch, juxtaposing Paul’s rumbling boom with Jeff’s incredibly complex drumming.  Let me state here that Jeff is one of the best drummers ever, period.  He leaves John Bonham, Bill Ward and Keith Moon in the dust, ranking up there with Jazz drummers like Elvin Jones, Rashied Ali and Han Bennink. Needless to say, their set was amazing.  They were also nice enough to give me a copy of their newest CD, a split with the Seawhores entitled “Vazzed in a Sea of Whores” on Essay Records.    The Vaz tracks are spaced-out psychedelic soundscapes reminiscent of early Chrome.  The Seawhores record instrumental freakouts with a Butthole Surfers mentality.  Hopefully soon I can do a piece on Vaz for the printed version of the Waste.  (They’ve relocated to NYC.  Go see them.)

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The opening band that night was NY’s Bellmer Dolls, named for the disturbing anti-fascist sculptures of Hans Bellmer.  Musically, they sound a lot like the Birthday Party, but that’s not a bad thing.  In fact, I enjoyed their twisted tales of debauched abandon and lust enough to grab a CD from the drummer, who promptly dropped his drink on the floor.  That certainly made an impression, and I will be sure to see them again.  They’re local.  Go see them.

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The night ended with the Vanishing who are ushering in the next wave of Death Rock/Goth, a movement I call CyberDeath.  Imagine if Throbbing Gristle had real drums and organized songs.  At one point, they were joined by one of the Chainsaw Chubbettes, a pair of 350 pound girls from SF who do stripteases.  She - well, she did a striptease.  The vocalist of the Vanishing was a five-foot girl who played baritone sax and even went topless for the last couple songs.  Afterward, she was generous enough to give me a some compilation CDs and their new 12”, a split with the Sixteens on GSL.  This is music of the future, so get with it, folks, yer 30 years behind.

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After going to a bunch of shows, it was my turn to play a show.  July 23 found me at the Courthouse in Massapequa Park, LI with the Thrash band I’ve recently joined as guitarist, Optimus Prime.  I never have time to practice with the other members, so I improvise around Dan’s anchoring basslines and Lu’s unique style of drumming while Joe shouts the words.  The result is a chaotic onslaught of feedback and blast beats that somehow works and is rather powerful.  We’ll be playing around.  Come see us.

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The month of August was even busier for me, and it kicked off with a killer show at the King’s Club in Centereach, LI that included Eyes of Hate, Lethal Aggression, the Wretched Ones and Verbal Abuse, as well as both my bands, Optimus Prime and JAKKHAMR HYPOCRYT.  Optimus Prime opened with our chaotic brand of Thrash and the crowd seemed to like it.  After an unannounced set by Sucka Punch, JAKKHAMR HYPOCRYT conquered the stage like a ship full of Vikings.  Unfortunately, right after our set, I was stricken with a case of the runs, and I had to take a wet, slimy dump in the bathroom of a Rock’n’Roll club.  Ew.  That kinda put a damper on things, so I went home early.  Too bad –I heard it was a helluva show.

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Only five days later, I randomly found myself at Saints’N’Sinners in Smithtown, LI for one of the best Rock’n’Roll shows I’d seen in a long time.  The Shemps opened, assaulting the crowd Candy Snatchers-style and putting the tap in everyone’s toe.  Jewdriver followed with pro-Semitic Hardcore anthems and drunken abandon.  When the band started playing “American Society” by Eddie and the Subtitles, the vocalist - a cross between Telly Savalas and Tony Shalhoub - threw his microphone down in disgust.  I happen to almost know the words to the songs, so I grabbed the mic and paid homage to a great forgotten LA Punk band my way.  Finally, the Repercussions took the stage (and the entire bar!) with a hypnotic mesmerizing set that could’ve caused a fire had there been a spark.  All three of these bands play around town a lot.  Go see them.

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Only two days later, I ran into Matt and Dave of the Repercussions at Little Steven’s Underground Garage Festival on Randall’s Island.  In one day, I saw the Creation, the Electric Prunes, the Chocolate Watchband, the Pretty Things, Nancy Sinatra, the Dictators, the David Johansen/Sylvain Sylvain New York Dolls cover band, the fucking Strokes and a hurricane-fueled set by the Stooges.  Actually, that’s only about a quarter of the bands who played, but the whole day is pretty much a blur.  In a fit of Rock’n’Roll passion, I took a piss in the middle of the field, which angered some hipster trendoids.  Fuck them.

Summer officially ended at the Knitting Factory (again) with another group of old friends, Bad Acid Trip.  I went to high school with bassist Chris and Keith, the guitarist, worked in a copy machine shop next door to where I lived.  I also used to hang out with their original drummer, Mike Thrashead, a lot.  Vocalist Dirk remembers me from when I first saw them at the Cobalt Café in 96.  Well, since then they’ve expanded their Manic-Abrasive Thrash to include elements of Prog Rock, Jazz, Polka and Carnival Music, creating some of the most complex unpredictable music this side of Captain Beefheart.  Somehow they landed a quasi-major label record deal, which got them a video on MTV2.  Fortunately, marginal success has not invaded their brains, and they remain the humble intelligent human beings that they always were.  Live, the band is incredible.  Anchored by modern drum prodigy, Jose, they dance around one another like demonic munchkins exclaiming “We are the freaks!” proving that, although they are serious about what they do, they don’t take themselves too seriously and there’s always room for a good sense of humor.  They have an amazing CD out on Serjical Strike Records called “Lynch the Weirdo”.  Get it.

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So that was my summer.  Hope you had as much fun as I had.  Maybe I’ll see you around somewhere.


"exterminate all rational thought."

                          -william s burroughs.

"how i persist in my journey toward truth is inevitably dependant upon how bored I become before completing it."

                          -richard meltzer.

"we are all guilty of everything."

                          -herbert huncke.

"nothing is true...everything is permitted..."

                          -hassan i sabbah.

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