This was 2011.
The most eventful year since we started GaragePunkNYC.
From the Norton 25th Anniversary to over 10 new releases by local bands to the various calamities that befell some of the most popular folks on the scene to frenzied opening & closing of key venues, we were more than kept busy by all the news and stuff happening around us.
Here’s my best attempt at a round-up of some of the bigger things that happened this year. I’m SURE I’ve missed some things, feel free to fill in the gaps in the comments!
The Runaway Suns called it quits in the Spring, shortly after keyboard player Alex Moyer moved to the West Coast.
Paul Collins organized the first Power Pop A Licious festival in May at Asbury Lanes in Asbury Park, NJ. Â The Electric Mess, the Above and the Dirty Shames were among the bands that played. A movie was filmed of performances and some “hanging out” scenes from the fest and a second edition is planned for 2012.
Ridgewood DIY venue Silent Barn was robbed of $15,000 of audio equipment and badly vandalized in July.
D Generation reunited for a show at Irving Plaza in September.
Numerous local garage, punk & soul bands performed at benefits concerts for the catastrophe in Japan in the Summer including the Baxx Sisi’s and the A-Bones.
Local group the Jay Vons, featuring WFMU engineer Dave Amels on keyboards, became the new Reigning Sound behind Greg Cartwright in the Fall. They performed at the Norton Festival and are featured on some of the recordings on RS’s recent Scion-backed digital release.
Habibi were picked up by Panache booking and plan tours for 2012.
A benefit concert was organized for Florian Jay at Don Pedro in August, drummer of longtime punks WLWL with serious health issues. LiveFastDie, Foster Care, and Apehangers played.
Local artist & DJ Avi Spivak released Kicksville Confidential in November on Kicks Books (Norton’s book imprint)– a comic filled with his illustrations of classic stories of norton artists like Esquerita, Link Wray and Hasil Adkins.
Bananas magazine released issues 3 and 4 in May and October.
Norton Records celebrated its 25th anniversary with a four day extravaganza at the Bell House in Brooklyn featuring the Sonics, Untamed Youth, Jackie and the Cedrics, the Black Lips, the Reigning Sound and many, many more (see below for my picks for best shows of 2011).
Local DJ and promoter Jonathan Toubin of New York Night Train was seriously injured in a freak accident in Portland, Oregon in early December while on tour. Â As of this post, he remains in the ICU and is expected to recover slowly. Â Many benefits concerts in NYC and around the US have raised well over $5,000 towards his health costs.
2011 RECORD RELEASES:
Organs released their second 7″ on Killer Diller records in April.
Strange Haze (formerly Whooping Crane) self-released their debut 7″ in May after raising the money on Kickstarter.
Liquor Store released Double LP ‘Yeah Buddy’ on Almost Ready Records in July.
K-Holes released their debut LP on HoZac in March.
Stalkers released a new 7″, Lady Sonia, on Oops Baby in June.
Twin Guns released their first 7″ on Killer Diller Records in June.
Sorceress released a 7″ on Puta Records in July.
The Brimstones released a split 7″ with the Immaculates in November.
Les Sans Culottes released an album “Pataphysical Graffiti” in September.
Organs released a split 7″ with Russia’s Cavestompers on Chickpea in September.
Backdoor Stan & Mopvipvops released a 4 track 7″ on Italy’s Hog Maw records in November.
Oops Baby released a cassette compilation in August featuring Two Tears, Peacekillers, Pretty Quick, the Thunderfucks and Stalkers.
Wild Isle released a split cassette recorded live at Coco 66– one side is the Baxx Sisi’s and the other is Organs.
I’m sure I’m missing some but here are three notable videos:
Xray Eyeballs – Crystal
From way back at the beginning of the year, this too-hot-for-TV video of Xray Eyeballs featuring members of Golden Triangle.
Ursula 1000 – Mondo Beyondo
Ursula 1000 DJs the Turtleneck night at Otto’s Shrunken Head and his new video, while not exactly garage or punk, features a number of folks from the scene including Anna Copa Cabanna.
Twin Guns – Little Subway Rider
This great new video features everyone from Killer Diller’s Charles Gaskins to Tara Ferri, organizer of the Mods Love Rockers parties and Jake of the Rats.
VENUES & BARS:
Brooklyn’s Don Pedro was taken over by Mitro Valsamis, longtime guitar player for garage/punk bands such as the Vacant Lot and the Mighty Fine in January. Â A new food menu was instituted, skeeball, pinball and Buck Hunter were introduced and the basement was taken over by Mystery Train Vintage. Â Jake ‘Noodles’ Winn returned as the main booker for the venue and many great shows took place this year including the Overnight Lows (Goner) and the Mighty Fine record release party.
Freddy’s Bar, a classic saloon/local bar in Brooklyn, reopened in a new location with a party featuring Les Sans Culottes in February.
Greenpoint’s Coco 66, the site of many shows over the years including the one recorded for Wild Isle’s cassette split this year, was shut down by the authorities in July for serving liquor without a license (yes, we find this amazing too!). Â The place is currently for sale.
Mars Bar, a truly legendary (and legendarily disgusting) East Village punk rock bar, closed its doors in July. Â The owner has promised he’ll reopen in the new/renovated building in the same location.
St. Vitus, a new, dimly lit venue with a beautiful wooden stage, opened in upper Greenpoint in April. Partners in the place include George Souleidis, formerly of the Shalitas and longtime bartender at Bar Matchless. Â While mostly geared towards all things metal, the place has hosted a number of garage/punk shows and features a regular hardcore DJ night.
Bruar Falls, the venue located on Grand Street in Williamsburg across from the Trash Bar, called it quits at the end of October. Â The venue, formerly known as Lucky Cat, had hosted a lot of garage/punk shows including Nobunny, the Turbo Fruits, Ex Humans and many more. The owners publicly cited illegal loft venues elsewhere in town as a main reason they were forced to close. The venue is now rumored to be re-opening soon, again as a venue, with a different mix of partners backing it and a renovated interior.
Livewithanimals/Monster Island, the art/venue space on Kent that hosted numerous New York Night Train events as well as an annual block party, lost their lease and closed in the Fall. Â They’ve reopened near the Morgan L train.
Cha-Cha’s, a Coney island boardwalk institution that has hosted many punk, rockabilly and burlesque nights, closed in October after losing their lease due to Bloomberg’s revitalization efforts.
MY FAVORITE SHOWS OF 2011:
This was a great year for local rock’n'roll. Â It felt like a lot of out of town bands that didn’t come in 2010 started to come back, some great new venues opened and some local bands really hit their stride this year.
Obviously there were some great ones I missed– the Power Pop A Licious Festival is one, the Wednesday night Norton fest pre-party at Union Pool is definitely another. Â And some of my own shows are listed here… but then again, I did GO to them and I booked them for a reason! Anyway, to each his own, caviat emptor, etc.
#10 Born Loose @ Don Pedro
This was the first time I had ever booked this killer band with Larry May of Candysnatchers’ fame. Â Larry Fisher described watching Larry afterwards as seeing someone who was “trying to get out of his skull”. Â One of the great performers of our time here in the city.
#9 Barracudas (redux) @ Union Hall
I didn’t have high expectations for this June show, especially for the Barracudas, which was just the original frontman backed up by Montreal’s Mothers Children. Â The Barreracudas I had seen briefly at Cake Shop and liked and they were great here too– solid original tunes and some choice covers. Â But the Barracudas were fantastic. Â The original member (sorry his name is escaping me!) does NOT phone it in, instead made it a crowd effort. It was pretty unforgettable and hopefully we’ll see this bill again soon!
#8 Theee Bat @ Brooklyn Fireproof
Japan’s Theee Bat were everything we expected the 126.96.36.199′s to be and weren’t: brash, rough and sloppy with tons of garage punk attitude. These guys are the definition of “true believers” – amazing! Â The Activations, Rico’s new band with Shingo and the guy from Test Patterns, were great too. Â Too bad the sound at this place is like listening to your voicemail coming out of a howitzer.
#7 The Apocalypse party @ The Church
Yes it was hot as balls in there but whatta wingding! Three terrific bands– the girl-fronted DEVO cover band DEVA, Twin Guns at their most menacing and the Apehangers and the party just kept going and going despite the looming “apocalypse” of May the 21st. Another grand ol’ time at my favorite venue.
#6 (tie) Copycat tributes to the Kinks & Love @ Otto’s
The Kinks night in October was a truly great night, and I think one many of us had been waiting for– hearing the Above do the Kinks. For me, one of the highlights of the whole Copycat series. I can still hear ‘Victoria!!!!!!’ … the supergroup with Michael Lynch was also fantastic.
One of the few shows on my list from the early part of the year was the Love edition back in February. Â This night just gets more meaningful with time and I have to say I think it’s another one of the best of the recurring nights for Copycat… the people who perform in this every year, including our own Captain Heartlock, really get the music and give it its due. Â Unmissable and unforgettable.
#5 Metropolis Fest @ Brooklyn Fireproof
A lot of bands played this thing in May, but the three sets that stood out for me were the Psyched, who capped off a great show with a brutal version of ‘Bring It On Home to Me’, the L!vids who were killer and the Othermen, who pulled off one of their best sets of all time. It was just one of those times when the buzz kicks in just as Max is shouting “I’m drunk!”…
#4 Daddy Long Legs @ BOS Fest, Lone Wolf
DLL capped off the second night of the Bushwick Open Studios festival with their performance on June 5th. Â I had seen them before, notably at Party Xpo for Tara’s Velvet Underground party but this was a cut above– master showmanship, packed house and a beautiful venue. They’re always good but this was one for the books.
#3 The Waldos @ Don Pedro
This show in January was my first time seeing the Waldos with Walter Lure from the Heartbreakers. Â Most of the time when these “punk legends” have bands doing the songs from the legendary band but with guys half their age it’s painfully embarrassing and sad. Not so with this group. Seriously mindblowing to hear all these classic songs, many of which Lure actually wrote. Â The fact that it was happening at the newly reopened Don Pedro, where you know you’re surrounded by people who care about it as much as you do, was just the icing on the cake.
#2 Les Kitschenette’s/Los Vigilantes @ Lone Wolf
What can I say? Hullabaloo’s first ever Halloween show was one of my favorites of the year. Â Les Kitschenette’s were simply outrageously good, what so many bands obsessed with the french 60′s garage thing aspire to and never achieve. Â Los Vigilantes on top of that, the creators of my favorite LP of 2011, exhausted after a tour but playing their hearts out on some timeless rock’n'roll plus the bonus of hanging with many good friends including the great Eeries from Philadelphia. Â All this DESPITE the freak snow storm of the century. History!
NORTON 25TH ANNIVERSARY
No surprise here. Â We won’t see another festival of its like soon, possibly ever again. Â This was my first opportunity to see so many great bands I’ve only ever heard on record– the 188.8.131.52′s, Jackie and the Cedrics, Untamed Youth, Randy Fuller, etc etc. Â It was my first opportunity in 6 years to see Bloodshot Bill, who has stepped up his game about 10 notches in that time. Â Even the Black Lips got nostalgic: Cole pulled out his unit for old times sake during night one’s performance.
It’s hard to pick out individual moments from the Norton 25th as the best, but I’ll go with Jackie and the Cedrics who put on an amazing show and showed how surf could be really exciting and fun live; Untamed Youth whose raucous show explains their reputation much better than their records do; the Hentchmen doing ‘Shimmy Shake’ – their perfect Devo cover; Bloodshot Bill’s snorting and spitting performance; the Flamin’ Groovies/A-Bones unbelievable set; and the smooth sound of Melvin’ Davis’ croon. Â
Thank you Billy & Miriam. AMEN!
Davila 666/Xray Eyeballs/Acid Baby Jesus @ 285 Kent
This show was booked by Lady Bree and sponsored by Sailor Jerry rum. This was a good show, but to be honest, I’m including it mostly because it was by far the drunkest I got in all of 2011. Â I showed up around 9:45 and somehow they were already out of mixers. So I wisely started in on straight liquor. Â I do remember great sets by all three bands, and then it gets pretty hazy by the end. But, please, do NOT fill in the gaps in my memory… I really don’t wanna know.
Daddy Long Legs, White Mystery, Apehangers @ Cha-Cha’s, Coney Island
A great and long show with tons of bands on a perfect September day in Coney Island to mourn the loss of this venerable institution organized by Lisa Lush of Underclass Revue.
The “Blast Supper” with the Othermen, the Jigglers and Cop WarmthÂ @ The Church
This pre-Thanksgiving party was another great Church throwdown… despite a certain member’s complete inability to play (or eventually, to stand up), the Othermen were at their best and the Jigglers were also killer proving that my favorite bands will always shine the brightest at house parties.