Apr 6, 2006

Nightclubbing Notes

As part of the Downtown Show that recently closed at the Grey Art Gallery (NYU), last Friday 3/31, there was a great presentation of video as shot between 1975-1980 by two pioneering female videographers, Pat Ivers & Emily Armstrong. The pair presented 25 performances shot at nightclubs, almost all in NYC.

In the Q&A that followed (hosted by noted downtown filmmaker Amos Poe), what was interesting was to try remembering a world before digital media which we take for granted. These women lugged heavy gear and cameras in & out of buildings, up & down stairs, in all sorts of neighborhoods...many of these clubs weren't in exactly decent locations, at the time at least. They were usually the first to arrive at a venue (to set up), and the last to leave (after breaking their gear down). They weren't paid for their work...they did it because they loved the music, and this was their contribution to the culture of the time & place. As they stated, if you were in the scene at the time, everyone did something...whethere it was playing in a band, running a club, DJ'ing, shooting film, acting...whatever. And it was all very social. They are currently working on a documentary about this period in their lives and their prescient work.

I had the honor of watching the show with the esteemed Jim Fouratt, excellent music writer (and co-worker) Michael Azerrad, the ubiquitous Joly from PunkCast, and new friend Jason from awesome music website, Perfect Sound Forever. I'm a hip motherfucker.

Here's the program in order:

- Blondie (CBGB 1975) - doing a lousy version of the Velvet Underground's Femme Fatale.
- Heartbreakers w/Richard Hell (CBGB 1975) - the original line-up.
- Talking Heads (CBGB 1975) - the original 3 piece line-up performing an early version of Psycho Killer.
- Dead Boys (CBGB 1977) - performing the Stooges Search & Destroy if memory serves.
- Dead Kennedys (Hurrah 1979) - Jello Biafra looking so young, wrestles with a female audience member during their song - hilarious!
- Lounge Lizards (CBGB 1979) - a great performance suggesting further investigation of a band I haven't ever really attempted to get into beyond the odd compilation cut.
- Teenage Jesus & the Jerks (Paradise Garage 1978) - a 20 or 30 second long song, a young Lydia Lunch reeking of attitude.
- Contortions (Paradise Garage 1978) - from the same show as Teenage Jesus, the sound quality is horrible but the performance is intense, James Chance as cool as ever.
- Dead Boys with Divine (CBGB 1978) - yes, that Divine and a couple of dancing girls in bikinis.
- Stilettos (CBGB 1978) - with Tish & Snooky of Manic Panic fame, reminded me of Lorraine Newman on Saturday Night Live for some reason...they were thin, it was the 70s...I don't know.
- Richard Hell & the Voidoids (CBGB 1978) - Robert Quine was as cool as all get out.
- Suicide (Danceteria 1980) - perhaps my fave perfomance of the night. When they made these guys, they broke the mold...hell, there never was a mold.
- DNA (Mudd Club 1979)
- Iggy Pop (Hurrah 1979)
- Levi & the Rockats (CBGB 1979) - much better than I remember
- Cramps (Irving Plaza 1980) - It might've been Garbage Man, Bryan Gregory was another icon with the polka dotted flying-V guitar.
- Heartbreakers (Irving Plaza 1980) - Too Much Junkie Business.
- John Cale (Irving Plaza 1980)
- Offs (The Rat 1979) - shot at the Rat in Boston, the only non-NYC performance shown.
- Max Blagg (Danceteria 1980) - a scathing anti-heroin rant/poem, very intense & heartfelt.
- Bush Tetras (Danceteria 1980) - Tight & funky, Pat Place is a seriously cool guitar player.
- Bad Brains (CBGB 1979) - playing 12XU by Wire, not the best I've ever seen them, but a poor Bad Brains is better than most band's best.
- Go-Go's (Danceteria 1980) - Not as bad as I remember but nevertheless fluffy.
- Pylon (Danceteria 1980) - Some interesting idea's but I still don't understand people love for this Athens GA band...their tunes never quite did it for me but they had a great bass sound.
- Ballistic Kisses (Danceteria 1980) - Never knew much about these guys but I seem to remember them being something of a staple on the downtown club circuit in New York.

So that's it...if you made it this far I hope you learned something. I know I did...and keep an eye out for the DVD when it's finally released. If you've missed the Downtown Show in New York, future showings this year include Austin TX, and the Warhol Museum in Pittsburgh PA. It's worth the trip...I like both cities!

1 comment:

Maritza said...
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