11 August 2007

On The Town

A couple nights out this week, both low key, both strangely, quietly satisfying. Well, actually, I've been out most nights, but I'm not counting movies (Die Hard and the previously mentioned Chuck and Larry), just events where live music was involved.

Tuesday night saw me rolling up on my bike to the Lost and Found tavern in Greenpoint. I didn't get there till quite late, but it seems to be the kind of place where everything happens quite late, almost ostentatiously oblivious to the fact that some New Yorkers do indeed have jobs or school or similarly boring obligations to contend with on a Wednesday morning.

I hung outside - it was a very nice night - shooting the breeze with Mikey Erg and my old friend Justin "Sully" Sullivan, who to be honest, I barely recognized now that he's acquired a few years/layers of Greenpoint/Williamsburg patina. Which was true the last time I ran into him, a year ago on the G train when we were both coming home from the Rancid show.

Being as out of the loop as I am, I didn't even know that he was the drummer for the Radio Faces, the band I'd come to see; the last time I'd seen Sully playing music was with his old Long Island hardcore outfit, The Insurgent. Anyway, the Radio Faces were good, very good, even, more power-pop than pop-punk, not that there's anything wrong with that. My only objection: their first song, something about a Party at the Bushwick Hotel, went on forever, with the chorus being repeated at least 150 times, well, maybe 50 times. Point being, the song's very good and catchy, but repeating the same verse and chorus over and over doesn't make it any more so. Rather the opposite, in fact.

Every song after that was shorter, hell, the set itself was short, and ended rather strangely, with guitarist Nato still plunking away as though he meant to start another song, while other members of the band began taking down their equipment. I walked part of the way home with Hallie Unlovable, who's leaving on tour this weekend and won't be back until Labor Day.

"Oh my god," I said, that means your New York summer is already over, and it's only the first week of August!"

"Yeah, well, I'm about ready to get out of town," she said, but I still felt wistful, not because I wanted her to stay here if she wanted to be elsewhere, but because if her New York summer was ending, it brought home the point that it wouldn't be much longer before mine was too.

And by Thursday night, it really felt that way, because it was almost - not quite but almost - too chilly to hang outside of Hank's Saloon wearing only a t-shirt. As at the Radio Faces, the crowd was small but devoted. Actually, there were quite a few people there, but I'm only counting the ones I know, insular and parochial bastard than I can be at times.

The occasion was the final show by the Impulse, another power-pop outfit with some of the same strengths (and a similar weakness for the occasional too-long repeating chorus song) as the Radio Faces. Singer/guitarist Adam, formerly of Dirt Bike Annie, the quirky, seminal band that almost single-handedly kept New York City pop-punk alive in the dark ages of the late 90s, is ostensibly retiring from rock and roll in order to move to Florida, take care of his kid, attend university and do similarly adult things.

As exuberant as the music was, there was an autumnal chill to the affair, and I'm not just talking about the weather. The Impulse hadn't been around that long or achieved a whole lot of recognition beyond a moderately-sized group of friends, and maybe because of that, it felt sad to see it ending, especially since Adam is almost the living, breathing epitome of a rock star, so much so that it's almost hard to imagine him ever being anything else.

And yet so the dream ends, at least for now. It wouldn't surprise me to see him suddenly re-emerge from Floridian exile at the head of a far more massive band, but neither would it surprise me if it really is the end for his rock and roll fantasy and the beginning of what will hopefully be an equally satisfying adventure in normal life. I know what it felt like: when you're getting into your late teens and you're still hanging out on the street corner not knowing what you're going to do with yourself when summer ends, and meanwhile seeing your buddies gradually drift away to the service or college or marriage or careers. Like they're all growing up while you don't know if you can or even want to.

I got to this show hell of late, too, and missed Short Attention, but most of the clever, maddening and annoying crew were still there. Grath McGrath was walking around with a lifelike and life-sized stuffed dog under his arm, which I found strangely disconcerting, and Bill Florio, that prince among men, gave me, Crafty Dan and Jackie O. a ride home in his little hybrid car, the first I've ever been in, along the BQE with its mega-spectacular views of lower Manhattan on a night when the lights burned with mad translucent fire.

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