Another weekend, another secret THORNS OF LIFE show. This time the in-the-know scenesters and hipsters went flocking to Soho while the less well connected exchanged frantic text messages à la the protagonists of NICK AND NORAH'S INFINITE PLAYLIST in search of the elusive WHERE'S FLUFFY? gig.
Being in receipt of a couple such text messages myself, I briefly considered a dash across the Williamsburg Bridge, but ultimately decided to attend a punk rock show on the more prosaic side of the East River. Actually, it was only partly a punk rock show, the punkest part of all coming right at the beginning in the form of the debut performance by the HOMEWRECKERS, featuring the multi-talented CRISTY ROAD (everyone's seen her artwork, and last night she was also reading from some of her written work) on guitar and vocals, FRANK UNLOVABLE on guitar, JACKIE O. on bass and backing vocals, and CRYSTAL (I tried to get a surname, but all Frank could tell me was that "She's Crystal Homewrecker now") on drums.
They got a really enthusiastic reception and a very good-sized crowed (especially considering that it was the most miserably wintry night of the not-even-arrived-yet New York winter so far. The sound was very raw and old-school punk, almost-but-not-quite to the point of retro, with Cristy's vocals (Jackie's backups helped too!) setting the Homewreckers distinctly apart from the pack. Check them out first chance you get.
This being South Williamsburg, they had to let the hipsters in, too, and remember, these are the lower-tier hipsters, the ones who didn't get their Thorns Of Life text messages in time, so naturally there was a DJ and some other bands playing some sort of music that may have been perfectly valid but didn't do much for me, so after the Homewreckers I retreated to the back room, where numerous PPMB representatives were holding forth.
There were tales to be told of the previous night's birthday festivities for MIKEY ERG and Jackie O. that took place at Jackie's Bushwick loft and which apparently got a little rowdy. The best evidence I have of this, having not attended personally because it was too cold or I was too depressed or something - no, actually because I was a doofus - was the story of Jackie O.'s bedroom door being torn off its hinges, always a good sign of lively goings-on at a party, wouldn't you say?
There was also some speculation about when or if the Thorns Of Life are going to start playing shows that normal people can attend. With at least one and possibly two members about to be out of town for an extended period, prospects don't look good. If there were big money and a major record label behind TTOL, you'd almost think this was part of a brilliant viral marketing campaign, sort of what like RCA did with THE STROKES a few years back, the main differences being that there's no money and no record label behind TTOL and that they're actually really good.
But the level of excitement about this band is already such that people are asking why exactly they're choosing to play only secret shows that no more than a relative handful of fans can attend. Of course there's nothing that unusual about wanting to play a few small, low-key shows when a band is just starting out, much the way Broadway shows have out-of-town tryouts, but for most bands, that happens naturally anyway, since unless somebody famous is in the band, it's hard to get more than 10 or 15 friends to show up to your first showcase at some Lower East Side dive where you're supposed to go on at midnight and end up playing at a quarter to three on a Tuesday night.
But with TTOL you've got three famous people in the band, and it's probably no exaggeration to say they could probably go straight to playing club or festival shows for hundreds or even thousands of fans. Of course just because they could isn't to say they should, and it's to their credit that they're taking things slow. But what, people are already asking, if they have no intention of ever taking things to the larger venues that they could easily fill? Does a band have an obligation to make its shows available to everyone who wants to see them? No would seem to be the obvious answer to that, but when does a laudable desire to keep things low-key and unfettered by commercial considerations turn into something elitist and exclusive? Hey, don't look at me; I sure don't know. Just sayin' what people are sayin'...
One last TTOL item: JONNY RALLY, of pop-punk label RALLY RECORDS, started this, but the trend seems to be catching on: responding to any of life's travails and vicissitudes with, "I guess it's just the thorns of life." Subway shut its doors in your face when you were already late for work this morning? Thorns of life, dude. Stepped in dogshit just before going into an important meeting with your boss? Ditto. And sure enough, one frustrated fan who didn't get his text message in time responded with, "Man, I'm all up in the thorns of life this week."
In other somewhat unexpected news, the RIVERDALES are said to be getting ready to record a new album and possibly/probably play some shows. Not a conventional tour in the usual sense of the word, more like a series of one-offs in various cities. Hopes are high that one such appearance will be at Baltimore's INSUBORDINATION FEST next June; one of the more memorable highlights of the first (2006) Fest came when DAN VAPID's MOPES covered the Riverdales classic "Back To You."
Also showing signs of moving out of musical hibernation: JESSE MICHAELS, of OPERATION IVY and COMMON RIDER fame. He's got at least a couple shows scheduled next month; I'm under the impression that he'll be playing solo acoustic, but no confirmation on that so far. I hope to be seeing at least one of them, and will certainly report back on that.
What else? In this post-ERGS WEEKEND, everything seems relatively slack and slow, sort of like the first week back to normal after the holidays or something. Oh, speaking of which, you want a real rumor? Before the Riverdales resurrection can go into full effect, they need a new drummer, and among the potential candidates are the drummers from not one, but two East Coast powerhouse bands. Any other drummers wanting to get in on this action are advised to send their résumés in forthwith!
Last but very least: as if I didn't have enough ways to while away (waste) my potentially productive time, I've now been prevailed upon to join FACEBOOK. In the past I've already made the mistakes of joining first FRIENDSTER and then MYSPACE, and quickly came to hate both of them. Any bets on how long before I make it three for three? In the meantime feel free to friend me and while you're at it, send me gossip. I can't make all of it up myself!