09 February 2009

Jersey And The Steinways

Over to Hoboken yet again the other night, the journey this time made less onerous by MATT FAME's inimitable chauffeur service, which took us from Brooklyn to New Jersey in no time at all, which was good, because we then needed all the time we had saved (and more) to find a place to park. Man, Hoboken is a mess that way, though to be fair, we got what we deserved for not taking the train.

The occasion was a massive (and sold out) show at MAXWELL'S put on by the DON GIOVANNI record label and featuring the last ever FOR SCIENCE show and the possibly next to last ever STEINWAYS show. Although For Science were a good band and much loved by most of my friends, they never quite caught on with me. Well, they did once I heard their recorded material, but by that time my impression of them had already been colored by their shambolic live performances, which, unless they were putting on a Dean Martin-style (way to date myself, eh, kids?!) burlesque, were usually occasioned by at least some of them being drunk off their asses.

When they finally played a show stone cold sober at the Cake Shop last year, I realized just how good they could be, but by then it was hard to undo my earlier impressions, so I just kind of didn't bother to get too excited about them one way or the other. They seemed to be in relatively good shape for Saturday night's valedictory show, although the performance was a bit desultory, especially the ending, when, rather than engage in the usual sentimental mucking about and endless encores that characterize a band's farewell show, they just sort of shuffled off stage with barely a "so long," let alone an encore. Actually, one of the highlights came before their set, when all three members of the also-defunct ERGS took the stage, began pottering around as if they might be about to play an impromptu reunion show, and then said, "Hi, we're the Ergs, and we'd like to introduce you to For Science."

But for me at least, this show was mainly about the Steinways, and they were in rare form, especially for New Jersey, or more particularly, Maxwell's, where, as boy genius GRATH McGRATH confided later, "We always sucked before." The sound was unusually good, but so was the playing, helped along in no small part by CHRIS PIERCE, who sat in on drums for the ailing CHRIS GRIVET. Chris, whose own band, the GROUCHO MARXISTS, also played, has engineered most of the Steinways' recorded stuff and made it sound awesome, did much the same for their live performance, and though there was a festive crowd of friends in the pit loving every minute of it, there was a real bittersweet feeling to the proceedings as well. Of all the bands that have been breaking up lately, this is the one that really got to me. In fact, I almost never get sentimental about band breakups, and I'm not sure I am about the Steinways, either. No, my feelings are more like... well, I'm mad. Angry. Resentful. Not at anybody in particular, just at the cruel heartlessness of a world that would take away the Steinways and leave us with ten kajillion downright crappy bands.

It's also frustrating that they're breaking up just as they're really hitting their stride and starting to get some widespread (and well-deserved) recognition. There's still (most likely) a Steinways set in the offing for this summer's Baltimore Fest, and very possibly one more official goodbye show in New York, but if there's any justice, some deus ex machina will intervene and make the Steinways whole again.

In other news, I made it back from Hoboken without incident (thanks again to Matt Fame!) and without catching Jersey cooties! I'm beginning to become an old hand at this interstate travel thing. Next time I might even dare to venture as far afield as Jersey City or Weehawken!

1 comment:

Curt said...

Amen, loved the Steinways.