Friday, May 30, 2008

Review: WIRE at South Street Seaport in New York May 30, 2008

The first time I heard Pink Flag by the seminal art-punk group Wire was in 1980, already three years after its release. I became obsessed. I was living in Southern California then, and increasingly immersed in the punk rock music scene. I was totally enthralled with Wire, wearing out record needles on Pink Flag, and later 154, The Ideal Copy and Chairs Missing. But there is no other record like Pink Flag: This single album created the model for sound, instrumentation, rhythm and lyrical content for hundreds, if not thousands of punk bands that followed, the majority of whom were mere rote imitators, without the integral philosophy to back up the ideas they were professing.

Wire had it then, and has never lost it since its origin in 1976. This incredible band was even more incredibly chosen to play the first show of the River-to-River Live Music Festival . . . and it was free.

More than 3,000 people--half over 45--showed up to pay homage to Wire. If they were the kind of band that rested on its laurels, it would have been like going to church, or some retro-pop festival. Or, say, The Eagles--who also played tonight at Madison Square Garden. Bassist Graham Lewis noted early on, "Glad you took the time to see us, and not The Eagles. In 1977 The Eagles were one thing: The Enemy." Probably still are, considering they have no new material to speak of for 15 years--yet still play shows!

Wire, on the other hand, challenged the audience to stay focused on what was happening at the moment during its 70-minute, 17-song set (including 2 encores). The band offered a wealth of material released during its entire career, and even performed songs from the soon-to-be-released album "Object 47" ("47" representing the 47th release in the Wire discography). The line-up, in addition to Lewis, included original front man/guitarist Colin Newman, original drummer Robert Grey and Margaret Fiedler McGinnis on rhythm guitar (replacing original member Bruce Gilbert, who resigned in 2004).

The show truly covered Wire's entire career: The set featured four songs from the upcoming record including "Mekon Headman," Perspex Icon" (first live performance), "All Fours" and "One of Us" with its early Eno throb and catchy repetitive chorus 'One of us will live to rue the day we met each other"--in a perfect world, an instant hit. But also mixed in the set were four(!) songs from that incredible first release Pink Flag, which Wire has often threatened to never perform live again. The crowd went berserk for every PF tune including "Lowdown," "106 Beats That," a speed-record bursting first encore version of "12XU" and a heartfelt second encore of "Pink Flag," with the comment beforehand, "30 years ago, we played this song at CB(GB)s. It's gone now, and so are a lot of the people who were at that show. So we'd like to play this one for all our dead friends. We all have dead friends." The psychedelic crunch that ensued made me glad that Wire was not among the dead friends yet. They're still alive and kicked throughout their overtone, flanger-filled killer rockin' set.

Some people tell me "you're too old for this." Not as long as I still have the kind of burning razor-edge creative urges of Wire.

New Zealand power-pop-punksters Die!Die!Die! opened with a formidible eight-song set that paid homage to Wire with due respect, and only the merest bit of unbridled imitation.

Add 1: For incredible photos of the show, see Qro Magazine's photo gallery.

Add 2: And here's the video Qro Magazine posted to youtube of "Pink Flag," which really captures the hyper-charged energy of this final encore.

Wednesday, May 28, 2008

Dead Poets Slam: Friday, June 6, 6-8, Cornelia St. Cafe

Get your favorite dead poet persona on as Cornelia Street's Son of a Pony series presents the first Dead Poet Slam. In this riotous event, dead poets compete for fabulous prizes, with spoken word renditions of their work performed by their modern day personas. Hosted by TRP creator Kathi Georges.

Anyone can participate! Just bring your favorite poem by your favorite dead poet (three minutes maximum!) and you're in. Participants so far include T.S. Eliot, June Jordan, Sylvia Plath, Charles Bukowski, and Emily Dickinson.

Who do you want to be? Walt Whitman? Alan Ginsburg? Edna St. Vincent Milay? Langston Hughes? Shakespeare? John Keats? Yeats? Anne Sexton? Dylan Thomas? Elizabeth Barrett Browning? The list is endless. The choice is yours.... Who inspires you? One poet. One poem.

To reserve a prime spot: Email by Thursday, June 5 and let us know the name of the poet, and the name of the poem you plan to perform. Limited signups for the Dead Poets Slam will also be available at the door. Prizes include: Poetry Books! Portraits of Dead Poets! Honor! Recognition! Joy!

Open reading before the Dead Poets Slam. You can participate in one or the other--or both--or just come to enjoy the show. Admission of only $7 includes a free beer or wine!

Dead Poets Slam
Friday, June 6, 2008
Cornelia Street Cafe
29 Cornelia St. (between W. 4th and Bleecker)
6-8 pm (doors open 5:45, come early to sign up for open reading)

Friday, May 23, 2008

Memorial Day Weekend 2008: Lenny Bruce, Saturday; Dueling Karaoke, Sunday

Banner Weekend Alert for Three Rooms Press fans: Not one, but two chances to catch TRP core members LIVE on stage in NYC.

First, 8pm on Saturday, May 24th at Highline Ballroom, opening up for the 93-year-old comic legend Professor Irwin Corey is the fabulous Peter Carlaftes doing an excerpt from his sensational Off-Broadway one-man show "Lenny Bruce: Dead & Well." Tickets $25, available at Carlaftes will be performing on the same stage that has hosted such luminaries as Lou Reed, Paul McCartney, Stevie Wonder, and that wonder-of-wonders, Amy Winehouse!

Then, on Sunday, May 25th at 6pm at Cornelia Street Cafe it's Carlaftes again, this time performing in tandem with Kathi Georges as Three Rooms Press presents the crazy revue, "Dueling Karaoke." In Dueling Karaoke, Georges and Carlaftes take on the last 40 years of pop music, in a mash up that includes such crazy pairings as Pink's "Can't Let Me Be Me" and Pink Floyd's "Another Brick in the Wall;" and Looking Glass' "Brandy" with The Blues Image's "Ride Captain Ride." This hour long show is a real headtrip, and of special interest to pop music afficianados. The New York Press called it "An extraordinarily fast-paced, funny-as-all-get-out, downright wacky comedic extravaganza." Tickets $10, reservations: 212-989-9319.

And to wrap things up, Sunday at 10pm at Reade Street Pub its downtown fave r&bsters The JDs doing their beautiful thing and giving us a chance to dance!

Monday is for resting--the rest of the weekend--we are on it!

Tuesday, May 13, 2008

Lenny Bruce: Dead & Well at Highline Ballroom May 24

Peter Carlaftes phenomenal one-man show "Lenny Bruce: Dead & Well" has captured the attention of the Highline Ballroom where he'll be opening on Saturday, May 24th for "The World's Foremost Authority" 93-Year-Old Comic Legend Professor Irwin Corey. 

This just after his successful L.A. debut in North Hollywood, where the in-your-face satire of Carlaftes-cum-Bruce nearly caused a small-scale riot. Never has it been a better time for the return of Bruce's "what-is" sensibility than now, when myths are being floated on all sides of the political spectrum and the populace is being asked to buy in to one myth or another or be cast out. For a quick look at "Lenny Bruce: Dead & Well," see an excerpt Peter Carlaftes as Lenny Bruce video on youtube.