Read about Night Two here
*This has turned into a monster post. I need an editor! But hey, it is a Breakdown DIARY after all.*
Sometimes I wonder what people think when I tell them that I blog about Green Day’s 21st Century Breakdown tour as a hobby. Here I am, a professional, grown person who happens to love punk (or pop punk or whatever) and the mayhem that comes with it, from dancing wildly to the great majority of political and social pontificating that goes on with it. I’m not a wild child but I do possess a certain idea that life is meant to be lived to the fullest and danced to the wildest. Sometimes the energy of life gets so stuck inside my soul and my head and my body that what I need is to let the primal spirits have their way with me. To me, it’s like going to Church… the Church of Lushotology.
A few weeks ago I was blessed, because I’m not cursed, to have had one of the most amazing times of my life, and I’ve had some pretty amazing moments on this planet. This post is about attending Church with the Reverend Strychnine Twitch and the Foxboro Hot Tubs.
In the Beginning
Green Day… uh… Foxboro Hot Tubs fans had a feeling that something spectacular and special was going to happen around the opening week of Green Day’s new musical, American Idiot on Broadway. Opening night, Tuesday, April 20, 2010, which I attended (you can read about that and other shows I attended here), was a star-studded event with the likes of Whoopi Goldberg, Rosie O’Donnell, Donald Trump, Michael J. Fox and others. The only people I wanted to see were the members of Green Day and the cast of American Idiot and my fellow Green Day fans, but after the show, I walked by the bar, and my bag poked Ed Norton in the rear end! That, I must say, was quite exciting as Norton looks pretty good, and I was looking pretty good, too. We exchanged looks, I apologized for my bag, and while he kept looking, I walked away. But, I digress.
On Friday, 4/16/10, four days before the official opening of American Idiot, Green Day’s Twitter blurted out the following message, which sent scores of people in the know into… well… a twitter. The simple message from the band was:
Ladys and germs!The tubbies are officially in nyc! Ready to stop drop and bukak! Oooh! Baby girl! Stay tuned for a big bash soon? STING
Was NYC ready? Does a bear poop in the woods? I do believe the answer to both questions is yes! The playful hide and seek between the Foxies and their audience was on. We were waiting with baited breath to hear from the Tubbies themselves about the show, and willing to wait (mostly) patiently for news of when and where the show would take place. The Rev himself pretty much told us where in a radio interview anyway (the Bowery Electric). The playfulness of the moment was diminished somewhat by a well-meaning, but probably unknowing of the playful interaction between FBHT and its audience, DJ. DJ Rich Russo, from 101.9 RXP tweeted out the fact that he knew information that everyone wanted to know about the show. He had been chosen to announce the event on his (fantastic) radio show, Anything, Anything. People followed him on Facebook and Twitter and after 12 hours of taunting (“Which borough will the show take place? Queens, Staten Island, Manhattan, New Jersey?” “Will the opening band be a local band?” “Does the Staten Island Ferry run 24 hours; is there maintenance on the L train this weekend?”), some folks (yes, I’ll admit it, like me), got annoyed. It stopped being fun and funny. I mean, the show would be announced and happen when it happened and Green Day fans can be a tad frenzied at times. Sadly, I lost my temper and finally tweeted out to him to stop causing a frenzy, there was frenzy enough! I think that FBHT might have read posts at the Green Day Community about the overall annoyance, because the next thing everyone knew (and was surprised at), Greenday.com announced the venue as the Bowery Electric on the official website. Though, with Greenday.com, who knows if they did it on purpose or by mistake? It can be like that with them, sometimes. However, DJ Rich Russo, I will buy you a drink one day. Just name the time and place!
So, that “secret” was out of the bag and at first 120 tickets were announced as available for the Bowery Electric, a minuscule amount compared to the hundreds of people who would want to see the Tubbies. There was a good reason for that, which I’ll explain on Night 2 of a separate post.
Friday Show – Foxboro Hot Tubs Party! Party! Party! with Honah Lee and the Mystic Knights of the Cobra – Don Hill’s – 4/23/10
I met some of the Mystic Knights of the Cobra at Toot’s Bar in Crockett, CA (where a few of them bartend) on an adventure back in September 2009 when I traveled to California to see the working run of American Idiot at the Berkeley Rep. I saw the band perform for the first time at the Uptown in Oakland on February 16, 2010 when I traveled again to Berkeley to see Pinhead Gunpowder in action at 924 Gilman. So, when it was announced that they were touring the NY/NJ area with Trenton-based band, Honah Lee on the Party! Party! Party! Tour, I was hella excited and offered to help them from the East Coast in any way that I could. MKOTC had toured with the Hot Tubs in 2008, so there was hope that they would join them on one of their New York tour stops. I was not privy to information on whether the Foxboro Hot Tubs would perform with the Cobras on one of their stops in the two States (though I heard “maybes”), but I was hoping that something fantastic would happen. To everyone’s great delight, it eventually did. At that time, though, the Foxies had only announced that they were playing the Bowery Electric on Sunday, so everyone figured that that was it for New York City. Hope is a crazy thing, though.
The Party! Party! Party! Tour began at Arlene’s Grocery in Manhattan and moved on to Asbury Lanes in NJ for a show on Thursday 4/22. At 2:09PM while the Party!… Tour was in transit to Jersey, Green Day’s Twitter posted the following message: “Dear baby girlz, foxboro hot tubs will be playin with the cobras at Don Hills nyc! Friday april 23!Be there sluts!! Sting!! – the rev” It was on. Needless to say, panic and pleasure ensued for everyone.
There was no guarantee that I would get into the the show. I’m nobody, a friendly (but rockin’ fun) hanger-on with benefits. I had already taken Friday 4/23 off from work for something else, so when Don Hill’s announced that the lineup would start at 4:00, I asked people who were already lining up by 6:ooAM the day of the show what was going on. Yes, you read that right, 6:00AM. (Never trust a venue when they give a time for a show line to begin.) I did what I had to do that day and headed over to the venue to lineup. Green Day fans formed their own government and gave out numbers for people who were in line (and some Universal Street Team showed up later on), while Don Hill’s quietly began selling tickets. I think I got number 23 this day (I got number 60 of ultimately 100 first tickets on Sunday), and we were contacting people coming in for the show from England (Tony) and Virginia (Abbey) on how the line was progressing. Tony unfortunately missed his Heathrow flight (he was crazy to even attempt it in the first place, but GD fans are focused) and Abbey made it in plenty of time. I don’t think the show sold out, so anybody who wanted to come could have.
I went for a bite to eat at the Ear Inn and then to a Starbucks to recharge my dying iPhone for the night. I got back to Don Hill’s around 2:00 or so and MKOTC and Honah Lee arrived in the city about the same time after playing at Asbury Lanes and staying in a crazy (and possibly haunted) hotel in Asbury Park. They were nervous and wrecked, but really excited. I was sad that I had missed the show and the Party! antics in Jersey, but I attended the 4/22 showing of American Idiot where Green Day performed as the encore, so it was all good. I helped Honah Lee and MKOTC load in. From this point on, I’m a little unsure of time since time (Fuck Time, maybe?) became a bit jumbled once I got inside of Don Hill’s, but I think around 4:00, the Foxboro Hot Tubs were soundchecking. And I was just… hanging out in Don Hill’s and helping with stuff and watching. I don’t remember what songs they did and I took one blurry photograph, just to keep for my memory’s sake (sorry, Billie Joe) to remember that I was actually at this intimate soundcheck.
I think they did “A Quick One” and maybe “Stop, Drop and Roll.” I was tired and dazed and being as nonchalant as possible. At the end of the soundcheck, some greasy, long-haired dude with the venue came over and screamed at me, asking what I was doing, yelling, “this is a place of business, not a rest stop.” I told him I was with the Party! Tour but he didn’t care, so I walked toward the door and started talking with someone and just stayed inside. Whatever.
The FBHT soundcheck was over and it was time for MKOTC and then Honah Lee to start theirs. Tre had a bicycle and he and his girl rode off. Other members of the band did something or another, and some of their crew went downstairs or outside. The venue wanted to clear everyone out who wasn’t soundchecking, so outside we went. Plus, the other 1/2 of the Party! Tour had made it to the venue (this was around 6:00, I think), so we just hung out. We needed regrouping and cigarettes anyway. Michelle (a fabulous up-and-coming rock-n-roll photographer and girlfriend of Jim of Honah Lee) gave me a Party! Party! Party! Tour All Access Pass that she made for the crew (thank you, Michelle!) and I talked with GDC buddies in line including Abbey, ToniAnn, Chickenman, David, Fallyn, J’net, Cheryl, Jaime, Andres and others, and we all generally paced for the next 35 minutes or so. And smoked a lot of cigarettes. I got a bit of the lowdown on Asbury, particularly the hotel, and I could only chuckle at the strange night in a place straight out of The Shining. We were let back into the venue first, collecting our wristbands, and less than a 1/2 hour after this (time, again, was a bit fucked at this point), the first of the line entered.
Honah Lee went on first and played a 1/2 hour or so set. I love Honah Lee and their “nerd punk” sound, particularly their single, “I Hate My Job” and “Sobered, So Bored!” Tim, Jim, Dim, and Tony are very fun and earnest and have a good stage presence. They got a bit overlooked during the night as I don’t think they were on FBHT’s radar. Later in the night as The Reverend was thanking MKOTC for the show, FBHT crew who were in the booth yelled out, “and HONAH LEE,” but Billie Joe couldn’t hear a thing. For most folks in the audience, it was their first exposure to Honah Lee but I’m sure that they are a band to keep on your radar for the future. (Their CD isn’t for sale online at the moment. You can listen to them at their MySpace page, buy their CD on their current Mid-West tour, or hit them up on Facebook for a copy.)
Next up on the Party! Party! Party! Tour were the Mystic Knights of the Cobra. The Cobras had toured with FBHT in 2008, so hardcore fans were already aware of them if not necessarily familiar with their album entitled “There Is No End.” As the band was setting up, the opening act, Dirty Nasty the Filthy Gentleman magician and his lovely assistant, Donna, began their magic act, but unfortunately, the mic wasn’t on and the audience couldn’t hear the lovely but cheesy jokes. The audience may have also wondered if they were actually part of the show. One of things I love about the Cobras are their opening vaudeville-like acts, of which Dirty Nasty is one. At one point Dirty Nasty took out a large walking stick from nowhere and I yelled out, “Oh, what a big stick you have, Dirty Nasty,” which got an acknowledgment and a wink from the magician himself. They continued mic-less and valiantly, and then it was time for the Cobras to start. Their sets are always a bit chaotic and charged, and Friday’s show was no different. In other words, I had a great time! I don’t exactly remember the setlist, but I think it included “Ray Town Massacre,” “Mutafuko’s Revenge” (a great song to scream along with), “Grappling Hook,” “Tribe Called Cobra,” “Meth and Viagra,” “Nunchucks,” “Sunday Funday,” and of course, the now classic “El Camino,” written by Call Me Donnie Cobra (RIP). I think they also did “Bad Girl,” but don’t quote me on that.
Update: And speaking of overlooking, the band made up by members of Green Day’s tech crew, including Micah and Kenny, who I think are called A Hot Mess, played between the Mystic Knights of the Cobra and the Foxboro Hot Tubs. Sorry, guys!
After MKOTC’s set, the three bands went downstairs. I talked and joked around with Honah Lee and the Cobras and just chilled out before the FBHT went on. I have mentioned before that I’m not the biggest fan of asking celebrities for either their autographs or photos. I figure it if happens, it happens, but I never personally ask. (Though I did drunkenly ask Joan Jett the next night to take a picture with the Cobra girls. More on that later!) I didn’t speak with Billie Joe or Tre during the night, but the nicest thing happened with Mike. He came up toward me and introduced himself (which I thought was the bee’s knees), and I mumbled to him that Jason Chandler, Mike’s bandmate in The Frustrators, had let me write about their possible upcoming album. I don’t think he quite caught that, but he said that he recognized my face from the concerts I’ve attended this year. It was really lovely of him to acknowledge that (yea, one more crazy Green Day fan) and then the funniest thing happened. Jim of Honah Lee and I were trying to take those silly “self-portraits” that everyone takes and were failing miserably. Finally, Mike grabs my camera and says, “You’re doing it all wrong” and points the camera at our direction and takes a shot of the three of us. Thank you, Mike. Much appreciated and hella funny! What I love about the shot is that Jim and I look like crazed fans (wait! we are!) with Jim groping over Mike in a little bassist-to-bassist love and me trying to get my mug next to Mike’s. The look on his face is classic and hysterical. I love you, Mike. Thanks!
Other than that, what happens in the basement of Don Hill’s stays in the basement. Don’t worry, all that happened was another night of beer drinking and shit talking. Good times! After the downing of many free beers (thank you, thank you!) the Hot Tubs were ready to rock and we left them to hustle up to the dance floor for the show.
I made my way back toward the front to where Michelle was standing and a newly-made Green Day fan acquaintance, Nicole and her husband. The excitement in the room was palpable. There was a lighthearted buzz as the Foxies were about to make their NYC debut. The band came marching on, the Rev in his slowly evaporating and torn signature jacket, carrying his alligator head on a stick through the crowd. He kept asking, “How many people want to dance tonight?” and everyone in the joint let out screams of enthusiasm (Video here, front view here). The guitar notes of “Stop, Drop, and Roll” started, Tre’s drums pumped in, the first “Wooaahh” went out, everyone jumped the joint, the beer went flying, and the first of many, many stage divers flung themselves into the crowd. From there, it was a non-stop dance party for the next two or so hours.
The band went on to play “Stop, Drop and Roll” about eight times throughout the night, and we were treated to a brand new song, called “It’s Fuck Time”… six or seven times. Everyone in the audience learned the words to this simple song’s lyrics, heavy breathing, and chorus within … oh… three or four times of it ever being played in front of a live audience. It’s a shocking song, very straight forward, to say the least, and reminds me a bit of that other band, The Network, in its tone. I’ll always remember The Rev throwing himself off the stage and being handed over the crowd and then hanging upside down from a water pipe. Sigh. (Later on in the night, my crazy Crockett friend Brasesco (and awesome Cobra bus driver!) would do the same thing, but he crawled along the pipe from the back of Don Hill’s to the front of the venue until he was told to get down by security. See the Youtube clip for “Supermodel Robot” below to see him go!)
It’s Fuck Time Chorus
Aahhh, aahhh, aahhh
Oh baby baby, it’s fuck time
You know I really wanna make you mine
Oh baby baby, it’s fuck time
Do you wanna stay, yeah
When you look into my eyes
I wanna hold you ’til I’m paralyzed
“It’s Fuck Time” by the Foxboro Hot Tubs. Don Hill’s, 4/23/10. Video by xGeneralsX.
During the FBHT song, “Broadway,” Twitch invited folks to dance with him and about 30 people climbed onstage, including Baby Cobra and Lady Cobra, who then led the crowd in a rousing chorus of “El Camino.” I tried to get onstage to dance as well, but I’ve never had good luck with these things. Back in the 80s at a Eurythmics concert, the audience was invited onstage, and the moment I got there, was the moment that they began throwing people offstage, including me. I fell into the pit and landed on the floor and literally didn’t know which was way up. Luckily this time, I found myself actually sitting on stage, almost underneath Mike and squished between a monitor and a girl and her boyfriend who were pinned to the stage. Needless to say, I was in a better position than they were, but not by much.
Broadway (FBHT)/El Camino (MKOTC) – Don Hill’s, 4/23/10
A little after “El Camino” the band took requests and did a sweaty rendition of “Earth Angel .” Chino Cobra climbed onstage at some point and started to play Jason Freese’s keyboards, trying to get The Rev to sing “Teenagers from Mars.” At one point Chino took Kevin Preston’s guitar and tried to play. Billie Joe lured him in by pouring a beer down his throat, which distracted Chino long enough so that one of the band’s security guards could deftly take the guitar away and lead him offstage. Chino’s the man! Beer is always the distraction!
The band did other great cover songs, including The Network’s “Supermodel Robots ” and Green Day’s “Blood, Sex, and Booze ” and “St. Jimmy ” (with Chino, the Man, attempting to sing along with Jason Freese). After seeing Tony Vincent and John Gallagher, Jr., do “St. Jimmy” together so many times over the past month prior to this show (and a fine job they do with it, too), I was delighted to be a witness to the power of “St. Jimmy” in such a small space. I remember when I first saw Green Day do this song last year in Albany, and Billie Joe went a bit crazy onstage (the cast of American Idiot attended the Albany show). I was astounded by the way he throws himself into the song, and this night was no different. The crowd went as crazy as he did. And yes, he did fling that girl from the stage into the audience. Heh. Girl, you were lucky you had a crowd that didn’t let you fall to the ground like I did at the Eurythmics show. Yep.
It was just about now that my legs, bent underneath me, were losing all feeling. Hmm. Again, I was in a better position than the girl next to me, as she had managed to pull her legs up onto the stage, but it wasn’t comfortable for her. The Rev asked for a cigarette, and we tried to find one for him. Her boyfriend, who I saw at the American Idiot soundcheck, said, “he doesn’t smoke.” I was like, OK, and helped find a cigarette for Billie Joe. By the time a slim, lit Capri, came my way, stage right had already gotten a cigarette to Billie Joe. So I took the Capri for a moment and smoked it. Not for long, though. My lungs, at that point, needed all the air that they could get. (Smoking is bad for you kids, don’t start!)
At some point, I kept trying to stretch my leg out, but the only place to go was over the monitor, and I didn’t want to interrupt the sound to the band, so I didn’t drape my now dying-log leg over the monitor. I had on burgundy Chucks. The band started to play The Clash’s “I Fought the Law,” and just for a moment, I let my leg hang over the monitor. Billie Joe came over and pulled my leg. There was no way I was going up that way, dragged over the monitor, so I held out my arm, he grabbed it, and the girl’s boyfriend (sorry, I wish I knew your names!) helped me get up. Thank you! We (or I), danced like mad people. After the dance, Billie Joe turned to the audience and I didn’t know what to do. So I comically went to the left and then to the right, and then Eddie the security dude pointed outward, toward the audience. I was like, what the heck! My first stage dive! (The Eurythmics one does not count.) And it was brilliant. Lol. Tony thought that The Rev was waiting to dance with me again toward the end, but I was gone. I don’t know about that. All I was thinking was, “OK. Time to go now.”
Uh, Yahoo! Now, which way is off?
“I Fought the Law” – Foxboro Hot Tubs, Don Hill’s
I was surfed off toward the bar area, and landed not far from Nicole Gary, her husband, Michael, and Chickenman. It was good to see them! Nicole’s awesome husband bought tickets on his lunch break without telling her until later and Chickenman was having a blast, on his best behavior. I was happy, but a bit crazed, and while the FBHT were still onstage, I went downstairs for a moment to get some air and water. The smooth and sexy MKOTC keybordist, Trell, last seen wildly dancing at one point on the floor, was downstairs, drenched and happy. There was sweat everywhere. I drank a bit of beer, and went back upstairs. I walked up just as The Rev was communing with a silver-painted skull. OK, it had become THAT point of the night.
The show was over soon after. But not until after one last “It’s Fuck Time.” I think.
And with that, I don’t remember much else. The night ended long after that. Somewhere. But I really don’t remember that either.
I do remember everyone singing “Happy Birthday” to a great guy, Stef!
The next day was a travel day for Honah Lee and the Cobras. I went home, though I should have just brought my stuff and headed to Jersey like I had planned, but I was exhausted and needed my own bed. I ended up in Trenton the next day, hanging with the Party! Party! Party! Tour at the Millhill Basement in Trenton. Sigh. Great night in Jersey.
Sunday would find me back in Manhattan, at a little (literally) place called the Bowery Electric. FBHT II with friends. A different sort of night than Don Hill’s, but just as great. I hope to write about that over the weekend and maybe touch on some controversy about the Don Hill show, but I’ve yet to decide on whether to do that latter part as of now. The next post will be shorter. I promise. Haha.
One more thing. The amazing rock photographer, Bob Gruen was at both shows. He’s only posted one photo so far, on his Facebook page. I am wont to actually post it here, but it’s brilliant. I can’t wait to see his other shots from both of these shows.
Hmm. That wasn’t as long-winded as I thought it would be.
Here’s a Playbill Review of the show:
Friday’s show at Don Hill’s (review at Playbill here)
Read about Night Two here