Tag Archives: Honah Lee

I Heart Honah Lee: “Life Won’t Let Me,” Asbury Lanes, NJ and the Charleston, Brooklyn 2011

I began writing this back in June 2011, after Honah Lee had their CD release party at Asbury Lanes this past summer. I got stuck in a writing slump for a number of reasons, but I’ve jump started a little in the last week due to some extreme Green Day fan weirdness, which I will have to relate one of these days. Sigh. But, as I love Honah Lee to bits and pieces, I wanted to finish this post off before I wrote anything else. I said awhile ago that I would, and so I am. <143

Honah Lee Release Party Flyer - Asbury Lanes, Asbury, NJ - June 17th, 2011 -- All Honah Lee posters by Anthony Catanese

I haven’t been up to writing lately. For those of you who visit Green Day Mind for new stuff on Green Day and the band’s side projects, other bands and musical adventures, sorry that I’m lame. Several issues and incidents including a health concern overwhelmed me these last months and American Idiot’s closing here in New York wiped me out! I’ll write about the end of American Idiot… one of these days, as Pink Floyd would say. It was a slightly traumatic day, and no, not because the show closed, but that certainly is a part of the story. It was blazingly hot that last day of American Idiot on Broadway in NYC, April 24th, 2011. The temperature one day was freezing, and the next day, “ho as hell.” I got dehydrated and fainted across the street from the St. James, in front of the Phantom of the Opera, and had to go to the hospital by ambulance where I got seven stitches in the emergency room because I smashed my head on the sidewalk, thereby prompting me to miss the matinee. When I came to, I swore that someone had walked by and randomly curbed me! Um… not so good times. I made it back to the evening performance of the final show and subsequent concert, but the day wasn’t as fun as it should have been. Thanks forever to David and Jaymee and Val who helped me that day. I will be forever grateful. (And sorry about all that blood on the hoodie…)

That head-meeting-sidewalk incident came two months after getting a black eye at the last Frustrators show that I attended at the Phenomenauts’ Command Center in February 2011. Both incidents knocked my mojo out of whack, and were a little embarrassing. Not only did I need to heal from the head injuries but I also had a scare about my thyroid (yay for no cancer!) and for me, it takes some time to heal from acute embarrassment! Some say it’s only rocknroll, but there is that part of me that says, “What the fuck, rocknroll?” There’s more to the story, but I’ll have to save that tale for one of these days, again, as Pink Floyd would say.

Speaking of Pink Floyd, did you catch Roger Waters and David Gilmour’s performance earlier this year of Floyd’s classic, “Comfortably Numb,” when Waters toured Pink Floyd in London? It was my theme song for a bit this year, and if you haven’t seen the performance, you should! Rogers and Gilmour rarely perform together and may never do it again. “Comfortably Numb” is one of my favorite all-time songs and the album it derives from, The Wall, is both a classic LP and one of the best adaptations of a rock-record-turned-musical-movie ever made. I saw Pink Floyd back in the 1980s at Nassau Coliseum and God was in attendance at the show. Or, at least, I think I saw him.

“Comfortably Numb” – Pink Floyd with Roger Waters and David Gilmour – O2, London, May 2011

Luckily while recovering from my head injuries and acute embarrassment, Bobby Joe Ebola and the Children MacNuggits came through town twice–once for a show at Lulu’s in Brooklyn on June 7th–and then later in September for a crazy successful show put together by Mike CM (or Chickenman) at Tommy’s Tavern in Brooklyn that included acoustic sets by Bobby Joe, solo gigs by Mikey Erg and Franz Nikolay and PEOP’s Fly, and bands Devastation Wagon and Bobby Joe’s tour mates from out West, the merry men of Sherwood Forest, Tornado Rider, complete with cello as stringed guitar. It was a great night, though it would have been nice if Mike had been at his own show. Alas, he had some issues and fell off of the planet for a bit. He’s on the mend now and I’m hoping for more shows from him if he wants to still do it. Mike seriously knows music and the eclectic lineup he put together at Tommy’s oddly worked and was ripping fun.

I’ve seen a bunch of bands in addition to Bobby Joe and Honah Lee since the end of American Idiot including Social Distortion at the Stone Pony in Asbury, NJ, the Foo Fighters, the Pogues, Fucked Up!, The Cro-Mags, Dear Landlord, the Dopamines, Against Me!, Dengue Fever, TV on the Radio, Fishbone, Frank Turner, Andrew Jackson Jihad, Screaming Females, Japanther, Girl in a Coma, White Wives, Declan Bennett, the Atom Age, and three boys from American Idiot making their currently nameless band debut, in Manhattan and Brooklyn. I also caught a Halloween show put on by a little band called Green Day in a little room in Manhattan called Webster Hall Studio. I went to Baltimore’s Insubordination Fest in August and saw a ton of great bands there, and witnessed Emily’s Army’s debut on the Insub Pop Punk Circuit. They put on a great show and taught those mean old pop punkers a few lessons on how to pop punk it. All of these bands helped with the mojo, but seeing Honah Lee regularly throughout the year injected me with doses of irreverent Jersey, sorta like a Jersey form of B12 or something, shot in the butt. Or something.

I’ve seen Honah Lee ten or more times this year (yes, I know, there’s something wrong with me), including Asbury Lanes on June 17th, a few of their other shows at the Mill Hill in Trenton, the Court Tavern in New Brunswick, the Loop Lounge in Patterson, and twin nights at the little basement venue of Williamsburg’s Charleston Bar on Bedford Avenue in Brooklyn. I traveled to Jersey to celebrate my birthday in March with these twerps, but of course they went on last at 1:00am and I had to catch a 1:27am train back to Brooklyn. I heard three songs and missed my birthday toast. Boo. In other words, I heart Honah Lee. I mean, how can you not heart these four crazily demented, but lovable, faces?

WE ARE BOLDLY GOING NOWHERE FOLLOWING A DREAM, AND PROUD OF BEING NOTHING IN THIS BROKEN MUSIC SCENE

Honah Lee (Tim Hoh, Jim Graz, Joseph Wolstenholme and Anthony Catanese) is a catchy, fun, loud, live band. Tim’s nasally-thin trumpet of a lead voice combined with Dim’s rock guitar licks and Jim’s bass and Tony G.’s drum rhythm section is a steady groovemaker when they get to revving and in Tim’s case, roaring. “Gimme something with a badass tempo” says their song, Bobby’s Dead, and I agree. I’m quite fond of the way these guys roll out their backbeat. I always expect to scream out some lyrics whenever I see the guys, as I’m fueled by that deceptive and steady rhythm just below the surface and lyrics that touch basic human chords: the futility of trying, even if you can’t give up; desires noted but not acted on; “don’t be me, cause I ain’t shit,” and whatever other rage within that needs tempering by a cheery attitude of desperate fun. It’s a little cathartic.

In general, “Honah Lee’s” songs are rhythms and lyrics that most listeners will embrace on the spot. If I still had my meaningless job at that publishing company, I would have blasted ‘I Hate My Job’ each and every day on my way to work. The song is almost a rallying anthem in which the masses can unite, but ultimately as Tim shouts ‘You gotta do it if you wanna get paid’. “Honah Lee” sings about what is universal. These guys would have been writing songs about girls ten years ago. Now, they write about the monotony of work and the general ambivalence that we all feel towards life at times.The Real Musician – Review of Honah Lee/The Plurals Split EP, “Lick It.”

Honah Lee, First show at the Charleston, Sometime 2011

we play along like there’s nothing wrong, yea, we make it look so fucking fun… don’t. be. me… cause I ain’t shit”

Don’t Be Me

Honah Lee - Loop Lounge

It’s neat to see Honah Lee’s audiences grow since that epic show at Don Hill’s back in February 2010 when Honah Lee and the Mystic Knights of the Cobra opened for the Foxboro Hot Tubs and only a handful of people in the room knew their name. Prior to and since that show, they’ve consistently built an audience and constantly play gigs all over New Jersey and surrounding areas. It’s even more neat hearing audiences sing along with them.

Honah Lee / Bobby Joe Ebola

Honah Lee’s twin shows at Brooklyn’s tiny basement venue, the Charleston–about the size of Trenton’s Mill Hill–in the heart of Williamsburg, USA have been laid back and relaxing, whether hanging on the Charleston’s comfy outdoor seating, inside at the long bar, or downstairs in the basement music venue. The Charleston’s small performance space is outfitted with an outsized speaker system that can blowout musicians and audience alike. At that first show, Tim knocked his beer over during the first song. It puddled at the band’s feet and leaked through the holes in his shoes. The crowd was small, but the band gave it their all and won them over, despite the crappy sound and loss of beer. I was happy that they were playing in Brooklyn and the crowd had a good time. What more do you need?

I was wondering… what you gonna do, what you gonna do? Can I hang out with you, say I can hang out with? … I don’t want to know what’s on your mind… there’s just nothing to do

I Was Wondering

Honah Lee / Statues of Liberty

This second time around at the Charleston on Friday, 12/3/2011, the band’s sound was clearer and cleaner, no beer was spilled, the crowd was thicker, and most of them were there to see Honah Lee, which is pretty great since it’s only their sixth or seventh time playing in Manhattan and Brooklyn, including that epic show at Don Hill’s. Nicole M-W and her husband Anthony J-M-W (who I saw perform as lead singer in a smoking-hot Rage Against the Machine tribute band earlier this summer) and Cathryn, who I’ve met on fleeting occasions during the stage production of American Idiot, were there, along with some of Honah Lee’s New Jersey friends and New York fans. Not The Bees!, a New Jersey band that tours on the local circuit with Honah Lee (one of four bands on the Charleston bill) filled out the front area of the audience, so there were more than a few people who knew the songs. Probably the best moment came during Honah Lee’s song, Leave It To My Goddamn Brain, when Tim admonished his lyrical antagonist to… well, “fuck you”… with the crowd answering in support built on a steady uptempo beat, ending in a shared chorus and accompanied by their best middle finger salutes.

Honah Lee / Sports Bar / Atom Age

Nothing will beat the Honah Lee CD release party sing-a-long at Asbury Lanes back in June, though, except maybe the day when I see them play larger rooms. Why? Because almost everyone knew the lyrics to their songs and were more than willing to scream them back in abandon at the band, egged on by the driving rhythm section and teased by rock riffs. I can honestly say that this night was a highlight of my entire summer, and the gritty splender of the Lanes and beautiful Asbury Park made a perfect backdrop for exercising some demons. Good times, good people, good screaming.

The Queers / Honah Lee

I’d only been to Asbury Park one other time, a quick trip to catch Social Distortion’s show at the Stone Pony earlier in May 2011. This time around, my friend Liz and I rented a room at the Asbury Berkeley and ended up in a beautiful suite on the quiet, i.e., non-Honah Lee-staying, side of the hotel. We had an expansive view of a never-ending crystal blue Atlantic Ocean and the restored Asbury Park Pavilion. We got to town around 6:00, explored the Boardwalk, marveled at the ocean and the architecture, went back to the hotel for a minute and then off to Asbury Lanes.

Honah Lee / Cryptkeeper 5

Asbury Lanes is a bowling alley turned band venue, with a stage nested in the lanes, a solid sound system and ample dance floor. The Plurals, an outstanding trio from Lansing, Michigan, was on the bill that night, with Lakeside Drive, Radio Exiles and Communication Redlight. Honah Lee went on last with a full audience of hardcore HL fans, friends, and family who knew almost every damn word to the songs. The resultant (slightly intoxicated) singalong ended ultimately in audience members storming the stage as someone ran by in a taco costume. Or was that a hot dog costume? I don’t remember.

“Coca cola drives me crazy. Sex and cigarettes all night. I’m a liar like, a priest, the messiah, I’m insane.”

Sex N’Cigarettes

Honah Lee / The Plurals

Honah Lee’s simple, heartfelt lyrics and chords are tinged with touches of irony and a little ennui; simple, singable choruses invite the audience to “scream it out” with them. (Although Tony, the curmudgeonly drummer, says he hates it when the audience sings along. I don’t know if he’s serious, he hates everything.) I know a few people who don’t like Honah Lee, comparing them to Weezer and such (as if that’s a bad thing), but I just don’t get it.  Weezer is certainly an influence, but so is Screeching Weasel. In fact, Honah Lee has a song coming out soon in Ben Weasel’s defense. Pop-punkers tend to dismiss them for one reason or another, and that’s their prerogative. Whatever the reasons, Honah Lee may not move mountains, but it was way neat seeing them move the V.F.W. audience in Somewhere, New Jersey this summer, cause when Honah Lee gets into a groove, their melodies flow well and Tony keeps a badass tempo behind guitarists Tim and Dim, and bassist Jim rips some deep, moving basslines. Tim encourages the room to drink (anything), always raises his glass in a toast to the audience, and off they run. Looking at that room of people in Asbury was amazing, as the crowd sang with the band, and more than a few antics broke out. They have a solid rapport with their audience.

Fuck responsibility, I don’t want to do a goddamn thing, but sit on my ass, and watch tv, drink some beers, and smoke some weed… LIFE WON’T LET ME… YOU WON’T LET ME… TIME WON’T LET ME… AND LIFE… WON’T… LET… ME…” -

-Life Won’t Let Me

Honah Lee / Beardo the Man

Honah Lee work their asses off playing music, promoting their shows with well-crafted flyers, booking gigs, recording tracks, criss crossing New Jersey, Pennsylvania, New York, Michigan, Ohio, and other States to play. Yea, they may be strange, but it warms my heart to see a group of guys work hard despite the odds by “BOLDLY FOLLOWING A DREAM GOING NOWHERE,” even in the face of this “BROKEN MUSIC SCENE.” I’m hoping that one day they’ll be as big as Bieber… haha, I kid… but I would like to see a whole mess of folks in an audience screaming their lyrics back at them in a mad dance. I’m not sure how big a “mess of folks” would be, but the moment itself will be a solid, fun time of musically shared zeitgeist, some antics, and a beer or two.

I’ve lost my heart I’ve lost my soul I lost myself in the…. rock and roll….

Loss for Words

-

Fifteen Years of Tim Hoh

On a slightly sad note, after seeing the band off from their Charleston gig on Friday, the boys made it back to New Jersey, and the next day, the band and their lovely wives, fiancees, and girlfriends all went to their friend’s wedding. Everyone had a mirthful time celebrating the nuptials. Towards the end of the night, Tim, who has been known to go off and take a leak in the woods, found himself off the side of a cliff instead of an expanse of soft, dewey, grass, and hurt his back in the subsequent 12-foot drop. He has to stay off his feet for a little bit, and according to their Facebook, the band will have to cancel a few shows in the next weeks, but hope to be back before the end of the month.

Next time Tim, go to the men’s room.

You can hear the album, Life Won’t Let Me, on their Soundcloud.

All Honah Lee flyers courtesy of Anthony Catanese. More flyers here.

Photo of Honah Lee from album, Life Won’t Let Me by Michelle Lawlor

“Bobby’s Dead” – Honah Lee at Asbury, June 17, 2011

*Filmed by me, not a videographer…

“Gimme something with a badass tempo… gimme something that will stick in my head… gimme something with some real emotion… ya give me something so I know I’m not dead…”–Bobby’s Dead

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What I Heard: Nov. 6th-Nov. 15th, 2010

It’s another week of  life and I was lucky to see a couple of shows of the music variety from November 6th-15th, 2010. Earlier last week, I watched a lot of teevee. I was recovering from the Halloween weekend of Japanther and World/Inferno Friendship Society and the harder I dance, the longer the recovery. I wish I could tell you about some great teevee show that I watched, but, I can’t remember what I watched. I know I watched the Amazing Race, since I’m a stalwart fan of that show, one of the few reality shows that I watch. For three weeks running I missed the Zombie-laden American Movie Channel adaptation of the Walking Dead and I probably won’t bother to catch up with it now.

The boring but restful week of unmemorable teevee gave way to a nice weekend of visiting local Lower East Side music venues around the corner from each other, Arlene’s Grocery on Rivington and Rockwood Music Hall on Allen near Houston. The surrounding area tends to be a bit trendy these days since the Hotel on Rivington opened up a few years ago on Rivington near Delancey, as well as the fancy Schiller’s, on Rivington a block east of Delancey, and the Essex Street Market reinvented itself from a chaotic neighborhood market selling live chickens to an upscale market selling organic rabe and pricey restaurants.

I don’t venture much into the general area since the tiny Todo Con Nada (or just Nada) Theater on Ludlow Street closed eons ago. I practically lived in theaters within this three-block area back in the late 80s and 90s, when storefronts were cheap and production values for Off-Off-Broadway theater were none to minimal. Need a barn for a play? This area had it for you: Surf Reality, the Present Company, House of Candles, and the late-comer, the Piano Room, were venues that fueled my need for the craziest theater possible. The Neo-Futurist’s long-running and successful improv show, “Too Much Light Makes the Baby Go Blind (30 plays in 60 minutes), made their New York expansion from Chicago to NADA when they arrived in NYC in 1995. The little theaters are gone now. I actually saw a Ferrari parked on Allen Street a few weeks ago, and while waiting for Honah Lee to go on at Arlene’s Grocery, there must have been at least 60 mini-skirts walking on 120 6-inch heels, and even a fine looking dude in a silken bikini bottom and leather jacket. It took us a little bit of time to realize the lady was a guy, but she was hot nonetheless.

This is New York’s famed Lower East Side. It’s come a long way from the days of McGurk’s Suicide Bar from the 19th-century to today’s trendy, night-cluby, scene.

Honah Lee, Beardo the Man and The Ladrenos – Arlene’s Grocery, NYC

I hadn’t seen the tweeps from Honah Lee (Tim, Jim, Dim, and Tony) play since last April, when they were on the Party! Party! Party! Tour with the Mystic Knights of the Cobra, and both somehow ended up opening for the Foxboro Hot Tubs. They don’t live that far from me, in Trenton, NJ, about 90 minutes away by train. I don’t have a car and the train fare went up to $30 R/T from New York’s Penn Station. No matter what the fun on the other end of the train line, $30 to Jersey, Trenton, New Jersey, no less, is steep. The last time that Honah Lee played at Arlene’s in Manhattan back in the summer, Green Day played the same night at Holmdel in New Jersey, so I missed the fellows back in August. There was no way I was going to miss them again.

Honah Lee at Arlene's Grocery

Honah Lee may not be the most musically-accomplished band, but who needs a band like that anyway? They are completely earnest, raw, loud and unpolished with catchy, screamable lyrics, a steady beat and crazy stupid-fun. When I see Honah Lee, I can’t sit still and I just want to dance. They love to play music, get people drunk, and have a good time, too. Really, what more do you need? Something strange and unexpected always seems to happen when I see these guys play.

The night started out well enough. The band room venue for Arlene’s Grocery is a large, black box space, and when you walk in, you can immediately feel the circulating air conditioning system, which is fabulous. In an odd way, though, the mixing of air conditioning with beer and bodies can leave a strange smell in the air. Add to that equation a human super-vomiter, and you have yourself an air problem. Two songs into Honah Lee’s set, some dude near the bar let out a Monty Python-“It’s waffer-thin” stream of voluminous vomit that filled the room not only with the smell of air conditioning, beer and bodies, but also with the overwhelming smell of vomit. The stream cleared the right side of the room, and the smell cleared the dance floor. It’s not unusual for beer-induced vomiting to take place at a Honah Lee show, but it’s usually the band doing the vomiting, or at least something super crazy. Honah Lee is a bit unpredictable with a sense that the unexpected can happen, and it usually does. Unfortunately for me, I couldn’t overcome my gag reflex to the unexpected river of vomit no matter how much I tried, and I had to go outside for a bit to catch my breath.

Nonetheless, the show was fun and once I came back inside and the air conditioning broke through the smell and a mop and bucket appeared, all was well again. Honah Lee didn’t even notice the vomit, and played a good 45-minute set including “Loss for Words,” “Bobby’s Dead,” “Happy Birthday Dad I’m in Jail,” “53rd and 3rd,” “Life Won’t Let Me,” “You’re Too Much,” “I Hate My Job,” “Leave Them Girls Alone,” “Californibation,” “Gun,” “I was Wonderin'” and “Sex and Cigarettes.” Most of the songs they played are new, but three songs are included in their eight-song CD, I Want It All, “Loss for Words,” “Gun,” and my favorite Honah Lee song, “I Was Wondering.”  The video to their single, “I Hate My Job,” can be seen on YouTube.

Honah Lee – “Gun” from I Want It All - Arlene’s Grocery, NYC 11/13/10

Beardo the Man

Beardo the Man went on before Honah Lee, and I have to say, I found them funny for a little bit. Their schtick is 90s Long Island/Jersey mega-group complete with Korg synthesizer and ironic terry-stretch head- and wrist bands. They were musically pretty good. Of the three bands, they had the more polished sound, and certainly projected a definite bravado, and they drew a crowd. I listened to four or five songs, the first of which was a new one called “Desperate Bitches.” I can’t quite remember the words, but the chorus pretty much had the words “desperate bitches want to go out with me.”

Beardo the Man CD Liner - At least I got a free CD! - Click for song titles

I caught a few more of their songs before the ironic misogyny got a bit too… ironic, though they did do a fabulous cover of Paula Abdul’s “Straight Up,” and I enjoyed their song, “Everybody’s Jealous of My Bike!” and “I’m a Dancer.” But after “Don’t Touch That Girl” and “I Love Kids! (in da butt),” I left and went outside to hang with Honah Lee.

The Ladrenos at Arlene's Grocery

The Ladrenos (their Myspace is new and without songs) came on after Honah Lee. I wasn’t going to stay until I saw them break out a trumpet and a trombone. I’ve mentioned before how much I love brass in punk and ska, and the Ladrenos are Latino-laced pop-ska. Since seeing La Plebe at Hoodstock in Oakland back in September and making an effort to listen to Latino punk bands during Green Day’s tour through South and Central America, I decided to stay, even if they were having technical difficulties with their guitar setup, which took overly long. They finally got it together, and impressed me enough that I stayed for a few songs. While promising, the songs, as my friend that I was with noted, “all started to sound the same.” The lyrics were in Spanish, and I only know bits and pieces of the language. I believe that they may be newly-formed and working out their set, and I’d like to see them again one of these days, particularly on a bill with other Latino-pop-punk-ska bands, though I have no idea where to find this kind of music in New York City. The band is from Queens, New York.

All-in-all, it was a good night of music and crazy adventures on the Lower East Side, and it’s always fabulous to see some of my favorite people on the planet, Honah Lee.

John Gallagher, Jr. – Rockwood Music Hall, Stage 2 – 11/14/10

The next night, Sunday, I ventured back onto the Lower East Side to see John Gallagher, Jr., who plays the lead role of Johnny in American Idiot. Gallagher is one of the nicest, most humble people and it’s obvious that he loves to sing and play music. Every time I’ve seen him perform at Rockwood, (the first time this past January before American Idiot opened and three times this summer), I’ve been struck by his relationship with his guitar, his music, and with the audience. It could all be a facade, but I really don’t think so. He’s a nice dude who has a song in his heart and plays a mean acoustic guitar.

His music resides on the folk-rock side, and at one of his shows, he stressed how much the musician John Prine means to him. Two times I’ve seen him as a solo performer, and twice with his friend on hollow body-guitar, Thad DeBrock, a guitarist from Spring Awakening. Gallagher formerly was in the band, Old Springs Pike, but starring roles in Spring Awakening and other television, film, and theater productions prompted him to leave the band. The band itself continues without Gallagher as Spring Standards.

Though I like my music mostly on the wild side, I do appreciate the quieter musical life. Gallagher’s shows are relaxing and his easy banter with the audience provides a good and easy laugh. His lyrics can be a little starry-eyed and grave, (“We’re all gonna die, so we better start to live; Just remember, no one’s gonna love you for being selfish” from the song, “Start to Live“), but he sings them with an intensity and sincerity that is contagious and from the heart. And did I mention how well he plays an acoustic guitar? Gallagher, Jr. is at Rockwood about once a month, you should go and see him if you can. The shows are free with a one drink minimum.

John Gallagher, Jr. – “Constance” – Rockwood Music Hall, 11/14/10 – (via @johngallagherjr and @onbonosback on Twitter)

John Gallagher, Jr. Setlist

Still Sixteen
No Scorn
Beautiful Inside
Two Fists Full
So Many Things
Close to the Cusp
Waiting at the Bus Stop
Start to Live
Three Out of Five Ain’t Good
Dead for a Year
Wurlitzer in Space
Mayday on Commerce Street
Constance

Thanks to Jaime, Vi, Michelle and John I. for help with filling in mental blanks, setlists and lyrics.

What I Wish I Could Have Heard

The Lawrence Arms: Knitting Factory, Brooklyn

My friend Jaime went to see the Lawrence Arms at the Knitting Factory, and when she tweeted about the show, I decided to check out the band. Since I’m a Johnny-come-lately, I had never heard of this Chicago-based band who has been around since 1999, but I do know that what I heard from their Myspace impressed me. I’ll have to check them out next time they come to town. Here is their official page, LawrenceArms.org and this is their MySpace page.

Pee-Wee Herman’s Big Adventure

I was going to briefly note that Pee-Wee Herman is on Broadway in a limited-run show until January 2nd, and I wanted to see it before it closes just after New Years. However, the little issue of tickets for the show stood in the way as I didn’t have money for them. Ask for what you want and ye shall receive! I rarely win anything, so I was surprised when I scored two tickets to see Pee-Wee Herman Broadway! I entered a Twitter contest for the theater blog, Steve On Broadway and I won tickets to the show. I’ll be seeing it the night before Thanksgiving, which should brightened an otherwise blah weekend. Though, I have to tell ya, that blah weekend will end with me seeing Star Fucking Hipsters at the Knitting Factory in Brooklyn on Sunday, Nov. 28. Now that’s a way to end the blah holiday blues.

If you are into theater and are on Twitter, you should follow @SteveOnBroadway. His Twitter feed is very good (besides the fact that I won tickets to the show) and he was recently included in a list of the “Top 100 Theater Tweeters” on BroadwayWorld.com.

That’s it for what I wish I had heard for the week of November 6th-15th. Check back next week when I report on Harry Potter and the Deathly Gallows (yea, ok, I’m a nerd, guilty as charged!), a strange night at the Museum of Modern Art with a female punk-new wave group from the 1970s, The Raincoats, and the crazy stupidity of not hearing a song from Jesse Malin featuring Green Day that was supposed to be heard three weeks ago. This coming week, I’m seeing Pee Wee on Broadway, and Star Fucking Hipsters, and if I can throw in some other music over the Thanksgiving Day week, I’ll try.

Don’t forget that the cast of American Idiot will be performing during the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade (yes, I know, ironic since Green Day has a depressing song called “Macy Day’s Parade”), which will be broadcast live on NBC starting at the crack of morning. More info on the parade can be found here. I won’t be going, but have fun to those who do!


These Lineups are Bad for Your Liver – Prima Donna with Mystic Knights of the Cobra (San Francisco Bay Area), Insubordination Fest (Baltimore) and Skatopia (Rutland, OH)

This past weekend I missed a bunch of things that were happening in New York and New Jersey. This coming weekend, I’m heading out to the San Francisco Bay Area to see Prima Donna with the Mystic Knights of the Cobra. The Insubordination Fest in Baltimore and the Skatopia Festival in Rutland, Oh are also taking place this weekend as well.

What I Missed Last Weekend

Lucky Seventeen Photography Display - Arts All Night 2010, Lawrenceville, NJ

Punk Island 2010 - Governors Island, NYC

Last weekend in New York, historic Governor’s Island in New York Harbor turned into “Punk Island” for the weekend. A bunch of local bands (LINK – BAND LIST) took over the former military installation and played loud and fast in the blazing sun for the entire day. I missed the event as I also missed Michelle Lawlor hanging out at the fabulous Arts All Night in Lawrenceville, NJ (here’s a review link via Michelle with examples of art works presented) as well as Honah Lee playing in a lineup at the Mill Hill Basement. Honah Lee is on a bit of a break after the Party! Party! Party! Tour, a mini-tour of the Mid-West, and gigs for the past two weekends. Tim, the lead singer and guitarist, is getting married this month! Congrats, Tim, and all the best to you!

I also missed the Queen of all Events, the Annual Mermaid Parade in Coney Island. This year’s King and Queen of the Parade were Lou Reed and Laurie Anderson. Visit the Mermaid Parade Flickr Pool for incredible photos from this year’s parade. UPDATE: Some of my friends, formally known as the “Andi Warholas” teamed up this year with the “Sandy Warhols” for Factory fun and mayhem on the beach. Check out some photos here and here

Three liver-damaging music events are happening on both coasts as well as in America’s heartland this weekend.

Prima Donna with the Mystic Knights of the Cobra – San Francisco Bay Area, June 25-28, 2010

Prima Donna and Mystic Knights of the Cobra in SantaCruz, June 25, 2010

If you are in the San Francisco Bay Area, check out the Mystic Knights of the Cobra and Prima Donna playing a four-show mini-tour. The bands will be making stops in Santa Cruz (with Luxury Sweets and SA90 at the Blue Lagoon, 6/25), Oakland (the Uptown 6/26), San Jose (Voodoo Lounge 6/27) and Sacramento (16th Street Cafe 6/28). I’ll be at two of the shows, and I can’t wait! More info on the gigs can be found at both MKOTC’s Myspace and Prima Donna’s Myspace pages.

Prima Donna is on a States-wide tour at the moment and will be playing New York City’s Bowery Electric on July 25, 2010. They’ll be touring the States until August 21st and then head off to Europe starting on September 30 until November 6, 2010. As Tre Cool said, Prima Donna are really big in Spain and Portugal (and all points in between). Don’t miss them here in the States and in Europe, too!

American Skate Skatopia 2010 – Rutland, Ohio, June 25-26, 2010

Punk Globe writer Lisa Booth sent out a reminder that Interpunk.com presents American Skate Skatopia 2010 in America’s Heartland on June 25th and 26th. Tickets may be purchased here. Fishbone AND Gwar! You cannot go wrong with those two bands alone.

Interpunk.com Present American Skate Skatopia 2010, Rutland, OH, 6/25 and 6/26, 2010

Insubordination Fest – Baltimore, MD, June 25-26, 2010

Closer to home here on the East Coast, this year’s Insubordination Fest is also taking place in Baltimore. Here’s the lineup for Friday, June 25th and the lineup on Saturday June 26th.

Insubordination Fest 2010 - Baltimore, June 25th and 26th, 2010

Any one of these three shows and festivals can kill your liver! Be kind to it and have a great time whatever you do this weekend.


Two Nights of Fuck Time with the Foxboro Hot Tubs, Night Two

Read about Night One here.

Party! Party! Party! Tour Last Stop: Trenton, 4/24/10

The Party's Over. Party! Tour Says Goodbye

Baby, Lady, Chinatown, Night Moves, Gryptron at Don Hill

The day after Friday’s Foxboro Hot Tubs, Honah Lee, and the Mystic Knights of the Cobra, gig at Don Hill’s in Manhattan, I scrambled to catch a train out to Trenton, to be picked up by Michelle. We headed to Honah Lee Tim’s backyard for a BBQ in the garage made into a bar (an awesome space for clandestine outdoor shows some day), and chilled out before heading to the MillHill Basement for the last stop on the Party! Tour. Honah Lee’s Jim, Dim, and Tony were there while most of the MKOTC had stayed in Manhattan except for Trell, who smartly went to Trenton after the Don Hill show to chill in “the country.” Everyone didn’t meet up again until we all arrived at the little basement venue in downtown Trenton, a room three times smaller than the Bowery Electric would turn out to be, with much lower ceilings.

Now That's a Low Ceiling! Millhill Basement, 4/24/10

Honah Lee's Tim Introduces the Cobras at Millhill. Photo by Rachel K.

It was bittersweet, this last show of two crazy “area” bands, Trenton, NJ and Crockett, CA. East Coast met West Coast and it was good.

As there was the wet of sweat everywhere from Friday’s show at Don Hill’s, Saturday brought the wet of rain from the miserable drizzle happening outside. Both bands were exhausted (four straight nights of playing and partying is hard to do, particularly when you open up for one of the biggest “secret” bands on the planet by the third night) and the smallness of the room, with a tighter, packed house of about 75, was suffocating. Honah Lee and the MKOTC took full advantage of the lack of room and air and the excess of wet, and were all up in the audience’s faces. Though both bands possess the ability to confront their audience, Friday’s extreme FBHT performance rubbed off on both of them. They threw themselves at the audience and the audience, a bit shocked, began throwing themselves back at ‘em. The rain kinda made the fact that the party was over, a bit sadder. At bar closing time, the Cobras headed to their hotel, and I went off with Honah Lee. After all, I am of the East Coast, and as always, I had to break myself away from the pull of the East Bay. Plus, the van was full.

Party Squirrel

The next morning, Michelle, Jim, and I went to the Cobra hotel for one more goodbye. Tim, last seen distraught on the sidewalk outside of Millhill, was way too hung over to attempt a goodbye, and Dim and Tony… who the heck knew where they were? With Bryan behind the wheel (he was the engine for the MKOTC, driving the van and wrangling the instruments) and some of the MKOTC having left earlier, I hitched a ride back to the City with the Cobras, and gave my return train ticket to photographer and music buddy, Michelle, who I hoped would go home, change, catch the next train to Manhattan, and come to the FBHT show with us for one last fling with friends. Unfortunately, that didn’t happen, and it was the final parting of the Party! Party! Party! East Coast Tour.

Pre-Sunday Show – 4/25/10

I dropped my stuff off and went to the venue. I was 60th in line. There are two reasons why I wanted to go to this show. Of course, FBHT was one of them. The other? I wanted to be with friends. Folks who had made each other’s acquaintance, in many shapes and forms and of all political persuasions, over a band. Sometimes it feels like a wonderfully dysfunctional family. And it’s always a hella good time.

Tre and his Bike. Photo by unknown photographer

The line was made up of the usual suspects and many new folks that I had never seen or met. Beth from Missouri (so happy she came back!) and J’net from Oklahoma (who had had a great week all around); Dawn showed up with baked goods (and yummy they were) though she couldn’t stay for the show; crazy sexy Zoe from Oregon with her British dude; Jaime (who provided me with food as I was broke and hadn’t really eaten yet and was feeling faint; the shot of J.D. that I had in line didn’t help either); Cheryl and her husband, and the vivacious ToniAnn, the latter three from the Island of Staten. Andres from the Green Day Authority had stuck around and was holding Dawn’s baked goods to give to the crew. (I would see them eating the delicious brownies later after the show.)

Foxboro Hot Tubs Bowery Electric ticket with morning after sake.

I stood in line from about 3:30 and they gave out tickets at 6:00 or so. It was rainy and cold and miserable outside. By the time 6:00 came around, I was exhausted and barely had energy to stand. Once the tickets were distributed, I went back to the Cobra hotel to hang out, dry off and sit down for a few hours before the show, maybe take a nap. I was close to collapse. By the time we walked back to the venue, I was running on fumes and needed to find a second wind somewhere. Or maybe a fourth by this time. I walked up with the Cobras, but they were on a list, and I was determined not to, at the least, look like, a hanger-on. I had my ticket in my hand and parted from them, walking up to Bill Schneider who was handling the guest list and I sorta proudly flashed my ticket up to him. “See, I have my ticket, baby,” I thought only to myself. Of course he had no idea that my brain had melted from over the last week between the American Idiot opening on B’way and the Party! Tour or at least he probably thought that I was just crazy from the look on my face. I’ve never spoken to him, and he didn’t seem in too good a mood at the start of the show. Probably a lot of stress managing two Foxboro Hot Tubs shows in three days. I can only imagine the logistical nightmare of it all.

Sunday Show – Foxboro Hot Tubs and Emily’s Army – Bowery Electric – 4/25/10

Tiny Space, Big Band. Photo by Bob Gruen

Sunday’s show at the Bowery Electric had a different feel to it from Friday’s more laid-back Don Hill experience. Whereas Friday seemed more lighthearted and giddy, Sunday’s gig seemed darker, grittier, drunker, and slightly more raw. (Then again, I realize that I don’t remember that much about it, except in chunks of drunk.)

(Read a review of Sunday’s Bowery Electric show at Rolling Stone here, though note that RS reported that FBHT did only one GD cover, “St. Jimmy,” when they actually did two, including “Blood, Sex and Booze” as well as “Supermodel Robots” by that crazy German electro-pop-insane band, The Network.)

The Bowery Electric is a split two-level basement site with a high bar rail separating and overlooking the deeper pit area of a floor and stage about the size of my old studio apartment in Brooklyn. Ok, maybe a teeny bit bigger. Sunday’s Foxboro Hot Tubs show was a semi-private party for the cast of American Idiot and friends of the band. One hundred fans were lucky to get tickets to this show, and probably 80 or so friends and family of the band were in attendance. (Larry Livermore, in his blog post on this show, said that there were “100 or so fanatical fans” in attendance. I’d like to say for the record, that we are “focused” not fanatical, thank you very much.) I have no idea how many people the place actually holds, and I avoided looking at the occupancy sign on the wall.

Clicky!: Emily's Army Widget

Sunday night introduced the band, Emily’s Army, to New York. Emily’s Army consists of Cole, Travis, Max, and Joey. (The band has a pretty cool Widget here.). One of the four members is Billie Joe Armstrong’s eldest son. If you don’t know which one he is, it’s time for you to find out. You’ll hear his name, as well as the names of his bandmates, in musical circles for years to come. You can view some YouTube videos of Emily’s Army at Gilman from last year. I’m not that familiar with the band, so you might want to go and read Larry Livermore’s blog posting about this show, which talks a bit more about their set. I liked them and their sound (and it was great to see the Armstrongs being proud parents, too), but they seemed so young to me that I felt a bit like a creepy old woman staring at teenagers and I had to walk away… but from what I saw, Joey is an already excellent drummer and Travis (lead singer and guitar), Cole (guitar), and Max (bass) are solid and have grown stronger since last year’s Gilman videos. With a few more years and experience, this band and its members may lead the next generation’s version of punk. Let’s hope so.

After Emily’s Army set, the 15-year olds were sent home to pats on the back and a “what’s up” here and there. It was now time for the “grownups” to tear the place up.

That second wind I mentioned earlier appeared after I was fueled by a shot of Jägermeister, a drink I hadn’t touched since the mid-1990s when I got so drunk on it, I threw up in neon green. There’s a reason why the Germans call it “liver glue.” As it swept down my throat I fully remembered why I hadn’t consumed it in years, it tastes like NyQuil, but it does the trick in an instant. One shot and you’ve come unglued. Two shots… well, I didn’t let it go that far. I let out a big whoop and felt as if I could move mountains on the dance floor. I would have to. The bar was packed to the gills, but not as tight as the dance floor that I would hit when the FBHT started to play.

John and Rachel.

Some cast members from American Idiot walked in about this time, including Michael Esper, Christina Sajous, Chase Peacock, Theo Stockman, and John Gallagher, Jr. Once again, the sweet and kind Mr. Gallagher shocked me when we ran into each other and he greeted me by name and we shared a teeny moment. Later in the night, we would share dance space during “A Quick One.”

Joan Jett, the Cobra Girls and Management.

During the break and after the Jägermeister, I could do just about anything, and that’s when Joan Jett walked up to near where I was standing with the Cobra Girls, Baby and Lady, along with the tour’s tougher-than-steel management, Rachel K. and Call Me Donna. I turned around, and Jett, who looked like she wanted to talk to the Cobra Girls, was a foot from me. I leaned toward her and said, “Joan Jett, the Cobra Girls would love to take a picture with you!” (I went cameraless this night, so Rachel K. gave me her camera and I clicked a few shots.) Jett said that she had heard about them and wanted to meet them. Needless to say, it was a nice moment. Here we were, in close proximity to a hot and legendary lady of rock ‘n roll. She is opening for Green Day during some of their European shows, including London’s Wembley Stadium. I have a ticket for the show, but I can’t afford a flight to England. Sigh. I saw Joan Jett open for the Police back in 1983, and she was booed by the stupid-assed Detroit crowd. I’ll never forget her walking off of the Cobo Arena stage (now Joe Louis Arena), but not before she said, “Fuck you, Detroit.” She became a heroine to me. I’d wanted to say that same thing to my hometown for years. I would love to see her again in a stadium full of people. Sometimes, though, luck runs out with the Lushie Gods. No Wembley to write about for me. :(

The Dark Side of Night with the Foxboro Hot Tubs

That setlist looks familiar! - Bowery Electric, 4/25/10

What can I say about this show that I can actually remember? Hmm. Not much. Once the Hot Tubs went on, the night became a complete blur of bodies and heat. I remember plowing to the dance floor with Bryan and Brasesco at the first strains of “Stop, Drop and Roll,” and jumping in sync with everyone around me. I was about two body rows away from the too-low stage at the Bowery Electric, which came to just under the kneecaps. Once you got toward that stage and the bodies behind you pushed forward, you could kiss your knees goodbye forever. Or at least until the bruises healed.

The Church of Lushotology was in session.

Two of Eight? Renditions of “Stop, Drop and Roll”

More Dark Side of Night… or what I can remember of it…

Adrienne Armstrong and Michael Mayer. Photo by Rachel K.

Theo in a boa. Photo by Rachel K.

Luckily, there are a few YouTube videos that have helped jogged my addled memory. Watching the limited video from this show on Youtube is a bit like clutching at dabs of manna from hell. When I look at them and see the brick walls of the club, packed with people and the tiny stage, I’m reminded that this party will be one of those that goes down in rock ‘n roll history. Small and intimate, packed with fan, friend, star, nobody, one on top of each and all going hog-wild in dancing and celebration. Sure, some folks like Adrienne and Michael Mayer, along with Joan Jett (I don’t think she came down into the pit, as I lost sight of her once I headed into it), stayed up by the rail, but I can’t really picture Michael Mayer crowdsurfing. I stayed with Bryan and Brasesco for a long while, and when the first “It’s Fuck Time” broke out, the pit went even wilder than I could imagine [Video]. Inhibitions were gone and it felt damned good. American Idiot cast members were flying left and right and hogging Billie Joe’s stage and he was loving it, until he finally told them that he loved them, but that they had to “get the fuck off of my stage.” No one stays on his stage for very long.

While Michael and Theo and John from American Idiot had some fine crowdsurfing moments, it was Steelthorne from the Green Day Community who wowed me with his surfing skills from the video below. I’ve never met Steelthorne, but we were both at last July’s (2009) Albany show (where I met Bryan and other Green Day Fans for the first time). Albany was my first real Green Day show. There’s a great Chris Dugan picture from either the Albany or Madison Square Garden shows of Steelthorne with a feather boa. Steelthorne gives Billie Joe some of the best boas. See him surf like a pro to “The Pedestrian.” Note also the expert beer exchange and how much The Rev seems to be enjoying it.

Steelthorne Surfs Like a Pro – “The Pedestrian” – Foxboro Hot Tubs, Bowery Electric, 4/25/10

Theo Surfs. Photo by Rachel K.

OMG! Photo by Bob Gruen

There is a picture that Bob Gruen took that I would love to buy and hang on my wall. I actually emailed his representative about licensing the photograph (goodness only knows how much that would be), but I haven’t heard back from them. Gruen has a thumbnail posted at his site, of Kevin Preston onstage undoing Billie Joe’s belt buckle with his teeth. The look on each individual face that can be seen captures the dynamic of the room as only a seasoned rock ‘n roll photographer such as Gruen can do. You can see me in the horde with a completely shocked OMG! face. I seriously don’t remember Kevin undoing The Rev’s pants. The only thing I remember is that I was so hot at this point that I had to walk off of the dance floor or spontaneously combust. You can make of that what you will.

Hot Pants. Photo by Rachel K.

It was Reverend Twitch’s red pants that caused the room temperature to go up many notches, surely.

When I walked off and back up toward the bar, I confronted a wall of people on the stairs, mesmerized by the stage.

Mesmerized

I somehow made my way through them, and folks were buzzing about Bill Murray having been there, but that he had left. I have no idea. I downed a few glasses of water and hit the pit again.

Chino and The Rev. Photo by Chris Dugan

The Cobra Men, Chino, Night Moves, and Gryptron, along with Bryan and Brasesco, had moved down into the pit front and were forming a tall and thick blockade on Jason Freese’s side of the stage. I couldn’t get near them, and found myself toward the middle of the pit, while Brasesco tried to get me closer to the front, but it wasn’t working. I motioned him to turn toward the stage. I was content on where I was. My knees had already been crushed against the stage front and I didn’t wish to replicate that particular pain. I turned toward my right and stared right into John’s face, who was screaming, “A Quick One!” “A Quick One!” Knowing that that song comes at the end of the show, I said to him, “They’ll play it, they’ll play it,” but I couldn’t get it out that if he requested it too soon and they played it, the show could abruptly end. It’s like yelling out “Minority” too early or “Good Riddance.” These songs signal the near end or end of a Green Day show, just as “A Quick One” symbolizes the end of an FBHT show. Sssshh! They’ll get to it. There were still a dozen more “Stop[s], Drop[s] and Roll[s]” and “It’s Fuck Time[s]” to go!

Probably the oddest of many odd moments from the night happened when a fan surfed onstage and called his wife. Apparently they had had a fight and the guy wanted Billie Joe to persuade her to come back to him. Unfortunately, they got her voicemail. Billie Joe said that it wouldn’t work out because he couldn’t talk to her, but that he had a beer for him (which appeared like a miracle out of nowhere), and a song called “Stop, Drop and Roll… and get the fuck off of my stage.” Poor guy. Well, at least they both tried.

Call My Estranged Wife… Please – FinksEntourage

Peanut Gallery. Photo by Rachel K.

Bob Gruen posted a surprising photograph of Billie Joe, who apparently re-chipped his front tooth sometime during the show (click to see at his site). Everyone who saw the photograph and had attended the show from the Green Day Community were shocked. When the hell did THAT happen? I remember the show being pretty wild, but I don’t remember blood dripping down Billie Joe’s face that one person mentioned on this topic. Sometime during the night, Christina Sajous from American Idiot was onstage and got kicked in the face by a roaming crowdsurfer. This I remember clearly as it seemed like it was a hard kick and looked like it hurt. The Rev pulled her back from the stage front and she watched the rest of the show from above the stage. Both of these incidents add a bit of special meaning to the screamed “I’m Alive” portion of the FBHT song, “Highway One.”

“I’M ALIVE!!!!” – Highway One – Foxboro Hot Tubs, Bowery Electric, 4/25/10 (Smshnpmpkn)

After “The Pedestrian,” the Hot Tubs did “Broadway” interspersed with a cover of the Mystic Knights of the Cobra’s “El Camino.” Gallagher and Stockman were onstage for most of the song, clearly smashed (like the great majority of everyone else in the room) and having a great time. Baby Cobra eventually made it onto the stage and helped with the “El Camino” chorus.

John, Theo, Baby Cobra, et al – “Broadway” / “El Camino” – Foxboro Hot Tubs / Mystic Knights of the Cobra – Bowery Electric, 4/25/10 (Smshnpmpkn)

The night began to wind down and it was time for the most mellow song of the night, Stop, Drop and Roll‘s “Dark Side of Night.” The Rev dedicated the song to Michael Mayer and gave a bit of a shout-out to New York City.

“New York City, Motherfucker!” – Dark Side of the Night – Foxboro Hot Tubs, Bowery Electric 4/25/10 (Smshnpmpkn)

Yeah I'm Rocking.

Sometime after the jazzy part of the night happened, came the final songs of the show, “St. Jimmy” and the moment that John Gallagher, Jr. had been waiting for… “A Quick One.” By this time it seemed everyone was holding each other up on the dance floor and the women in the front were begging people not to surf over them anymore. But still, there was an energy left in the room that sustained itself through the long and rambling “A Quick One.” John was so happy and it was fun to see him and everyone having the time of their lives. There is one YouTube video of “A Quick One,” but the sound goes in and out and it’s not that good, but that’s ok. Some things are better left to memory (or lack thereof). Just knowing that we were all there for a trip to the Dark Side is sometimes good enough.

At the end, The Rev said goodnight, dropped his mic on the ground and walked off. He and everyone else, were done.

And then it was over…

Josh and Rachael. Photo by Rachel K.

This party culminated a week of excitement that you can read about if you travel back through this blog. When I say that the week of April 19th-April 25th, 2010, spent over the opening of American Idiot on Broadway and the subsequent Party! Party! Party Tour and Foxboro Hot Tubs shows, was some of the best times of my life, it’s not hyperbole. It’s hard, cold fact. I’ve had great moments on the planet, but few can compare to this week of good performance, good music, good friends, good times.

As the Cobras would say, <143.

All Together Now. Don Hill's. Photo by Rachel K.


Two Nights of Fuck Time with the Foxboro Hot Tubs in New York City, Night One

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.*

Foxboro Hot Tubs at the Bowery Electric. Photo by Jen Maler.

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

Surfing with the Rev, Don Hill's, 4/23/10. Photo by XGeneralsX.

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.

Party! Party! Party! with the Mystic Knights of the Cobra and Honah Lee

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.

Memories of Party Mayhem

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.

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.

"I Hate My Job"

Tim and Tony

Jim and Tony

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.)

Click to Buy

Baby Cobra and Lady Cobra

Dirty Nasty and Call Me Donna Cobra

Chino Cobra and Night Moves Cobra

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!

Mike, Jim of Honah Lee and Me. Photo by M. Dirnt

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.

The Foxies are Ready to Rock... after just one more beer... Photo by GDM

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.

Laying on of Hands.

A relaxing position

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

Whoaaa

“It’s Fuck Time” by the Foxboro Hot Tubs. Don Hill’s, 4/23/10. Video by xGeneralsX.

El Camino! El El Camino! Photo by Kimberly Martin

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

Play "Teenagers from Mars!" Photo by xGeneralsX

Don't Touch Kevin's Guitar! Photo by xGeneralsX

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.

Stage Right Wins and Yes. He. Does. Photo by XGeneralsX

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!)

FBHT Setlist, Don Hill's. Photo by xGeneralsX

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

Skull and Sweat. Photo by Rafe Baron

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.

Long-winded epilogue

Happy Birthday Stef!

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!

Next stop: Trenton. Trell and Rachel

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.

Foxboro Hot Tubs by Bob Gruen

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


American Idiot On Broadway Preview and Opening Weeks

Green Day Over Broadway. Photo by Gavin Boyd, Rolling Stone

Four dates in the life of the Broadway baby called American Idiot stand out for me since seeing the show in Berkeley back in September: The invited Press and Fan Final Soundcheck on 3/23/10, the first preview on 3/24/10, opening night on 4/20/10 and the MTV Special Viewing that occurred on 4/22/10. Since I live in NYC, I had the great fortune of attending all of these special events. This post is a roundup of some of the goings on with the show this past month here in NYC.

Press and Fan Final Soundcheck 3/23/10

An unprecedented invited Press and Fan Final Soundcheck was announced through the Idiot Club and the American Idiot on Broadway Facebook page a few days before the show was to begin its first Broadway preview. The soundcheck press conference occurred in the middle of the day and I made arrangements with work to take a long lunch to go. I attempted to get a blogger press pass and wrote a professional letter to the show’s press agent, and included the name of one of my friends, a top NYC theater critic, who recommended that I write to them. Unfortunately, I wasn’t afforded the courtesy of a reply. At least when I asked at Berkeley, they very kindly sent me an email saying no. I don’t want to sound bitter, but I know that both the production company and press agent for AI have come to this blog. Some sort of reply would have been nice, but I’m not legitimate enough for the courtesy of a reply in New York City. I even mentioned to them how I appeared in the Daily News regarding the show. In fact, several Facebook friends asked me “what I did for the show” and one of them, a television producer who I’ve known since acting school also asked me. And yet… well… whatever. No reply at all. At least a no is a response.

Putting aside all of that, the final soundcheck was a magnificent day. We waited outside for the Idiot interns to check us in, and they recognized me from the American Idiot On Broadway Facebook page and said hello. After about an hour, I went across the street from the theater to wait for the band to show up to take pictures, and shortly thereafter, Green Day was driven up to the theater and deposited at the front doors. I managed to snap two shots of Billie Joe, Mike, and Tre coming into the theater. It was nice to see Mike for the first time with his blond hair, and Tre was carrying what seemed to be a drumstick case.

American Idiot Soundcheck Billie Joe and Tre, 3/23/10. Photo by Green Day Mind.

American Idiot Soundcheck Mike, 3/23/10. Photo by Green Day Mind.

After they moved into the theater, I went back across the street to wait with everyone, and eventually, the first fifty fans in line, who had been told that they were going to sit in the Orchestra seats, were let in first. About 10 minutes later, the remainder of the line was shepherded into the theater up to the Mezzanine. The folks who had been told that they were going to sit in the Orchestra were actually sitting in the Mezzanine with the rest of us. Official word was that there were too many people in the press corps in the Orchestra, and needless to say, the first fifty fans in line were disappointed. I have a feeling that they were afraid that people would try to rush the stage and attempt to get autographs from the band or cast, a very legitimate possibility.

We bitched and moaned with them for a few minutes, and then the lights started to go down and the sounds of the opening strains of the musical — news and television clips from the Iraq War era — began to play. The huge red velvet curtain slowly went up and the cast stood onstage with their backs toward the audience (a definite and effective change from the Berkeley show), all looking toward the 20 or so television screens embedded in Christine Jones’s excellent set design for the show. The guitar riff to “American Idiot” began, and the cast was off, singing the title song to the show.

American Idiot Sound - Tre Climbs in Bed, 3/23/10. Photo by Green Day Mind.

AI Cast Headbanging During "American Idiot" Soundcheck. Photo by Green Day Mind.

After the song, director Michael Mayer, Billie Joe Armstrong, Tre Cool, and Mike Dirnt walked onto the stage to loud claps from the crowd in the peanut gallery. Mayer spoke for a bit about the show and his inspiration and collaboration with Billie Joe on the book. Billie Joe spoke, then Mike, and Tre said something for a second. While Tre was talking, Mike and Billie climbed into the onstage bed prop, the cast piled on top of them, photo ops were had by all, and the event was over. I went back to work while the rest of the Green Day Community gang hung out and went to lunch. Green Day and the cast headed over to Sardi’s, a famous restaurant down the street from the St. James known for its Broadway clientele for more interviews with the “legitimate” press.

All in all (and despite my bitching), the press conference was a great way to start off the feverish run of American Idiot in New York City. The celebration lasted for a solid month and ended with a spectacular bang with good reviews, solid changes to the show, a special MTV showing with the band, hanging with old and new friends, and one of the best After Parties Ever — two appearances by the fabled Foxboro Hot Tubs (more on the latter in a later post).

APRED Clip of American Idiot Cast Singing “American Idiot” and Press Conference, 3/23/10

More of my pictures from the Press and Fan Soundcheck may be found here.

First Preview, 3/24/10

I didn’t intend to go to the first preview and hadn’t bought a ticket for that night. My first “official night” of seeing American Idiot was actually scheduled for 4/7/10,  but a bunch of Idiots had traveled from around the country to come into New York to see the show, and one of them, sadly, couldn’t bring her friend as planned because of her friend’s cancer treatment. She had an extra ticket so I offered to give her some cash for it (which I still have to do), with the proceeds going toward her friend’s cancer fund. The show at this point was in the working stages from the move from Berkeley to Broadway, and they were working kinks out and adjusting to the larger set and staging of the show. I was quite impressed with the changes in the choreography, the storyline, and the passion that I felt from the cast. Over the course of time from the first Preview to Opening Night, I saw the show three times (3/24; 3/27 and 4/7) and noticed that there were several changes and reworkings during that time until Opening Night and the MTV Special Viewing. (All together, between Berkeley and Broadway, I’ve seen the show seven times.)

Green Day, of course, was there that night, and it was a three-ring circus! Their wives and kids were in the audience and just before the curtain went up, Billie Joe’s bodyguard (a nice guy who I’ve spoken with a few times who does an excellent job of crowd control and protecting Billie Joe) brought him down to sit next to Adrienne. They were so damned cute together, too. I didn’t stare too much, being the nonchalant New Yorker that I am, ahem, but of course, a stare or two couldn’t be helped during the show. There was a palpable excitement and nervousness in the air as the audience, clearly in the show’s corner for an exciting time, was bouncing up and down in their seats in anticipation.

After the show, the circus continued outside. I’m not a fan of getting autographs or photos with famous people, so I just hung around outside until I could find the contingent of folks I had come to the show with. The sidewalk outside of the St. James was packed with people, and many folks had to stand in the street just to let people pass through. Of course, those of us standing in the street kept getting yelled at by cops and security to get out of the street. I would move along, put a foot on the sidewalk, and then head back into the street while people crowded the sidewalk.

Here’s a video link to the scene outside of the theater on the first preview.

Billie and Adrienne and Rebecca Running to Sardi's after the first preview. Photo by Green Day Mind.

American Idiot First Preview After Show Madhouse, 3/23/10. Photo by Green Day Mind.

Eventually, the cast started to roll out of the theater on their way back to Sardi’s for the preview after party. They were asked for autographs (you can see Stark Sands, “Tunny” being mobbed in the photograph below), and after it calmed down a bit more, probably 30 minutes or so after the show when some of the crowd had dispersed (but not by much), Tre kind of quietly walked out a side door to the restaurant first, followed later by Billie Joe, Adrienne, Rebecca Naomi Jones (Whatsername), Mike and Mike’s wife, Brittany. My friends and I went down to Sardis and stood outside for a bit, watching Tre stand in the window of Sardi’s looking down at the crowd. Girls were screaming up a storm, and I’ve got a bad reputation for telling them to shut up (sorry, I just hate screaming girls or boys, my bad), so after awhile, I got tired of the spectacle and headed back down to the theater. Tony Vincent came out and we said hello to each other (we met at Berkeley and spoke online during the Berkeley run), and eventually, John Gallagher, Jr. came out of the theater, after most of the crowd had dispersed or were at Sardi’s. John knows me by name (probably because I drunkenly told him at Rockwood that he needed to bring more of the angst and also from talking with him at the Character Approved Awards a few months ago), so it kind of shocked me that he remembered my name.

John Gallagher, Jr. at Rockwood, 1/18/10. Photo by Green Day Mind.

When I first saw the show at Berkeley, I wasn’t impressed with his performance, but then again, I had major issues at the time with the entire show. My biggest concern was that during the Berkeley run when I saw it, I didn’t see the seriousness of the material coming from him nor did I feel the depth of the character. I also say that off-Broadway runs and previews are the time for steeped criticism, particularly in regards to something one feels passionately about, and I’m a jaded theater person from back in the day. If everything is perfect at the beginning, there is no room for improvement. And shows and performances can always be improved. John steadily won me over, as I was pulling for him, particularly after I saw him perform his own material at his residency at Rockwood on the Lower East Side this past January. He’s a heartfelt kid, super-sweet, and a talented dude who obviously is in love with this show and the band. Watching him grow into the role of Johnny has been a pleasure and I give him all the kudos in the world for a brilliant and successful run. And I hope he gets a Tony nomination as well. American Idiot is one of the most bone-breaking shows I’ve seen on Broadway. These kids, led by Gallagher, throw themselves around that stage, and every night Gallagher leads the way. I’m sure it’s not easy.

My Wall Signature.

Once John went inside the restaurant, things got pretty tame outside of the St. James, but people were still bat-shit screaming in front of Sardi’s. The kids outside couldn’t get into the bar at Sardi’s, but since my friends and I are of age, we hung out in the bar at Sardi’s and talked with the bartender who has worked at Sardi’s for years, a real old skool New York character. Outside some of the kids were yelling up to the 2nd floor window asking that Billie make an appearance and show them his tattoos. He did, and then one girl screamed for him to sign her arm for a tattoo when he left the bar and he mimed that he would.

At some point during the night, I went upstairs to the bathroom, where the after party was taking place, and walked right into Brittany Dirnt. I didn’t say anything to her. Heck, what are you going to say to someone in the bathroom? When I walked out, Mike was on the phone near the bathroom and Gallagher was hanging out talking with people. I went back downstairs and chatted for a bit longer. I left at 12:30, but the others stayed until 1:00. I guess I should have stayed for another 1/2 hour, but I had to work the next day. From what I understand, the cast and eventually Billie Joe came out of the party and Billie Joe asked for a “fucking” cigarette. (Yes, he does smoke on occasion, get over it.) My friend who had taken me to the Preview was just about to put a cigarette in her mouth and instead, she gave it to him. Bonus! LOL. Oh, and he did sign the girl’s arm, too.

Here’s a video of Billie at the Sardi’s window and coming out of the restaurant, with cigarette and signing.

Opening Night, 4/20/10

American Idiot Opening at the Irish Rogue. Photo by Michael Gary.

What can I say about Opening Night? By this time, I had seen the show three times in New York, and I was ready to just sit back and enjoy what was about to happen. The opening was a star-studded event, with the likes of Whoopi Goldberg, Rosie O’Donnell, Michael J. Fox and Donald Fucking Trump… oh and a bunch of Idiots who are stars in my book. I didn’t see the Donald, and that was probably a good thing, but I did see the other three, and that was a good thing, too.

Green Day Bracelets in Front of the St. James, Opening Night. 4/20/10.

We Idiots met for dinner and a powwow at the Irish Rogue, having snacks and drinks. Carolyn had brought new Green Day Friendship bracelets to the theater, and she had an extra one and gave it to me. I already had one, but I took it anyway, in anticipation of seeing the show with Becky Walter (of the Facebook page Green Day LIVE on Tour) on 4/22/10. Becky was flying in from Minnesota to New York for the first time ever for the MTV Viewing on 4/22.

We walked down to the site as a group and got more excited as showtime came closer. Our seats were in the balcony and with the crowd, it took a bit of time to get up there. I wasn’t sitting with the Idiots from the restaurant, unfortunately, but I was anticipating meeting up with two special friends, Rachel and Michelle, who were sitting next to me. We three had shared some incredible moments out in Berkeley over the last few months, and Rachel was there to help manage the Mystic Knights of the Cobra tour that was starting the next day and Michelle is the spectacular photographer who took photographs of the Pinhead Gunpowder show back in February. She’s also the girlfriend of the bassist (Jim Graz) of Honah Lee, the accompanying band with the Cobras on their Party! Party! Party! Tour of the East Coast. The tour had been something I was hella looking forward to for months now, and I knew that when I saw them, that the REAL party was about to begin. More on that in a coming post.

The audience, if possible, was even MORE excited to see the show than on the first preview. Everyone was dressed to the nines and there were a few times when the audience shouted out lyrics to the songs with the cast, which was very exciting. I loved it.

After the show, we made our way downstairs and waited around for a little bit to say hello and goodbye to people. We were standing in the St. Jimmy Bar and as I was trying to walk into the area, my bag poked Ed Norton really hard in the ass. (Lucky bag.) He turned around and I apologized, and he smiled, and since I was looking hella good, he looked for a bit longer than usual. And I let him. Haha. And then I turned away and decided that the only thing I wanted to do was leave and hang out with Cobras and start the next phase of this wondrous opening week. So we hopped in a cab and went downtown.

The Real Party Begins. Hanging with the Cobras in the East Village, 4/20/10.

I did not go to the Opening Night Party, but the Green Day Community’s Katie McPansy Grogan won the American Idiot on Broadway Facebook contest. She had a fabulous time in NY, got to meet the band, interviewed Rebecca Naomi Jones, had excellent seats, and went to the After Party. I highly recommend visiting Katie’s Video Blogs of American Idiot on Broadway Opening.

A Shout Out to Nicole.

Lastly, a word of thanks to Nicole Gary. Nicole and I met on the Green Day Community and have been theater buddies in NYC since then. We were also in the Daily News photo shoot together back in March. She told me on opening night that she had attempted to get me a press pass for the After Opening Party festivities and had almost succeeded, but things didn’t work out. Thank you, Nicole, for believing in me and my blog, and for being a good buddy. I appreciate your friendship.

MTV Special Viewing, 4/22/10

J’net (an awesome moderator at the Green Day Community, thank you!) had bought us tickets to the 4/22/10 showing when tickets first went on sale. At the time, tickets weren’t on sale for Opening Night, so 4/22 was the next best thing going at the time (and it proved to be pretty amazing). I was hoping for something weird and special, as I had heard that weird and special things might happen on this night, so I was in weird and special mode. When tickets went on sale on 4/1/10 for Opening Night, I regretted my decision a bit to attend this performance. The Cobras and Honah Lee had played the night before at Arlene’s Grocery, and they were off to Asbury Park for a show at Asbury Lanes. Truthfully, I wanted to be with them as I don’t get to see them very often. But, we make our choices and I had to work on Friday anyway, and ok, shoot me, since all in all, I’ve been way lucky and it’s all good.

Minnesota Gal in NYC. Becky of Green Day LIVE on Tour Comes to NYC.

Things always work out best for those who love the Lushie Gods. Becky Walter, a friend of Niki Lee’s (Seize the Green Day), had won tickets to the MTV Special Viewing but was a bit panicked about making her first major trek from a small town in Minnesota to New York City. I had seats in the Mezzanine that night, but I told her that I would help her navigate through Manhattan and she gave me her second ticket. Niki, Dorie and I talked her through it and encouraged her to take the bull by the horns and conquer her fear of coming to NYC by herself. After all, we don’t bite… hard… here. We told her it was a once in a lifetime opportunity and she really wanted to come see the show, and having free tickets was half the battle since the ticket prices can be high. She flew in the day of the show, walked to my work to pick me up so that we could navigate down to the difficult to find Pop2Life offices for the tickets, and then whizzed uptown to meet folks at the Westway Diner for dinner. We proceeded to the venue a bit later and I gave her the Green Day Friendship bracelet that Carolyn had given me the day before. Our tickets were in the left Orchestra, not far from were I sat on the night of the first preview. Also, by Becky giving me the ticket, Andres from the Green Day Community was then able to share this special night with everyone by taking my original Mezzanine seat with J’net, Dawn, and Sherri. The Lushie Gods are good!

As the show was about to begin, Armstrong, Dirnt, and Cool family members walked in and filled the seats in the Center Orchestra. Billie Joe’s mom is the cutest thing ever, and she was beaming from ear to ear. Adrienne walked in with her and sat about two rows from us. As the curtain bells were ringing, The Edge from U2 entered and sat in the Center Orchestra not far from us, followed by Tre, Mike and Brittany, and finally, Billie Joe, who sat in the aisle seat next to Adrienne. Needless to say he caused a stir when he came in, but then the lights went down and the curtain went up.

Is this thing on? Green Day sings during American Idiot on Broadway. Photo by Green Day Mind.

It was kinda funny looking at him as an audience member. He was mesmerized by the show and his mouth was kinda hanging open in amazement the entire time, but something kept distracting him and he ran out of the theater twice during the performance, but came back in. Just as the show was ending, Green Day left the theater and a stage tech brought two mikes onstage. Afterward, the band took their rightful places onstage with their kids, the cast of American Idiot. Billie Joe had some issues with his guitar set-up for a minute, but they worked it out and he noted that it was “his first time on Broadway.” The crowd stood up as they came on and were treated to the “real” version of “American Idiot” and a great rendition of “Basket Case.” The month-long ride from Preview to Opening was complete, and this new baby called American Idiot was on Broadway.

Y’know what… I missed seeing them onstage

Green Day sings on Broadway, 4/22/10. Photo by Green Day Mind.

Green Day sings on Broadway During American Idiot, 4/22/10. Photo by Green Day Mind.

All in all, it has been a great ride with American Idiot, and I’m glad that the show is up and running and is good. It’s gotten exceptional reviews for the most part, and ticket sales are good. It’s fucking up Broadway, and in my book, that is always a good thing. I’ll write up something one day with my thoughts on the actual production, but really, just go and see it and make up your own mind is all that I can ultimately say.

I will say, though, that seeing Green Day back onstage made me realize how much I just wanted to see them perform again. The cast is great and the score is wonderful and kudos to everyone involved in the show, but Green Day is… well… Green Day. I silently offered supplications after the MTV Special Viewing, “please let the Foxboro Hot Tubs play a show this weekend, please let me get to see it.” Cause you know what? There is nothing like Billie Joe, Mike and Tre onstage together. And luckily, the Lushie Saints granted my wish. Twice. More on that in a later post.

And with that, faire thee well, American Idiot on Broadway. May you have a long life and prosper, may your actors stay healthy with no broken bones, and may you always Fuck Up Broadway.

After the break, stay tuned for ToniAnn and Fallyn on MTV being interviewed about the show and some additional links.

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West Coast Meets East Coast: Party! Party! Party! with the Mystic Knights of the Cobra and Honah Lee, 4/21-4/24, 2010

Party! Party! Party! with the Mystic Knights of the Cobra and Honah Lee

HERE WE GO! HERE WE GO! HERE WE GOOOOOOooooOOOOO!!

I went out to the East Bay back in February and saw two great bands and two wild shows: Pinhead Gunpowder playing at 924 Gilman in Berkeley (see Youtube video of that show here) and the Mystic Knights of the Cobra playing at the Uptown in Oakland. (See Michelle Lawlor’s great photos from the Uptown show here.) It was my first time seeing either band live and though it may be my last time seeing the elusive Pinhead Gunpowder, I’m happy to report that there are not ONE, but FOUR opportunities coming up in April to see the Mystic Knights of the Cobra on their first NYC/NJ/East Coast tour. If you want a show with it all, magic acts, vaudeville and funked-out punk from the visceral gut, don’t miss the Cobra shows coming up in either NYC (Arlene’s Grocery, 4/21; Don Hill’s 4/23) or New Jersey (Asbury Lanes, 4/22 and Trenton, Mill Hill Basement, 4/24). Trenton-based band Honah Lee (“Frolicking in the autumn mist of a land called Honah Lee“) along with a few other bands (and special guests?) will be performing as well.

GO COBRAS GO!

It’s difficult to describe the Mystic Knights of the Cobra (aka, MKOTC or the Cobras). Are they funk punk? Party punk? Punk punk? Just punks? Their Facebook and MySpace pages list the following genres: Rock, Punk, Showtunes (!) and goes on to say: “Mixing punk, hard rock and old school with the occasional rap/break-beat or booty bass line, the Cobras are hard to put in any musical box.” Well, you got that right, don’t even try to put Baby Cobra in a box, she’ll kick your ass. The Cobras follow few musical rules except maybe those referenced in the song “Tranny Sex” from their 2009 album, There Is No End and spoken by the extreme punk, GG Allin from an appearance on the Geraldo Rivera Show:

“My body is a temple of rock ‘n’ roll, and my flesh and blood and body fluid are a communion to the people. I’m not out to please anybody … I’m trying to bring danger back to rock ‘n’ roll and there are no limits or laws, and I’ll break down every barrier from this time until the day I die…”

They don’t go as far as GG did (and that’s a good thing), but they do live in the same rock ‘n’ roll neighborhood, only, they have toilets in their part of town.

Hailing from Crockett, CA, MKOTC’s tribal members all share the same last name, Cobra (Baby Cobra, Lady Cobra, Crystal, Gyptron, Chinatown Meatloaf, Hotel Trell, Call Me Donny (RIP), Night Moves, Big Chief, Ghostown, College Prep, Call Me Donna, Lockdown, Cakes, Hot Lips, El Leche, Sexual, Alcatraz, Hey Puto, Cup Cake, Lu-Lu, Ki-Ki, Soda Pop, Hebrew National and Dirty Nasty the Filthy Gentleman) and while not all of them will be making their way to NYC, many of them will be coming East for the first time. The core band consists of singers Baby Cobra (Rachael) and Lady Cobra (Monica), guitarists Chinatown (Michael) and Ghosttown (Aaron), keyboardist Trell (just call him Trell), bassist Night Moves (Sean), trombonist Crystal and Gryptron (Joshua) on the drums.

I expect all of you jaded New Yorkers and New Jersians to get off of your asses, come party with MKOTC West Coast-style, and welcome them with a giant East Coast presence. It’s going to be a PARTY! PARTY! PARTY! that you will not want to miss.

Oh, and buy the band some drinks, too. They will love you long time if you do.

Go Cobras Go! - Mystic Knights of the Cobra at the Uptown, 2/13/10 - Photo by Michelle Lawlor


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