Sunday, November 18, 2007

Up For Nothing 5th Birthday, Knitting Factory, 11/9/2007

I had been trying to hook up with JERSEY BEAT’s publisher Jim Testa for a while, when he recommended we go see Racing Exit 13 at the Knitting Factory on November 9, 2007. My schedule had been quite tight, and Jim basically said, with a whimsical sense of sarcasm, that hopefully he had given me enough time to open some space…this was in September, I believe. RE13’s singer, Dov, had invited Jim, and since I casually knew the band, I was wing-man (a position I’ve never minded).

To add to the pleasure, this show was Brooklyn-based trio Up For Nothing’s fifth birthday party. Five years…I remember seeing them at the much belated Brooklyn venue The Punk Temple, and more than once at Peggy O’Neill’s in Coney Island at showcases put on by The Nerve!

When I left work to head to the Knitting Factory in the desolate TriBeCa (aka DeNiroville), it was pouring. And, of course, once I got off the subway at Franklin Street, I went in the wrong direction. By the time I showed up at the KF, I was pretty drenched. Luckily, I found Jim pretty quickly, and we headed down to the lowest basement.

On the way down, I asked Jim if he wanted me to introduce him to Dov, lead singer of Racing Exit 13. He was in the middle of saying probably after the set, when I looked up and saw Dov literally standing right in from of us. So I did a quick intro, hoping I hadn’t done a faux pas. It seemed to be okay. I also had the opportunity to say hello to Barrie, someone I hadn’t seen in a long time, and was happy to visage.

When I entered the tight venue I stayed near the bar trying to pick “my spot”. I looked down near one of the numerous merch tables (each band had their own) and saw a totally not just smashed but shattered guitar. Ends up being from the band we missed, When Distance Fails. Pete Townsend may say, “Now, that is one broken instrument.”

(Bek, Dov)
RACING EXIT 13 is made up of members of other deceased bands (as is common in any scene, in this case Staten Island). For example, Dov had been the voice in the punk ska Washington Riot, guitarist Bek had been in one of my favorite bands, Monty Love, and drummer Phil D. was (and I think may still be) bassist in the screamo Quantice Never Crashed. They hit the stage, and before starting, Bek gave me a shout-out. Always appreciated.

RE13 are pretty much a young outfit, and their energy was solid post-punk, a mixture of hardcore and pop. Luckily, this conglom of variant backgrounds came together as a unit. While they still need to grow a bit more, their past experience showed. Mainly, their show is high energy, and amazingly enough, Dov kept his shirt on, though short pants and bare feet abounded. I am looking forward to hearing their recording output and seeing them perform again.

After RE13, there was a severe paradigm shift as I noticed that the crowd had seriously aged. Where the average age for RE13 was early ‘20s, suddenly I saw that most of the people were in their late ‘20s to early ‘30s. And as I held in my spot against the right wall, these three big guys and one gal stood RIGHT IN FRONT of me, blocking my view/camera angle. They were down from Yonkers to see the Dimwits.

THE DIMWITS hail from Boston. They’ve been around a while now, and are solid Beantown, home of some of the better hardcore bands like GangGreen and pioneers The Dogmatics. But baseball season is over, so Boston folks are welcome here. Lead singer Bad Luck Brett was fluid and chatty between songs, tongue loosed by drink, fer sher, but it was mostly self-depreciating and entertaining as hell. As was the music, which is, too say the least, sophomoric. Songs about sex, booze, more sex, and just about anything else that makes one laugh while going wah? (for example one song is called “God’s Turd”). Brett paced the audience who made room for him to meander, talking and singing, often with members of the audience, including said Yonkers crowd. He also mentioned that he was an Od’ Dirty Bastard fan, and said he always wanted to be able to shout (and did) “Is Brooklyn in the house!”

(Marc, Ernie)
Between sets, the aging continued. The high 20s-low 30s crowd phased out and it seemed there were a lot of people closer to my age, as New York legends THE ARSONS came to the fore. They are in the New Yorker-style of Black Flag mode of old skool hardcore. Glad to see they’re still around (and recording…new one just out). Lead singer Marc seems to have had more than one and he sang well as he stumbled around a bit. As (strait-edge) Tony Petrozza of SQNS may have said, “Now this is punk rock!” Still, it seemed to piss off the bassist, Alex (wearing a shirt that said “I Hate People”), who I heard say to Marc, “How are you getting home? You’re not coming with me!” Still, guitarist and vocalist Ernie seemed to be the backbone of the group and kept them going. It was all very entertaining and most importantly, they put on a good show…even when Ernie accidentally broke his guitar, and later when Justin of Up For Nothing jumped up and helped Marc with his guitar strap. And as with the Dimwits, Marc and Ernie spent as much time in the audience as they did on the miniscule stage, which was appreciated by all.

(Vlad-o-Rama, Jimmy Dukes)
While waiting for Up for Nothing, I was happy to see a couple of my old Temple-days (and beyond) pals Vlad-o-Rama and Jimmy Dukes. I’ve known them since they were like 15 years old, and even went on a photo expedition shoot with Vlad this summer around Red Hook (that’s Brooklyn), which was a blast. These two guys host one of the better punk/hardcore/metal shows on the radio today called NYC Throwdown, which comes out of Kingsborough Community College (one of my alma maters) on Wednesdays at 8-10 PM. You can hear it at 90.3 FM (though odds are better you’ll hear it through What is also important is that they interview some great local and not-so-local bands.

There were others I recognized from the Brooklyn and Staten Island scenes, and one Temple-days fan came over to say hello. It took me a second to recognize him. Hell, the Temple’s been closed for, what, four years now? There were others I was viddying for but didn’t see, like Vonny and the Temple Ladies. Still, there was definitely a nice sized crowed for the space, which had once again become younger.

While on stage, Justin, singer/guitarist for UP FOR NOTHING, commented how their first gig was on the stage of the Punk Temple. Jezz, I was there that night, not realizing it was their cherry-busting show. I have pictures of that somewhere… Anyway, Up For Nothing is a power trio pretty much centered around Justin (as the bassist and drummer have changed over the 5 years, the former having joined this incarnation of the group recently), but all are attuned and well rehearsed. Justin’s newer songs are stronger than the older ones, and yet it was good to hear some of those as well (with Justin saying, more than once, “Well this is probably the last time we will ever be playing this one”). Though refurbished, I’ve seen the guys now in the group around the Brooklyn scene (where Up For Nothing originate…in fact, Justin lives quite close to me, and more than once I’ve seen him on my subway stop) for years, and they are obviously close friends. While this has certainly been quite a ride of 5 years for the group, I’m hoping they stick to this line-up long enough to help solidify their sound and produce some magic.

Having had 4 hours sleep the night before thanks to seeing the International Pop Overthrow show (see blog below), I was shot by this time, so before DarkBuster came on stage, I bid my adieu to Jim Testa, Vlad-o-Rama, and Jimmy Dukes, and headed back out into the rain, thinking I was heading north towards Canal, but of course, was heading south. By the time I reached the Canal Street station, I was once again soaked. But it was okay because, as Tuff Darts once sang, “It’s all for the love of rock’n’roll”.

All band pics © RBF
Other pictures from this night:

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