Tuesday, January 4, 2011

Rock & Roll Circus Day One, Lincoln Center, January 3, 2011

What a great idea. Have a bunch of Rock and Punk bands play under the tent of the Big Apple Circus at Lincoln Center, or so they thought!

Rock & Roll Circus is a 2-day rock music show/festival at Lincoln Center, and I decided to check out Day 1. Now the first day was a free show, and actually with more bands than the second day, which wasn't a free show. I really contemplated getting tickets for the second day because OK Go was supposed to perform, but as I found out attending Day 1, they were no longer booked for the show, so that would really have been a waste of money considering I didn't know anyone else who was playing on Day 2. I hope that last party made sense! Anyways on to the show:

As you walk in there is a lobby area with booths where you can get food and drinks and just have a seat and hang out. It was very cool how they set the whole thing up. After the lobby area there was another area where you could buy souvenir t-shirts, cool circus hats and memorabilia, and even get a Circus tattoo! Yes, a REAL one! When I walked over there was a guy getting one, but he already had so many, it was almost as though this one didn't count. Showtime!

The first band in the circle were the Electric Tickle Machine (yes, that's their actual name). And these guys were wild, with a great sound. They're sound I suppose could be sort of compared to the band The Darkness, but I liked these guys a lot more than I like them. They had a percussion guy who was playing the tambourine and something with sleigh bells on it, and he was awesome. Shirtless, with these high-wasted leather pants and these balloon sleeves, he played that tambourine like nobody's business, and even walked through the crowd with it and partied a bit with the onlookers. They had a great energy and it translated to their music, which was a lot of fun to listen to, just like them.

The second band up were the only band on the entire lineup that I had heard of (or seen live), Brooklyn's own  So So Glos. Now I saw these guys before, in Brooklyn, opening for Punk powerhouses Titus Andronicus. This show was intense (I was punched in the eye in the mosh pit) due in part to the 2 hour Tequila open bar. Ah well, life lesson learned right? Either way I was expecting more of the same from my boys from Brooklyn. Now the way they had the show setup was exactly how it would be to see the circus: people sitting around in seats and the performers are in the ring in the middle. Now after their first song, they told everyone to stand up and dance, why not right? Everyone obliged. After their second song, they then told everyone that the space in the circle not occupied by the band or their equipment is really for dancing, so they should go down to the circle and dance. Everyone obliged again. By the time the So So Glos got to their final track, Execution, there was no one to stop people from crowd surfing and moshing everywhere. This got the Circus security quite upset and they did their best to control the maniacs (me included), which they ended up doing, eventually. Another amazing performance from  SSG, I'm starting to think this may be a regular thing with them.

Needless to say, SSG are a tough act to follow, but up next was The Pharmacy anyway. For me, their performance was a bit lackluster but, maybe I'm being unfair due to the fact that a mere 5 minutes prior I was holding a guy with a clown mask up over my head while moshing out. Either way, through no fault of their own, this was probably my least favorite of the bands for the night, even including Japanther, who's set was about 3 songs long (we'll get to that!). Their sound didn't really stand out too much for me, it just sounded a bit bland for my liking.

Almost on the exact opposite end of the spectrum was the band that followed, an LA crew by the name of Voxhaul Broadcast. Now their sound was old school, 80s ballad sounding at times and even 60s stuff, like The Who. Their lead singer has an amazing voice for the music they play, it's something like Jim Morrison meets Prince. I say Prince because at the beginning of their first song, he made Prince-like screams into the microphone for over a minute before singing any actual lyrics. They would take time out to have a three person guitar solo, and i LOVE a good guitar solo. One of their guitar players was actually also they're keyboard player, so he was keeping quite busy. They didn't tell anyone to stand up and dance along (everyone was seated during The Pharmacy's set) but by the end of their set everyone was on their feet, clapping and dancing along. From the very young to the old, everyone really liked these guys. I would say music wise, these were probably my favorite act for the night. And they needed to be too, because Japanther was the closing band.

Now there was an intermission of 10 minutes or so between Voxhaul Broadcast and Japanther, the first one of it's kind of the night. If you've see Japanther perform you can probably guess why that is, if you haven't (like me), then you returned to the arena and noticed a few things that weren't there before. The Japanther boys brought their own speakers, as well as a giant flag that said their name that was draped between the two biggest ones. Also their microphone setup is a bit different, they sing through payphone receivers, yes seriously! So they sound as though every lyric is being sang over the phone, it's actually kind of cool. Also, they welcomed everyone back into the ring a la SSG, so they could party and get crazy with them. This wasn't the best idea. Everything was O.K. at first, until security started telling people they had to leave the circle. This didn't go over well with the Japanther fans. Some were escorted all the way out of the show entirely, some threw beer and whatever drinks they had at security. I saw a girl just douse another girl in beer, for no reason! It got out of hand fast. Circus security cut their mics, and Japanther even threatened to leave. They were begged to stay, so what they did was they moved their stuff closer to the people, if the people couldn't come in the circle then Japanther would come to the people. Seemed like a good enough idea. They started playing again, and some dudes started pushing and shoving, but not really moshing, it looked more like they were fighting. By this point, the Lincoln Center guys had seen enough and shut the show down entirely. Someone threw what looked like a full beer at a security guy; why waste a perfectly good beer? The host Acid Betty tried to get everyone out in a peaceful manner and was splattered with middle fingers and F-bombs. Acid Betty, refusing to be outdone, said she appreciated the middle fingers, it's the most action she's gotten in months!

Japanther, who are pretty much as classic punk as one can find nowadays, were very upset breaking down their equipment, as I would be too, because it wasn't really their fault. You have to hate when people decide to be ridiculous and belligerent and mess up a great FREE show like that, but I suppose you also have to know your audience. The people who put the show together probably were unaware as to the type of crowds these bands bring, and these are very essential in putting together a good show, and getting things to run smoothly. Asside from the crappy ending, this was an awesome show, and a great way to kick off the new year.

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