22 Minutes Over Bowery Ballroom: Jay Reatard

The bassist told us they had an hour and half. But Jay Reatard, backed by (most of? some of?) the Boston Chinks, used only 22 minutes to play almost 15 songs, all of them counted off before the feedback from the previous song had begun to fade. And I can’t complain. No one did.

It was the kind of show where, afterward, it’s everything I can do not to rant about the last breaths of rock and roll being the mightiest; Jay is the future of rock, etc blah blah, a young Bob Pollard (he’s as prolific and as at-ease with melody) with a penchant for horror flicks and Wire. Yet I control myself. I loaf and invite you, though, to make sure you catch him at Don Hill’s when he comes back to NYC in Rocktober. He’ll also be playing another small spot, but I ain’t saying.

Sparse crowd for a Sat at the Bowery, which fills me with the fear of failure for BB, although it is high-season for vacationers in Manhattan, and NYU is out until next month. Plenty of Reatard converted in the choir on the floor, but also plenty fans leftover from some Be Your Own Pet side-project that shouldn’t yet be out of their garage, and plenty of fans who’d arrived early to see the unfortunate (for them and for us) headliners The Ponys. I knew I was nonplussed about their new album for a reason, but even their fans were leaving.

Reatard earned his money and justified ours, including heaps of mine spent on expensive shitbeer. If I hadn’t been loaded by then, I might not have lasted four Ponys songs. I’m worried that I may have pissed off some of their fans by – no, I’m not worried, because they deserve it and because I was with Jimmy Fahrenheit, who can be intimidating should he decide so –loudly singing Sonic Youth’s “Starpower” over the Ponys’ songs, because you can, to pretty much every one of them.

Just like you can sing Pete Shelley’s “Homo Sapien 2” over LCD Soundsystem’s “North American Scum.” But by then we had teleported through two other bars via our new Charon for the evening, Josh, friend bassist extraordinaire, whom luck had handed to us back at the Reatard show. First bar, which will remain unnamed, was one of a spate of Bowery/LES frat-boy swill dens (they were all wearing the same shirt), yet bar-helmed by Josh’s band’s singer, whom we helped spring via the eternal method of clearing the place with old Iggy Pop, Iron Maiden, and Dinosaur Jr plugged into the jukebox. She loved us for it, cause we also made fun of the one frat boy who came over to complain, although he was too stupid to know it, which made it more pleasing. I agreed with his complaint by saying “I mean, someone could have at least played some Sublime or something.” His response, which made my night: “now that’s what I’m talkin’ about.” Meanwhile, we stumped the trivia machine, because we’re not that cool, and never will be.

In bar two and our last, The Motor City bar where, seven storied years ago, when the LES was only beginning to fully suffer leather-coated Staten Islanders, Jimmy Fahrenheit would DJ and where we drank while he did so (and, before that, I would buy drugs when Motor City was probably a bodega or coat retailer, but that’s another story), we met Mr. Reatard, yet only shook his hand and then decided to pour ourselves into a cab. It was nice to see that Motor City wasn’t all that badly tainted by the rest of Manhattan’s increasing un-localization. I would even go back there.

Jay Reatard – Don’t let him Come Back (go-betweens cover)

Terror Visions (Reatard side-project #324) – Master Wait

PS – took my kid to see Dan Zanes last night. I’m proud to say she was bored.


3 thoughts on “22 Minutes Over Bowery Ballroom: Jay Reatard

  1. Agreed with BB comments. The Ponys. What the hell? I think they were embroiled in some kind of band fight, considering the evil eye glares going on. Gotta say I like ’em in the studio, but maybe they should just stay there.


  2. The studio stuff didn’t annoy me; I actually liked one song (despite being glad I didn’t pay for said promo cd). But the latest Ponys album also sounds just like 123 mediocre albums, of the same dramatic guitar rock, released 1993-1995. I didn’t pick up on the band fight, but that would make sense – they seemed limp and in a hurry. Maybe someone in the band rightly wanted to switch slots and let Reatard headline. The Ponys’ ought to be careful – their sound isn’t expansive enough to allow for egos.


  3. Nice One! You used my real name, ya bastard. Where were ya last Monday night (my birthday!). The Reatard power trio rocked Bowery again, this time dueling flying V’s and headlined w/better bands. Singer was mercifully let go from frat bar. Rock on.


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