Tuesday, October 10, 2006

Bad Brains w/ Avail, McRad, Dub Trio @ CBGBs

I had originally started writing this post about 2 hours ago, but when I went to save, the stupid shit crashed and I lost it all. So now I am giving you an extremely compressed version of my review of this show.
Me and my friend Jay went to CBGBs to see Bad Brains. Ive never been to CBGBs and Ive never seen Bad Brains so I was pumped to be able to do take care of two birds with one stone. The week before I found out that Avail was opening so I was even more pumped (because they are one of my favorite bands). Bad Brains is also one of my favorite bands, thanks in part to this this book and to see what was rumored to be the original lineup was a wet dream. Left work, got to CB's in record time. Waited in line for about 45 minutes while a lady gave me a flyer that looked like Aaron Cometbus wrote it about how a hassidic Jew stole money and hates CBGBs. Got inside, club is not how I imagined it. It really is as small as people say, long, narrow, definitely weathered and grizzled. Beers were overpriced, remnants of shitty band stickets and such looked like they were keeping the walls together. Went to the bathroom, which wasnt as I thought (im sure they renovated within the last few years) thought the men's toilet was perched utop this cement platform facing out, which meant that anybody who walked in would see you shitting, and unless you had a newspaper, you were there for all to see. There were a lot of big dudes who worked out a lot. Dub Trio was interesting for the first few songs with their punk/metal/dub reggae hybrid, but it got really formulaic and their choice of metal riffs (90s alternative metal like Helmet) got really generic. McRad was really bad. Avail was amazing. I have seen then something like 8 times, and just when you think its gotten old, it hasnt. Its still good to hear those songs live, and its still fun to sing along. And before they started and before their last song, they talked about how much of an honor it was to be playing at CBGBs in support of Bad Brains, and thanked everyone over and over again through out their set, reminding me of how cool and humble these guys still are. Tim (the lead singer) even thanked "people from Cleveland" in his list of thank yous, which deep down I was hoping he said in every city because Cleveland likes Avail that much. Or that maybe he was talking to me. Ha. So an hour or so after Avail finished, Bad Brains took the stage. An hour. An hour of dub reggae, the dude from McRad tuning the bass and scaring everyone into thinking he was filling in for Darryl, and the crowd slowly growing restless. Dr Know was on stage first, tuning his guitar, then followed Earl on the drums. They tuned their shit and then Darryl came out and then, in dramatic fashion, HR finally strolled ou decked in a shiny peach color suit coat looking thing, knit hat, and beard. Now I had heard that HR had been off his rocker for a while. In fact I heard that when the "Soul Brains" had stopped in Cleveland, he did the show from a chair hugging a mop. But somehow I had forgotten all of this up until this point, and the only thing I was really worried about was his not showing up. So hes showed up. Good...right? They launched into the first few chords of a song I honestly dont know (Ill be honest, as much as I say I like Bad Brains, I only really know the first album, which means that I am a poseur), and then stopped almost immediately as the the moshing started. "PLEASE YALL, DONT HURT EACH OTHER. DO NOT HURT YOUR BROTHERS AND SISTERS. HR WILL LEAVE. HE DOESNT LIKE THAT SHIT IM TELLIN YOU" yelled one of the dudes in the band (I took my glasses off at this point because I aint about to get this shit broken). And then the show proceeded. The dance floor erupted in the classic "theres too many people in here so the crowd is just going to sway around the entire time", the band was tearing it up, and HR...was standing there, smiling. Keep in mind that for the entire show, HR was sitting next to the walkway that leads to the basement/bathroom, with a guitar in his lap, smiling, and staring like only a crazy person stares, and that everytime I walked by, I thought he was just some rasta dude down with the band. So hes standing there, and singing, but I couldnt tell if he was really singing or if it was someone else. Then I realized that he was singing into a broken headset that kept cutting out, which combined with the weird pseudo-fake-British accented-sugar-pixie-voice he was doing, made him sound like a space alien trying to communicate with humans. Whether or not he was high...ah lets be honest, he was high as a kite, he sang in sort of a monotone, and barely moved, except for making weird hand motions with his hands. They went through "Right Brigade", "Sailing On", "Attitude"and couple more before the microphone thing started to annoy people. "H AH(like a new york accent) USE THE FUCKING MICROPHONE PLEASE", "YO H AH, USE THE FUCKING MIC", "WHY DONT YOU GET JOHN JOSEPH (of the Cro Mags who had played with the band in place of HR a few months ago) TO SING FOR CHRISTS SAKE" and shit like that. Which is kind of understandable because you didnt really pay to see some dude barely sing into a shitty microphone, but at the same time, maybe some of us did. Im sure everyone knew that they didnt know what they were getting into with HR when buying this ticket (except for me), and if the dude is so prone to flake out I didnt think it was a good idea to yell at the dude, but hey, its New York. So at this point, theyre playing their first reggae song ( "Jah Calling"?) and HR is slowly lurching around the stage, and then proceeds to put a gold motorcycle helmet on and lurch around some more. Pretty amazing. Then he takes it off, and then, in what would appear to be a brief momeny of sanity (or him caring), HR actually takes the headset off and grabs the mic, and they keep going into "Supertouch", "I", and Im soaking it all in up until they hit reggae song #2 by which point Im dehydrated, sick of touching sweaty folks, and tired of standing. Id heard almost all the songs I wanted to hear (except for "Banned In DC" and "Fearless Vampire Killers") and I remembered that I had a job so I slowly waded through the sea of people to the door, hoping I can find something to drink outside. I get outside, text message Jay to tell him I left, and take the train home.
So was this the show of my life? I dont know. To be honest, I dont know the last time I felt truly happy and excited after leaving a show, at least since high school. But it was pretty amazing because Id seen CBGBs, and Id seen Bad Brains, HR's craziness and all. Was it the same as seeing Bad Brains at CBGBs in 1982? I think its safe to say "no, not at all", but was it worth my time and money to check out? Definitely.
So I realize that this has turned into a pretty long post, but I must tell you (all 3 of you) that the original post was almost just as long before it disappeared, but I had just gotten to the point where I walked up to the club. So fuck your life.


Anonymous ft said...

"just when you think its gotten old, it hasnt."

life is sweet

poor HR tho

one love

2:25 AM  

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