Turbonegro at the Bowery Ballroom, March 31, 2003
I'd like to give a big "What the fark were you thinking?!" shout out to whoever booked Turbonegro for two nights at NYC's tiny Mercury Lounge. Norway's iconic rock band creators of such classic albums as Ass Cobra and Apocalypse Dudes returned to New York after a handful of years, prompting every headbanger to crawl out of his/her holes (or, as the case may be, other people's holes) and we stuck them in a club with the capacity of my ass after a big meal. What is this, the CMJ fest?
Let's add to the clusterfuck, shall we? On the first night of Turbonegro's sold-out shows at the Mercury Lounge, some douche bag in the audience pelted lead singer Hank von Helvete with a beer bottle. His face split open, and the show was over. This was three songs into Turbonegro's set. The band could've bailed on the second show and told New York City to suck a fat one, but they didn't. No, Norway's kinky rock-n-roll answer to the Village People has too much homo-erotic love to give. The second show was moved to the roomier Bowery Ballroom, and tickets from both nights were honored. Fjord bless 'em, they didn't let one dickless cretin ruin the party for us well-endowed champ-peens.
Emerging onstage to hoots and hollers, the band provided much visual and sonic stimulation. Rouge-smeared cheeks, fur hats, silky scarves, sailor garb it was all there. Hank looked like Dennis Franz with longer hair. With black Alice Cooper eye make-up, a cape and top hat, the dude was... ridiculous. He spoke in a loopy slur that eerily resembled Cheech Marin after smoking up with Chong. Pål Pot Pamparius, Rune Rebellion, Euroboy, Happy Tom, and Chris "I don't have a nickname" Summers completed the circus. It's hard to say whether all of the members participate in the homo antics they sing about, but sexual authenticity isn't a concern of theirs. Rock is. When I tell you the crowd was creaming their denim for Turbonegro, I'm talking Dairy Queen proportions.
Sexual energy powered the entire evening. I suppose the music did, too. "I got a headache in my pants," said Hank who swirled his manly hips in front of the svelte Euroboy as the latter wanked a solo off on his guitar. During "Prince of the Rodeo," Euroboy got a nut massage while playing on top of Pål Pot Pamparius's shoulders like a little bucking bronco. Hank gave an explanation as to why the previous night's bottle-to-the-face incident didn't keep him from performing: "Because I got a good head." And the band launched into "Good Head." The set list was culled mainly from Ass Cobra and Apocalypse Dudes, but one song from their new album Scandinavian Leather made an appearance "Sell Your Body (To the Night)" was dubbed "Turbonegro's version of a fiscal plan for the future." The crowd sang every other song with burly gusto. The people's chorus of "Don't Say Motherfucker, Motherfucker" was louder than Hank's.
As the band walked offstage, the crowd began stomping their feet and singing "I Got Erection." They were rewarded with a thrust-worthy performance of the requested song. Turbonegro ended their glorious one-night reign with "Denim Demon." No bottles were thrown, no faces were split open. "Thank you. Good night," said a greasy, glistening Hank. "I forgive you all."
Madball at CBGB, April 13, 2003
Madball singer Freddy Cricien is one of few people who can liberally use the word "motherfucker" onstage and still present himself as a gentleman. Throughout the night, Cricien profusely and sincerely thanked all the kids and "old-school motherfuckers" for coming out to support Madball. After two long years, the band is back to kick the New York hardcore (NYHC) scene in the ass. Cricien and his "brother from another mother" bassist Hoya Roc decided hardcore was too much a part of their lives for them not to be making music. To complete Madball, they brought in Mitts on guitar and Rigg Ross on drums. Judging by how all-out apeshit CBGB went when the music started, I'd say the new line-up is a great fit.
"This goes out to all you hardcore motherfuckers out there!" Cricien cried to the sweaty crowd. CBGB was approximately 100 degrees and more humid than the bayou in August. It was packed with NYHC devotees who were treated to a set list that included classic tuff-guy tracks like "Hold It Down," "Never Had It," "Set It Off," "Everyday Hate," "Spit On Your Grave," "Demonstrating My Life," and "Nuestra Familia." The pit was a washing machine set on spin-motherfuckin'-cycle.
The show was like a family reunion. The NYHC scene is relatively small and Madball's return was cause to celebrate. Huge guys would stop dancing in the middle of the pit to run over and hug a friend they hadn't seen since whenever. No bullshit feuds were played out everyone let everyone else enjoy the show. The support for Madball was sturdier than the floorboards in CB's. They're back, and we missed them. "For those of you who don't know," Cricien politely explained, "THIS is hardcore." Motherfucker!
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