Online coverage of the New York|
City music scene since 1996...
In This Issue:
Be Well, Ramones Beat On Cancer
October 8, 2004, Spirit, New York, NY
As I waited outside Spirit's 27th street entrance on a line that went all the way down the cruddy block, a little girl paraded down the sidewalk, holding up a sign that said "Forest Hills Remembers the Ramones" in glittery letters. She was followed by her mother and father, who held up similar signs. They were saluting the Forest Hills, Queens natives the Ramones. This beautiful, heartfelt moment was crushed when some chick on a cellphone stuck her wildly made-up face in mine and barked, "Is this the line for the Strokes show?" Sigh. Before I finished nodding, she had flitted away.
Tonight, though, I didn't have the slightest desire to punch annoying cretins in the face. Before Johnny Ramone passed away on September 15, 2004, he had planned an October 8, 2004 show with some of his favorite bands. The show was to raise money for Cedars-Sinai Cancer Research Center and Lymphoma Research Foundation and also to celebrate the 30th anniversary of the greatest band that ever was, the Ramones. October 8, 2004 was also Johnny's 56th birthday. Hosted by Joey Ramone's brother Mickey Leigh, the night was what some hot-shot Entertainment Tonight reporters would describe as "star-studded." But if you've lived in NYC for any period of time, these "stars" are more like locals who just keep hanging around. They included Arturo Vega, the Ramones artistic director (it always cracked me up that the Ramones had an "artistic director"), Blondie, Sonic Youth, the Strokes, Joan Jett, Rob Zombie, and original drummer Tommy Ramone.
Just as plentiful were the display cases featuring tons of photos, fliers, Johnny's guitar, Tommy's glasses, Joey's gloves, lyric sheets, and other obscure shwag. Every Ramone had his defining personality, and Johnny was the businessman. His monthly planners were immaculate. Each little square of each calendar month had the name of the club, a contact person, and a phone number written in pencil. Even his handwriting was legible. Amazing.
The night took off when Sonic Youth played one of their trademark distorted and disarming sets, and singer/guitarist Thurston Moore's out-of-tune guitar nearly caused NYRock's Otto Luck to leap out of his skin. Bassist/singer/badass Kim Gordon apologized, citing a new guitar technician as the fault. (Let it be known that this event happened before Ashley Simpson flubbed her Saturday Night Live appearance.) Bathed in sapphire-blue light, the band crushed, wailed, and droned their way to ecstasy.
Next up was a bit of Ramones karaoke with a live band featuring drummer Bill Stevenson, bassist CJ Ramone, and guitarist Daniel Rey. First up was Alan Vega from Suicide who did some rigid, warbly, robo version of "I Don't Care." Then Andrew WK god bless his passionate soul, got up there, visibly nervous, already soaking wet with water or sweat (hopefully nothing else) and kicked out a burly rendition of "53rd and 3rd" and "I Believe in Miracles." So consumed by the energy of the moment, AWK took to screaming like a banshee: "Ahh buh-laaaave in ma-ra-AAAAAGGHHHHH!!" while the crowd cheered him on. Oh Andrew. Swoon.
Next was Queens of the Stone Age front man Josh Homme who was sporting a wicked case of hat-head. His orange hair was plastered to his head and then stuck out in little flippy wings near his neck. Grand gaffe of the evening: Homme came onstage puffing a cigarette. Ignoring NYC's no-smoking laws and huffing something to the effect of "Smoke 'em if ya got 'em," Josh neglected to honor the fact that this show was A FUNDRAISER FOR CANCER RESEARCH. Nice job, pinhead. But the dude is a latter day Rico Suave (dating the delicious Brody Dalle of the Distillers helps things, I'm sure). And on "Teenage Lobotomy," Homme proved he's quite a good modern-day impersonator of Joey Ramone. For "I Wanna Be Your Boyfriend," he summoned all his tender '60s girl-group love and crooned like a dreamboat.
Speaking of honest-to-goddess dreamboats, when Joan Jett took the stage, everyone in the crowd sprung to life. (Heh heh, "sprung" heh heh.) I can tell you that my smile got brighter and my pants got tighter. Sporting a late-'90s Pat Benetar-ish hairdo, Joan took "Judy Is a Punk" and "Rockaway Beach" and set them on fire. Not only is she one of the most exemplary rhythm guitarists ever to strap one on (heh heh), but that dry, ravishing yowl of hers is the aural equivalent of the Ramones' worn-through black-leather jackets. It's tuff, bad, and sexy.
When CJ and company tried to get Rob Zombie onstage to sing "I Wanna Be Sedated," Zombie wouldn't comply, so Tommy Ramone stepped in. The dude screwed up the song something fierce, but the crowd helped him out and you couldn't help but get a little lump in your throat.
The Strokes were up next and played a fine set to all their adoring fans. To their delight (and others' annoyance), singer Julian Casablancas decided to climb on top of the crowd and sing "Alone Together." "God bless you all, and God bless the Ramones," he slurred before the band exited.
Blondie capped off the night with a majestic performance that included "Atomic," "Call Me," and "Maria." Deborah Harry wore a black-leather jacket and when she doffed it, the lady caused a bevy of whoops. At 59 years young, the chickie is still making the boys and girls weak in the knees. What was making me weak in the knees aside from Deborah was the sub-zero temperature in Spirit, so I ducked out before Blondie were done, but not before visiting the display cases holding Johnny's calendars one last time. Hey ho, sad to see you go.
Send This Page to a Friend Join Our Mailing List Current Stories
Indie CD Reviews Musicians' Classifieds NYC Gig Listings
More NY Rock Confidential Installments:
by Jeanne Fury:
Sept '04: Lamb of God
Jul '04: Avril Lavigne, The Shocker
May '04: Liars, Yeah Yeah Yeahs, Stellastarr*, Ambulance LTD, Hurry-Up Offense, Lunachicks
Mar. '04: Suicide Girls
Jan. '04: Franz Ferdinand
Dec. '03: Stills, Gits, Opti-Grab, Toilet Boys, Modey Lemon, Slumber Party, Funeral for a Friend, Cougars, Fireball Ministry
Oct. '03: Billy Idol, Black Rebel Motorcycle Club and the Warlocks
Aug. '03: The Lawrence Arms, None More Black, The Star Spangles
Jul. '03: Drive-By Truckers, Barbez, Dresden Dolls, Sleepytime Gorilla Museum
Jun. '03: Fannypack, Liam Lynch, Stratford 4, Nada Surf, Amazombies, ARE Weapons, Deadly Snakes, Essential Logic
Apr. '03: Turbonegro, Madball
Mar. '03: Manda and the Marbles, Count the Stars, American Hi-Fi
Feb. '03: Trachtenburg Family Slideshow Players, Tiger Mountain, Blood Brothers
Jan. '03: Enon, Penny Arcade
Dec. '02: Lost City Angels, McLusky, Black Keys, World/Inferno Friendship Society
Nov. '02: CMJ, Diamanda Galas, Longwave, Division of Laura Lee
Oct. '02: Sights, ESG, Princess Superstar, Bush Tetras
Sept. '02: Original Sinners, Northern State, Opti-Grab
Aug. '02: Paybacks, Gore Gore Girls, Cato Salsa Experience, Burning Brides
Jul. '02: Bantam, Girls Against Boys, the Makers, the Bangs
Jun. '02: Slut Em Go, Darediablo, the Liars, the Chromatics, Lovelife
May '02: Hellacopters, Gaza Strippers, Lunachicks
Apr. '02: Distillers, Nekromantix
Feb. '02: Metropolis Fest, Bianca Butthole Benefit, Le Tigre
Jan. '02: Sam Bisbee
Dec. '01: El Vez and Tammy Faye Starlite
Nov. '01: Tracy and the Plastics, Crowns on 45
Oct. '01: Reid Paley
Sept. '01: Ladyfest East
Aug. '01: Betty Blowtorch and Candy Ass
Jul. '01: Porcupine Tree
May '01: Ladyfest East Benefit, the Bellrays and the Greenhornes
Apr. '01: She-Rock-O-Rama, Blast Furnace
Mar. '01: Babe the Blue Ox, the Gossip, Knoxville Girls, White Stripes
Feb. '01: Sarah Dougher, Glen Phillips and John Mayer
Jan. '01: Melissa Ferrick
Dec. '00: Joy Askew
Nov. '00: Natasha and the MGB
Oct. '00: Heather Eatman
Aug. '00: Miracle of '86, Ultimate Fakebook, Sit n' Spin
July '00: Chickfest 2000
by Mistress Persephone:
Apr '00: Joan Jett and Reverend Horton Heat
Feb '00: Elvis tribute at the Continental featuring Mr. Monster, Needlehead, X-Possibles
Dec '99: The Serpenteens
Oct '99: Misfits
by Miss Adena:
Aug '99: Cabaret
July '99: Ancel and the Electric Church
June '99: Tuuli from Toronto rocks CBGB
May '99: The Rise and Fall of Bikini Contest
by Didi Delicious:
01/11/99: the Velvet Mafia
12/04/98: the Misfits
10/19/98: Didi interviews DJ Chumley and DJ Quick
09/01/98: Hellfire '98 (benefit for NY Underground Film Festival) featuring Double Dong and Go-Go Pup
07/28/98: Mad Daddys, Nina Hagen, Blondie
06/04/98: the first annual New York City Tattoo Convention
05/02/98: Didi's S&M Special with Flesh Fetish
03/28/98: No More Tears and Soft Parade
02/27/98: Ace Frehley, Sebastian Bach, Mick Rock, Lenny Kaye, ex-Foreigner Mick Jones, ex-Hanoi Rocks Michael Monroe, the new Max's Kansas City, Joy Ryder, Misstress Formika
01/30/98: King Norris, Karen Black, more
12/26/97: Ramones, The Dictators, The Undead, more
11/29/97-12/11/97: Sexus, Princess Superstar, more
09/19/97-10/26/97: Blowtop, Crazy Raymond & the Watchdogs, more
05/21/97-08/17/97: Toilet Boys, Nashville Pussy, Turbo A.C.s, Waldos, Sisters Grimm, The Independents, more
01/18/97-03/30/97: Sea Monster, Speed McQueen, Bombshell, Dee Dee Ramone, Jayne County, more
09/19/96-12/19/96: Coyote Shivers, The Living Daylights, more
07/23/96-09/09/96: Electric Frankenstein, The Wild Bunch, more