The Red Party
Dec. 9 2017 was the last iteration of 2017 of the enormously successful Red Party at the Mercury Lounge. As always, host Sean Templar and Jared started the night at the DJ booth, and were joined this night by DJ Jose Francis — of the biweekly Dark Dance show on InClub Radio — an internet station out of Peru. The setlist included the Ramones, Misfits, Corpus Delecti, Siouxsie, Cocteau Twins and the Wake among many others.
Hostess Mandana Banshee Templar manned a merchandise stand selling “Red Merch” (i.e. shirts, buttons and the like with one form or another of the Red Party logo). The high point of the party came with a live performance by a band called Pawns. Shortly after midnight, this anarcho-deathrock four-piece group came on in a rather vicious, punkish form with pounding rhythms, insistent guitar chants and bellowing vocals.
The Pawns have a rather comely bass player in Jenna Graham, guitarist Noel Mateus, and drummer Stephen Reader are led by frantic-energetic vocalist Gage — a Hollywood-handsome youth with a head of spiked blond hair and a political bent.
Pawns started up in 2013 with release of an eponymous 7” and followed with another 7” entitled Eternal Return. This past summer they released an LP, The Gallows, under Mass Media records.
We spoke to Gage in a quiet corner of Mercury Lounge and he cited as influence various bands like Bauhaus, Sisters of Mercy, Crass, Honey Bane, and others. Those in the audience whom I polled agreed that the dominant influence was Joy Division. To me, they sounded like if Joy Division had died, gone to hell and started broadcasting from the underworld.
Up to now, Pawns have gone on three tours, mainly on the West Coast. New Dark Age looked them up on Bandcamp and found their recordings every bit as appealing as their live performance.
John Fryer at Parlor Bar & Restaurant NYC
Legendary producer and musician, John Fryer, performed a rare weekend DJ gig at the Upper West Side’s Parlor Bar & Restaurant, manning the booth in the downstairs lounge area both Friday and Saturday night.
Fryer has spent a stellar career contributing personally and heavily to two distinct musical styles: industrial — working with the likes of NIN — and the ethereal/trip hop sound, epitomized by This Mortal Coil and Cocteau Twins. One of two essential members of the 4AD band, This Mortal Coil — for which he performed keyboards, strings and synthesizer sequencing — Fryer is especially well known for work with Mute, Rough Trade and Beggar’s Banquet record labels as well as industrial giants Stabbing Westward and Nine Inch Nails, and is the essential collaborator with Trent Reznor in producing “Pretty Hate Machine.” He has served as producer, mixer, engineer and musician with Depeche Mode, the Pixies, Lush, Bauhaus, Modern English and Dead Can Dance.
Fryer was fortunately passing through the New York City area on his way back from Senegal, working with African musicians before returning to his base in Los Angeles. His current venture is serving as musician and producer for his own project, Black Needle Noise. Publicist Rey Roldan tipped us off regarding Fryer’s appearance and was on hand to greet and orient attendees. A crowd of in-the-know devotees of post-punk pounded the dance floor while Fryer served up an eclectic mix of synth pop, goth and industrial dance tracks, taking breaks to chat with admirers and offering tips on what was to come in the next wave of new music.
New Year’s Eve Party: “Forever Young”
Mandana Banshee, Sean Templar and the Red Party hosted what they called a “post countdown” party at Mercury Lounge, which started around midnight at the turn of the new year backed by DJs Matt V. Christ, Michael T. and Ash with guest host DJ Erik Aengel. This time as promised it was an all new wave ‘80s night, and indeed it was with selections from the archives of such gems of that decade as Pet Shop Boys, Duran Duran, the Eurhythmics, the Pogues and Modern English filling the air and energizing the dance floor. Never-fail, consistently-played standards such as Bauhaus, the Cure and Joy Division also made the setlist, although they don’t wait for an ‘80s night, but make the setlist every weekend at every club in the scene.
The party went on until 6 a.m. and indeed it was packed from the start to finish with Red Party regulars and hordes of revelers from other, earlier parties who didn’t want to quit until the dawn’s early light. Gracious queen of hospitality, Mandana, circulated, taking photos and seeing to it that everyone had the best and most memorable night of 2018.
Such luminaries of the downtown New York City music scene as Christian Dryden of the Ritualists, Jennifer Bobbe of Night Gallery, Torrin Krrell and Sir William Welles were in attendance.
The Rubin Museum
150 West 17th Street NYC
This extraordinary museum is dedicated to the art, religion and the philosophy of the Himalayas and surrounding cultures of India, Nepal, etc. From June until January of this year, the focus was upon the world of sound.
The exhibition provided an immersive experience wherein the visitor was led to listen with the whole body. It included placing hands upon sound-laden walls, lying on a slab in a sounding environment, a room where the sacred chant “Om” is sung (chanted) by choirs in various ways. There are also countless stations where recorded voices, ambient drone sounds and experimental music can be sampled. A room with flashing color imagery was fitted with a “seizure warning” placard.
Tibetan ritual music, various instruments, contemporary audio artists and acoustic designers were all available to visitors. A parabolic metal disc sat at the bottom of the iconic spiral staircase, reflecting a re-issuing the soundscape that traveled up and down the building’s six-story central atrium.
Masterpieces of Himalayan Art are on view until May 2018. The Lord of Death image and The Lords of the Cremation are reproduced here.
Under What Flag – A Tribute to Fad Gadget
This compilation of 15 tracks, each featuring a different band, covers a wide sampling of the body of work of Mute recording artist, Fad Gadget (Frank Tovey), the British electronic musician who was active from 1979 until retiring in 1993, emerging briefly in 2001 to tour with Dépêche Mode before passing away in 2002 at age 45. The Periodic Table of Synthpop lists FG (FG is Frank Tovey) as “foundational synthpop,” for its early contribution to the new wave and industrial genres blending pop-style rhythms with experimental, mechanical sounds, industrial noise and the sounds of found objects. Think drills, jars, cans and printing presses.
Twelve different FG tracks get the treatment from 15 different artists who address, each in their own way, FG’s deadpan, bleak and sometimes comical criticism of our modern, mechanized society and its norms as well as deviants.
FG’s mix of rock, punk, folk and disco is no longer very popular. The first track on this album, “Collapsing New People,” is the only one currently being played with any frequency at clubs in the metropolitan area. Bioassay’s cover is very close to the original in vocals, rhythm and accompaniment and is immediately recognizable.
There are three versions of “Back to Nature” in which FG sets the tone with a slow, determined cadence, ominous vocals, tropical bird sounds and the hiss of a rain downpour. Noir’s version has a richer vocal style than FG. Leaether Strip’s is faster paced (what do you expect?) and Cortex Defect’s is the most faithful of the three.
There are also three versions of “Insecticide,” a nasty, noisy piece which features a distorted growl amidst a juggernaut of electro-mechanical sounds, and all three covers have eerie spoken word and synthetic belching sounds as well as a relentlessly driving rhythm.
There are two entries of “The Box,” including one by Missing Witness that sounds distant like it is coming from someone actually trapped inside an elevator. There are single entries of “State of the Nation,” “Fireside Favorite,” etc. The cautionary tale that is “Rickey’s Hand” is jumpy and jivey, in both the original and in Blicky’s faithful cover, and it warns about drinking and driving. Canter’s version of it however is so mellow and dreamy that it fails to raise the alarm of the original.
Blakk Glass’ version of the once-popular “Lady Shave’ quite appropriately features a female vocalist which puts a whole different spin on FG’s original intent. Malegant’s viciously sarcastic, Cockney-accented mockery of gun ownership and presumed male privilege is way harsher than FG’s original, but the intention is the same.
There were too many tracks and bands with varying levels of originality versus faithfulness to FG’s originals to review each and every one. The scope of this tribute album is a testimonial to the foundational significance of Fad Gadget, who remains an icon of the post-punk, synthwave and industrial scene.
Rock & Roll Hall of Fame Induction
Gothic, punk and industrial artists are used to being overlooked during the selection process by the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame, and by mainstream media in general, for that matter. We still represent a marginalized, select — shall we say “elite” musical subculture. Many day-crawlers have heard of the Cure, but never took note of a single song by them. Maybe one, if it was featured on MTV in past decades. Mention the name Peter Murphy and your friends and family will generally draw a blank. I’m talking about rock ‘n’ roll fans among them. Never mind Joy Division or Bauhaus. The vast majority of them will be clueless with respect to the music to which we are committed.
So it isn’t any wonder that this year’s inductees failed to include a significant contingent from the gothic, punk and industrial scene.
Eligible are those whose first commercial recording was at least 25 years before coming under consideration. Nirvana made it in 2014 directly upon becoming eligible. For this year, 2017, it would be 1992 or earlier. Inductees were chosen by a panel of 1,000 music executives, artists and past winners. Some consideration was given to fans whose counted online votes usually gain entry for a few added artists.
Online fan voters succeeded in slipping new wavers, the Cars, in among the usual suspects of pop, gospel and classic rockers, but weren’t able to place Judas Priest, Kate Bush, the Eurhythmics or Depeche Mode into the Hall of Fame despite campaigns in behalf of each.
Mainstays of the art and music scene in the gothic-industrial community of North Jersey, noted photographer Ben Faresich (Times Arrow Photography) and art educator Nicole Zanatakos (QXT’s barista/hostess) wed in a much anticipated, traditional Greek Orthodox ceremony on Nov. 25 in Middletown, NY surrounded by family and a cross-section of the QXT’s management and social circle. A spectacular and well-attended reception followed, with an afterparty lasting into the wee hours of Sunday morning. Best wishes from all in the North Jersey gothic, punk and industrial art and music circle!