My Life With The Thrill Kill Kult/Santos Party House/June 15, 2014
Frankie Nardiello met Marston Daley in 1987 in a bar in Chicago, Illinois. They bonded over a shared love of tabloid tales of sex, kitschy horror and exploitation films. Nardiello and Daley conceived a shocking, lurid and trashy B-movie to be called My Life With The Thrill Kill Kult—a headline found in a British tabloid. The film project was never completed, but in 1989 Nardiello became Groovie Mann, Daley became Buzz McCoy, and My Life With The Thrill Kill Kult became an electronic industrial rock band. The group’s popularity peaked in the 1990s with provocative titles like “Sex On Wheelz,” “A Daisy Chain 4 Satan” and “Sexplosion!” At Santos Party House, assisted by guitarist Westin Halvorson, bassist Mimi Star and drummer Justin Bennett, Mann fronted with his snarling singing, McCoy filled in most of the music’s sonic curves and fills on his synthesizers, and the rhythm section powered the song’s driving force with hard basslines and percussion. The band performed electronic club music with industrial beats and heavy metal riffs and hooks, amplified to a dark and harsh level.
Hank III/Gramercy Theatre/ June 17, 2014
Hank Williams III was born into country music royalty, but at the Gramercy Theatre, he performed well past midnight with four bands that played distinct brands of music. Hank III opened with two hours of well-performed straight-up outlaw country music, complete with banjo and fiddle. A mosh pit opened during the most driving songs. Williams then performed punk rock with A Fiendish Threat, droning stoner metal with A.D.D., and finally distortion-based guitar metal with a power trio, 3 Bar Ranch. As the night progressed, each band lost more and more of the audience, finally closing to a fairly empty hall. Perhaps Williams’ heart is more committed to the latter types of music, but these were wall-of-noise bands offering little intrigue. Williams was best at country music —it is in his blood.
Tesla/Irving Plaza/June 18, 2014
Guitarist Frank Hannon was 15 and bassist Brian Wheat was 20 when they formed a pop rock band, City Kidd, in 1982 in Sacramento, California. Failing to get notice, they moved to melodic hard rock by 1986, and renamed their band Tesla after inventor and electrical engineer Nikola Tesla, who pioneered the radio. At Irving Plaza, Tesla defied trends by playing a set that recalled vintage bluesy rocking bands like Aerosmith. Vocalist Jeff Keith was in strong bluesy voice, and the two guitarists—Hannon and new member Dave Rude—kept the lead sounds clean and modest. Again bucking current trends, many songs featured acoustic and 12-string guitars, and yet they rocked harder than the average band.
Reagan Youth/Irving Plaza/June 19, 2014
Reagan Youth was a leading band in the New York hardcore punk scene from 1980 to 1990, often performing at CBGB’s hardcore punk matinees. The band’s name was a play on Hitler Youth, comparing then-President Ronald Reagan to Adolf Hitler, and the songs were often satirical commentary about the evils of society. Guitarist Paul Cripple (Paul Bakija) reformed the band in 2006. Since then, some of the shows have been erratic, but the band was at its best at Irving Plaza. The music was as loud, fast, and anarchistic as ever, Trey Oswald did a fine job as frontman and vocalist, but the subliminal star was Cripple finely playing dense guitar work replete with sonic experiments.
Dead Kennedys/Irving Plaza/June 19, 2014
Guitarist East Bay Ray (Raymond Pepperell) advertised for bandmates in a local newspaper after seeing a ska-punk show. The Dead Kennedys formed in June 1978 in San Francisco, California, and the band was among the leaders of the hardcore punk movement of the early 1980s, recording five albums before disbanding in 1986. Biting lyrics tackled the sociopolitical concerns of the Reagan era with morbid humor and satire. East Bay Ray reformed the band in 2001 with a replacement for lead singer Jello Biafra. At Irving Plaza, vocalist Ron “Skip” Greer revived the spirit of the era.
Joe Taino/Rodeo Bar/June 19, 2014
Joe Taino got his first guitar in Puerto Rico when he was 11 and began learning everything he could about it. At 16, he assembled a band, and bought both a sound system and a truck. He was serious. While not a household name, he grew up to become a brilliant blues guitarist that merits attention. His sets at Rodeo Bar were filled with covers of country and rock songs (Ronnie Milsap to Hot Tuna), but it was what his nimble guitar playing did to the songs that proved fascinating.
Radical Something/Santos Party House/June 20, 2014
Alex Lagemann (Loggy) and Michael Costanzo (Big Red) met while attending University of California in Berkeley on football scholarships, and began their music careers recording hip-hop songs in their college apartments. In February 2011, Lagemann and Costanzo met Josh Hallbauer (Josh Cocktail) at a New York City recording studio. The trio formed Radical Something. At Santos Party House, the three vocalists blended hip-hop, reggae, soul and rock with a sunny California feel.
Sylar/Santos Party House/June 20, 2014
Vocalist Jayden Panesso began forming Sylar via Facebook in 2011 in Queens, New York. He first recruited drummer Thomas Veroutis, and then the two auditioned and added guitarists Dustin Jennings and Miguel Cardona (who also adds clean vocals) and bassist Travis Hufton. They named the band after the character Zachary Quinto played on the television show Heroes. At Santos Party House, Panesso grunted hip-hop-flavored vocals to bone-shattering guitar riffs and breakdowns for a metallic hardcore onslaught that pulsated with hypnotic electro flourishes. Fans formed such a fierce mosh pit that many moved onto the stage and surrounded the musicians as they played.
Meshuggah/Best Buy Theater/June 21, 2014
Vocalist Jens Kidman in 1987 Sweden formed Meshuggah, using the Yiddish word for “crazy.” The original band split and was reconceived with the addition of guitarist Fredrik Thordendal. Headlining a sold-out Best Buy Theater, the extreme metal band fused death metal, thrash metal, progressive metal and jazz fusion elements with complex, poly-metered song structures and poly-rhythms. The music was abrasively harsh, and the seemingly discordant and cacophonous guitar leads made the songs even more avant-garde and experimental. The result was unique, challenging and very, very metal.