Ace Frehley/Sony Hall/May 4, 2018
As a youth, Paul “Ace” Frehley was part of the Ducky Boys street gang in his native Bronx, New York. The Frehleys were a musical family, however, and when a 13-year-old Ace received an electric guitar as a Christmas present in 1964, he immersed himself in learning to play it. Frehley played in local bands while working short-term jobs — mail carrier, furniture deliverer, messenger, and liquor store delivery boy. In 1972, while working as a taxi driver, he responded to a classified ad and auditioned for and was accepted into Wicked Lester, the band that would soon become KISS. He remained Kiss’ lead guitarist until his departure in 1982, launched his own career under his own name and with Frehley’s Comet, then rejoined Kiss from 1996 until its first farewell tour in 2002. Frehley’s seventh and most recent solo album, Origins, Vol. 1, a collection of cover tunes, was released in 2016, but his next album, Spaceman, is due in 2018. Frehley presently is based in San Diego, Calif.
Ace Frehley already released a single, “Bronx Boy,” from the forthcoming album. Oddly, Frehley mentioned the single and the accompanying album, but did not perform any new songs at Sony Hall tonight. Instead, Frehley relied on a set list featuring five songs from solo albums plus eight KISS songs, all from the 1970s and 1980s. Frehley did not wear his signature Kiss face paint, but did bring his KISS-era special effects guitars, a custom Les Paul that emits a series of lights and a Gibson Les Paul guitar that smokes. Frehley’s limitations were in his vocals, and so he let his solid accompanists (guitaristRichie Scarlett, bassist Chris Wyse and drummer Scot Coogan) each sing a song. In the end, Frehley gave the audience what it wanted — lots of Kiss songs, lots and lots of lead guitar and lots and lots and lots of guitar picks tossed into the audience.
Luicidal/Bowery Electric/May 5, 2018
In his youth, Louichi Mayorga lived between Santa Monica and Venice, Calif. While in college, he joined the Venice-based Suicidal Tendencies. Mayorga played bass and wrote songs for Suicidal Tendencies from 1981 to 1988 during the band’s hardcore punk years; after Mayorca’s departure, Suicidal Tendencies began gravitating to a more metal sound. Mayorca played in Los Cycos, Uncle Slam,Horny Toad, AgainST and other bands until 2012, when he formed Luicidal to play songs from Suicidal Tendencies’ earliest albums. The band has since written original music as well. Luicidal’s sole album, Luicidal, was released in 2014. The band presently consists of Mayorga, vocalist Mando Ochoa, guitarist Marty Ramirez, drummer Vince Sollecito, and Mike Avilez (tour vocals).
Headlining a rare show in New York, Luicidal hit the Bowery Electric with a set that revisited the earliest days of Venice’s skate punk and thrash scene. In the 1980s, President Reagan’s America had raised a generation of angry and angst-filled musicians, to where the formerly polarized hardcore punk and speed metal movements strengthened themselves by marrying their commonalities and converging. Luicidal authentically packed into its set the seething unrest, unhinged fury and brutal intensity of those turbulent times. With Avilez as the band’s manic front person, the quartet pivoted non-stop on an aggressive, bombastic style featuring spat vocals, lightning-fast lead guitar licks, and battering rhythms. The new band ‘s repertoire showcased two original songs but was comprised largely of songs from Suicidal Tendencies’ first album. Luicidal did not break new ground, but successfully mirrored the rage and outrage of an older epoch, with a newly-fueled vehement ire that seemed fitting for these new times also.
Bash & Pop/Coney Island Baby/May 10, 2018
Tommy Stinson learn to play bass at age 11, playing and covering songs with his brother, guitarist Bob Stinson, and drummer Chris Mars under the name Dogbreath in Minneapolis, Minn. After recruiting singer Paul Westerberg, the band changed its name to theImpediments and in 1980 changed again to the Replacements. The Replacements attained a considerable cult following until its breakup in 1991. The alternative rock band reunited briefly in 2006, and again from 2012 to 2015. After the band’s initial split, Tommy Stinson in 1992 formed Bash & Pop, a name selected from a contest hosted by a New York radio station, but the band split in 1994. Stinson then formed Perfect, but that band split in 1998, and Stinson joined Guns N’ Roses until 2016, in the meantime also recording two solo albums and playing occasionally in Soul Asylum. In 2016, after working on songs for either a solo album or for the imploding Replacements, Stinson released them under the Bash & Pop moniker, reviving the brand; the album, Anything Could Happen, was released on January 20, 2017. Bash & Pop presently consists of Tommy Stinson on vocals and rhythm guitar, Steve Selvidge on lead guitar, Justin Perkins on bass, and Joe Sirois on drums. Stinson is now based in Hudson, NY.
Bash & Pop returned to New York, headlining the hot new club Coney Island Baby. Bathed in blue light for the entire set, Stinson and company performed polished pop punk songs that sometimes seemed impromptu. This was an informal show, so the musicians appeared wearing casual streetwear rather than the matching 1960s-styled suits they wore in 2017. Early on, Stinson announced to the audience that he had no set list, and so as the show progressed he called out song titles to his musicians and took audience requests. (A fan shouted “Play a Who Song” and the band responded with a cover of “The Kids Are Alright.”) Stinson’s vocals flattened often, but were lifted by his rousing rock and roll energy. The band fared well, with Catherine Popper substituting on bass, as all four musicians locked, rocked and rolled at a speedy clip. The performance ignited a rock ‘n’ roll party and that felt good.
Trampled by Turtles/PlayStation Theater/May 11, 2018
Based in Duluth, Minn., vocalist/guitarist Dave Simonett played in a rock band in 2003 when his equipment was stolen. Left with only an acoustic guitar, Simonett was inspired to begin playing acoustic music. He assembled other local musicians who also were strangers to folk and bluegrass, including fiddler Ryan Young (who played drums in a speed metal act) and jam band bassist Tim Saxhaug. The ensemble was originally meant to be a side project, but with the addition of mandolin player Erik Berry and banjo player Dave Carroll, the musicians began stamping their identities into the enterprise in such a way that they could not stop. Their former bands dissipated. The musicians became the progressive bluegrass band Trampled by Turtles. The quintet then became a sextet with the addition of cellist Eamonn McLain. The band’s eighth and most recent album, Life is Good on the Open Road, was released on May 4, 2018.
Headlining tonight at the PlayStation Theater, Trampled by Turtles performed using loudly amplified acoustic instruments. The six stringed instruments were the mainstays of bluegrass, but the fast and frenetic manner in which they were played was largely untraditional. The musicians’ origins as rock musicians sparked a dynamic combustion, flamed by energetic arrangements. The musicians traded frenzied solos that challenged the next player. This was not back-porch bluegrass, this was an enlivened and electrified adaption of a classic genre. Yet, with all cylinders going, the musicians maintained their signature multi-part harmonies, which seemed to ground the songs. Trampled by Turtles no longer relies on borrowed styles that launched the band; the music is now on the cutting edge of a hybrid form of bluegrass rock ‘n’ roll.