Screamin’ Rebel Angels/Mercury Lounge/January 25, 2019
As a teenager, Laura Palmer published a punk rock fanzine, Rebel Angel. As a result, she was nicknamed Laura Rebel Angel. She started in the music business first as a DJ, and then booked and promoted rockabilly, punk, and rock ‘n’ roll bands in New York City clubs under the name Rebel Angel Productions. The bands heard that she sang well and played guitar, and started coaxing her to join them on stage. In 2011, she ultimately formed the concept for Screamin’ Rebel Angels in Brooklyn. Screamin’ Rebel Angels’ second album, Heel Grinder, was released on January 24, 2019. Screamin’ Rebel Angels performed a record release concert at Mercury Lounge, showcasing how Palmer has evolved beyond her rockabilly bass. Perhaps the broader influences were always in the mix, but the band’s performances of the newer songs established Screamin’ Rebel Angels as a rock and roll revival band, more akin to Little Richard than to Carl Perkins. An undercurrent of twang permeated the set, but most of the music was powered by Palmer’s gritty vocals and her appetite for hard and fast rock and roll. Animated by guitarist Brian “Bobo” Hack’s speedy finger picking along with bassist Daniel Pena and drummer Aaron Latos’ pounding rhythms, vintage sounds turned into savage sounds, rocking the audience into dance mode. Screamin’ Rebel Angels performed roots rock ‘n’ roll better than just about any other revival band on the local club circuit. The band is ready for a national breakout.
Jasin Cadic + The End/The Gramercy Theatre/January 26, 2019
New Jersey-born Jasin Cadic has been the lead singer in several industrial and hard rock bands, including Handful of Dust, Starkiller, and Panzie. With those bands all going on hiatus in late 2018, Cadic began to crystallize a concept he had in the back of his head for many years. Instead of performing with yet another hard rock or industrial band, he formed a band very unlike the others that would play diverse arrangements with piano, horns, and a female background vocalist. Jasin Cadic + the End consists of vocalist Cadic, guitarists Andee Black Sugar and Kelsey Warren, pianist Drew Blood, bassist Steve Perlmutter, drummer Jordan Cannata, vocalist Emma Craig, trombonist Seth Weaver, trumpet player Christian Mehler, and saxophonist Kushal Talele. A month after assembling the 10-piece band, Jasin Cadic + the End debuted at the Gramercy Theatre, opening for Cadic’s friend Tommy London. No new material was yet written for Cadic’s performance. Instead, the set was comprised of songs from Cadic’s previous bands, including Starkiller’s “You Are a Witness” and “As the Sky Is Falling,” as well as Panzie’s “Clown,” along with a collection of covers, including David Bowie’s “Fame,” Midnight Oil’s “Beds Are Burning,” and Rage Against the Machine’s “Sleep Now in the Fire.” Unlike Panzie, this performance required no corpse makeup, costumes, or stage props, but at times Cadic’s persona and the strength of Cadic’s caustic vocal delivery recalled his trademark harrowing dynamic. Pastiche background videos and Cadic’s own lighting set up added to the jittery tension. Other songs, like the cover of Placebo’s “Broken Promise,” lent Cadic to melodic crooning, as the large band provided thick and full accompaniment. Jasin Cadic + the End is young, and its musical identity will define itself in time, but this was an ambitious and successful start to Cadic’s new musical investment.
Tommy London/The Gramercy Theatre/January 26, 2019
Tommy London was born in Queens, and spent his youth in a suburb outside of Philadelphia. Staying home sick from school, he explored his father’s rock and soul records from the 1960s and played them repeatedly. Later he was influenced by the MTV bands. About 10 years ago in New York City, he formed the Dirty Pearls, and started playing the rock ‘n’ roll circuit. His buddy Lady Gaga name-checked the band when she sang “Dirty Pearls in a patch for all the Rivington rebels.” With the Dirty Pearls on hiatus, London began hosting two SiriusXM radio shows, Hair Nation and Ozzy’s Boneyard, and recorded and performed under his own name. His debut solo album, Emotional Fuse, will be released tentatively in late 2019. Tommy London headlined the Gramercy Theatre with a release party for the video of “Make You Love Me.” After debuting the video, London performed a full set with his band, guitarist and Dirty Pearls partner Matt Hogan, bassist James Cruz, and drummer John Weber. Most of the set was new music, interspersed with three Dirty Pearls songs and two covers; London’s friend, Jason Cadic, who directed the video and also served as a support artist on the bill, joined London for the encore of Steppenwolf’s “Born to Be Wild.” London’s performance was faithful to the sound he honed in Dirty Pearls. The songs were fist-pumping rock ‘n’ roll tunes riding on pop hooks and lots of melodic guitar leads. London was a fine singer and his exuberant stage presence went a long way in making the songs come to life. Time will tell if London, already a local favorite, can get his music heard by rockers outside of the metropolitan area. Tommy London’s next area show will be his birthday bash at Mercury Lounge on May 15.
The Fleshtones/The Bowery Electric/January 31, 2019
In 1976, two twentysomethings rented a house in Queens, and found some musical instruments in the basement. That was reason enough to learn to play music and form a rock ‘n’ roll band. They rehearsed while hosting frequent parties in that basement until the Fleshtones publicly debuted at CBGB’s on May 19, 1976, and rather quickly became a headliner on the local circuit. The Fleshtones became among the first bands to perform at several iconic music clubs, including Irving Plaza and Danceteria in Manhattan, Maxwell’s in Hoboken, and the original 9:30 Club in Washington D.C. The band was also one of the last bands to play Windows on the World on top of the World Trade Center. In between, the Fleshtones had many adventures, including opening for James Brown and Chuck Berry, backing actor Ian McKellen as he recited a sonnet on Andy Warhol’s Fifteen Minutes, and helping to inaugurate the first Wigstock drag queen street festival. The Fleshtones survived many musical trends and remains the only band from the CBGBs days that never broke up. Since 1990, original vocalist Peter Zaremba and guitarist Keith Streng have been joined by drummer Bill Milhizer and bassist Ken Fox. The Fleshtones’ 19th and most recent studio album is 2016’s The Band Drinks for Free. Forty-three years after the band first played on the Bowery, the Fleshtones returned to headline at the Bowery Electric, one block north of the band’s old CBGB’s stomping grounds. Not much has changed with the band’s musical style over that time period, except that the band is playing better than ever. The Fleshtones stuck to its patented garage rock formula of high-energy, nearly manic express-rock, with Zaremba and Streng charging into the audience frequently to electrify the crowd. To establish a light-hearted attitude early on, the musicians did a few silly antics like twirling in circles and then encouraging audience members to do the same. Beyond that, it was all about a rowdy rock and roll party, and few bands do this better than the Fleshtones.