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The Memory Pain at The Famished Frog
Aug 5, 2016
We had the good fortune on this Friday night to catch a performance of top-notch cover band The Memory Pain while dining at Morristown’s The Famished Frog. This venue hosts a large, noisy and distracted crowd whose patrons are mostly 20-something imbibers who are there on dates or looking to pick-up or be picked up while ambling around the big rectangular bar in front of which The Memory Pain performed. A nice, recessed space provided adequate room for this 4-piece group to spread out comfortably. That’s important, because frontman Fred Zoeller performs in a remarkably active, excited and physically mobile fashion.
When TMP performs their flawless, live covers of hits from the past 20 or so years, it isn’t just a walk down memory lane, but rather a dynamic, faithful reprise of great music from the past that we all share. The repertoire is drawn largely, but not exclusively from standards from the heyday of MTV in the 90s when most of us acquired and refined our taste in rock. “Talented,” “tight” and “professional” are the words that come to mind in summing up the performance by this well-rehearsed quartet. Veterans Fred Zoeller (lead vocals/guitar) and Dan Esser (bass guitar) are joined by alternate lead vocalist Dan Callas on guitar and multi-talented, multi-instrumentalist Adam Gruss on drums to create a rich, authentic and room-filling sound. This is essential to re-creating faithful reincarnations of well-known and beloved favorites of the audience’s shared musical history.
Despite the fact that dating and dining are their primary reasons for being present, some of the audience felt so compelled by the good music issuing forth from the band that they broke into dance although there was little spaced allocated for it. If hearing masterful, accurate covers of famous hits by Counting Crows or Third Eye Blind have that same effect on you, I suggest you follow The Memory Pain at various venues where they perform and where you can come as close as possible to being at live performances by the originals.
Lost Boys Beach Party at QXT’s
Newark nightclub QXT’s held a theme night called “Lost Boys Beach Party.” The club was absolutely packed, both the upstairs main hall where DJ Ron Medina spun his usual masterful mix of 80s and Dark Wave; and the two lower spaces, where DJs Wintermute and Mykill Plague assaulted rivet-heads and their ilk in Area 51 with EBM and industrial; as well as The Crypt where DJ Helixx aired danceable, but horror-themed Goth and darkwave. Vendors were present offering horror and vampire themed merchandise as well as accessories of club attire. There were periodically announced giveaways.
A special treat was a live performance by singer/saxaphonist Tim Cappello, known and revered for his musical performance in the now-classic vampire movie “The Lost Boys.” Appearing youthful and muscular at 61 years of age, wearing little more than an elaborate set of chrome chains, a ponytail and a black wife-beater, Cappello absolutely enthralled the audience with his energetic show. The crowd pressed up to the stage to get the most out of his performance. Excitement was heightened further when Cappello jumped off-stage, singing and wailing from his sax right into the midst of the crowd who responded with enthusiasm and a flurry of camera-phone flashes. Despite the love showered upon him, Cappello limited his performance to the single “I Still Believe,” modestly admitting it to be his one and only hit. But what a hit!
Necropolis at Windfall
On Sept. 3, veteran DJ and club organizer Fr. Jeff Ward celebrated the 5th anniversary of his over-the-top, successful monthly dance club night, Necropolis, at midtown Manhattans’ Windfall. Jeff managed to rescue from oblivion a dance night called Necromantik that he had co-hosted at the Knitting Factory some 9 years ago. The Knitting Factory has long since moved from Manhattan to Brooklyn. He recruited 3 top deejays, Patrick Cusack, Sean Templar and Erik Aengel who now serve as consistent resident DJs to the renamed, monthly Necropolis along with various guest spinners. Moving from the Knitting Factory to The Bowery Poetry Club, then later to Element (previously The Bank) Jeff finally settled on Windfall.
For this anniversary celebration, the guest was noted musicologist and published author Andi Harriman, as pleasing to the eyes as to the ears. Together, they created a festive and gala observance of the milestone event with a rhapsodic mix of classic post-punk and oft-forgotten gothic/industrial treasures, such that the floor was crowded with fervid and energetic dancers like rarely seen elsewhere.
Windfall is an elegant bar and dance hall smack in the middle of Manhattan’s midtown. Once the site of the Architects’ Guild, it boasts modern interior design in the Frank Lloyd Wright or Mission-style, with stately wood floor and paneling, to which a curved and lengthy polished-top bar has been added. It is the location where black-attired and finely groomed Goths and denizens of the NYC after-hours music crowd gather on the first Saturday of every month to attend Necropolis.
Doors open at 11:00 pm. Imbibers line up and socialize at the exquisitely designed and well-stocked bar, where knowledgeable and attentive mixologist Gerard serves up the concoctions of their choice. Attentive, pony-tailed manager Chris roams the space, ever watchful to assure everyone enjoys a perfectly comfortable time. The main reason for attending this particular night is the uncommonly astute musical selection served up by Father Jeff (Ward 6) and his cohort of similarly skilled DJs, to provide a the atmosphere for a night of New Wave and Goth-Industrial dance. Eminently danceable musical rarities are blended in with beloved favorites from the Depeche Mode/Sisters of Mercy/ Siouxsie repertory.
Celebrities of Gotham’s underground scene are noted to come and mingle, sometimes spreading word and flyers of upcoming social and musical events. Merging with the crowd of gorgeous and transgressively garbed patrons this night were DJs Arsenal and Ron Medina, Sir William Welles and Matt V Christ. Among the glitterati, Shirley Alvarez and Kai Irina Hahn of The Sedona Effect add glamour to a ravishing and splendid crowd of attendees.
Memento Mori 1st Anniversary
This monthly, Thursday night Deathrock-themed dance party celebrated its 1st Anniversary on August 25, drawing its largest crowd ever, culminating a success story beyond expectations, at the customary location, the appropriately decorated Bedlam in Alphabet City, NYC. Doors opened at 10 pm, and the turnout grew exponentially as the denizens of the Greater New York demimonde began showing up to enjoy the music and extend their congratulations to the principals involved. Returning briefly from the U.K. for the celebration was Ana Vice, long-time mainstay in the scene and mentor to the enterprising group consisting of two novice DJs, Valefar Malefic and Bela Lugosi Alex, and the established, seasoned DJ Mike Stalagmike, host of Defcon. Together they managed to pull off the difficult accomplishment of drawing a steady and satisfied crowd to a late-night, weekday night event.
Greeting guests at the door was the glamorous and beautiful Catgirl Morales who heaped praise on the organizers and was happy to disclose the details of the past year to interested attendees. A who’s who of famous celebrities of the Goth scene included Aurelio Voltaire, just back from an international tour; gorgeous and multi-talented Kai Irina Hahn; impresario William Welles; and DJs Mark Cage Knight and Joe Hart of Procession, which is yet another successful and on-going weekday night dark dance party. Goody bags with candy and Memento Mori buttons were among the giveaways.
The scene was appropriately lit with only scattered tea-light candles and draped with hanging shroud tatters. A pitch-black musical selection of classics and obscurities entertained a roomful of die-hard guests until 4 a.m.
at La Poisson Rouge
Extensive Facebook promotion of this new, free and thematic dance party paid off for the organizers , DJs Eisdriver and Arsenal who succeeded in drawing an staunch crowd of between 25 and 30 committed, rivet-headed industrial music enthusiasts on a Thursday night to the downstairs at La Poisson Rouge lounge. Starting around 10:00 pm, attendees were assaulted (in the favorable sense in which they understand it) with a blend of the hammering sounds of old-school industrial and mechanized Germanic EBM (electro-body music).
The classics of the 80s and 90s from Skinny Puppy, Front 242 and Ministry are now-largely neglected, but I was pleasantly surprised to hear these and more woven into a selection of Nordic/Germanic and highly danceable Neo Old School EBM.
The black-clad, booted crowd consisted of recognizable adherents of the genre by their attire, their bearing and their mastery of the dance style, which is characterized by muscular, decisive and resolute stepping to the insistent beat of this mode of music. Celebrities of the scene were in attendance, including the statuesque and talented beauty, Kai Irina Hahn (front vocalist of The Sedona Effect), renowned DJ Father Jeff Ward and noted Diesel-punk artist CharleSilas Garlette. The hosts and their spouses greeted and mingled with the special and somewhat exclusive in-crowd of devotees. Raffle drawings and giveaways of CDs and tickets livened the evening. The crowd seemed to be actually growing when I left around 1:30 am.
Local Music Festivals
A Murder of Crows
A Murder of Crows took place on August 12 and 13 at the Mercury Lounge, in coordination with The Red Party, billing itself a 2 Day Goth & Post Punk Festival hosted by DJ Patrick Cusack, Sean and Mandana Banshie Templar, Dave and Jenn Bats as well as Stefan Axell, Frank Vollman and Jaycee Cannon. Friday’s live musical lineup featured Ritual Howls, VOWWS, and the Memphis Morticians. Saturday saw The Exploding Boy, Frank The Baptist and Skeleton Hands. It is reported to have been a smashing success as revealed in the nearby photo.
Nowhere To Run Post-Punk Festival
took place August 20 at The Paper Box in Brooklyn and also featured an all-day-and-night of bands and dance music. Music historian and DJ Andi Harriman opened the event at 2 pm and reports that the event was packed all night, estimating some 300 people, representing the whole spectrum of goth, punk, techno and industrial fans – came through the doors. Incidentally, Harriman succeeded in selling off the entire stock of her notorious book, “Some Wear Leather Some Wear Lace,” which covers the history of the Post Punk movement from the 80s onward, at the merchandise stand. Among the 11 or so live bands, Post-Punk group, The Pawns and industrial band Statiqbloom captured the audience with their on-stage presence and interesting sound.
Museums & Galleries
Taxidermy: Art, Science and Immortality
at Morbid Anatomy
Aug 12, 2016
Brooklyn’s Morbid Anatomy Museum opened a new and dazzling exhibit with a champagne toast on a Friday evening. Attendees to the reception were guided through the multifaceted aspects of the art by the exhibit’s curator, J. D. Powe whose personal collection comprised the majority of the pieces. Mr. Powe, who is a co-founder of an educational software company, explained how his fascination with taxidermy began with his earliest visits to natural history museums. Small pieces and then large were added to his collection which by now boasts a staggering array of miniature as well as grand acquisitions, spanning the whole variety of specimens. These include wild and domestic; animal, fish and fowl; artistic arrangements; dramatic dioramas; furniture adornments; freakish abnormalities; and perfect, paradigmatic exemplars of the various species.
Thus we are treated to glass cases chock filled with vividly colorful birds, one serving as a fireplace screen. The right half of a sailfish in a regal pose floats high on a wall over a variety of his finny cohorts, while several toothed probosces of different sized sawfish lay disembodied and ready for inspection directly below. Two-headed cattle, a dwarfed calf, a walrus with duplicate tusks and other mistakes of nature are preserved for study and to evoke amazement at nature’s sometimes-slipshod processes of reproduction.
Elephant and rhinoceros feet drew attention in the case displaying functional items such as ashtrays, flower vases and bookends fashioned from animal parts. An entire wall was stacked high with glass cases housing the mortal remains of beloved, deceased pets, mainly dogs. Free-standing canines stood on the floor below them and were aesthetically beautiful representatives of man’s best friend, a large hound and a spotted Great Dane. Little dioramas housed theatrical tableaux, one of which posed a paternal frog administering an over-the-knee spanking of a young’un.
Enlightening, educational and at the same time mind-boggling, this exhibition brought a decidedly respectful – even loving – approach to a practice that might seem controversial to some. The emphasis here is on the beauty of the animal world and of each subject, the ingenuity and skill involved in the craft, and the fascination we appropriately feel when given opportunity to examine carefully prepared and maintained samples of the natural world.
The really good news is that this exhibit is being expanded starting in September with some anthropomorphic taxidermy, i.e. animals clothed and posed as if engaged in human activities. Look for it!
The Creeper Gallery
in New Hope, PA
No trip to the twin cities of Lambertville NJ and New Hope PA is complete without a long and leisurely tour of this extraordinary gallery where artist-owner D.L. Marian gave us a brief rundown on how and why she came, along with her partner and fellow-artist, Danielle Deveroux, to fill this tiny storefront with grotesque and gorgeous sculptures, paintings, mixed media constructions and rogue taxidermy specimens, all of museum quality. Definitely not for the squeamish or the easily offended, these works, self-described as “gothic,” are horrific, iconoclastic, charming, even while bordering on the sacrilegious, but seem to get away without offending by being so ingeniously conceived and artfully crafted. There are fabricated or altered effigies, dummies, heads, skulls, shrines, photos, paintings, constructions and assemblages to provide material for your nightmares as well as food for your thoughts on mortality, morbidity, aberrations and Hell.
You can learn more by checking out their website, but nothing can substitute for first-hand, up close and painfully personal viewing of the ever-changing exhibit of items for sale at the Creeper Gallery.
Manus x Machina
at the Metropolitan Museum of Art
On exhibition from Fashion Institute of Technology at ”Manus x Machina,” The Metropolitan Museum of Art held a display of the wildest and most artistic and high tech examples of mainly dress designs produced by a combination of astounding and specialized manual skills and modern day mechanization, such as 3D printing. The range of styles and materials was overwhelming in diversity, but we zeroed in on the most sci-fi and gothic pieces.
Which all goes to show how far and deep into the mainstream culture that gothic/punk/industrial taste has penetrated!
Meanwhile, on the roof of the Museum, the Met had erected the façade of everybody’s favorite creepy domicile: The house from Alfred Hitchcock’s “Psycho,” which, set against the beautiful twilight cityscape of New York City’s skyline, appeared as a mischievously evil blot on the otherwise uplifting panorama.