Saturday October 21st 2017

The Manglers / RoadSoldier / The Instamatics / Harry & The Hot Flashes


The Manglers / RoadSoldier / The Instamatics / Harry & The Hot Flashes
Midway Cafe, Jamaica Plain, MA     10/1/17


Harry and The Hot Flashes are the first band I hear walking into the Midway. They consist of one dude and three dames. And these folks aren’t young like me. A bit gray, I would say; but probably wizened, though certainly not grizzled.

Soon I hear a song they play but I just can’t place who does the original. I figure out it’s called “You Wreck Me,” by Tom Perry. (Editors note: Tom Petty died the next day.)

They play songs by The Pixies, The B-52’s, even “The Model” by German krautrock synthesizer band Kraftwerk. (One of my favorite bands). And I chuckle to myself because the next band does that song, too.

Maybe they do some originals but I don’t know. Either way they’re a fun garage-y/ new wave cover band and a rather pleasant way to start the afternoon.

The Instamatics, I’ve seen a few times before and they’re a (mostly) instrumental surf band that (mostly) does covers of songs from later eras.

I’m a sucker for surf music. Also, petite redheads and beverages with alcoholic content in them. Oh! And any food that has the adjective of Mexican.

This band features Eric The Fruitbat, the bassist from the world renowned punk band The Grommets.

Well, maybe I exaggerate- though they are playing this years TNB’s Xmas Party so world domination is surely in their grasp.

They have a fill in drummer today. I saw him fill in for The Manglers, for a couple of tunes, at The Grommets, they’re a couple who had a JP Porchfest a couple of months ago. It’s an event that I’ve seen for two years, you could say for a couple of years, now.

He fills in ably today as he did before. Me, I just stand here and watch like I did a couple of months ago.

They kick off with a nice cover of “Comanche” by Link Wray. But soon Eric has to wreck things- not so much for Tom Petty but for everybody else.

He proclaims the band will be known as “Balls Deep” today, but just for today. And as David Bowie sang, “We can be heroes, just for one day.” Just the thought, of this notion, has made me so nauseated, that I motion to Lenny to keep the Jameson’s flowing.

But they do a nifty version of the “Batman Theme” with spoken word interludes that call to question- just what was the relationship between the older Batman and the young Robin? But I think it was totally innocent, much like the Catholic priests with the altar boys.

They play “The Model,” whose electronic slivers of sound are transposed to surf waves that strike my few remaining neurons to ecstatic ecstasy. “Too Drunk To Surf,” soon follows and they end with another Link Wray song “Rumble.” All’n’all a remarkably, great set.

RoadSoldiers are next and they play rock in an often, funky way that reminds me of the jam bands that play this club Friday afternoons during hippie hour.

Hey! This is not my bag. But if it’s yours, you’d probably love this band to bits because I feel music is subjective, like different tastes in food. I’d say they did a great job and to check them out yourself and see what you think.

The Manglers are up to take us out. They’re a cover band that covers early classic punk like The Dictators, Dead Boys and Johnny Thunders.

They start off exciting and electrifying with “Twentieth Century Boy” by T-Rex into “Better Off Dead” by La Peste, one of Boston’s earliest and best punk bands. (This song is Andy Bang’s favorite local song.)

Soon after they play “Search & Destroy,” leading right into the Dead Boys “Sonic Reducer.”

Before the set I was talking to Brian, their lead singer, about the recent Dead Boys show and how they only played eight songs. He points out that The Manglers only have two less original members of the current Dead Boys, and they are playing four songs by them today! I point out that, mathematically, it works out that they are indeed the Dead Boys. I’d call them The Resurrected Dead Boys, in fact.

They play my second favorite Stooges song of all time, “I Got A Right,” and during The Dictators, “Stay With Me,” I get to sing along into the microphone, just like I did recently for this song with Stop Calling Me Frank.

This was a fun, wild set they played. Perhaps the best I’ve ever seen by them.

With all these old tunes I can’t help thinking of my early days, late seventies, eighties at The Rat.

The gentleman, doorman Mitch, with no vocal chords, placing an electronic device to his adam’s apple and croaking, “That’ll be three dollars, fellers,” while you stood stoned out of your mind, waiting to descend the stairs into the dungeon of 200 smokers with no ventilation system. Rats roaming freely behind the bars, Italian disco boys on steroids and cocaine serving as bouncers- waiting to pummel an unsuspecting punk (they knocked someone’s eyeball out once, the club was suspended for two weeks.)

A pitcher of Rat Brew, that turned out to be the dregs left in the mostly empty bottles of the night before. The decrepit toilets with flies living in them during the dead of winter. The staff ripping off the bands nightly (I feel honored they ripped off my band once, too.)

But it was ectasy- pure and true. It was called punk but what it really was, was truth and emotion, energy and guts, rebellion and expression. It was city strife and tears mixed with joyous movements of sound and words that ripped as real as the the subway trains screeching on the third rail on the Green Line.

I asked Andy, recently, what percentage of folks he thought were still alive of those who stood, shoulder to shoulder, with us at these shows. I guessed- fifty percent.

“Oh, no. much less than that, he said. “Maybe a quarter.”

People ask me- what’s the difference now. Seeing a punk show now compared to then. I say, now I look around the room and no one looks like they’re dying, no one looks like I won’t see them next weekend, at the next show.

I’m still surprised I’m still hear. I consider myself, one of the lucky ones. I feel blessed to still be here and to see shows like this.

And then relay them to you.


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