I could fill an ocean with the time I spent traveling northbound on the NJT (or driving when I had a car) heading to shows. There are few experiences that come close to imparting the sense of wonder, freedom, imagination and down-to-the-core invigoration I experience during a good live band.
A lot of it now stands as foggy images and sense memories. Like a legendary (in my mind) showcase at CBGB’s. Couldn’t name the acts or their sound if my life depended on it. The feeling, THAT’s right here with me – full of warmth, happiness, smiles. I can instantly recall the joy, the thrill, the true appreciation I had for being *in* that moment.
The Damnbuilders rocking out a SXSW-type fest at The Knitting Factory. I’d never seen anyone play a violin like Joan Wasser! The countless nights at other NYC clubs/spaces – big and small. Some are still around (Roseland Ballroom, Mercury Lounge, Irving Plaza), others gone (Wetlands, Knitting Factory, Spiral).
At some point, I started going south (mostly in my car) in search of other venues that didn’t involve crossing a tunnel. I saw the legendary (no doubt in my mind) Bad Brains reunion with HR at The Stone Pony (with an awesome funk/punk band whose bassist went on to help found the experimental noise grunge band, Tchkunk!). Close by, on a different night I saw psychedelic grunge bands like Daisycutter (whose drummer Reg Hogan redefined the instrument for me) at a lesser known yet active venue, T-Birds Cafe.
Amongst the most memorable, was Sinead O’Connor at City Gardens, on tour for her first record . Initially motivated to go after learning Mike Joyce and Andy Rourke of the Smiths would be part of her backing band, I was rewarded with more than I bargained for.
I’d been a huge fan but never did manage to see them play live. The dilapidated space seemed transformed to an ethereal room of low lights and a band not quite in sync but very much present. She was as imposing and powerful as you might imagine. And seeing her sing ‘Troy’ live is one of my most treasured snapshots. Oh man, I’m welling up just thinking about it.
These are just a drop in the huge pond of awesome moments I’ve enjoyed. Can’t wait to keep adding more!