“That one was called ‘Hell on Earth,’ which is a perfect description of what it’s like to be up here,” punk icon James Chance announced to an impressive-sized audience at P.S. 1 in Long Island City, sweat pouring through his bright yellow jacket.The majority of the crowd at last Saturday’s gig—the first by the surviving members of the original Contortions in over a decade—was there for the ravey meat market, taking place after the show. “This music sucks,” a muscle bound gentleman whined, sitting against the stage as Chance was blowing violently into his ancient sax. The generous sprinkling of hipsters and middle aged freaks made up for the apathy of the douche bag contingent by cheering loudly throughout the set. Kevin Corrigan, most recently seen in Pineap ple Express,was filming Chance’s ragged James Brown–inspired dance routines.
During the group’s dissonant, staccato version of Brown’s “King Heroin,” the pompadoured bandleader dropped to his knees, gripped the microphone and punctuated his lyrical delivery with impassioned grunts and groans, throwing up his hand and forcibly exhorting the band with, “Uh, take it down!” Lead guitarist Pat Place, her eyes wrapped behind dark aviators and short, platinum hair, stood downstage, riffing coolly.
“The guy’s like a time capsule,” said Erik Sanko of the orig inal Lounge Lizards, who was playing bass in a Miami Vice–era white linen suit, told me after the show. “He’s still pissing people off like he did 30 years ago; he’s just a little chubbier now.” Chance, who promised an album of new material soon, rem inisced about days gone by. He lamented the passing of Voidoids guitarist Robert Quine and noted that he hasn’t seen music critic Robert Christgau since socking him in the face at a Contortions gig in 1979. He copped to missing the old days, grumbling about “mobs of disgusting assholes roaming the LES on Saturday nights,” but added that, “If you can stay alive long enough, it seems like you come back in fashion for a little bit.” — Matt Harvey
PARTY LIKE IT’S 1999 Last week, artsy noise-rockers …And You Shall Know Us By The Trail of Dead took the new craze of 1990s mania to new heights—the band performed with the same lineup it did in that decade, with two members cranking out howling post-punk and a slew of skuzzy dudes looking on. As the band tuned up on the stage at Santos Party House, a tanned, leggy NYU girl wearing shiny heels and a ludicrously short green tunic dress, and who barely seemed to remember the aughts, did a face plant in the middle of the dance floor. She got up and laughed as the artsy duo from Austin kicked off a short, incredibly loud set. Be fore the last number, singer Conrad Keely told the crowd, “[DJ] Jonathan Toubin likes to play 45s that he finds in the garbage in Brook lyn. He likes us because we sound like something from the trash, too.” That night at the Party House, in fact, it seemed that 1990s nightlife was in full swing. Having seen a lot of flared jeans and skating T-shirts un dulating beneath Santos’ monstrous disco ball, I ask my host if the kids were eating ecstasy in honor of the late ’90s theme. “I think what you’re seeing here is just sober indie kids; it’s kind of a Pitchfork crowd tonight,” said Toubin.
Madcap projectionist Spencer Bewley piped in that he’d love some ecstasy. “Usually it’s a coke and booze crowd,” he lamented.
Speaking of blow, I couldn’t help but ask Toubin, known for spin ning vinyl, what the best type of record to snort it off of is. “A 78, be cause it has those really tight grooves,” he said. Mystery solved. He quickly added that kids should do their homework and stay in school.