There were no explanations or apologies. No long VH1 "Storytellers"-like interludes between songs. Surely everyone in the audience Saturday night at Castle Clinton was of that ilk that likes a good, long horror story with their guitar rock, but, like his appearance at the Bowery Ballroom in late April, Roky Erickson’s between-song banter was limited, almost entirely to a few quiet, if heartfelt, “thank yous.” This time out, however, Roky had a new band in-tow, and the storytelling, motormouthed lead guitarist of The Explosives was replaced by a younger and decidedly less-talkative version, forcing Erickson to add “it’s good to see New York,” into his spoken repertoire toward the show’s end.
After a half-decade spent receiving electroshock in a state-run Texas mental hospital, Erickson’s relative wordlessness was the least surprising aspect of his third-ever NYC show (the first two, having both occurred a near two months before). Backed by a tight foursome, including a pedal steel and rambunctious lead guitarist, Erickson tore through a repertoire, comprised almost entirely of the his post-asylum solo-career—songs about two-headed dogs and creatures with atom brains—with all of the fire and soulful shrieks of those original recordings, tossing in a version the classic Animals cover,”Don’t Let Me Be Misunderstood,” and of course, the 13th Floor Elevator’s old Nuggets staple, “You’re Gonna Miss Me.” There was never a sense of the Brian Wilson deer-in-headlights syndrome we’ve come to know and love from the post-SMiLe-era Brian Wilson.
For an hour and a half, under the clear lower-Manhattan sky, Roky Erickson was back, and no one in the packed monument could take their eyes off. Looks like he was missed, after all.
Photo courtesy of thetripwirenyc.