Driving into the city last night was easy. I didn’t rely on the Waze or the GPS. I have driven in a few times to the Bowery Electric. I felt confident in my sense of direction. It’s perhaps one of my strongest traits. Leaving New Hyde Park around 9 meant less traffic. I drank a couple of beers at a farewell party – some salad and pint of water and I was off. I was a man on a mission. Onto the cross island and onto the LIE and then the BQE and follow the signs to Manhattan. The sparking city was resplendent from the passing rain. I found a parking spot, paralleled parked the Charger and walked a couple of blocks to the Bowery. Turned left. Pass some restaurants and a 7-11 and there it was. Walked in, checked in at the ticket table. Showed ID and headed downstairs. Passed legendary Bad Brain’s guitarist, Dr. No, but was too shy to say anything.
The place was packed. SubZero was on the stage. They played the last two songs of their set. The lights went on and a flood of bodies escaped into the night. It was the time to climb into the heat. I went in, stepped down into the pit and took a spot in the back next to the sound board. I was safe. I was back against a wall.
I was there to see Regulator which as members of Bad Brains and Cro-Mags. Dr. No was warming up and high fived Mackie, the drummer of the Cro-Mags as he sat down behind the drums. A content Daryl Jenifer, bassist for the Bad Brains, eventually was on the stage and warmed up as reggae music thumped through robust speakers. It was a few minutes of sound check. The collected and anticipating bodies waited like patient monks till John Joseph, the singer for the Cro-Mags took the mic and asked, “How’s everyone doing?” Ready to rip.
The super group piled on the bricks of the Bad Brain’s classics. Sailin’ on, Don’t Need It, The Regulator, essentially all of the songs off The Bad Brain’s seminal self-titled album, but skipped over the soothing (take a break from aggression) reggae selections. They played House of Suffering off the album I against I and they nailed it.
Why skip the reggae? My thoughts: the reggae songs were the influences from their singer (HR and his younger brother Earl Hudson) It was another reminder this was not the Bad Brains on the stage. Not that it mattered to the crunching horde slam dancing, jumping, legs over heads, shoving the heavy and solid music board back. The energy in the room raged.
John Joseph carried the tunes very well, but the strong vibrato, the classic pristine falsetto of HR’s voice was missing last night. But considering where HR is now and what he has been up to recently – performing solo shows to some harsh criticism, even his voice can’t match its peaked past.
Regulator may be flirting with our nostalgic heart strings. Is there a possibility they will continue as a band? I was surprised how short the set was - as well as no encore. There were so many songs left to play and there was the expectation they'd play for an hour plus. I'd say they played for about 45 minutes.
Before closing, John Joseph thanked Jesse Malin for hosting the event. He explained why we were there – it was a benefit concert for Children’s Tumor Foundation. Even on his FaceBook page he stressed even if you cannot make the event, you can make a donation to the foundation and suggested buying a T-Shirt on the way out. All of the money is donated to the foundation. I will share a link within this post. Enjoy the pictures.
Thank you for reading this.