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When Henry Rollins tells you to see Suicide YOU go and witness punk history

3/8/15

Driving into the city last night with the radio tuned to WNYC. Johnathan Schwartz's soothing voice as he described Bob Hope and how his name has faded from our fabled American history.   Bob Hope.  He was a celebrity who I’d watch on TV, especially when he was visiting the troops.  And then Schwartz played a Bob Hope song and it brought a smile.  This radio show is a gem.  Not that I want to spend my Saturday evenings lulled to the radio listening to old songs from an ancient age, but I knew what I was doing.  The ride was a solitary voyage into the city since my two likely suspects were not going in with me.  Here;s a secret, I didn’t want to go into the city.  I was ready to find an excuse not to go, but I drove on since I was committed to seeing Suicide in concert.

 Suicide is one of Henry Rollins’ favorite bands and I asked him in an email if he would see them, “Mike, if Suicide are playing, don't pass it up. I cannot vouch for the quality of the show but they are real history. If I was in town, I would be there. Henry.”  What kind of man am I that I would be influenced so much that I’d buy a ticket and see this band?  I have listened to their first album and can appreciate how influential they have been for electronic music, but I have not been a real fan of this genre.  Why go?  If I didn’t find a parking spot since I refuse to pay $30.00 for parking, I would head back home with the memory of the beauty of the Manhattan’s skyline.  I drove in from the LIE, taking the BQE and Manhattan Bridge, and found a spot on 3rd and Broadway and headed up to Webster Hall. I walked past the shops around NYC, passed clusters of students and a homeless man slowly pushing a stuffed shopping cart, with a little dog and Spanish music on the radio. 

I went into Webster Hall, had my ticket scanned and went up the stair case and entered the main hall.  I was hit with a wall of sound.  The Vacant Lots were on the stage.  It was close to a sellout.  I went up to the balcony and bought a beer.  I watched the duo and took a sip and was impressed with the eighties children with dyed blonde hair or jet black, pale faces and faded fatigues.  I was back. When I was a youth and the place was The Ritz.  The Vacant Lots were evicted and the stage was bare.  Within a few minutes the stage was set.  A folding chair was in ready.   Finally, Suicide came on the stage.  In a smoke screen, tunnels of lights and a sound which pounded my chest and screeched in my ears, through a series of howls, guttural screams which contained the ample evidence of a tormented and pained soul.  The thin Martin Rev on the keyboards, decked out in a black rubber or plastic outfit, wild permed hair came to the stage.  Alan Vega appeared frail.  He walked out to the stage very slowly, holding a cane, wore a black sweat shirt and a knit hat.  This band is credited as being the first to use the name punk.  And I took a step back from my critique, my feeble willingness to find an escape and appreciated these men for the art they created.  This is history.  Maybe it was not my style, but here they were playing perhaps their last live show in front of an adoring crowd who barely moved.  They were mesmerized.  Before leaving the stage Vega thanked the audience for coming out and he waved and kissed the crowd like a gracious king who was departing into the night of his distress.


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