Two offshoots of the late, great Any Day Parade filled in the opening slots of a recent Punk Rock edition of Groove on Grove, the weekly summer free music series held by the PATH station in J.C. Rainouts plagued the last couple of GOG shows but seemed the Punk brought enough thunder and drove away the clouds. Wax Darts and They Live played solid sets, putting a fresh veneer on two different variations of retro punk rock.
Larry Brinkman, guitarist, singer, and songwriter for Any Day Parade headlines his new project, Wax Darts. Power Pop is how their Facebook page describes their music s and the sound did harken back to early Kinks. An old school garage rock sound with some grunge undertones; a clever mix of melodic pop structures played ragged, rapid and edged in distortion. A high-treble power trio, two guitars and a drummer – the drummer accented well and sustained the rhythm necessary for high octane pop, chipping in background vocals along the way.
Wax Darts created a noisy wall of sound, mixing dissonance and melody, sometimes veering into a sneering rockabilly. A bluesy stomp that seemed to both maintain and deconstruct the Bo Diddley beat seemed the best song of the set to me. Pissed off raunch. I was reminded of post-Stooges Iggy. Learning to live with your anger can be just as liberating as letting go of it.
They Live featured Pat Byrne, on lead vocals and occasional guitar. While not part of the recorded legacy of ADP, he was the drummer during their final tour. The band had trouble keeping drummer; Pat was the best ADP drummer, at least live. The ADP set, one of their final shows, at 4thStreet festival a couple of Octobers ago was simply superb and unforgettable.The best ADP show I saw and credit should go to the drumming and musicianship of Pat.
But as good as his drumming was, this dude belongs front and center on the stage. He is a born showman. His voice is solid, although by itself not enough to write home about – although the vocals are often garbled at the Groove on Grove shows. The microphones? The mix? It’s a gripe of mine, the vocals never sound as good as the other instruments at these Wednesday events.
Anyway, he can sing the punk. They Live basically ran through Ramones and Clash chord changes but used new lyrics, although sometimes the songs ended with a quote – Rockaway Beach or I Fought the Law – a brief nod to the genre legacy even as they made it feel new. Skinny and long limbed, Byrne cannot keep still, hopping around the stage, balancing on the drum set. He sprang into the crowd and howled at the commuters heading home, imitating their walk, then back on the stage to finish the verse. He twitched, flailed, pogoed and generally convulsed. It was if the Stooges era Iggy had been spliced with a smurf. His energy was fun to watch, but he didn’t miss a beat or note (least that I noticed), and the band, impressively tight, created an appropriate and seamless boundary for his relentless mania.
They Live introduced themselves as a ‘Concept’ band. They wore ray bans and on their matching t-shirts were scrawled ominous terms like Consume and Watch TV. Ominous, until I got the joke, the band is a visceral tribute to They Live, the 1988 John Carpenter film which apparently has garnered a cult status among Gen Y – enough of a status to form a tribute band around – in-between songs, lines from the film were recited, well more invoked than actually re-created. I like the film well enough, saw it in the theater when it was released. Seeing the band made me want to see the movie again.
Like all Groove on Grove shows, children and toddlers scamper about in front of the stage as the musicians performed. At one point, during one of his crazed forays into the crowd, Pat high fived all the kids, and the kids high fived him back, possessing none of the apprehension the adults displayed when they were confronted by the lanky, hyper-kinetic singer. Kids always understand what parents can't.