SHOW REVIEW: Joey Ramone's Blitzkrieg July 4th Bash @ Coney Island High in New York City
Featuring: Joey and Dee Dee Ramone with Daniel Rey and Barbara Ramone, The Dictators, The Independents, Black Fire, The Sinisters, Kill Kowalski, and Heap.
By: Marc Clarkin
What better way to celebrate my independence than hop on busfor a four hour ride to the New York City, home of one of nationsgreatest freedom fighters, Joey Ramone. This year to mark theoccasion Joey has assembled an eclectic force to do the CretinHop with the a capacity crowd at Coney Island High.
The first two bands of the evening, Heap and Killer Kowalski, showcased their ultra catchy pop-punk hooks and dual axe attack to the early birds making their way into Coney Island High. Killer Kowalski, the more polished of the two, were showcasing new songs from a forthcoming debut album.
The Navaho punk trio Black Fire was next on tap. They played pretty much straight punk set punctuated with between songs commentary that kinda grew stale. As you might guess July fourth is not that big of a holiday on the Navaho calendar but how many different ways can one say the same message? Black Fire seemed to be trying to establish a new record with their in between songs banter that could best be summed up as there are many people living in the United states who are not free and buy our t-shirts! They would be better served letting a much more potent weapon, their music, do the talking in the future.
The horror ska Independents ripped through a manic set jam packed with thrills and chills. Lead singer Evil Presley, who sounds like Elvis playing in a hard core band from hell, lead the cavalry through a forty five minute assault of timeless classics including "C Is For Cookie, (That's good Enough For Me)," "Na, Na, Na, F#*k You!," and a set closing cover of Danzig's "Mother." During the latter Presley roamed through the crowd flashing the devil sign as the band rocked out on the skankin chorus and all seemed right in the world.
Be on the Lookout for a new album from the Independents and their production team of Daniel Rey and Joey Ramone later this year. The Independents will also be appearing on selected dates of this summer Vans Warped Tour.
The legendary Dictators followed with a set of their ageless New York City anthems. A little history lesson for those not familiar with the Dictators, they predate the Ramones, arose out of the same early 70s scene as the New York Dolls, and like the Dolls made a couple very important low budget albums and then broke up long before punk-rock took over the town in the mid 70s. The Dictators have since quasi-reformed, opting to play out everynow and then as opposed to full time touring. Lead singer, Handsome Dick Manitoba, seemed excited to be duty for the Blitzkrieg Bash as he strutted about like it was 1972 while the band performed the pop-punk anthems that they pioneered over twenty years ago.
After a cover of the Dead Boys "Sonic Reducer," Manitoba announced that "he was going to let Joey Ramone borrow his band for a tune." Joey and The Dictators proceeded to rip through a version of the Who's "I Can't Explain" Next, Handsome Dick announced "Its time to go surfing!" As he and Joey closed the Dictators set with a rendition of the timeless summer classic, "California Sun," complete with slightly altered lyrics in the bridge, New York City style of course!
The motive for my four hour bus ride was upon me, the reunion of two estranged uh, Ramones! All of the dozen or so times that I have seen the Ramones were after 1989, or year 0001 A.D.D. (After Dee Dee!) Dee Dee looked like a middle age surfer, shirtless, showcasing his assortment of tattoos, hair cropped short and bleached as he Joey, Barbara Ramone (Dee Dee's wife), Daniel Rey, and Michael Wildwood (of DGeneration) took the stage.
The set list was a mix of standards, obscurities, and even one great new song, "UFOs", from Dee Dee's upcoming solo album. The standards included "Commando", "Rockaway Beach", "Listen to my Heart", "Sheena Is A Punk Rocker", and "53rd and 3rd." They even slowed downed to play more slow jams than Johnny Ramone allowed in the last ten years of the Ramones. Such should have been prom classics like "I Want You Around" and "Babysitter" put to rest any rumors that Joey could not still hit the high notes as he sounded better than ever.
The highlight of the excellent set were two lost, in one case even banned, classics. Back in 1976, as an answer to criticism received for "Now I Wanna Sniff Some Glue," a song on their first album, the Ramones wrote "Carbona Not Glue." In the song, the Ramones offer an alternative to sniffing glue, sniffing Carbona! However, Carbona is a company name, thus the song was a copyright infringement and the original version was never released except for the very first and very treasured pressings of Leave Home on vinyl. A live version does appear as a hidden song on the American version of Loco Live. The other song, "Danny Says", was played because it won a poll taken on a Ramones web site.
The backing band was also excellent with Daniel Rey supplying guitar leads, solos, and open chords, three things that were omitted from the Ramones live arsenal. Dee Dee and Barbara were rock solid on the bass and guitar respectably. Despite one slip up on "Rockaway Beach", Michael Wildwood was solid and kept it beating for all the hopping cretins.
The moment Dee Dee barked out the first count of "Wanchewtreefawww!" and into "I Don't Want To Walk Around With You" until the last chords of "I Wanna Be Sedated" sank into the walls of Coney Island High time ceased to matter. It didn't matter what catastrophes were happening two blocks over from the club. It didn't matter what crummy job you had or had just been fired from. It didn't matter that your boyfriend or girlfriend had just dumped you. It didn't matter whether it was 1976, 1984, 1991, or 1997. The cretins hopped about, all the boys and girls were doing the Blitzkrieg Bop on the shores of Rockaway Beach and for one day, all was right in the world.