words & photos by Keith Marlowe
Tandoori Knights @ the Bell House
I started the night, the fourth and final night of the the Norton Records 25th Anniversary celebration at the Bell House, watching Andy Shernoff from the Dictators playing an acoustic set in the front room. He ended with his hilarious zombie Jew song, based on Jesus's return to Earth.
The Figures of Light, who originally formed in 1970, played their classic proto-punk songs as well as tracks off their new album, Drop Dead, which was recorded this July in Brooklyn by the Gories' Mick Collins, who plays guitar in the band along with original members Wheeler Winston Dixon and Michael Downey, as well as Mark Natale and Miriam Linna from the A-Bones.
The Real Kids had to cancel due to illness, so another New Jersey band, the Swinging Neckbreakers filled in for them.
After them came the A-Bones, who feature vocalist Billy Miller and his wife, drummer Miriam Linna from Norton Records. They were joined at the end of their set Cyril Jordan and Roy Loney of the Flaming Groovies, who also played with the Daddy Long Legs the night before, and who played 'Teenage Head,' which was inspired by Kim Fowley when he was recording their record. Yo La Tengo's Ira Kaplan, who played the celebration on Friday night as part of the Condo Fucks, was also playing guitar in the A-Bones. as he often does.
Tandoori Knights, a take-off on the British show Tandoori Nights were next. They are fronted by King Khan and Bloodshot Bill, and the band is a slightly slower, more melodic sound than the two are known for in their other projects, but they still kept the crowd moving until after 1 am, when Norton founders Billy and Miriam came out to thank everyone who had made the sold-out four day event such a success. Billy, Miriam, and King Khan also all made late night appearances on the first night of the fest.
The Sonics @ The Bell House
After they finished the thank-you's at nearly 1:45, the band everyone was waiting to see, The Sonics, took the stage. They had headlined a show Saturday afternoon at Maxwell's too. I didn't see that, but Sunday night they took the Bell House stage and just completely laid it down. I was really impressed. They played an hour and a half set that just kept picking up energy the entire time, hitting all their well-knows songs, like Strychnine, the Hustler, Boss Hoss, Psycho and climaxed with their first and best-known hit, the Witch, and tore right into a cover of Louie Louie they totally owned, probably playing it better and with more authority than any other band in the world is capable of doing. The biggest surprise to me was how good their new songs are. Usually a band reforms knowing that they have a catalogue that people celebrate and will pay to hear, and they can tour on that nostalgia factor, or write some songs that completely lack the chemistry that the original members once had. I've definitely groaned when a reunion band announces, "we're gonna play some of our new songs tonight." but the Sonics have hit the studio hard. The new songs, Cheap Shades, Bad Attitude, Don't Back Down, and Vampire Kiss were really tight, and would sound right at home on both Here Are the Sonics and BOOM. Their new record, 8, was recorded by legendary Seattle producer Jack Endino and was released in 2010. It's great to see such an important band still touring and recording great songs......
More photos from the Sunday night show below...
Andy Shernoff from the Dictators
The Figures of Light
The Swinging Neckbreakers