Friday, May 4, 2012

Review: Benefit For Lucinda's Kids (Feat. H.R., Tommy Stinson, & Alan Vega) @ Bowery Electric

Benefit For Lucinda's Kids Featuring H.R., Tommy Stinson, & Alan Vega @ The Bowery Electric - April 30, 2012
Review: Lara Morrow & Damien

Part 1: Damien

"Don't Be A Dick" t-shirts. The frontman of legendary punk outfit Bad Brains sitting backstage in a woman's wig, calmly eating a leaf. A freaky dude in a white t-shirt who looked like he stepped out of a C+C Music Factory video and moved like a breakdancing magician.

Clearly, I knew from the first minute I stepped into The Bowery Electric that this wasn't going to be like any children's benefit I'd ever been to before.

This was the second night of the Benefit For Lucinda's Kids, an awe-inspiring campaign driven by the friends of Hoboken-based mother and music fan Lucinda Gallagher, who sadly took her own life in December of last year. The Benefit team, including FN reader Julia Hughes, brought together the best of NYC's music and entertainment communities to pull off a two-night concert, an auction of cool and rare memorabilia, and an ongoing fundraising effort to help support Lucinda's young teenagers - both budding musicians themselves - and allow them to pursue their dreams as they grow into adulthood.

Brooklyn-based rock trio The Bamboo Kids kicked the night off with very straightforward but likeable punk rock. Very openly influenced by The Clash (they got their name from "Straight To Hell"), their short set was a great intro as people flowed in and downed $3 Brawlers charity beers. That's right, charity beers. We were drinking for the children, guys.

I admittedly gave a very natural crook-eye to the next act, James Maddock, when he was introduced as an artist "who had a hit song on Dawson's Creek (yep)," but I immediately warmed up to the stylings of the British-born former frontman of the band Wood. Maddock and his band pumped out smoky folk rock filled with guitar solos and harmonica flourishes, a bit outside the overall punk rock theme of the night but still arresting and impressive. I'd be happy to bring Maddock and the crew to play a set for me every time I entered a coffee shop, or I could go the way more convenient route of picking up his latest album, My Old Neighborhood.

Probably my biggest surprise of the night was the solo set by Aaron Lee Tasjan of The Madison Square Gardeners and a whole bunch of other bands. Sporting a vintage suit and hat with a face half-covered in floppy hair, he at first looked as if he would take his stylistic cues from Beck... but by the middle of his first song had clearly distinguished himself as an ardent student of Bob Dylan. Equally adept at raucous foot-stomping folk rock as he was at hilarious quips (one of which was about pulling out a typewriter in a group of friends who'd stopped mid-conversation to check their smartphones), Tasjan had the audience in his thrall. So much so that someone told the aforementioned breakdancing magician, who had been deep in a loud conversation, to quiet down so we could hear Tasjan. And as we all know, you have to be pretty damn good to grab attention from a breakdancing magician. Check out Tasjan's MySpace and catch him on tour for sure, you guys.

This was about the time Lara arrived - here's her review of the second part of the night!

Part 2: Lara

With the first half of the night over, the legendary Alan Vega (Suicide) hopped onstage to give an effortless performance that transitioned the crowd at Bowery Electric fully into punk mode. Regardless of how intelligible (read: unintelligible) the words coming out of his mouth were, the gravelly bassiness of each one was accentuated by a three-fold echo effect, commanding respect and cultivating an enticing air of darkness. It was a bit like witnessing the grumblings of a benevolent monster who had been awakened from his dru— er, mythical-substance-induced slumbers, and while he might have been embittered under other circumstances, he was a good sport on this occasion... since it was for the sake of the children, of course.

Tommy Stinson (The Replacements, Guns 'N Roses) gave a sweet performance that provided a contrast to any latently ogre-ish undertones of the preceding act. The heartfelt, feel-good vibes emanating from this one man and his guitar got me utterly blissed out. And, continuing with the mystical precedent set by Vega, our friend the breakdancing magician also popped out of the woodworks back onto the dancefloor and busted out more of his prestidigitating faerie moves, ably illustrating the mood Stinson was putting out. Said faerie proceeded to wiggle gesticulations from his groin as he moonwalked around to sprinkle the air with the magic from his fingertips… just in case you were wondering. [Editor's Note: Seriously. This is EXACTLY what happened.] 

The night's final performer, H.R. (of Bad Brains) was the embodiment of genius as he chilled in his own space onstage and did nothing but simply be H.R. - which was more than enough to rock us all. He threw out whatever riffs he felt moved to, all of which gently led the crowd exactly where it needed to go. The Rasta tunes imposed over a strong bass beat generated sundry energies in the room as he took us from tunes such as “Did I Tell U I Love U” (awwwwww) to bits driven by synthesizer blown onstage by his stoic comrade (oooooooooooh) to, finally, the full-on rock-out of the evening (YEEEEEEEEEEEAH!). Turns out that this night of mystical punk legends culminated in a deity called Human Rights owning the stage, uniting all of the assembled friends and supporters of Lucinda to celebrate her life and provide support for her great kids.


The concerts may be over, but you can still donate to the cause and participate in their awesome online auction featuring memorabilia from artists like Jesse Malin, Bruce Springsteen, Willie Nile, and Mr. Tommy Stinson himself. You can also provide support to Samaritans of New York, who operate a 24/7 suicide prevention hotline and offer public education and suicide survivor support services. Please give what you can to help out!

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