Sunday, December 18, 2011
Joseph Arthur, James Maddock Bowery Electric 12/17/11
The 62nd Edition of the Jay Porks Never Ending Concert Series is a special one indeed for a couple of reasons. One, we're heading out to the Bowery Electric (Joey Ramone Pl & 3rd St) down in the East Village for a charity event benefiting the Toys for Tots Foundation( ) featuring the musical styling of Joseph Arthur (and opener James Maddock). Never a bad thing to gain some good karma. Second reason this is special, it's because I've officially taken a semester off of school to pursue my dreams: doing this...fighting on the front lines of the social media takeover of traditional rock journalism as we know it. Anyway, should be a fun night. Doors are at 8PM, show at 8:45PM. I'm off work on little ol' Staten Island at 4, giving me plenty of time to pick up some last minute holiday gifts in Times Square.
Walking downstairs into the Bowery Electric, I enter a room about the size of the one I sleep every night-equipped with a stage. There's a floor that's gonna hold maybe 20 of us, with steps leading up to a bar in the back-theres a railing when you get up there-considering changing my spot when the music comes on. There's a sign that says "Occupancy by more than 108 persons is dangerous and unlawful". Obviously the fire Marshall hasn't been here in a while-hope they're counting heads at the door we're about to eclipse that occupancy.
Everyone I spoke to at the bar and in the room were all here for James Maddock, so when he fronted the 3 piece that took the stage at 8:50, it was to a gracious applause. I taped the first song-Maddock is strumming an acoustic guitar, with a bass player and drummer keeping pace, almost quietly. I've given up my seat and headed to the front of the room to the far left of the stage-now I'm too close. But this bluesy bastard has got me into it! Harmonica hanging from his neck, singing folky tunes sounding so much like Bon Dylan- if Bob Dylan's song were recognizable live. Heads are nodding to a song I'm gonna take a guess is called "When the Stars Align".. They turned me into a fan, and went off around 9:40..
All cards on the table, I didn't know anything about Joseph Arthur until I started contributing to Concert Confessions. Only through the ceaseless praise from Reverend Justito was this show even on my radar. After finding out I was attending a few weeks ago I started listening to all the available stuff on YouTube. Trying to familiarize myself with some of the work, listening to the songs didn't give me any indication that I made the wrong decision here; if anything got me more excited.
At 10:17, Joseph Arthur took the stage with band. And here I thought we were in for a night of slow jams-don't let the wine goblets fool you-roof is about to come off. The girl next to me(who took a bus down from Toronto specifically for this show) says she's never seen him with a band and that it's usually him alone with like a million pedals. He's a got a drummer channeling his inner Keith Moon, and a guy playing an acoustic guitar as he plays a very weathered electric guitar.
Every song, even the softer slower building tunes- had a crazy little effects box jam out portion of it. I taped a few songs, and I noticed them all going over six minutes. Hopefully the girls chatting it up to the right of me don't show up on video. Bout 3 songs in, Arthur addresses the crowd and says "happy toys for tots day". Then he's like "this one is inspired spefically by Toys for Tots.. song's called 'Even Though'"-And before even strumming a chord he smirks and says "yea this has nothing to do with that at all..you totally caught me".
Parts jammy and bluesy-parts distorted pedal busting madness; this night was nothing short of a win. Then, just when I start to really relax and enjoy myself he asks for the time. It was 10:57. He's like "we only have 15 more minutes". Due to venue restrictions, show has to end by 11:15... People in the crowd screamed "Occupy Bowery Electric!"-which was awesome. He played a few more. One being "Fistful of Mercy", and the final of the night being a song about the Occupy movements-which he needed to reach to his iPad for assistance with the lyrics (awesome). After the song, it was like 11:20 and they said goodnight. Couldn't have been more than 12, maybe14 songs at the length they were going. Yet with the sheer epicness in which they were delivered, I felt so fulfilled.
Here's something you don't see everyday: once the guitars were unplugged some guy was screaming stuff toward Joseph Arthur-all I heard was "mother fucker" and the phrase "Toby Keith" repeated as he stormed out the venue doors. Joseph, who is walking right by me as he's exiting stage, looks at me and my Toronto friend and is like "what was he saying?" and I was like "he was screaming something about Toby Keith". He headed off stage. Toby Keith? What the hell was that?? We just had ourselves an awesome night here, and some idiot gets drunk and starts shouting names of terrible artists. I'm so bewildered, I just can't put it together. Hope Joseph Arthur and his band know that there was only one moron in the crowd, the rest of us were extremely satisfied with an evening of good tunes.
-Joseph Arthur plays City Winery on January 1st. The trooper from Toronto-who I hopefully learn her name by then-says she'll be at that show too.
-I like how they named the street Joey Ramone Place. And by like I mean I think it's stupid. This whole “The Ramones created punk” mystic is idiotoc-bands like the Stoogies and MC5 were playing that kinda music in Detroit 5 years before The Ramones ever took the stage.
-What's up with all these “Rock” venues having performers needing to get off at 11 o clock or even 10 o clock sometimes for “Dance Parties”? There's tons of places in NYC to find a nice dance floor where all the 19 year old girls can go, sniff Percocet and get slutty. Stop taking over the little cool dingy places I'm trying to attend shows-you are f#%king with my sh!t.