Words and photos by THOMAS "THOMAXE" GOZE
Share Isn't it strange when it feels like life comes full circle and yet still doesn't really make any sense at all? If you've ever felt the same, you will understand
I never made it to the first Continental rock'n'roll reunion back in 2010, so the last time I had been in the place was for its closing night a couple years back when they announced they would stop having live shows there. I didn't want to miss the party this time around and made sure to arrive early.
From the second I stepped in it felt strange, it was the same and yet different, like an old photograph that would have been touched up. The walls now covered in sport memorabilia looked cleaner than ever. A fake deer head, a plastic swordfish and other decorations had replaced the framed pictures of the likes of Iggy Pop and Joey Ramone that I used to look at whenever I hung out there…and I hung out there a lot.
To me Continental was the last place to be in NYC, the place where I first met and saw some of my favorite bands. It was there that Stuboy Wylder (Corpse Grinders) and I had organized a very successful Arthur Kane Tribute night in 2004. It was also there, down in the dressing room, that I took a picture of Walter Lure (Heartbreakers) and Jeff Salen (Tuff Darts) when they saw each other for the first time in decades, a photograph which was subsequently published in Jari-Pekka Laitio's book "Ramones: Soundtrack of our Lives" after Jeff Salen passed away.
If I didn't know where to go, there was always Continental…Good room, good crowd, great sound.
So it certainly did feel strange as I entered the dark room on Jan, 16th 2011 for the first time in forever. However, as soon, I spotted George Tabb in the audience while Curtis Suburban was playing a really cool set, I felt right at home. Curtis Suburban is Joe Rizzo's (drummer of the Waldos) solo band. I had never seen them before but from now on I'll make sure to not miss their shows, as they put on a tight performance.
Furious George was next on the bill, and one of the main reasons I was there. I just couldn't miss Furious George as I had wanted to see them for years. They weren't playing anymore due to George's health (see www.helpgeorgetabb.com). I had actually booked them for the Kane Tribute but George had had to cancel at the last minute after an injury, and I had tried once more two years ago for my 30th birthday bash at Don Hill's, again no luck. This time it had to happen and as soon as George took his famous Peavey out of the case I knew I was in for a treat.
George Tabb of Furious George.
It was even better than expected, and despite the fact that he has been fighting for his life since he got sick from the aftermath of 9/11, he gave all he had and much more. I was right in front of the stage with a big smile on my face, and actually got chills when they started playing Hello from the Gutters, which I couldn't help but sing along to. They closed with "Betty Crocker Punk Rocker" (duh!) but whoever was doing the sound decided to lower the mics. Come on! If the guy had had a clue he would have known better, not only the song is what…two minutes long? but it was also plain heresy to try and cut a classic.
Oh well, Furious George played it till the end, with blood, guts, balls, and heart bigger than the hole that's left where the twin towers once stood. It was everything punk rock was, and should be. I'm fortunate that I was there to witness it. At the end of their set, I turned around a spotted someone who looked familiar, I didn't think it was her but she looked at me through the crowd, and smiled.
Flashback to six years earlier: same club, same black motorcycle leather jacket. I was there to see the Black Halos, and her eyes caught mine. She engaged me in conversation after the show as I was walking down 3rd Ave. Tall, raven hair, bright red lipstick, she looked like trouble, and turned out to be. We hung out a bunch after our first encounter, until it became clear that I had to walk away and save myself.
A year later I had been partying in town with my buddy Stuboy, we went everywhere and he ended up dropping me really late by Don Hill's where I had promised the Lipstick Killers to stop by and see their set. As I walked in I realized the place was dead, there was nothing going on…a metal band was screaming a cover of the Cranberries…and there she was, the only person in the audience…big city, small world…she was a mess and out to get any lost soul she could find. But I was in full control of the situation and wasn't going to let anything or anyone drag me down. I never saw her again after that night.
What were the odds we'd run into each other five years later, at the very bar where we first met…talk about a Continental reunion party. She came to me, gave me a hug, told me she had changed. Surprisingly enough it was sort of nice to see her, we were once friends after all. We chatted for a while and she split early. Might it have been her, me, or the club, we were all both the same and yet different...I guess a lot happens in five years.
After Furious George it was Heap's turn to rock the stage, followed by NY Waste's longtime favorite Charm School, and some members of LES Stitches with their new band the Threads. Shooter Jennings played an acoustic set, then Bebe Buell's band was on. The Bullys kicked some ass (as usual). After that was Trigger's All Star, which actually featured Bullys guitarist Walt Stack. Sea Monster was next.
Bebe Buell - Joe Mazza photo
The Waldos did not disappoint, then again they never do. I don't know what else I can write about them that I haven't written before. Walter Lure is one of the few musicians one should never miss seeing in NYC and I do my best to attend the Waldos' gigs whenever I get a chance.
CJ Ramone and Daniel Rey played a Ramones set packed with raw energy to a crowd who was encouraged to sing along. You don't have to tell me twice. Lots of classics were played (then again which Ramones song isn't a classic), but the band also went out of usual tracks and played some less obvious ones, including the Bob Dylan cover, "My Back Pages", from "Acid Eaters", and a great rendition of "Endless Vacation" (dedicated to Dee Dee, obviously).
Finally Honor Amongst Thieves closed the night pretty late; it must have been around 3:30 am as I walked out of the club. Rather than catching a cab, I decided to walk down 3rd Avenue, like I used to do back in the days…all the way to 42nd. Back then I didn't live in the city, and didn't have a car…so I just walked around in the night until the morning lights when I could finally get a bus back home. It gave me time to think, and I needed a little time to think that night, just to feed into the nostalgia.
Walter Lure leads The Waldos.
The bands were great, and it was a good feeling to see people young and old enjoying the show, making things look close to what they used to be a long time ago. But all in all, somewhat, somehow, something was missing…I'm not exactly sure what it was. Maybe it's just the feeling of belonging to something. Something which has slowly been fading away. Nights like that are getting scarce these days.
I'll probably go back next year, or maybe I won't…maybe I'll just stay in my room and listen to records. Sometimes it hurts to hold on, but if I don't go, am I giving up? Whatever I may write I know I'll be there. I have to be there. That's where I belong.
I'm just wondering, where we will all be in five years from now? What will happen to all the familiar faces? What are we without the people and places that we know…don't they define who we are in some sort of way? And if so…then what is left of us when they disappear?
….. Will I ever meet you again…whoever you may be?
Isn't it strange when it feels like life comes full circle… and yet still doesn't really make any sense at all?
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