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Monday, June 18, 2007

WEEKEND ADVENTURES: BLOWFLY (and other miscreants)-LIVE AT CLUB EUROPA

Last night, my buddy Chris and I made our way to Brooklyn's remote Greenpoint section to see the immortal Blowfly live in concert, and it proved to be rather an unimpressive event.

You may remember a few days ago that I’d heard about BLOWFLY’S PUNK ROCK PARTY, an album where Blowfly, one of the dirtiest “singers” in the history of Western civilization, applied his particular parodic talents to a selection of punk rock/new wave classics, thereby making it a must-have for the tasteless/offensive section of my music collection.

I found a copy of the CD at the Virgin Megastore on Times Square — after being told in no uncertain terms by their customer service representative that it was not in stock, I might add — and took it home to give it a spin.

BLOWFLY’S PUNK ROCK PARTY, like the majority of his twenty-three (!!!) albums, is a very mixed bag, but let me tell you straight up that some of the tracks had me laughing my ass off. The Clash’s “Should I Stay Or Should I Go?” devolves into “Should I Fuck This Big Fat Ho?” with predictably vulgar and puerile results, and while it’s funny enough as a Clash spoof what really sends it over the top is a bit where for no apparent reason the song’s point of view is commandeered by an “Aaar, me hearties” pirate (?) who proceeds to describe the corpulent object of his desire as being akin to Moby Dick, but he wants to take her back to cabin regardless and “clog her blowhole with me fuck-pole! Aaaar!!!”

The Ramones’ “I Wanna Be Sedated” becomes “I Wanna Be Fellated” (a title I’m kicking myself for not coming up with twenty-eight years ago), in which Blowfly bemoans his urgent need to find a “ho” who charges “twenty twenty twenty twenty dollars a blow” since his wife won’t help him out. Antiseen’s “Destructo Rock” of course morphs into “Destructo Cock” (a title that greatly appeals to the eleven-year-old in me), “Stuck in the Middle” by Rocket From the Crypt ends up as “Fucked With a Dildo” (in which Blowfly relates his first experience with being “pegged,” the song concluding with him cheerily stating, “And I liked it!”), my beloved Devo’s “Whipit” gets the treatment as “Suck It” — although I would have bet money on the opening “Cuh-rack that whip!” line getting rewritten as the obvious “Suck my dick!” or "My big fat prick!" Blowfly instead surprises with the infinitely more subtle “Grab my dick!” — and so it goes for twenty-five tracks, six of which are radio-friendly versions (why?).

Also of note is Blowfly’s take on Generation X’s “Dancing With Myself,” which becomes — you guessed it! — “Playing With Myself;” there’s just something hilarious about an old black man in a masked supervillain outfit sunnily singing about jerking off like a monkey at the zoo, complete with his horrible voice mimicking Billy Idol’s “Oh oh oh oh” during the chorus. Guaranteed to bring a smile to even the most dour of countenances, this fairly cries out for a video. Although where such a questionable short could be aired without the FCC taking immediate action is open to debate…

But the hands-down funniest thing on the record is “V.D. Party,” a remake of Black Flag’s landmark “TV Party” (1981), in which Blowfly and a gang of merry, drunken louts happily brag about their lifestyle of going out and fucking like maniacs, sans prophylactics, because “We’ve got nothin’ better to do/than spread V.D. and have a couple of brews.” These sick fucks actually enjoy their menagerie of venereal afflictions and just can’t wait to share them with the world — and a number of celebrities like Paris Hilton, Lindsay Lohan and J-Lo, who receive shout-outs — a noble quest brought to an abrupt end when the doctor slips them some Prozac, a state of affairs that they pathetically whine about. Without question, “V.D. Party” is one of the most irresponsible songs of all time, right up there with GG Allin's "Expose Yourself To Kids" and the timelessly evocative "I Wanna Rape You," but it’s so infectious (pun intended) that there’s simply no way it can be taken seriously.

Bottom line on BLOWFLY’S PUNK ROCK PARTY: definitely worth adding to your collection if you’re a Blowfly fan, it’s an intriguing departure from his usual funk/soul/R & B/disco leanings, and the sound of his old-assed voice laying ruin to some of the classics of my misspent youth made my day. Far from a perfect storm of filthiness, this is nonetheless a valiant effort and should be given to every twelve-year-old whose parents you hate.

After I posted the piece on the album’s existence, my buddy Mark G. emailed me to inform me that Blowfly was playing in Greenpoint on Sunday night, which I shouldn’t have been surprised by since he played in my neighborhood on Friday under his real name, Clarence Reid, as part of a tour of old school R & B/soul legends. That show didn’t interest me, but an opportunity to see the master get his punk on was too tempting to miss, even though I had to be up early for work the next morning, so I called my buddy and fellow Blowfly fan Chris and we hauled ass to Club Europa.

After a disastrous attempt to follow directions to the place obtained from the club’s website, we ended up in the ultra-boring realm that is Greenpoint, a largely Polish and Ukrainian nabe that is being overrun by trendy, hipster douchebags who inevitably fuck up every neighborhood that they infest (I should know; the shit’s been happening to Park Slope for the past eight years, and I am exempt from such criticism because I am so obviously excellent in every way). The place was so desolate that it could have passed for a location from THE OMEGA MAN, the few locals on the street standing in for the film’s vampires/zombies.

Upon arriving at the club, Chris and I were annoyed to find that the information regarding the show on the club’s website was wrong; the tickets were slightly more expensive than advertised (though still cheap), and the doors to the club’s performance area opened at least an hour-and-a-half later than stated, so Chris and I killed the time by hanging out in the joint’s street-level bar.

Yours Truly, in the Club Europa men's room.

By the time that we were allowed upstairs, there were perhaps twenty people in attendance, excluding Chris and myself, and after a few more beers the opening acts came on.

First up was “Despot” — nee Alex Reinstein from Queens — a diminutive White rapper whom both Chris and myself were completely disenchanted with, his every gesture and vocalization being every bit as wretched as MARRIED…WITH CHILDREN’s Bud Bundy during his “Grandmaster B” period, only this guy wasn’t supposed to be funny.

The saddest part of this was that the guy not only proved beyond the shadow of a doubt that Eminem has nothing to be concerned about, but the only people on the dance floor during his seemingly-interminable set were a group of about ten people whom I think may have been friends and former schoolmates. It reminded me of seeing little kids playing “Rock Star” for one another, each taking turns at doing the rock schtick to music blasting from a nearby boom box, especially during the so-bad-it's-good "Puppet On A String." Strictly amateur hour, I was glad my pal and rap-expert Senter was not present to witness this talent-free mess because he would have beaten the guy about the face and neck with a beer bottle, simply on general principle. And while I’m all for cultural exchange and have accepted that White American culture has co-opted the living shit out of Black forms of just about every goddamned thing under the sun, I herewith proclaim that White people are forbidden to use the phrase “Keep your eyes on the prize,” especially when employed in weak-assed raps like the ones witnessed here.

Next up came a DJ named Mista Rare Groove, and he worked the wheels of steel to great effect, setting the pre-Blowfly mood with skillfully mixed funk and soul classics.

The guy was really good and I was dismayed to see him crafting his sounds for an assemblage of what was by that point about fifteen people on the dance floor, the most disturbing of whom was a thirty-something White chick who had absolutely no concept of rhythm or how to move her body to the beat. Beer clenched in hand like a scepter proclaiming her rule over bad dancers everywhere, she was an embarrassing sight to behold, causing most of the spectators and the few Black folks present to either shake their heads in sorrow or turn away out of common decency.

Then Rare Groove was joined on stage by some guy who went by “Blueprint,” apparently a rapper of some (very) small fame. Blue print wandered to the platform, with a rocks glass in one hand and a beer in the other, and sat on the steps, occasionally sipping his drinks. He’d sporadically interject pointless bits of commentary during Groove’s set, the only amusing bit of which was his assessment of the sorry breakdancing moves pulled by some White stoner; after the stoner had pulled every clich├ęd move that had been considered stale since 1983, Blueprint sat silent for moment and then simply stated, with no trace of mirth, “That sucked.” Thus chastened, the stoner didn’t attempt to dazzle anyone with his moves for the rest of the night.

Then Blueprint stood up, grabbed the mic and launched into a litany of some of the most boring rap I’ve ever been subjected to, actually beating out Original Concept’s infamous “Knowledge Me” for dull awfulness, and only rousing the sparse crowd with an in-praise-of-fat-chicks number entitled “Big Girls Need Love Too,” a song that appeared to have a following since it was requested by two big girls who obviously knew it. It sucked too, and the situation was in no way helped by Blueprint not having a planned set, instead repeatedly walking over to his laptop computer and randomly choosing whatever songs he felt like performing, figuring, not incorrectly, that it didn’t matter since there was almost no one in the place. Finally giving up, Blueprint left the stage, but not before urging the crowd to buy his merchandise and stating that he was leaving to continue his drinking at the bar, a fact punctuated by his graceless stumbling down the five steps to the floor.

Then began a loooooooooong wait for Blowfly, presumably allowing time for more paying customers to show up, and finally, at 11:45 PM, the Old Man took the stage, announced by his drummer (decked out in an impressively imbecilic Uncle Sam getup)

and escorted by a pale, skinny white guy in an equally-white Afro wig.

The announcer begged the crowd — which had topped out at around sixty bodies — to huddle close to the stage, in order to make it look like a real audience, which allowed me an excuse to get right up next to the stage and snap photos, and in no time the band began cranking out signature Blowfly classics, starting with the deathless “Shake Your Ass.”

Other than one or two samplings from the punk rock album, the set was pretty much the same as when I last saw Blowfly two years ago, and despite one girl having the moxie to join him onstage and dance to “Rapp (sic) Dirty,” the lack of an enthusiastic throng put a major damper on the mood, affecting both the audience and the performers. But the band soldiered on, their theatrics consisting of a vision-obscuring smoke machine, and a bass player with a plastic lobster hanging out of his fly.

The funky groove shook the venue, and the women in attendance took zero offense at Blowfly's constant utterances of "pussy," "ho," and "cunt," instead getting into the "dirty grandpa" vibe that is so hard to resist.

Blowfly's down with the kids!

Sure, Blowfly’s a fringe act, but when I saw him at Southpaw the place was damned near packed, so I chalk up last night’s sparse attendance to two factors:

1. Club Europa’s a bit of a bitch to reach unless you have a car, or are willing to pay the exorbitant price of cab fare to get there.

2. The show was booked for a Sunday night, and Blowfly’s is a show that thrives on rowdiness and drunken lack of inhibition, both fun things, but not necessarily something to indulge in the night before the work week begins anew.

Seriously, this is about as crowded as it got.

After several profane numbers — most of which couldn’t be heard clearly thanks to the atrocious work of the soundman — Blowfly doffed his mask and abruptly left the stage, presumably disappointed by the turnout.

The set had lasted a total of forty-four minutes.

I went to sound booth and asked the technician if that was it, and he wearily said, “Yeah, that’s it. I gave the guys the opportunity for an encore, but they just fucked off.” So with that Chris and I made our way back to Park Slope, stopping at the White Castle on 4th Avenue for some late night sliders, perhaps the perfect way to cap off a night of semi-disappointing and annoying shenanigans. And during that repast Chris reminded me that during the Blowfly tour of two years past, he actually played a show in a hole-in-the-wall record store in Danbury, Connecticut that was about twice the size of my studio apartment, and there were perhaps twenty people present at that, so Blowfly had a lot of nerve storming out of Club Europa the way he did.

I will continue to be a Blowfly fan, but this was definitely the last time I’ll be bothered to see him live.

4 comments:

Jared said...

It's not easy being a fan of disappointing acts.

Anonymous said...

Man, that "V.D. Party" track sounds like he cribbed a cue or two from g.g. allin's "I Kill everything I Fuck" - although I doubt it had allin's seething malice running through it.

And, like its near-contemporay "She Bop," "Dancing With Myself" pretty much is abut masturbation.

Sorry about the show. That sucks.

Anonymous said...

That Club Europa bathroom mirror photo is my favorite-ever picture of you. Jes

tom said...

Blowfly played a whole set that night at Europa, normally it takes a little over an hour because there is crowd interaction and then an encore. When there is no crowd, there is no interaction. the fly did not "storm" off the stage, we played porno freak in that mausoleam/whorehouse and walked off. there was no call to do an encore to an empty room. you certainly got your money's worth. you saw a living legend for $12.

The turnout was embarassing, as we played that same neighborhood a year earlier and played to well over 300 people - but that joint promoted, and this one didnt.

as to your friend's comment about playing trash america style, that was to 50 people who were wild in a tiny space, which is better than 61 half awake people in a space made for 500. and they got a shorter set than you did. and loved it.