A few days back my old pal Mark Gilson clued me in to a four-band show at the West Side’s Highline Ballroom, a place over on West 16th Street that’s so far west it’s practically in the river. The show featured Guyz Nite, Queen Diamond, Tragedy, and Beatallica — who were celebrating their album finally getting released after their grief from the Beatles camp over music rights, a process surprisingly smoothed over with the help of the usually douchebaggish members of Metallica (see the documentary METALLICA: SOME KIND OF MONSTER to see what I mean) — so it all sounded pretty absurd, and therefore worth possibly checking out. Four bands, one of which was a frat-boy band taken to comedic extremes, while the other three were tribute/mash-up acts, and most having the potential to be so bad that they’d be hilarious, plus the fact that the admission price was a dirt cheap six bucks, so how could I go wrong? (BTW, Mark got me and a small group of our friends in on comp passes, but you know what I mean.)
The Highline Ballroom turned out to be a medium-sized joint that looked like one of those fucking annoying dance halls that cater to the odious bridge-and-tunnel set, and it probably is if the prices at the bar are any indication; for example, a bottle of Budweiser went for seven bucks, while a shot of Jose Quervo will set you back by ten. And if you want to sit at a table or a booth which seats from four to six revelers, with waitress service, it costs twenty bucks for that, and a ten dollar drink minimum per head.
Ouch, right? But bar prices notwithstanding, the place was a bit of okay.
Myself, Mark, and his friend Bill — a righteous dude I hope to hang with a again — staked out a booth with a decent view of the stage and ordered some overpriced libations from a very cute waitress whom I doubt was a day over nineteen and mangled the English language in a way reminiscent of SCTV’s Perini Scleroso.
Andrea Martin as Perini Scleroso; her stunning interpretation of Eliza Doolittle in SCTV’s production of MY FAIR LADY instantly relegated Julie Andrews’ and Audrey Hepburn’s turns in the role to superfluousness.
I ordered my customary Bud and Cuervo and was told, “No have” by Perini, regarding the tequila, so I just got a beer. As I sat and contemplated the existence of a bar in New York City that didn’t have my favorite low rent extract of the good old Agave cactus, I realized that the place not having Jose Quervo was about as likely as finding a pair of really nice tits on a Brook Trout, so I got up and hit the bar for myself. Sure enough, there was a bottle of the evil amber liquid staring me right in the face, but rather than alert immigration I decided to let the foreign waif slide and not order any more tequila since, as previously noted, it was ten bucks a shot.
Not long after that, the first of the evening’s four acts made their presence known, a bunch of questionable-looking louts who called themselves Guyz Nite . Guyz Nite are a bunch of intentionally idiotic cock-rockers whose every song has to do with beer, attempting to get laid, and DIE HARD movies — yes, you read that right — and the sonsabitches can play like nobody’s business.
Uber-lout Guy Manly of Guyz Nite. (photo courtesy of Kenny at Piercing Metal)
Described as “Spinal Tap meets THE MAN SHOW” and fronted by the aptly named “Guy Manly,” the band merrily blazed through tune after beer-drenched tune, among which can be counted “Cock Block,” a primer on the elementary do’s and don’ts of interrupting a dude’s quest for the Pink, “I’m the Man,” a new and howlingly funny low in the annals of rock ‘n’ roll self-aggrandizement that opens with Manly proclaiming how he just “bagged a thousand chicks today, for the thousandth day in a row,” then humbly stating “I’m like a god that walks on the earth, and you’re lucky just to stand so close to me,” this coming from a guy with a not-so-nascent beer gut and a fashion sense that looks like an even lower budget version of Springsteen’s sleeveless denim jacket and headband look.
And the band’s ode to the DIE HARD movie franchise — creatively entitled “Die Hard” — is nothing short of brilliant. Here’s the video:
When the band had the decency to insert McClane’s signature catch phrase of “Yippee-ki-yay, motherfucker!” into the latter portion of the song, the audience was all too happy to scream along profanely with it. At that point I knew I had fallen in love and erupted from my seat to buy their CD and a t-shirt. Hey, when you find a brand new band that you enjoy, don’t be a douchebag; show them some love! I mean, these guys threw out free shirts to the people on the dance floor, one of which ended up in the hands of this smokin’ hottie:
Toward the end of Guyz Nite’s riotous set, the other Bill of our little troop — fellow Connecticut expatriate Bill Wrigley, whom I first met about sixteen years ago when he was an intern at Marvel Comics — showed up and joined us in the booth as we imbibed more exorbitant brewskis.
He’d seen the last couple of songs the band performed and enjoyed them as much as the rest of us, each elated to see something so damned good when we’d showed up expecting fuck all.
I then sneaked out with another old friend, Kenny, ringleader of the excellent PIERCING METAL website, for a meet 'n' greet with the living god Guy Manly himself!!!
As I wandered about between sets, I spotted two attendees of interest who kindly consented to be photographed: this charming gal representing for the greatest band in the entire history of western civilization, Akron's own glorious Devo,
and this guy, leaving no doubts as to what he's about, in case he ends up pulling a hot metalhead chick.
Then I spotted this guy, whose shirt echoes my own sentiments:
Next up was Queen Diamond from Philadelphia, an all-girl tribute to the over-the-top Satanic metal stylings of King Diamond and Mercyful fate, my personal favorite band in the Norse devil junk pantheon.
King Diamond, front man to Mercyful Fate and the solo King Diamond band. I fucking love this crazy Dane!
Mercyful Fate and King Diamond’s solo efforts are tours de force of impeccable metal musicianship — yes, there is such a thing, wiseasses — punctuated by King’s all-over-the-fucking-place vocals that range from shattering falsetto to bowels-of-the-earth Balrog growls, seemingly disparate tones that somehow work brilliantly when gene-spliced by the Danish madman in “scary” face paint. And while I love the incredible music, I have wondered for years if King Diamond finds his vocals as hilarious as I do. I mention all of this for the benefit of those who may never have heard Mercyful Fate’s “A Dangerous Meeting,” or “Welcome Home” from King’s solo years, and those of you out there who are familiar with this stuff can back me up when I say that the musicianship of both bands is of such a high standard that if you’re going to even contemplate starting a tribute band to King you had better be able to play your ass off, motherfucker! And Queen Diamond, five girls, most of whom probably aren’t a day over twenty-one, represented like Valkyries kicking ass during Ragnarok, a feat that impressed even the Mercyful Fate die-hards in attendance.
They kicked hella ass, particularly the blonde with a red guitar (who looked a lot like my oft-mentioned-in-the-Vault pal Jessica).
But I have to subtract a few points for the vocalist, the eponymous Queen Diamond, a petite brunette in the requisite kabuki-on-acid makeup.
Game though she was, the gal was a bit of a disappointment, providing a fair soprano but none of the stage presence or camp histrionics that make the persona of King what it is. No top hat, no crucifix made from two human femurs, just a corset and heels.
But that was a mere quibble since I was very much entertained and impressed by the rest of the band’s verve, especially the nibbly fingerwork of the plus-size bassist who charmingly sported an eye patch.
"Aaaaar, me hearties!"
Here's footage of the band covering "Abigail" (not from the show I saw, but it'll give you an idea of their sound).
As Queen Diamond wrapped things up, my pal Suzi showed arrived and dove straight into the insanity, adding the much-needed estrogenic component to what was shaping up to be a stag evening. She swiftly caught up to us in the beer consumption department and was pleased to see she hadn’t missed the band she was most stoked to see, namely Tragedy.
Ah, Tragedy. How can you not love a metal band that covers Bee Gees tunes?
A disco ball threw quills of light around the hall as Tragedy took the stage, and from the second they appeared they owned the evening.
Bedecked in bell-bottomed, flame-highlighted jumpsuits, skin-tight silver trousers, ultra-fey scarves, and other apropos garb circa the Bee Gees' SERGEANT PEPPER’S LONELY HEARTS CLUB BAND movie debacle, the band simply oozed idiocy as they spewed forth renditions of tunes rendered immortal by a group I considered the scourge of the late-1970’s airwaves, tunes Tragedy’s lead guitarist — who also pulls double duty with the excellent and hilarious Satanicide — stated were "finally being performed the way they were meant to be heard."
The stage show was a bedlam of prancing disco-wrought-as-metal, made doubly loony by the fact that the band were actually extremely talented and not merely content to simply deliver on the gimmick of Los Brothers Gibb having balls surgically grafted to their catalog. The stage came alive with a complete lack of anything resembling coherent choreography, an assortment of side characters such as a nameless jogger whose sole purpose was apparently to represent both the late-1970’s and every asshole who ever barged onstage at a rock show and tried to insinuate himself into the proceedings,
three cute backup sngers, one of whom was Asian and identified as “Olivia Newton Chong,”
and Lance, a “sensitive-looking” lad who acted as the band’s slave and all-around whipping boy.
But the uncontested star of the bunch was this lunatic in a scarf and cheesy cap who from here on will be dubbed “Rawk Gawd.”
Rawk Gawd, as near as I could tell anyway, didn’t actually sing, despite being at the mic for the whole performance, instead lip-synching and acting the fool for our amusement. The guy also sucked down a fuckload of beers during the set — and from the look of things, probably before the set as well — and, man, did the motherfucker get loose!
The highlights of Tragedy’s set were many; the feeble and hysterical attempts at happenin’ dance moves, Lance’s unappreciated ministrations to the band’s every need resulting in physical and verbal abuse, and the unexplained presence of the jogger were all insane, but the rendering of "You Should be Dancing" into a fall-down-on-the-floor invocation of some sort of disco angels/demons epic myth narrative — complete with sub-“Stonehenge” delivery and doggerel that included a child’s delivery occurring through a “vah-jynal birth canal,” topped off with two ominous women in black hood and cape ensembles — simply had to be seen to be disbelieved. Here's the video:
When Tragedy’s set finished, Rawk Gawd made his way through the crowd, amiably chatting with his audience and further pickling his tortured liver. No shock there, but then the guy entered the area where my friends and I were seated, got photographed with the sultry Suzi,
and then, like a buzzard to roadkill, was drawn to a toothsome and very obviously inebriated young Latina seated at the table directly in front of us. Rawk Gawd sauntered over, expecting perhaps a friendly barroom peck, and was greeted quite enthusiastically by the spicy mami, not missing a beat as the two of them torridly and sloppily made out for the next few minutes, Rawk Gawd still deftly holding his half-drunk bottle of beer in hand.
This adolescent display highly entertained those of us in the booth and our literal ringside seat also afforded us a good look at the reactions of the girl’s two friends, both of whom were alternately amused and disgusted. Rawk Gawd, not being one to miss out on a sure thing, hauled the marinaded Maria onto the dance floor and continued the mash-fest amidst a throng that provided the young lovebirds with three feet of space around them in all directions.
During all of this unseemly groping and face-sucking, Beatallica rocked the house with their Fab Four/Metallica mash-ups, such as the amusing "I Want to Choke Your Band."
But while they were absolutely excellent and very funny I was less interested in them than any of the other acts for two reasons:
1. I fucking hate Metallica, with the exception of their cover albums — their versions of “It’s Electric” and “Crash Course In Brain Surgery” kick major ass — so I was only interested in Beatallica to see just how the mash-ups turned out since I’m a huge fan of fucked-up Beatles covers.
2. The continuing adventures of Rawk Gawd and La Chica Molestada were too entertaining to turn away from.
In fact, during their set Beatallica actually stopped playing for a few moments to make note of the amorous antics on the dance floor.
Once the band was able to resume playing without having all the attention stolen by two prom night-style drunks, they rocked most solidly and steered the show to what would have been an altogether satisfying conclusion, but the ante was upped when an even more inebriated and sexed-up Rawk Gawd returned to the stage, muscled his way to the mic despite neither being a part of Beatallica nor knowing the lyrics to any of their songs, dragged an assortment of his equally wasted buddies off the dance floor and onstage with him, where they all howled incoherently into the microphone as Beatallica allowed them to stumble about the place in a manner that was much more entertaining — and infinitely cheaper — than an actual choreographed stage show with cool lighting effects, puppets, or a naked chick being used as a sacrificial altar while the lead singer dribbled fruit punch all over her tits from a seventy-ounce 7/11 Simpsons commemorative Slushy cup.
Alas, all good things must come to an end, and the show finally wound down, leaving Romeo Rawk Gawd to make a final play for his juiced Juliette. As our hero tried to work his laughable magic, Bill Wrigley suggested I keep my camera on the couple so I could capture the girl’s horrified “moment of revelation” when the lights came up and La Princessa got a good look at the frog she’d practically fellated on the dance floor. Well, I didn't quite get that, because it later looked like the girl was hashing things out with her two friends as to whether they'd like to stay out and get even more FUBAR, a plan that I'm not sure included Rawk Gawd. Myself, I headed back to the hinterlands of Park Slope, saw Suzi to her door so she could walk her gigantic gay mutant poodle, Reggie (whom I adore), at two-thirty in the morning and get an egg sandwich at the twenty-four hour bagel joint around the corner from me.
When we reached the bagel place, with Reggie taking point, I bid them goodnight and returned to the mighty Vault of Buncheness to cap off the evening with a few more pages of THE COMPLETE TERRY AND THE PIRATES VOL. 1 (more on that in an upcoming post).
So as you can see, the whole evening was more of a crazy party than a mere multi-band show, and for once at such an event none of the bands sucked and a kickass time was had by all, so much so in fact that my friends and I have all agreed to see Tragedy and Guyz Nite when they both play again this weekend.