New Punk Rock BandsPunk Rock Bands
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The third edition of the Punk Rock Rally has just ended, but the organizers have already announced the first volume of the 2019 edition: Pansy Division. The punk rock group from San Francisco will perform on the stage of Edoné in Bergamo one day from 11th to 14th July next year.
And New York has an Anima Rock. Or at least in the 70's and 80's, when the Ramones, Patti Smith, Speaking Head and many other characters who were destined to write the history of rock appeared in the many clubs of the East Village, influencing internationally other musicians of yesterday and today who continued to create their own music in the footsteps of these early "rockers".
There are traces of this time, there in the village, in the famous St. MarksPlace Street (see our interview with Ada Calhoun, in her book St. MarksPlaceis tot), in LES, Lower East Side. This week, your Urban Explorer is looking for stories and places to remember the "Rock'n'Roll soul" of New York that, we like to think, is not extinct.
"Hold the Rock'n'Roll of the Lower East Side's spirit alive." The charismatic owner of The Cast, the 70's leather processing specialist rock'n'roll lifestyle store, tells us what he and his wife want to do with their business. It seems that Chock emerged from the time when Patti Smith, Lou Reed, Iggy Pop, The Cramps and many other rock bands of that time played in the various clubs of the East Village, while artists like Andy Warhol created works of art designed to drastically break with the old forms of seeing and living the world and produce new things designed to influence generations to come, including us.
These artists who travelled through the St. Mark Place district, the artistic epicentre of those years, who knows, resembled the Chuck of The Cast, who just before giving us a picture wore Ray Ban style sunglasses and posed in the style of Joey Ramone (who, among other things, leads the full).
In addition to selling T-shirts ($35) inspired by the most famous rock bands of the 70s and 80s, Chuck sells vinyl Vintage Glasses, Pins, Sex Pistols and Iggy Pop, shoes and hats, as well as custom leather jackets. "One or two weeks from now we will make you the leather jacket of your life here at Cast!
"We dress Biker, Rocker, Punks... and not only," answers Chuck when I ask him who The Cast's regular customers are. An example of this process of "commercialization" is the CBGB, a legendary rock collective that opened at the Bowery in 1973 and closed in 2006 with a concert by Patti Smith, where they performed the bands that have written the history of American rock and beyond.
How was the New York of the Blondies, Speaking Heads, Disfits, Joan Jett but also Green Day and Guns'n'Roses? The CBGB is an irreplaceable symbol that has closed its doors to make room for a clothing store. At least one of the walls of the nightclub has been left as an "archaeological find", with the original posters of the concerts of that time hanging in honour of the golden age of rock'n'roll.
Despite the excitement of visiting those places where history has been made (and is being made) in the rock, on the other hand comes the awareness and sadness that consumption is changing the neighborhoods like the Lower East Side and St. Marks Place, from rock temples, into "windows" of the past.
To access the Cast Store, you'll have to go through another store, the Great Frog, "the Rock'n'Roll and Bike Jewelry," whose entrance can't go unnoticed because of a large vintage motorcycle parked in the window. As Chuck tells us, he had to leave his original store and share a new one with The Great Frog to cover the very expensive LES rents.
Great Frog is a completely different business than The Cast, but in a way complementary. Fans of skull rings, skull-shaped rings, will be surprised by the variety of shapes and sizes this jewelry offers for rockers. Although the skull is the largest, there are also rings for snakes and other animals, which will surprise not only by their variety, but also by the way they are exposed to the customer.
An electric guitar with skull-shaped rings on the strings is just one example. As you can see, not only the rings themselves can annoy you, but also the prizes. On the walls of The Great Frog are photos paying homage to great musicians, including Slash, who plays guitar solos, even with his "rock" rings.
If you descend Orchand in the direction of Houston St, you will find Grit and Glory, a shop and ink shop selling rock'n'roll clothing and accessories, on your right. As with The Cast, you'll find many T-shirts that honor rock icons, clothing, shoes, skull-shaped rings, glasses, but also home accessories such as candles, cups, pillows and a well-stocked children's area.
However, it seems less like this pulsating rock atmosphere of the past (perhaps because of the absence of characters like Chuck), even though the variety of products is remarkable. On the back of the store is a tattoo salon where you can decide if you want to have an indelible memory of your journey into the heart of the rock.
From Grit and Glory you can also buy some graphics from Mark Weiss, the famous American photographer who has been following bands like Jovi Bon, Aerosmith and others since his youth. Where: 186 Orchard St. It really is the last authentic temple of punk rock in New York City that, despite the street it is on, St. Marks Place, resists gentrification and Korean and Japanese restaurants.
Is it a coincidence that the Asian sellers of Search and Destroy are rockets with torn clothes and punk rocker-style rafts? Without saying a word, they look at you badly at the entrance of the store and warn you immediately that photography is forbidden in the Search and Destroy Shop.
You must suspend your judgment when you enter, because we are in punk territory, where in honor of Iggy Pop's song "Search and Destroy: find and destroy! Obviously the dolls with cut-off heads, the sadomasochistic mannequins hanging from the ceiling, the intact or cut-off parts of the human body, the plastic genitals exhibited throughout the shop... as provocation, beyond all morality.
This Fuchsia was my favorite, but maybe my punk soul isn't strong enough to convince me to buy it. At the entrance, near the counter, they sell the colours of Manic Panic, the classic punk brand for hair dyes, of course the most eccentric colours you can imagine. Four years ago, when I arrived in New York and happened to walk to St. Marks Place, I had the good fortune to cross the threshold of the historic store dedicated to classic and modern rockwear, trash and vaudeville.
The St. Mark Place office opened in 1975, just at the time of the birth of punk in this neighborhood, was closed a few months ago and moved a few blocks further south into an anonymous street where the rent of the place is sustainable. Garbage and vaudeville at St. Marks Place was a "rock" church of yesterday and today, and although the products sold at the new place are the same, the store lacks this original energy.
A small shop, small and therefore hard for a distracted walker to recognize, but an important promotion action in favor of the bands Rock, Punk, hardcore, metal, surf New Yorkers carries out. Like Chuck, he is aware that in order to keep the rock soul of the Lower East Side alive, you have to roll up your sleeves, act, do something practical to support the brave artists, especially the local bands, but also the national ones, who are willing to make sacrifices to continue to follow their musical passion, and don't often have to live off their art.
In addition to the section dedicated to bands, which is part of the same association Wendigo Production, there is an art gallery where works are exhibited that also promote artists. If you want to understand what's going on in the New York rock scene and especially in the East Village and LES, take a look at Wendigo Production, where you'll find young people who will be happy to give you information about the New York rock bands' concerts.
Then don't forget to stop by Chuck of The Cast to enjoy a breath of fresh air from the 70's and 80's and, above all, to be overwhelmed by Seach and Destroy. What's more, you'll be able to enjoy the breath of fresh air from the 70's and 80's. I have heard some "unofficial" voices talking about a possible closure of the last temple of New York punk rock. To keep the Rock-Soul of New York alive, we also do it: "Search" and "Destroy"!