Weird Night in Bushwick with Acid Dad
Went to the ‘Shweck last Friday night. It took a few rounds of shots and beers at one of the East Village’s few remaining oldschool, relatively tourist-free joints to fuel this trip to the belly of the beast. In case you haven’t been – and if you don’t live there, you almost assuredly haven’t – it’s Desolation Valley next door to Berlin after the war. Former crackhouses and future ones, since none of the spectacularly shoddy, even more spectacularly overpriced new prefab units are really meant to be lived in. They’re just lifesize game pieces for speculators who’re too chickenshit for the stock market. And yeah, as Eula’s Alyse Lamb has noted, what’s going on musically in Bushwick isn’t monolithic, and there are some good bands who play out there, and not everybody who lives there is an asshole. But so many of them are.
A publicist had sent word that a couple of good garage bands, Acid Dad and the Mystery Lights, would be playing a brand-new venue, Our Wicked Lady, just a couple of blocks from the Morgan Avenue L station, which made the night more appealing. It’s a decent enough club, although the setup is kind of weird – the stage faces the bar, with more space for spectators along the sides than directly in front. A spastic, dorky guitar-and-drums duo opened – they were awful. Then Acid Dad took their time setting up and throughout the set, interrupted it with attempts to get the sound just right – a common request was for more reverb on the vocals. C’mon, dudes, you’re playing through a Mackie and couple of JBL’s, what can you really expect?
But they were good, and they didn’t limit their recycled riffage to the 60s: the Jesus & Mary Chain and Brian Jonestown Massacre were also frequent reference points. The rhythm section was tight – apparently the bassist is leaving the band, which is too bad – and the frontman/guitarist played with a raw roar. He has good taste in equipment: a Mosrite running through a vintage Fender amp for purist tube amp sizzle. And the band stretched the songs out.
What was weirdest was the crowd. There were a couple of Russ Meyer girls decked out in the requisite black leather and eyeliner, and they were having a good time. But the rest of the crowd looked like a bunch of high school kids at their very first rock show…except that high school kids are typically full of energy and bouncing off the walls, right? These children were terrified! They couldn’t figure out if they should applaud or not, or, more visibly, whether they should be taking selfies. Meaning that they weren’t sure if they should be there. New venues usually ride a wave of buzz: was there some reason known only to the uber-trendy that made getting geotagged there a dangerous thing? Was the show missing the imprimatur of whoever decides what’s trendy in Bushwick? Obviously, it isn’t these kids deciding what they ought to be doing with all their leisure time – that would be too much work. Maybe the show wasn’t curated enough…or locavore enough, or ironic enough. Not that anybody there, other than the Russ Meyer girls, maybe, knows what irony is.
And all this raised the question of whether or not the Russ Meyer girls were just as clueless and lacking in inner direction as the fauxhemians. Maybe they were only drinking and bopping around because that’s what Russ Meyer girls do: faster, pussycat! Go, go, go! What was clear beyond all this, after about 40 minutes, was that the Mystery Lights play elsewhere and that seeing them under less surreal circumstances would be a lot more fun. And by then it was getting dangerously close to the point where the trains were likely to go haywire (that actually didn’t happen until Saturday, which was a nightmare, and a story for another day). Not that the rest of the crowd would know anything about the subway – they take car services. Or Uber. But that’s a story for another day too.