One of the most telling signs of how the plandemic turned New York into a second-rate artistic hub is how venues are reacting. Take Smalls jazz club, for example. For decades, they had two acts a night plus the midnight jam session. These days, the headline artist is also responsible for the jam, and where a monthly gig there used to be reserved for an elite few, bandleaders are playing two or three shows a month there now.
That paradigm works all the way down the line to Otto’s, where the monthly surf rock show used to feature as many as five acts. This month’s installment there on Nov 5 has only three. The night starts at 8 with a mystery band who call themselves Drip 2.0 and could go either way, but the groups afterward are excellent.
Headliners the TarantinosNYC, who play at 11-ish, have been around since the zeros and have evolved into a surprisingly sleek, cinematic outfit that match their name. The Surf Junkies, who play in between at around 9, just put out a debut short album, streaming at Bandcamp,
The Washington, DC quartet of guitarists Max Gonzo and Larry Atom, bassist El Kabong and drummer Vic Vegas obviously do not take themselves seriously, as befits a surf band, but their original songs are dope.
They build the opening track, The Tube, from a funky strut to a big anthemic payoff that wouldn’t be out of place in the Ronnie Earl tunebook.
The band blend subtle latin influences into the tightly wound Barrel Pounder and close the record with Surfer’s Lament, awash in spare, enigmatic, wide-angle chords over a slow clave beat.
Every surf band plays Tequila, but….do you have to record the damn thing? At least this version has more slashing guitar work than most groups give it. It’ll be interesting to see what else they have up their sleeves this Saturday night. Word to the wise: if you don’t know the club, they have an ID scanner and use it on everybody. Like, everybody: if you’re 90 and on a walker, expect to be carded. Bring your passport since ID scanners don’t work on passports, and this is no time to be leaving a trail of electronic crumbs that could wind up on a social credit score.