The Rock Shop 3/1/14
The Rock Shop, Saturday night. There to listen and watch and listen to a band.
This place, on 4th Avenue in Brooklyn is full of young musicians, young customers, young bartenders, and me three times as old as everyone else in the place. The place is a typical emerging Brooklyn bar. The back bar has small batch bourbon, single barrel bourbon, a good selection of Irish whiskey, and plenty of beer including Brooklyn and Goose Island Honkers beer.
And then there’s me, sitting at the end of the bar, the old fuck, with a shot of Grey Goose in front of me and sixty (yes 60!) years of listening to R&R songs of young love, young rebellion, and young identity crisis. Ok, so I’m just a guy who likes music, the type of music that can change your life, can give you direction, can save you from the hell of conformity and suburbia.
Let me give you a few examples. I was one of those teenagers, a million years ago, who sat in the balcony of a darkened theater and heard Bill Halley bang out Rock Around the Clock at the end of the movie Blackboard Jungle. Like a fucking lightening bolt into the brain! If you haven’t seen it, put on your to-do list. I will begin to give you an understanding of where and why rock and roll emerged in the mid 1950s as a medium of youthful rebellion.
Listen to the angst-driven lyrics of early Bruce Springsteen on Born to Run or the magical guitar playing of Eric Clapton and Duane Allman in Derek and the Dominos (and thank you to Jim Gordon for that driving piano riff) or Janis Joplin screaming her heart out with a bottle of Southern Comfort to sooth the pain.
The crowd tonight, here in Brooklyn and a million years later, is different from the crowds at the Fillmore East or of the State Theater in Hartford in 1955 or 1956 (help my memory is fading), my first rock and roll show. The Allen Freed Show, spreading the Rock and Roll gospel with Chuck Berry, Frankie Lymon and the Teenagers, and Fats Domino. Tonight’s crowd does not have the level of excitement or commitment to the music earlier generations. Too much social chatter while the band played. Jesus Christ could play guitar and few would notice.
This is not a punk crowd nor is it an early R&R crowd of Presley crazy girls and cigarette smoking rebels against everything, Beatle screaming wet teenagers. The crowd here is mostly a middle class kids, educated, polite, and clean. Beards trimmed, these new age rock and rollers, listen quietly. No hipsters. No Goths. No Emos. No punks. Just a lot of white kids trying to escape, but not knowing how. The girls are well dressed, the boys looking like future hedge fund managers all dressed in brand-name clothes unaware if the global implications of wearing designer clothes.
And the bands played on.
I drink Grey Goose with ease here. Doesn’t everyone here drink the Goose? I stand out in the crowd even at the back of the bar, who is this old fuck listening to young music?
The bands are ok, but derivative and sitting squarely in the middle of the road. Nothing new or exciting, Nothing for the listener to say: holy shit did you hear that? The musicians work in Brooklyn or Manhattan, they play at night, I am not sure when they sleep, they are young .
I sit and wait for the next rock and roll messiah to lead us out of the hell we have created for ourselves.