Brooklyn, New York, Death By Audio
August 24th, 2013
Hunx and His Punx wrap up their Street Punk tour with a ‘secret show’ at DIY venue Death By Audio in Brooklyn, NY, in their usual steamy and spectacular style.
“I’m so sorry you guys”, Seth Bogart offers sweetly and regretfully by the merch table afterwards as my friends and I start tallying our war wounds sustained during the show. He is still in his costume, a one of a kind Peggy Noland creation, a black mesh midriff varsity top that has ‘Street Punk 666’ hand painted across the chest, and matching leggings decorated with safety pins, skulls, guitars, anarchy symbols and internet acronyms.
Of course it wasn’t his fault that the modest 110 capacity front room of my favourite DIY music space in Brooklyn, Death By Audio, turned into an unrepentant rock ‘n’ roll orgy dungeon with no regard for manners, safety, or personal space…but then again, maybe it was!
This was the band’s 2nd Brooklyn appearance on their Street Punk tour, the first being the completely packed and sold out show at 285 Kent just around the corner. I was there for that, too, and ticketless fans still lined up despite a sign on the door telling them in no uncertain terms not to bother. The achingly romantic ‘oooh-ooh-ahh’s of “Lovers Lane” drifted outside from the soundcheck, and someone behind me dejectedly sighed, “If I can’t get in, I just want to buy a pack of 40s and sit out here and listen”.
Tonight, a veil of grey mist cloaks the giant middle finger and graffiti’d red brick stage banner before Hunx and His Punx take their respective places to excited cheers of delight. Although this time Hunx does not demand for ten shirts to come off before they will consent to play like he did earlier on at 285 Kent, he is still flirty, provocatively pulling his costume down and testing the nerve of the straight square bear guys in the crowd by thrusting his crotch in their faces.
First pounding gallantly through the speakers and inciting high levels of euphoric hysteria was the rousing stomp of “You Don’t Like Rock ‘N’ Roll”, a Gay Singles classic originally written for an all girl group to perform by the amazing Nobunny. Suddenly I found myself slammed towards the stage and bent over in an awkwardly suggestive position that looked like I was eagerly offering my ass to the entire audience.
Next was the pimple pinching thrasher “Bad Skin”, followed rapidly by “Everyone’s a Pussy (Fuck You Dude)”, which is so short, fast and fun that they usually have time to rattle through it at least twice!
So intense was the pressure of the crowd surges pinning my legs against the stage at this point that tears nearly sprang to my eyes, and in an effort to avoid a double amputation, I crawled feebly onto the edge of the stage, gasping like a shipwrecked sailor finally arriving on dry land. I curled up in the corner and tried to make myself as small as possible so I wouldn’t be in anyone’s way, while also making an effort not to get burned by one of the hot lamps at my back which provide DBA’s minimal lighting ambiance.
The slower bubblegum numbers with hand-clapped beats did not dampen the aggressive joyfulness of the room. “I’m sooo hiiiigh!”, Bogart giggled, and his goofy flamboyant strut during “Cruising”, “Private Room”, and even the swaying ballad “Too Young To Be In Love” seemed to prompt even more rowdiness, disorderly dancing and body collisions.
The Shannon Shaw led songs “”You Think You’re Tuff” and “Mud In Your Eyes” have a real heart-stopping power live. Her soulful wail is sweet and captivating, yet boils over with a volatile causticity; to mistake her for just another emotionally vulnerable girl with a pretty voice would be to sign your own death warrant.
Someone repeatedly yelled for Shannon but she never looked his way and seemed kind of annoyed throughout the performance, which she was certainly entitled to be! Somehow the bottom of her mic stand got mistaken for a bag check and became buried in all styles of ladies’ canvas totes and black leather bags, forcing her to finally request firmly, “Can you take your purses OFF MY STUFF?”.
People do get annoying at rock shows; sometimes it becomes an act of real mental discipline, deciding whether or not to let someone piss you off and distract you or just ignore them and let it roll off…Like the persistent photographer (“Thanks a lot, ASSHOLE!” – Shannon), the guys throwing their beer all over the place as if they forgot it’s supposed to go in their mouths, and the person constantly using my shoulder as an arm rest (I’m not your fucking furniture, man!).
At one point, venue host and soundman Edan Wilber had to reconnect the floor monitor cable, yanking it out determinedly from under my ass while I struggled clumsily to get the fuck out of the way (sorry Edan!).
He rarely has to move from his small mixing desk setup in the far left corner – but when he does wade in through the bodies (whether to fix an equipment malfunction or to stop bands from sticking things inbetween the ceiling tiles), he means business.
People were also inhaling from a popper bottle that was being passed around, and it loosened some of them up so much they decided to sprawl backwards onto my legs, while a guy in a Jay Reatard shirt was steadily baptizing me in splatters of his hot, sticky sweat.
For the encore, we were treated to Beastie Boys cover “Egg Raid On Mojo”, and the Erin Emslie fronted head banger “Kill Elaine”, culminating in an enthusiastic guitar smash from Hunx. He thumped it repeatedly against the floor and was at first impressed with its stubborn durability (“It’s just unbreakable!”), but after a few more resolute slaps, the headstock snapped off, and the black plastic backing sailed across the stage. Don’t worry though; it wasn’t his real guitar, just a decoy, one of those Harmonix Rock Band Fenders!
The 16 date Street Punk tour is over, and Hunx urges everyone to buy stuff so he doesn’t have to load it all back up into the van. He chats with us and poses for photos, and despite the fact that my face is now gleaming with slimy perspiration shine and I look like I’ve been dragged through a hedge backwards, he slings his arm around me and tells me my hair smells good. And so, covered in ugly cuts and bruises, but feeling more alive than ever from the fun thrill of the music, we part company and make our way out into the cool night, with a medley of Hunx songs looping inside our heads.
All words by Carrie Quartly, you can read more of her writing on the site here.