The Press and Ben Franklin at Public Assembly
September 16 2009: I took the Path to 14th and 6th ave then the L to Bedford Ave in Brooklyn to see my old friends The Press and Ben Franklin. Public Assembly is a pretty neat venue. That said it’s a Venue! It’s an honest to god place to play and see live music. That’s refreshing! The place itself is large enough for a reasonably large band with an unreasonable number of followers to play. The placement of the bar is Ideal if not perfect. I really can’t say how happy I am to be at a place with a raised stage, Even if it makes my job a little harder. Ultimately this isn’t about me anyhow, it’s about the bands the venues and the journey getting back and forth.
The first band sets up and sound checks, as the DJ (a seemingly adept fellow by his assault of the craft) sets the mood for the bar. A bit much? Nah, the live music hasn’t started yet and people are starting to come in. I say it’s working! Good job, Public Assembly! Set yourself up for success, then just ride the lightning til you’re successful, I always say. Columbus didn’t half-ass it, and look how far his bravado got him. Way to bring it on a Wednesday night!
Ivan and the Terribles’ drummer is the band’s exclamation point. She punctuated each snap and beat with a gusto I haven’t seen since I saw the Vandals back in ’02. I head over to the bar as Eddie and Billy of Ben Franklin scuttle in with their gear. We have a laugh about finally getting me out to see the band live and spotting an A&R scout (the only guy in the crowd old enough to be my dad, dressed like it was lunch hour at Goldman and Sachs), or someone up way pasted their normal bed time. I had the house’s $6 combo special: PBR can and a shot of well whiskey. For the record, Fleischman’s Whiskey has an aroma of burnt linoleum that doesn’t betray itself once it hits the palette.
The Courtesy Tier began shortly after. A great compliment of guitar and drums. These two fellas have a great chemistry together. The lyrics are of a redeeming nature and they sound much larger than they are. You’d think without seeing them that you were watching a full band with a separate vocalist. That’s the power or multi-tasking for you! After their set the guys gave me a CD and some stickers. I’ll definitely be giving the CD a look soon.
The Press took stage. Mike Henry (vocals, guitar). David Schneider (guitar) and Alex Picca (bass), Chuck Davis (drums) are Brooklyn’s steady-rock quartet. One thing I love about these guys is their between song banter. I totally feel like that’s part of the experience. I like a little chatter, while I’m waiting for my next song. Not like a whole speech but just a few quick pieces of info or a joke here and there. These guys are like a good old man barber, in that respect. They asked the crowd to sign their mailing list, and promised them stickers and pins. “If you want the stickers and pins but don’t want us to email you use someone else’s and we’ll spam that guy. This is our next song, this is what Mordor sounds like.” (It’s a good thing they prefaced with that disclaimer. As you all know, “One does not simply walk into Mordor.” Being that there are no trains in and I don’t own a car, I’d have never known, otherwise.) There’s nothing that a little humor and a LOTR reference won’t do for me. That’s just the band joking around between songs. The Press is a solid rock and roll band. Triumphant drums, 24-carat bass, No nonsense guitar, pungent vocals along with random asides about “Class 2 orcs” Do you really need me to spell it out? Go see these guys! They won’t disappoint.
Billy Grey, Eduardo Garza and Sarah Tomek, when their powers combine they form Ben Franklin (the band not the historical figure). Fresh from the studio these BK rockers just put out a really excellent CD called Optimist. It’s a must download and it’s free at www.wearebenfranklin.com. I’ve been rocking this album for the last week so I know all the words, or at least the important ones. The Press and I gathered beneath the stage for their set. They played most if not all of the songs from their LP. I was singing and dancing along, the whole time. Sara’s drum’s and Eddie’s bass lay the ground work for Billy’s guitar to tank over and They all come through with fly by air support on vocals. It’s not just good rock music, it’s fun rock music too. They have a ton of concept without going over your head. That extremely hard to pull off.
After the show Billy, Eddie, Sara and I sat and had a couple of drinks with The Press at the bar. The conversation ranged from the power of the Internet, and it’s role in the music industry to talking about the differences of where we grew up in comparison to New York City. Billy offered me a ride back to the Path. I said my goodbyes and made my way home. I was feeling way cooler than I probably was right then, so I went home and knocked myself down a peg by falling asleep to Genesis’ We Can’t Dance album.