Ben Franklin’s EP Release at Cake Shop
I sat there in the champagne room thinking to myself, “Well, if this isn’t the picture of irony I’m not sure what is.” The stripper seemed like a bright girl, in another life we might have shared a drink and bullshitted about our music tastes, and we might have even exchanged phone numbers. It was my first time at a strip joint, but I knew the rules. This was a business transaction, a couple of bucks for a bonding moment between friends. Nothing more.Vodpod videos no longer available.
I sat there as she twisted about me, almost laughing, writing all this down in my head, planning how I would spin this. I thought about asking for a receipt at the end (Rocker Tycoon doesn’t exactly pay the bills and every write off helps… Would this count as a business meeting?). I decided, even as a joke, that would be in bad taste. I brushed myself off, thanked her politely went for the high five as opposed to a hug, returned to my friends… As we all giggled like little girls, it was their turns next.
How the hell did I wind up at a Brooklyn strip club at 3am? I guess I’d have to thank Ben Franklin for putting out their new EP, Urgency. The day started on a completely different note.
I woke at 2pm, after a particularly zealous night of drinking. Half a gallon of Gatorade and a can of mixed nuts later, I was right as rain. Rarely am I prepared for a show, but this time I had spent weeks making sure I’d be ready. The line-up was one of the best I’d had the privilege of ever being involved in. I am the Heat, The Press, Ben Franklin, and The Gay Blades… All together for the release of Ben Franklin’s new EP with Killing Horse Records. So, like I said, I was ready, equipment was charged, I was coming down from my daily hangover. I even had my clothes picked out. This was gonna be a hot bed of who’s who in the local rock scene.
I donned my most obscure indie rock tee shirt. And my phone rang. It was Roy Grimes of Greasy Grimey. “I’m definitely coming up man where’s your place at?” Rad! I had almost forgot my favorite food blogger was on his way up for the show.
That’s when I realized I’d need to get a charger for my video camera. I won’t bore you with details, but I did end up buying a new video camera just for this show when I couldn’t find a charger for my old one. I wanted to bring the blog back to full life with this show! (I took a while off to write a book. Sue me.)
Coming back to Jersey City, I met with Roy and beat feet to the Cake Shop at the pace of a cheetah. PATH to 9th then in to cab. Cab to The Cake Shop. Upon walking in I was immediately greeted by Mike Horaz (I am the Heat drummer). Beer now in hand I headed to the basement. Not a wholly desolate location… though I felt like I was at a basement show. In other words right at home and 7 years younger.
A look around and you could tell this was the place to be. The North Jersey/BK scene was staunchly represented. Killing Horse Records and Ben Franklin teamed up to put out the EP as well as the show. The KHR cats are no slouches. Members of Invisible Lines littered the place as well. Teamwork? That’s Fucking Teamwork! It’s pretty great to see label mates as well as other local bands coming out in support of the event. I glanced over to Billy (Ben Franklin) we nodded to each other, he was wheeling and dealing with the sound guy. I finished my beer snagged another, bullshitted with Roy for a bit, aaxed intellectual with Jen Schwartz, manager for I Am the Heat not to mention the looks and brains behind Ghost Train PR, and Eric Mueller manager for Invisible Lines.
Just as I took a second to myself I Am The Heat started up. Jameson Edwards (vox, guitar) Kevin Fey (vox, bass) Julius Myren (Keys, guitar) and Mike Horaz were in rare form! Mike had dropped a hint that they’d be covering a song by the Who in the center of the set. And I can take a hint (just ask my ex-girlfriend). I was more than ready when they covered My Generation.
I few minutes of rest and a couple of beers in between bands and the Press was up. Mike Henry (vox, guitar) David Schneider (vox, guitar) Alex Pica (vox, bass) and Chuck Davis (drums) are old friends nowadays. I remember first seeing these guys in the days of Automata Chino. They actually played a show for just me and a bartender, my what a long way they’ve come! Songs about Mordor, Woodcutters and French Holidays, The Press covers all topics. It was a big show they were “pressed” for time (sorry for the pun) but they still had some time to chat it up with the crowd between songs. Mike and Alex have formed this sort of rock n’ roll Laurel & Hardy routine that is quickly becoming legendary in the indie rock scene.
I’ve already told you about Ben Franklin’s Urgency EP. If you haven’t heard or seen the review slide over here and check out what I have to say. It’s physically manifestation is the very reason why everyone is packed into this room anyhow right? And it couldn’t have been more timely, Killing Horse had a record stuffing party, and everything came right down to the wire. Eddie Garza(bass, vox) told me, in relief, that he had just seen them delivered to the show moments before The Press went on. Anyhow, now that the eagle had landed, so to speak, the band was over the logistical jitters and ready to rock.
Ben Franklin is Eddie Garza (bass, vox) Sarah Tomek (drums, vox) Billy Gray (guitar, vox) and Adam Copeland (guitar, vox). By this point in the night everyone was ready to move. Drinks had been consumed, hellos had been said, and we were all a little rowdy. It was a hot bed of potential energy just hankering to turn kinetic. How’d they start? What song? I can remember… What I do remember is crowd participation! Every song was a sing-along/mosh pit huddle. Mike Sylvia (Killing Horse Records) eventually formed a human wall with a few other cats to keep bodies from hitting the stage. I switch-hitted
from rock photographer to mosh pit junkie to … Fuck it I took my camera spun the strap around my wrist and blasted into the mosh pit. The proof is in the pudding, and the pudding is the pictures. Look at the faces, all smiles and wonder! And of course I got some shots and video of the band as well.
Now days before this show I had only heard of the Gay Blades in passing. So I did a little Myspace listening. I though to myself, “Cool!” and moved on to other stuff I was doing. Busy week and all. By the time the show arrived some of the songs I had been passively listening to were stuck in my head. I hadn’t even realized it. Then they swashbuckled their way on stage. Clark Westfield, Puppy Mills and Mike Abiuse are the triad that forms this band. Clark’s stage presence is something that can only be experienced live. Puppy’s drums and Mike’s keys compliment the energy The Gay Blades brings out. We were all sweaty and ready to move, they did not disappoint. Sadly in the middle of NHDN my battery cut out… But check out what I did get. Also Alec Baldwin showed up, yup, I totally forgot about that.
So after the show I hitched a ride with one of the band’s for a little post show drinking. We ended up at Pumps… A fine establishment where the ladies dress like they really need the money for college. After confessing to the band and manager that I’d never been to a strip club they offered to buy be a lap dance. I chuckled and complied. Novelty is as good an excuse as any, later on the manger got a dance as well. They exchanged numbers, ha! I remember telling the band’s manager, “No, no I think the stripper really did like you.”. Then we both laughed uproariously. That’s my story, I’m sticking to it.
Alec Baldwin declined our invite to the strip club. Also he was not at the show.