Violent Femmes – Central Park Summerstage
New York City – 09/12/2013
Words/Photos/Videos: Jay Porks
A day before Friday the 13th, something out of sorts happened in Central Park. It was the Violent Femmes returning to the city that never sleeps for the first time in nine years, 2/3’s fully reunited, for a one night only (excluding Riot Fest appearances)event presented by Livenation and Josh Wood Productions. Who ever thought these dudes would tour again? Even if it’s only two of the originals. The band has an extensive back catalog that this writer had on his iPod before that and the other 4,000 songs were lost when it died. So what will they play? What will the set list look like? Well, let’s remove all the spontaneity out of that because Rolling Stone reported on Wednesday that the Violent Femmes will be playing their self titled debut album. Not that anyone should dislike this album, but unless there’s a reissue being prepped, what’s the deal with that? And it’s not like the article said “Debut album + other hits” or anything like that. Plus, another spice to tonight, the forecast. Alleged thunderstorms to hit around show time. Not worried about getting wet as much as the concern for people to bring obnoxiously large umbrellas and ruin camera angles. Screw those people. As for this guy, I intend on grabbing a garbage bag from work to use as a poncho, and once the clock hit 3PM we were en route to yet another Jay Porks Expernience… come, walk with me.
Doors are 6 and show is at 7. I’m as shocked as anyone else when I’m allowed in at 5:15. I’m upset that it took me til my 3rd or 4th time seeing a show here before I realized that the back bleachers top step are an awesome spot. I walk around for a living all day, and I walked 12 blocks to get here-why stand when you could sit? I notice a tweet from LivenationNYC, and it goes as follows:
Due to impending weather, the set times for #ViolentFemmes at Rumsey Playfield have changed – Doors: 5pm / The Bogmen: 6pm / Femmes: 7:15pm
— Live Nation NYC (@LiveNationNYC) September 12, 2013
Wow. That’s why I was let in I guess, me being early has allowed me to be on time. Maybe they see a window where they can get this show in with no rain, which seems to have passed right on by us.
The Bogmen, an “indie” rock band from Upstate New York, hit the stage at 6PM sharp. I mean like, after song number two it was 6:08. First thing I notice about them is that they have every instrument you can think of on stage. Besides your basic band set up they had a Bongo section, a keyboard/sound effects guy, the whole nine yards. Or should I say ten yards? Because at all points during the set there was at least 10 people on stage playing instruments, at one point 14 may have been counted. And I don’t even know how to describe this. I found their scarce Wikipedia page and they’re labeled the aforementioned “indie”. I don’t know why folks continue to use words like indie and alternative when describing sounds, but another beef for another day. These guys were like if lyrically nicer Frank Black was fronting a high school glee club that have been brought up on strictly Violet Femmes farm type free range rock and roll. And that sounds like a dig, it’s not. Roll out all those terrible opening acts I’ve seen, they’re not gonna make the list. I’ve hung my garbage bag on the railing behind me, and headed to spot where I noticed they were letting folks smoke cigarettes as we finished out the remainder of The Bogmen’s set, which ended at 6:50.
Just as they finished up their set, a few drops of rain hit me. That’s when I made the dart back towards my garbage bag, which some kid was grabbing a hold of. I was like “I brought that all the way from Staten Island” and he relinquished it. He believed me? I wasn’t lying, but what if I was? I poked a hole in it and now my head pokes out of this ridiculous looking thing as the rain has held off. It’s become a tad after 7 and as “New York, New York” plays over the PA, it seems as if the main event is about to hit the stage.
It’s time for the Violent Femmes!
Out on stage come the boys to play their debut album for us and they kicked the night off with “Hallowed Ground”. Cool, so we’re not only getting that album tonight. We’ll sprinkle in some hits. “All I Want” came next, and it’s a wave back and forth type of mood right now. “Nightmare” followed, and afterward bassist Brian Richie addressed the crowd: “We’re about to take you on trip through time, space and psychology”.
“Blister In The Sun” is the first track off their self titled debut, and the crowd went bananas when that bass line dropped. Not even two minutes into everyone enjoying the nostalgia that is this band, not even two minutes into this album-the rain begins to fall. And it falls hard. In the Blister In The Sun video I have, you can hear people scampering around and shrieking as water pours on them.
Umbrellas start coming out (as predicted), and I’m poking another hole in this garbage bag for my camera’s lens to stick out of just in time to hit record for “Kiss Off”. I love this song, the counting portion reminds me of my life. I’m inside the garbage bag as I hear people screaming. It’s the security guards telling us to leave the bleachers because there’s lightning. Not for nothing, but is there a waiver I could sign that says I won’t blame Central Park if I die, because I have a killer spot right now. So after letting out a loud “fuck” and stopping video, I run towards the front to enjoy the rest of the song. After the song, the band tells us they’re being told to leave the stage due to lightning, and “we’ll be coming back out… this is out of our control”. And I wish I could have been the guy screaming this but I wasn’t: Someone shouts out “I hope you know that this will go down on your permanent record!”. That dude is my hero.
Damn. Now we’re in a rain delay. I head back over to the smoking spot, and the rain gets heavier and heavier. Not only that, but they tarp they have placed over the lawn. So with added moisture, we have brown puddles forming everywhere. The Muddy Banks of Central Park. My sneakers feel like I have jumped inside a pool. We’re 20 minutes into the delay collecting water. I don’t mind water, but I start walking in the direction of the exit just in case they call this thing. I notice a slew of people leaving and I start heading with them. Two people conversing at the gate. One guy is like “Let’s just wait til they announce something” and the other dude says “Announce what, we can’t even see the fucking stage!”. I turn back and he’s right, they can’t possibly come back out. By the time I walked 5 blocks in the steadiest of steady downpours and made it to the train station I saw some people in the subway I noticed were also at the show. I said “So, how long did you guys end up staying?” and the kid goes “Until they postponed it.. there’s gonna be some sort of make up show”. And the four of us just shook our heads, what an abrupt end to what was on the way to be a magical night.
Tonight’s Violent Femmes show has been postponed due to the stupid lightening!Hang onto your tix and stay tuned for more info & a new date!
— Live Nation NYC (@LiveNationNYC) September 13, 2013
So the Violent Femmes at Central Park to allegedly be made up at a later date that is yet to be announced. The problem with that is for us who have jobs we need to pray that this show is on a day where said employed person could get to this show. I wish there was someone to blame for this because this was gonna be awesome and ended up being the pits. But it’s no ones fault. They did all they could. If Central Park didn’t have the 10PM curfew, maybe there would have been more of a chance of waiting it out. Who knows. I just know that last year if you told me I’d actually get to see the Violent Femmes live in any capacity I would have called you insane.
Check out my podcast, in which I talk more about the rain out, and other things. I do it weekly, my buddy Andy Derer (host of the Andy Derer Show) hooked me up with my own. so check it out!