Joey Ramone Birthday Bash feat. Alarm, The Star Spangles, The Strokes, and Wayne Kramer
Joey Ramone deserves a celebration once a year, every year, until the end of time. And one without Matt Pinfield and circus freaks just wouldn't suffice.
Joey Ramone Birthday Bash feat. Alarm, The Star Spangles, The Strokes, and Wayne KramerCity: New York
Venue: Irving Plaza
PopMatters Associate Columns and Music Editor
One of New York City's most beloved music legends, the late Joey Ramone deserves a celebration of his life and art once a year, every year. And he's gotten just that since 2001's inaugural Birthday Bash, each successive event attracting an array of friends, fans, and fellow musicians. They come forward each season to honor Ramone and to raise money for lymphoma research. The event has become an annual staple on New York's glutted club-show circuit, and this year's festivities boasted an eclectic roster of performers -- with decidely mixed results. For those who lasted from start to finish, the five-hour party provided a parade of abbreviated live sets interspersed with vintage Ramones' footage, played on a big screen. Emcees Matt Pinfield (of MTV fame) and Little Steven Van Zandt (of everything fame) handled introductions as the Lucky Devil Circus Sideshow entertained the SRO crowd with its unique brand of carnival-freak follies between sets. There's nothing like a bit of sword swallowing and straitjacket escapism to help a show flow smoothly. The Devils' derring-do aside, attendees came to Irving Plaza for music, and it was music they received. Acts ran the gambit: past and present, famous and infamous, good and woefully bad. The wondrous Star Spangles graced the stage, awash in Lower East Side chic, a genuine throwback to the mid-'70s glory days of former Ramones' stomping grounds like CBGB and Max's Kansas City. Despite major label indifference, the Spangles remain the heir apparent to Gotham's original punk scene. They're snotty and melodic, with a touch of sneer, and thus a perfect band to rock on a Joey Ramone tribute bill.