Sunday, March 6, 2011

Jesse Malin and the St Marks Social (with Tommy Stinson) at City Winery - Soho NY 2/19/11

I first came across Jesse Malin via his previous band, D Generation, way back in the salad days of 1994. I can't remember where exactly, but I recall reading a snippet of a review somewhere (the old Welcomat?) and decided to check them out. This was before the days of the Internet and iTunes, so you actually had to leave your house and put a little work into discovering new music. I knew right away just from looking at the band photo, that I would probably like them.

D Generation circa 1994

And they were offering something a little different. D Generation seemed to marry the trashy glam punk of the New York Dolls with 80's hardcore. Remember how the rock music world was in 1994? For the most part, if you didn't have the right look and a sound that could easily pass for a moderately good Pearl Jam or Alice in Chains imitation, you probably weren't going to get noticed.

They weren't terribly original but at the time they were a breath of fresh air to me. Their self-titled debut did OK and I even recall the old WDRE Alternative station in Philly playing some of their songs. After several lineup changes and 2 other good records, they disbanded in early 1999. They were probably a little ahead of their time, as that sound became more trendy in the early 00's. That's around when I found out about Malin's previous history fronting NYC hardcore band Heart Attack at the ripe young age of 12 in the early 80's. And that's where the rest of the Jesse Malin story starts.

Malin's solo career began in 2001 and in early 2002 he released The Fine Art of Self-Destruction. He was venturing more into singer-songwriter territory with a punk vibe, similar to Paul Westerberg's post-Replacements career. The story of the "old punk maturing" is as old as the punk genre itself. And it's kind of a tired concept because generally the songs aren't good enough to hold up when stripped down. And the original reasons you probably got into that punk artist - energy, rebellion, etc, are no longer there. But in Malin's case the songs were always good in his previous bands, but the look and sound of the band sort of distracted listeners from that fact.

Anyway, 17 years after I first experienced Malin's music, here we are. I never saw D Generation play live, but I've seen him play solo at least 8 times now and he never disappoints. So there were two shows at the City Winery - one at 8pm, and a late show at 11pm.  Jesse Malin and the St. Marks Social were doing The Fine Art of Self Destruction in its entirety for the first time ever so the first show sold out fairly quickly. And I had a feeling the later show would be better after it was added.

Jesse Malin and the St Marks Social in 2010

Tommy Stinson opened at 8pm with his fiancee Emily Roberts singing backup vocals and Mike Gent of the Figgs on guitar with Tommy on guitar and vocals. It was all acoustic and was a very brief set since they wanted to get Malin on asap with the late show scheduled. It was cool to see 2 tracks from the "lost" Perfect album. And I'm thinking he played something else from his 2004 solo album that I am forgetting.

Tommy Stinson and fiancee Emily Roberts

Tommy set #1
Match Made in Hell (new)
Moment Too Soon
Turn It Up
One Man Mutiny (new)
Making of an Asshole
Hey You
Now We Come to Hide

Jesse Malin

Jesse Malin and the St Marks Social

Malin set #1
All 12 songs from The Fine Art of Self-Destruction in its entirety
Mona Lisa
Instant Karma (Lennon cover)

At the end Malin started to play "All the Way from Moscow" and got the hook before just going into the Lennon song. Great banter throughout the show, telling the story of how/why songs were written like a VH1 Storytellers kind of thing. At one point he talked about how hard it is to make a "first record" and how he's had to do that like 4 times in 4 different bands and solo. And how Ryan Adams was the one who encouraged him to go solo and put his name out there and not hide behind a band name. Also, in a half serious/half being a wise-ass moment, he says how when he was starting out, next to not making it, his biggest fear was that he would end up playing venues like this (i.e. wine bars). The band was great. Todd Youth on lead guitar was a great addition.

I was kind of bummed that there were no "special guests" as advertised. I thought at least maybe Ryan Adams would be there since he's produced 2 of his 4 albums, including the featured TFAOSD. So after originally planning to head back to the hotel we decided to snatch up some SRO tickets for the 2nd show and got back there toward the end of Tommy's set at 11:40 or so. He played a similar set I guess, but this included a great acoustic version of "Friday Night Is Killing Me" - the title track from his band Bash and Pop's debut album from 1993.

Malin's set is basically the same obviously, but with lots of different stories between songs (I assume he figured some people would see both shows so he had to mix it up). Then during the encore Billy Joe Armstrong from Green Day joined them along with Tommy Stinson and singer/songwriter Charlie Mars.

Malin and St Marks Social with Billie Joe Armstrong

Billie Joe Armstrong

So the FAOSD set ended at like 1:30 and then the encore ended up going until 2:20. Then as we're leaving I see Tommy holding court with fans near the door, so I got a few pics of him and me (at bottom).

Malin set #2
12 songs from TFAOSD in its entirety
Mona Lisa
Hotel Columbia
Burning the Bowery
All the Way From Moscow
Pay To Cum (Bad Brains)
Winter (Rolling Stones)
You Can't Put Your Arms Around a Memory (Johnny Thunders)
Instant Karma (John Lennon)
D Generated (D Generation /Reagan Youth)

Youth, Stinson, and Armstrong

Stinson and Armstrong

Malin, Armstrong, Stinson

Me and Tommy

1 comment:

Christina said...

I was there that night. Can I say Awesome!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
He is playing again at City Winery on 06/25/11 with Juliana Hatfield. Hope to see you all there ; )