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A Show For Howie Pyro Medical Fund At The Troubadour, Saturday March 5th 2022

Show For Howie Pyro
Butch Walker and Clem Burke

When his D Generation bandmate and friend Howie Pyro underwent a liver transplant, Jesse Malin decided to organize a benefit show at the Troubadour, which finally took place on Saturday night after being postponed once. The sold-out event gathered plenty of personalities of the punk rock scene and beyond, and turned into a 5-hour marathon of live music! But for $25 (the proceeds of the show were going towards the Howie Pyro Medical Fund) who could complain except my feet?

I cannot say that I am very familiar with Howie Pyro, but I remember him as the DJ at Linda Ramone’s last parties for the annual Johnny Ramone celebration at Hollywood Forever. This certainly tells a lot about his status in the punk community, while Wikipedia says he was one of the last people to see his friend Sid Vicious alive. He is also a founding member of D Generation and has played with Danzig as well as a bunch of other bands such as the Blessed, Freaks… This is right there a very interesting life and the enthusiasm of the music community to raise funds for his hospitalization was not a surprise: Howie Pyro is apparently universally loved and the night was a loud message to save him with the help of rock & roll.

For years, Jesse Malin has been organizing benefit shows (with proceeds going to diverse charitable causes) either in LA or NYC, and I had already attended one of them benefitting California Community Foundation Wildfire Relief Fund, and the Joe Strummer Foundation and Music & Memory before the pandemic. Hosted by Kid Congo Powers, who has himself been part of many bands (The Cramps, Gun Club, Bad Seeds), last night was a succession of surprising appearances, with various collaborations and classic covers, and basically a lot of fun.

After a sweet and short set by NYC  the Sweet Thing fronted by Sam Hariss, Kate Clover came and conquered, slaying the stage with her high heels, blonde ponytail, and her unapologetic garage punk rock. The rock & roll party certainly continued with the band Prima Donna and its very dynamic frontman Kevin Preston, who never missed doing a few splits and jumps in the air. Between sets, Kid Congo Powers auctioned a few items (signed photographs, posters, and shirts), and a photograph was bought for $400 if I remember correctly. Jesse Malin did two sets, one full one with his band and another one with members of D Generation – Danny Sage, Richard Bacchus, and Michael Wildwood on drums – and both performances were extremely dynamic including stage antics and full crowd enthusiasm. With his guitar covered with stickers, his Gavroche hat, and New-York swagger – he reminded us a few times he is from NYC – Malin certainly knows how to entertain a room. After telling a few Howie Pyro stories between songs – Pyro has left the hospital for the first time since October – he threw a few classic punk rock covers in the middle of his own songs: The Pogues’ “If I Should Fall from Grace with God” and the Clash’s “Rudie Can’t Fail.” These are not a surprise but there’s no doubt it is the right material for the crowd.

For a large part of the night, a succession of high energy collaborations between Jesse Malin and special guest followed: David Bason (vocalist of the hardcore band War Orphan), then Holly Ramos (of OSO My Brain), then Jakob Dylan, who arrived on stage in a very low-key manner, and covered, with Malin, “I Fought the Law,” the very apropos Elvis Costello’s “What’s so funny ’bout peace, love, and understanding?” (“as long as there is a war we are going to keep playing it) and one of his owns, “Three Marlenas.” Before leaving the stage, he shook the hand of the young woman who was wearing a Wallflowers shirt, and standing next to me: Jakob is a class act.

With Art Alexakis (Everclear) and Rene Mata (ReachNYC) on vocals, Maros Curiel (P.O.D.) and Indio Downey (Robert’s son) on guitars, and Clem Burke of Blondie fame on drums, we had the supergroup of the night for a ground-shaking cover of the Stooges’ “I Wanna Be Your Dog. Clem Burke stuck around for the other acts, readjusting his drumset between acts

Actually, the night was not even close to being over: it was the turn of Suzi Gardner (of L7) for a raucous and dissonant set with some truly badass vocals. Next, Butch Walker slaughtered the stage with a definitively too-short set of cathartic rock & roll. Passionate and powerful could not even describe his style, he was an explosive performer and seemed to give everything he had at each guitar riff while playing everything with hard rock intensity, constantly kicking the air with his boot, and raising his guitar in the air during over-the-top guitar solos…

Rival Sons were headlining – should I mention that they played after midnight when the show had started at 7:30? – but before them, Kid Congo Powers gave us a taste of his incredible career with a Gun Club song plus a song by The Cramps, while Clem Burke still drummed through the following act: Michael Des Barres and his glam hard rock revival – he covered T Rex – and a few songs done with some insane energy, lots of screaming and crowd participation at Des Barres’ constant demand.

Rival Sons closed this marathon with a heavy-bluesy performance and more intensity, something that had already been in full display all night long. Vocalist Jay Buchanan commanded the stage with a raucous powerhouse over their heavy Southern blues-rock. Five songs (“Too Bad,” “Electric Man,” “Open My Eyes,” “Do Your Worst,” “Nobody Wants to Die”) were enough to figure out their style, but probably not enough for a crowd turned instantaneously fans. It was some visceral stomping energy that can win any crowd, even after five hours of live music, even for the ones who had never heard them.

This was a very impressive night of music, and if it may have been too much for one evening for some people, there’s no doubt it was coming from the heart.

 

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