November 2, 2001
Cavestomp Festival is a weekend long garage festival arranged by Stevie Van Zandt (ex. guitar player for the East Street Band and star of the Sopranos). This yearly festival has been happening for the past four and has brought well-deserved attention to bands like the garage-stompin’ Swingin’ Neckbreakers from New Jersey. This year the show took place at the Warsaw – the Polish-American Club of Williamsburg which also happens to have the most rocking jukebox I have ever seen! It was a gem! The great light show, cheap beer, and cool hip crowd made up for the crappy sound system. And of course, the show produced the moddest scene witnessed by this writer since the 3-B Tavern’s GarageShock of 1998!
The evening began early with a band called the Priests. Can I offer some advice? Boys, please drop the attitude and get a hold of yourselves – just because you are playing with a drunken Stevie gives you no right to act like spoiled celebrities. This band began their buzzed-out set and quickly ended it three songs later. The reason? The drummer broke his stick and they didn’t have another – boo-hoo. After a major pout session from the band – they removed their gear and left the stage. It’s interesting that the second band arrived and played without a hitch – drum stick and all. Hmmm. . . .makes me wonder?
The second band was The Waistcoats from the Netherlands. There must be something in the air in that part of the world because they seem to produce some of the finest garage sounds out there. This band was no exception. The Dutch band surfed their way through an hour of fine mod music. Their cool attitude and California beach-babe looks gave their standard garage rock a memorable sparkle. The band consisting of Jan Velderkamp (guitar, vocals), Evert-Jan Kloosterboer (bass), Jack Othius (drums) and Gerry Burger (organ) can be checked-out on Alopeia Records. I’m diggin ya baby.
Well. . .well. . well. . Billy Childish was next to grace the stage. I was so excited to see him – considering that the last time I went to see him at the Middle East in Cambridge he had laryngitis and was unable to sing (1998). (It was so depressing). Billy Childish, hailing from Kent, U.K. spent his early years working the docks. After realizing it wasn’t his gig, he began singing, writing early fanzines, and immersing himself into the new punk scene. He began recording his own music in 1979 and has proven himself an artist, an author, spoken-word performer, musician and a renaissance man of the punk movement. Billy Childish is the ultimate rebel of rock and roll and is often referred to as, “the archetypal outsider of music.” As you can read, I cannot write enough words of amazement for this man!
Billy has played with numerous bands (word is that “arrogance” sometimes gets the better of him – oh, that Billy) including The Headcoats, The Milkshakes, Thee Mighty Caesars, and the The Stash (A Clash cover band). At this show, he played with his newest friends, The Buff Medways. This band consists of Johnny Barker on bass and Wolf Howard on drums. These guys complemented Billy so well that it seemed that they have played together for all of eternity!
These guys were absolutely amazing! I spent the hour set spell-bound! 67y is not the neatest guitar-player not the most on-key singer – yet, his stage presence is powerful and enticing. His sounds were the most hard garage-stompin’, hip-shakin’, beer-swigin’, rock-and-roll that I think I have ever heard! The band played covers of the Who and Hendrix – but mostly stuck with oldies and goodies. The crowd was going wild! I mean, boys were actually screaming like little girls! Billy even surprised the crowd with his spoken-word artistry where the only notes were produced from his voice. His vocals told of growing-up in the working class of England and they were beautiful. I am telling you – I was completely blown-away.
Apparently, I was so blown-away that the rest of the bands playing seemed second-rate (zzzzzz. .. ). I wished that Billy would return to the stage. Realizing this to be an unrealistic desire after a terribly boring set from the Downliner Sect, I put myself on the train and went home.
For me, being at Cavestomp was equivalent to being a little kid in a candy store. Unfortunately, like a sugar-high; the buzz wore off early and I found myself needing a nap.