The Power of East Coast Surf

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3/3/07 - 9th Wave, Mister Neutron, Atomic Mosquitos, and The Rip Chords in NYC

Well, there I was, armed with a pen and Pang's Punch getting ready for the next chapter of Unsteady Freddie's Surf Shindig and Purim Party at Otto's Shrunken Head in Manhattan. And I wasn't the only one. The place was packed with surf and sand lovers from top to bottom. No room to even dance as people took seats on the floor to gaze up at 4 phenomenal bands:
Mister Neutron, the Atomic Mosquitoes, the Rip Chords, and 9th Wave.

Mister Neutron loves you which why when they took the stage at 10:30 they played their hearts out for us. California is in for a real treat when these Sopranos of Surf (a NJ reference for you out-of-towners) kick their ass with more reverb and more sound then any one venue can handle. The set opened with an exotic melody full of middle-eastern sounding chords. Drew drumming has never been better, never slowing down unless he had to, which was rare. Tony is not only a impressive bass player, he also has a real flair for interaction with the audience, but after all, he loves you. A few of the highlights from the set were Comanchero, Sub-Mariner (my fav tune from their latest CD, Red Triangle), Neutron Stomp and the new tune Tahiti Throw Down which opens heavy, sweet and slow on Damien's guitar only to beaten to a frenzy by the powerful playing of the backline.

Next at bat were Baltimore's finest, the Atomic Mosquitos. Surf bands may come & go, but this quartet has real stamina. The first time I heard them was Café Tattoo (Baltimore) way back in 2000/2001 on the way to Sleazefest. They brought out the smoke machine in Otto's, but didn't need it. These swingin' kats all in black were smokin' all on their own. They opened the set with some very poppy, up tempo tunes that finally may folks get up a shake & shimmy. One member of the audience described the Atomic Mosquitos as very "freaky and groovy". A new tune that made my ears bleed (in a nice way) was Axis of Evil, a dark and foreboding melody that is heavy on the bass and drums. It can be best described as mind blowing and glass shattering. The AM played several off of both of their CD Release the Mosquitos and Atomic Mosquitos including Siouxnami and Dead Sea Stroll, a very trad instro reminiscent of the 60's beach blanket love songs.

In the sweet spot at 1 am the 3rd band of the night was none other than the world famous Rip-Cords. When I asked Ritchie Rotkin "Why play a small venue like Otto's?" he replied, "Hey, we like Freddie". Well, we like Freddie too and bless him for bringing the Rip Chords to Otto's.

Picture if you can a room decorated with grass skirts, giant glowing gods, floral shirts, and no room to move, save for a few small seats on the floor where you would be allowed to sway with the music. This was the scene as the 6-member Rip Chords took over the tiki room at Otto's. They opened the set with their #1 hit from 1964 Hey Little Cobra. There have never been vocals like this an Unsteady Freddie Shindig before. This was followed by 409 and Mitch Schecter's guitar playing was real fine. I was especially happy to hear the new tune titled Hot Rod Days (off of the CD of the same name) and Cobra Beach. It always amazes me when after 40 years bands can still come up with new riffs, lyrics, and more twang. Cobra Beach is an all intro melody, not traditional surf with reverb, but you will hear the driving percussion and occasional twang of the guitar. The Rip Chords also covered a Davie Allen creation, Blues' Theme (from the movie Wild Angels) in fine fuzz form. The set ended too soon with a Do you Wanna Dance, Barbara Ann (the Beach Boys), and a smooth rendition of So You Want to be A Rock n' Roll Star (the Byrds). The latter brought me to tears. Thank you to all the Rip Chords for such a memorable set, but most of all to my new friend Mitch.

AND that's NOT all folks. 9th Wave stepped up at 2 am to close the place! AND they played a full set despite mechanical malfunctions. Good thing we had lots of NESManiacs helping out. Mike Stacatto Rosado never missed a chop, a pluck, or a pick as he switched guitars and amps in the middle of songs until he gave the audience what they wanted, MORE FASTER LOUDER. You guys rock! Oceana may not have known it, but she had a fan club going on in the front row as Bobby, the bass player from the Rip Chords, was cheering her on as she made that Farfisa wail & moan in Time Tunnel and Creepsters from the Deep of the CD of the same name. I was delighted to hear the band breakout some of their older originals like Mule Train, Short Board Action and Ridin' the Chop with a more hot rod fast paced beat. Tommy Tsunami and Negative Ed really compliment each other's playing well. I think the best song of the set was a new one titled Return of the Space Pharaohs. The band really pushed the surf genre envelope with Mike double picking and adding a sprinkling of classical guitar. Oceana's surf flute added just the right touch of exotica, a bit like the song Snake Charmer.

The set ended as the new Unsteady Clock on the wall struck 3 am. Time for all good rockers to jump in their dragon wagons and head off to the hills from whence they came…and so I must leave you now as well.

Till me meet again, I remain
Blue StingRaye
Your faithful NESMA Reviewer



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