The New York Dolls @ The Seaport

Friday, August 18th, 2006 | All Things, Eats, Music

I had planned to visit the South Street Seaport Museum for the “Monarchs of the Sea: Celebrating the Ocean Liner Era” exhibit, but didn’t manage to leave the office until late. When I arrived at the seaport, I saw that the buskers were out in full force. At the museum entrance, I came upon two familiar scantily-clad forms performing amazing acrobatic feats for a crowd of appreciative onlookers. Hey, it’s the Aussie English Gents from the Absinthe show!

I’d wandered in towards the end of their routine, so the pinstripe jackets and breakaway pants were already in crumpled heaps on the ground. Their feats seemed even more impressive for being performed in broad daylight, on unforgivingly hard, uneven cobblestone, with only a towel as cushion. Ouch.


Farther in, the usual silver-painted human “statues” and a juggler. I would have stuck around for his dangerous-looking finale (juggling an assortment of sharp and flaming objects while balancing on a rolling board), but just then the music was starting up on the Seaport Music stage on Pier 17.


Opening act Brooklyn-based Tralala performed, fresh off their Scandinavian tour. The band is comprised of four rocker grrrrls, backed by three rocker boys on guitar, drums and bass, playing an energetic mix of punk-inflected pop. After a half-hour set of respectably catchy, danceable tunes, they cleared the stage for the main event: The New York Dolls.

Seaport Music Baby

The Dolls formed in New York City in 1971. Their seminal self-titled album was released in 1973 and went on to influence a generation of bands, including, KISS, Blondie, The Ramones, The Sex Pistols, AC/DC, Mötley Crüe and Guns N’ Roses. In 2003, the editors of Rolling Stone magazine named it the 213th greatest album ever made. The Dolls followed-up with the prophetically titled Too Much Too Soon in 1974, and broke up the following year. In a recent profile, New York Magazine called the Dolls “more a legend than a band.

Despite their brief recording career, the Dolls maintained an avid cult following, which included among their diehard ranks a certain Steven Patrick Morrissey. In 2004, Morrissey, former president of the official U.K. New York Dolls fan club and sometime Dolls cover artist, made the request that reunited the three surviving band members for the Meltdown Festival he was curating at the Royal Festival Hall in London: singer David Johanson, guitarist Sylvain Sylvain and bassist Arthur “Killer” Kane (who succumbed to cancer a month after the festival.) The one-off date ignited such a resurgence of interest in the band that it spawned a full-fledged tour, and ultimately a third studio album, over three decades after their last: One Day It Will Please Us To Remember Even This.

It was almost 8 before the Dolls took the stage, and by then the pier was packed with concert-goers (no doubt fortified by the prominent mentions in both Gawker and Gothamist.) As the sun set, I could only manage a couple of blurry shots, but the experience was worth far more than the photographic evidence. They played several tunes off the new album, interspersed with classics like “Pills” which had the crowd going wild, and a nice cover of Janis Joplin’s “Piece Of My Heart.” There were also tributes to fallen band members – no shortage there: Morrissey once referred to the Dolls as “the unluckiest band in the whole world” – as in Johnny Thunders’ “You Can’t Put Your Arms Round A Memory.”

Near the end of the concert, I headed back up to Botanica to meet SYB, AB and her boyfriend LB. The three of them had been imbibing there pretty much since work let out, so I felt a bit like a latecomer to the party. We set out for late-ish night bites at Café Habana, but after being discouraged by the line forming out the door, ended up at French-Moroccan Café Gitane, a cozily chic, if slightly Eutotrashy, alternative. The slices of pita provided with the hummus I ordered were nicely warmed, and I did like the fact that my iced mint tea came accompanied with a simple syrup dispenser. Such a nice touch that is too often overlooked.

And each time I tell myself that I, well, I think I’ve had enough,
But I’m gonna show you, baby, that a woman can be tough.

I want you to come on, come on, come on, come on and take it,
Take another little piece of my heart now, baby. (Break a…)
Break another little bit of my heart now, darling, yeah. (Have a…)
Hey! Have another little piece of my heart now, baby, yeah.
You know you got it if it makes you feel good.
Oh yes indeed.

There's 1 comment so far ... The New York Dolls @ The Seaport

August 22, 2006

Sellout or just Hot Hot Hot?

Go for it ...