NFK Nightmares was amazing tonight, as per usual. This is a band that consistently sets a bar of excellence for other local punks to aspire to. Hearkening back to the glory days of early 90s California slash garage punk, the group never fails to lay down the law with a high energy show that leaves nothing on stage.
This is a laid back fellowship with members that have been around the block once or twice, or maybe even four or five times. They’ve reached that golden point where you’ve played so long that you just know what you’re doing and it shows. It's a loose feel that shouldn't be mistaken for lack of effort -- I'm told they practice as often as they need to get things right. There’s a record -- put out last August according to the Bandcamp stamp. You should check it out, it’s pretty great. This isn’t a group with aspirations to stardom or worldwide tours -- they all have jobs and kids and lives.
But, hey -- you know what? Nowhere is it written in stone that that's what it must mean to be in a band. It really is perfectly okay to just be a group of friends who love playing the music you love. There’s something pure about that in this age of tireless self promotion. But if you’re a national act looking at playing the NorVA or the Ampitheater or the Portsmouth Pavilion? You should take a look at tapping these guys to open for you. If you're the manager for Green Day or Bayside or Jawbone or Social Distortion and you're reading this? Give em a call.
Seriously. They’re that good.
. . .
Let me just say that I’m a fan of The Breach. Spirit of 79 punk doesn't grow on trees around here and I dig what they're trying to do. And let us simply posit that this night wasn't a fair showcase of what they're capable of -- not awful but neither was it the best I've seen them play. Hell. It’s punk. It’s not fucking Beethoven. And punk is sloppy and messy and gloriously imperfect. I’ve been around long enough to have seen the Ramones live a few times and I can report that there were shows where Joey and company played way worse than these kids did tonight. Sometimes the bear eats you. And the whole of a band is greater than the sum of its latest performance.
I like them quite a bit. I want to see them record more. I want a full length vinyl release. And I want to see them play many, many more times.
Don't let one less than perfect show get you down. Persevere. I think you've got greatness in you.
. . .
Ronnie Talman is a Norfolk institution. A spectacle of old school cool that I recommend to anyone visiting if they want the full flavored experience of our music scene. He handles frontman duty for two bands on a full time basis — A Beatles soaked, psychedelic romp called the Mirrors and an Orleans jazz infusion circa 1930, known as the Janks. Depending on the cycle of the moon and the exact position of the tides, you might catch him in any number of scattered and momentary projects, most recently standing in for Jim Morrison at LAVA Present’s Halloween caper covering the Doors.
At heart, Talman is a ringleader of the circus of lost, wayward songs. He shepherds the kind of tunes you really can’t find anywhere outside of a motheaten piano roll or deep inside the world-weary souls of well traveled hobos. He’s equally a wild-eyed showstopper, a ironically detached huckster in the key of D Minor, and a wandering soul who has put roots down on our streets for the time being. I sometimes get the sense that the man is just killing time here while waiting for the mothership to beam him back to the secret planet of cool daddios, where Kid Ory waits with Louis Armstrong and King Oliver to form one motherfucker of a band. One that will finally align the universe, pry open our stubbornly shut third eyes, and shine the secret mending light into our long broken hearts.
Till that fateful day, we’re lucky to keep him here. At first glance, it seems a little strange to have him on this kind of bill. But fuck it — what he does is as punk rock as anything else is. So why the hell not?
. . .
I’m sitting here at Cogan's Instant Art finishing this up. It’s karaoke night, and anyone who knows me at all knows I’m not the biggest fan of the pastime. More often than not it’s little more than an outlet for folks who for one reason or other don’t really have the vocal ability to sing the songs they want to sing, and that’s fine. The form is more about giving regular people an opportunity to rock out and grab a spotlight for a moment to shine. It's whatever..
But.. Dammit.. Talent is not a democracy. And key isn’t a suggestion. Bad singing is just bad singing, and I’m not fucking drunk enough to not hear how awful most of this is. I’m not really sure there’s enough whiskey in the whole, wide world to get me there. And besides.. I really prefer to hear songs crafted by the person singing. I want to hear what you have to say, not your interpretation of somebody else's words. I know I'll get a deluge of hate mail on this from the legions of karaoke fans out there. What can I do? I just don't dig it.
I come here often enough that one starts to notice the regulars, and there’s one woman who invariably steps up to grab the mic who has a shockingly good voice. Abi — at least according to the name on the screen. I don’t know anything about her, but I can’t help but wonder why the fuck she’s not in a band. She would slay if she took that step, I’m sure of it.
But you know.. Being in a band is hard. Incredibly fucking hard. It takes time and money and limitless dedication. And more often than not, it’s a damn thankless endeavor. There are so few paths to success anymore. I shouldn’t knock anyone who grabs whatever bit of this thing we all love so much however they can. Whether it’s singing the karoke at the pizza bar down the street, belting it out in the shower. Singing softly in the car on your way to work. It’s all good, and I shouldn’t be a snob.
But Abi? Whoever you are? If you’re reading this?
You could fucking murder it singing your own songs. You should ask around. Find some folks who play. Chase that dream.
Life’s too short for anything else.
— end transmission —
Virginia Beach. Punk.
Norfolk. Orleans-Jazz, Rominy-Rock.