The first weekend of November, while thousands converged upon Manhattan
for the New York City Marathon, several hundred more came there for
a different kind of marathon: Cavestomp! 2000. At the latter, the
most fashionable runners make that stompers favored drainpipe trousers
over running shorts, winklepicker boots over plimsoles. But the most
obvious difference between the two was that, at Cavestomp! 2000, the
real race was not against distance, but time; six hours a night, 8
p.m. to 2 a.m.
event since 1997, Cavestomp is a beloved tradition among Sixties garage-rock
lovers the world over, who come year to see the festival's trademark
mix of original Sixties bands and the modern-day bands who love them.
Most of the crowd at the first night of Cavestomp! 2000 was there
for reunited Sixties rockers the Blues Magoos and the Gants, but first
they had to endure some of the weaker opening acts of the weekend.
Exceptions included the Gruesomes, from Montreal, Canada, who played
a decent set of garage and freakbeat covers, and the Dirtbombs, from
Detroit, who played a hybrid of Ramones-style Seventies punk and frat-rock.
many people can raise their hands and say they were someplace in 1967?"
Blues Magoos guitarist Peppy Castro quizzed the packed house. As about
half the crowd's arms went up, Castro sighed. "Wow. Brought to
you by AARP."
Association of Retired Persons may not have really sponsored the Magoos'
homecoming, but it surely wouldn't have denied the group their glory
as one of the few New York City garage bands to have a U.S. Top Five
hit ("We Ain't Got Nothin' Yet," covered in the U.K. by
the Spectres, an early version of Status Quo). They boasted their
original lineup, save for their bass player and their Echoplex tape-echo
machine. The former was replaced by Cavestomp's "house ringer,"
Peter Stuart, while the latter, sadly, was irreplaceable. Still, the
group more than managed to recreate its vintage sound, playing such
acronym-laden titles as "Albert Common Is Dead" and "Love
Seems Doomed". (They also revealed for the first time that they
wrote "Albert Common Is Dead" for their friend and future
Bee Gees producer Albhy Galuten, to celebrate his quitting his job
at a bank.) The original lineup of the Gants, four Southern gentlemen
from Mississippi rounded out the evening with a solid set of Merseyfied
covers and originals, most from *Road Runner! The Best of the Gants*
Two had better openers, including Canada's energetic Les Sexareenos,
playing crunchy Mod-influenced party music, and Spain's hormone-fueled
Dr. Explosion. Although Dr. Explosion omitted the crowd-pleaser that
they did when the group played London, a garage-punk version of the
Village People's "Y.M.C.A.," the stompers didn't seem to
& The Young Lions are one of the most-beloved might-have-beens
of Sixties garage, having carved a mountainous reputation on the basis
of a few hard-to-find 45s. The advance word on them was fantastic,
based on a warm-up show that they had done at a local club a few months
earlier. The evening's M.C. Lenny Kaye, proclaiming, "it's a
nugget if you dug it," was clearly elated to introduce the group,
who were on Rhino's version of his genre-making garage compilation,
as the seven-man group (including five original members) played their
first notes, it was clear that the hype was justified. Lead singer
Richard Tepp, his leonine face now obscured by multifocals, tore into
their Nuggets track, "Open Up Your Door," and the crowd
exploded. It was what Cavestomp was all about; an exuberant conflagration
of noise, melody, and attitude.
played all their singles, plus enthusiastic versions of cult classics
like Them's I Can Only Give You Everything, which Richard dedicated
to an old friend of the group, E Street Band guitarist Steven Van
Zandt, who was in the audience.
between bands: "So, are there any good drugs backstage? Like
Geritol?" While the Troggs' solid performance put to rest rumors
of iron-poor blood, the years had understandably changed them. One
stomper observed that, of the two original members, lead guitarist
Chris Britton looked remarkably like Star Trek's Patrick Stewart,
while singer Reg Presley was like William Shatner reunited with his
original hair. The crowd, adoring throughout, went crazy during the
final number, Wild Thing, especially during the solo, when Presley
whipped out his ocarina.
those Cavestompers who weren't stomped out turned up early for opening
acts like the Movieez, a fresh-faced mod/freakbeat combo from Rochester,
N.Y. whose debut CD is produced by members of the Chesterfield Kings.
London's own Embrooks followed with more freakbeat and a groovy female
Brummels had only two original members, singer Sal Valentino and bass-player-cum-guitarist
Ron Meagher, but they filled out their lineup with devoted and capable
superfans, including house ringer Stuart , guitarist Jim Babjak and
drummer Dennis Diken of the Smithereens, and three members of local
psych-rockers the Gripweeds. They performed an exquisite set of extraordinarily
authentic San Francisco folk-rock. Songs like Don't Talk To Strangers
captured that perfect Wall of Jangle that would seem all but unattainable
in 2000. Valentino's throaty warble remains beautifully intact, showing
why he is the closest thing America has to a Colin Blunstone.
Syndicate of Sound closed the evening, and Cavestomp! 2000, with a
decent set that leaned more towards R&B than garage. They looked
extremely happy to be playing a New York nightclub and not at a state
of Sound's lone hit, Little Girl, is notoriously difficult to play;
it's the only garage hit that contains a circle of fifths. As they
launched into it, one could feel the eyes of dozens of musicians in
the crowd straining to see the lead guitarist's fingers.
by Dawn Eden, Mojo Magazine, January 2001