Lincoln Center has rarely (if ever) played host to such a mishigas of hipsters and Upper West Side oldsters as it did this past Saturday. The theme was “The Detroit Breakdown”, and playing to an enthusiastic crowd were Motor City legends Death, The Gories, Question Mark & The Mysterians, and Mitch Ryder & The Detroit Wheels.
Taking the stage first in the bright sun was Death. This long forgotten band has finally gotten their moment in the spotlight over the past couple of years, as Drag City Records released their work recorded in 1975 as “…For The Whole World To See”. A trio comprised of three African Americans, Death’s sound was not as ominous as their name would imply. They combined a hard mid 70’s, almost Grand Funk Railroad sound with some Hendrixian rhythms. After a slow start, they band hit their stride about halfway through and were received well as the band and the crowd both warmed up. They certainly seemed to enjoy themselves and this might have been the most people they ever played to.
Next up were The Gories. I was disappointed by the sound mix. With Mick Collins (also of the The Dirtbombs) playing bass in his later bands, I expected a fuller sound and some bottom with Collins playing at least some bass at this show. Collins only played guitar in The Gories and as a result, the mix was thin to the point of non-existent and there was really little to Dan Groha’s guitar and Peggy O’Neill playing a singular backbeat. Sure, The Gories were known for lo-fi, but in an outdoor environment the sound was lost. The Gories were animated and trying hard, but it’s tough to project when you’re hampered by poor audio.
Question Mark And The Mysterians destroyed the place. Question Mark might be borderline insane; and his backing Mysterians were an able force. Question Mark was having a blast, engaging the crowd and wearing an outfit that could be described as Carmen Miranda meets Earth Wind And Fire. Playing their hits, as well as lifting a couple of tunes from The Stones and The Kinks, Question Mark And The Mysterians (most of, if not all of the Mysterians were the original band members) truly seem to appreciate the opportunity to play in front of hundreds of people; over forty years after their debut. Ronnie Spector came out and performed with Question Mark. Way freaking cool.
Not as cool were Mitch Ryder & The Detroit Wheels. Reports were that Ryder is extremely bitter after famously getting the shaft from his record company back in the late 60’s. The band gave it their all, but Ryder treated the crowd as if he was on a senior citizen’s oldies cruise ship, instead of viewing the audience as fans. Big mistake. While the classic songs were played (and played well), his lack of enthusiasm was evident. Coming after three bands that were clearly working to entertain, Ryder was a letdown.
Hey Lincoln Center- next year, how about a NYC Breakdown!