Pre-show consisted of waiting outside with a ton of kids and I just stood and absorbed. People from all walks of life: self proclaimed “punks” with piercings and back patches, men in full suits with ladies in dresses, kids wrapped two to a sweatshirt to battle the wicked shore winds, hats and hairstyles.
The venue itself was perfect for this show. It was big. All of the Infernites could mill about and socialize at the back half of the room. Everyone knew each other. I had no idea that the scene was this close-knit until I got to this show. I spent most of the time that the opening bands played meeting people and socializing with people who I’d just met. We went up front to hear The Ergs! The Ergs! are an incredibly tight punk rock trio out of New Brunswick, NJ. The last time I heard them was two summers ago, so it was overdue. The Ratchets and Hunchback also played. Hunchback had an interesting stage show, and I situated myself for Inferno. After a lot of um…drama…played out, the full band finally came out.
From the first bass drum kicks of “Tattoos Fade” I was transported. The band was absolutely enthralling. They have enough stage presence to knock all of Broadway off its feet. Jack sang right to the crowd. The crowd knew every single word. It was amazing to watch Jack, Sandra (their absolutely stunning bassist) and the saxophone section from the very front. It was interesting to see Franz’s intensity playing the accordion and keys; he was so into the show, never missed a beat (does he ever?) and had a whole new level of electricity to him than when I saw him with The Steady (not to downplay what a terrific performance that was as well). “Tattoos” is played at every show, but it felt special to know that it was my first time hearing it live. Semra, Jack, and the drummer (who’s the drummer now?) all playing made it triply intense. The set was a great mix of songs from Just the Best Party (my first Inferno album), Red-Eyed Soul (brilliant), and the Peter Lorre song cycle. I didn’t know the Lorre songs at all and didn’t hear the demos and bootlegs until after the show. “Fiend in Wein” was definitely phenomenal to hear live. “Heart Attack Waltz” was incredible as well. I wish I’d had the guts to dance with someone…well, there’s always next time. “Only Anarchists are Pretty” was a terrific encore. And if there's any song I love that they didn't play that night (mostly "Your Younger Man"), I rest assured in the fact that I'll hear it sooner or later.
After the show my eyes must have been bugging out of my head. The band blew me away. It was great to see all of the ladies and gents of Inferno come out and mingle with the fans. I finally got to meet Franz formally, and we had a chat about his groups, and some upcoming shows, as well as his Moondog piece that has clarinet (that I want to play sometime). Rich and I jetted after that, as he had classes the next day. I did hear that a bunch of kids took a dip in the ocean afterwards.
Possibly the best thing to come out of all of this was the great people I met, and the warm welcome I received from the scene. In hanging out around the Inferno board for the past week or so, it’s been nice to interact with these people who I’ll hopefully be seeing again soon. The Inferno bug did bite for a few days when I lost sleep over researching the Bridgewater Astral League and The Master and Margarita. Thankfully that died down a little, but here’s to more fun in the future.
The World/Inferno Friendship Society's latest full length, Red-Eyed Soul on Chunkasaah Records is available at a record store near you. Don't be a bum, go pick it up and support the cause.