Tuesday, September 20, 2016

The Gizmos (1976), the Gizmos (1979), Dow Jones and the Industrials, Laffing Gas at the Void, Bloomington, In, Saturday Sept 17, 2016

This was a historically, hysterical weekend, with both line-ups of the Gizmos playing together for the first time ever in Bloomington, the town where both bands were formed.

But, before the gig, Giz-friend and musician in his own right, Eric Weddle, set up a symposium on Indiana punk rock featuring Eddie Flowers and Ted Niemiec from the original Gizmos, John Terrel from the Dancing Cigarettes (and others), John Barge from the Panics, Dale Lawrence and Billy Nightshade from the later Gizmos and Yara Cluver, also from the Panics. There was a cool slide presentation of old fliers, records, photos and videos that accompanied the talk, as well. Although the original Gizmos didn't really exist as a band so we weren't actually part of any "scene", the band and, of course, the record label (Gulcher) was highly influential and helped to ferment the "kids" to create their own sloppy, punk rock'n'roll. So, Eddie & Ted talked more about the inception and the rest talked about the later times and how the local punk scene really formed and how the bands met, etc. Fun and informative!

From there the bands ran over to the Void for sound check and to get the lay of the land of the club. Here, we were joined by original Gizmo Dave Sulak, his wife and Giz supporter supreme, Gene Mullet. Surprisingly good sound for a small, dive-y place and then off for dinner.

We returned to find the space jam-packed with sweaty fans of all of the bands - young'n'old, folks who saw the bands "in the day" to kids who certainly weren't even born when the groups were created.

It was difficult to get close enough to take photos, but opening for the night were local "youngsters", Laffing Gass, playing simple, high-energy punk rock. Wall-to-wall people diggin'n'dancin'n'moshin'n'pogoin' for these cats as they blasted through their set, including, I'm told (I must have stepped outside for a breath of air), a Jetsons' cover! A great start of the night!

Dow Jones and the Industrials were up next and kept the packed crowd with their mix of new wave and punk - fantastically heavy/distorted guitar, wild'n'wacky keys'n'electronics and a rhythm section that continued to propel the crowd into a frenzy! Original key-man joined the band via the miracle of Skype, which was pretty genius. Somewhat reminiscent of Devo, but with more punk energy, they appropriately did a drivin' Eno cover, as well. I had never really heard the band before (I'm sure something in passing, but that's about it) and thought they were a highlight of the night!

Then, it was the '79 Gizmos turn! With Dale Lawrence, Tim Caroll (guitars), Billy Nightshade (bass) and Shadow Morton (drums), they serenaded the Void with their melodic punk/pop, with plenty of harmonies, group sing-alongs and solid playing. There were nods to other bands (such as hints of the Dead Boys here, garage bands there, etc.) and for the encore Ted Niemiec came up to sing the 13th Floor Elevators "You're Gonna Miss Me", a tune they did while Ted briefly led the band (post-76 Gizmos, of course).

The '76 Gizmos milled about with the amazing number of old friends and fans there (such as ex Panics and 2014 Gizmos, Ian Brewer, below - I didn't take nearly as many photos as I should have. Anyone who did, please post to the Gizmos website.) before taking the stage. Dunno if it was the heat and humidity (it was a steam bath in the club) or the hour, but the audience dwindled a bit before we hit it, but we still gave it our all and went through everything from our first three EPs as well as our new 7" (21st Century Gizmos Fans Can't Be Wrong). Those that stayed sang along and bopped'n'bounced with us and got to see - for the first time in 40 years - original bass player Dave Sulak join us on stage, original Gizmo Davey Medlock play drums on "Pumpin' to Playboy" (as he did on the original recording) while drummer Kelsey played double bass with Melanie, and, for the finale, ALL of the Gizmos past'n'present (that were present, anyway) singing "Muff Divin'"! Yes, Kenne (guitar/vocals), Eddie (vocals/percussion), Davey (vocals/percussion/drums), Dave (vocals), Ted (vocals/guitar), Rich (guitar/vocals), Melanie (bass and "no!" on "That's Cool"), Sam (guitar) and Kelsey (drums) were joined by Dale, Billy, Tim and, jeez, did Shadow make it or not? There were too many people for me to comprehend! Crazy, crazy time - tons of fun and a once in a lifetime event! Thank you to Purple 7, the Void and everyone involved for a wild night of mid-western rock'n'roll!

(Kenne, Rich, Dave, Ted, Davey and Eddie - all original Gizmos!)