Rakes + Towers of London | Bowery Ballroom | 3.21.2006

What a raucous night at Bowery Ballroom, with what I’m sure will be the most cups of beer, ice and water ever thrown at the stage, and the most gobbing by a band I have personally seen in the last ten years.

And to think I almost didn’t see it. I had tickets to both this show and The Zutons at Mercury Lounge, figuring The Rakes wouldn’t go on till late and I could make both. But then it looked as if they would both be hitting their respective stages at the same time, so I decided to cut the cord, sell my Zutons tickets and head to Bowery Ballroom.

I won’t go into major detail about Towers of London‘s set because Heart on a Stick has already said just about everything I might’ve, and said it better. Dressed straight out of a Piccadilly Circus postcard, their show was Punkmania!: scrawled slogans on their tshirts, egg white hairdos, fists and loogies in the air. Towersoflondon
I didn’t have my camera, but I imagine it would be impossible to take a bad picture of Towers of London. The guitarist climbed on the speakers, the drum riser, and the mountain of equipment cases that took up much of left-side of the floor. He was also fond of spitting water, Old Faithful-style, into the air. There was mist constantly in the air, as if the stage was the produce department at Gristede’s.

I suppose they are the punk equivalent of The Darkness, but their songs aren’t anywhere near as good as that. But the songs sounded right, and with a show like theirs, that’s all that matters I guess. Also…there were also these, uh, provocatively-dressed girls (one wore a terrycloth shorts-haltertop combo) on the right-hand balcony who were way, way into it. They affectionately threw cups of beer at the band. More on them later.

The crowd was riled up and stayed that way throughout The Rakes set. The band obviously has a lot of fans here — me included, their album made my Top Ten of 2005 — even though their debut, Capture/Release, has yet to hit these shores. There is a genuine manic energy to their live show, thanks mainly to twitchy lead singer Alan Donahoe who, as many others have noticed, has a very Ian Curtis stage presence. But his spaz dancing feels real to me (unlike Maximo Park whose singer and keyboard player need to cut out the affected gesticulations). The crowd was dancing too; moshing even on the punkier songs like “22 Grand Job” and “Strausborg.” Someone threw a cup of water — or maybe a bottle of water — at Donahoe at one point, pegging him in the chest. “Nice shot” he said. I thought they were just fantastic.

Before the band came back for an encore, I dashed down to Coat Check to beat the line. While down there I saw MTV2 interviewing Towers of London’s guitarist, who was sprawled out over three women on one of the couches. After I got my coat, there was some sort of shoving match going on between him and the VJ. I thought it was in jest, but then it turned ugly. The “C” word was let fly, more shoving, fists raised — but the bouncers came over and broke it up before it came to blows. I went back upstairs to find the rest of Towers of London pogo-ing — and singing along! — to the Rakes’ encore, as well as dancing/making out with those girls from the balcony. The singer tapped me on the shoulder and asked me something about the exits in this place, but before I could answer, the terrycloth girl pulled off my glasses, put them on herself and took off! I caught up to her, got my glasses back — she was all “tee hee” and I got out of there before anything else nutty happened, hightailing it to The Annex to catch Brakes and Young Knives.

Also at the show: Chris the Music Snob, ProductShopNYC, Loose Record, and The Modern Age, whose picture of Alan Donahoe I swiped. The other shots stolen from Aphrodite-in-NYC’s Flickr photostream.



  1. Why did I wait to get tickets for this? I should have realized it was going to sell out right away. Bummed.

  2. So how were Brakes last night? I went home right after the show because of that pesky work thing, though I would've liked to attend the after-party. As for The Rakes, I enjoyed their set, but I thought the singer's stage moves were a bit affected, though more like David Byrne (or even Jon King or Colin Newman) than Ian Curtis IMO. They weren't as annoying as Maximo Park's karate chops, but it was a bit of a distraction.

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