August 4, 2016 D Generation Back Where They Belong Irving Plaza, NYC 7-30-16 w/ Biters, Jeremy & The Harlequins, and Wyldlife
Often called one of the most under-appreciated bands on the Rock scene since their inception back in 1991, New York City’s D Generation has assembled quite an interesting story. The Glam Punk Rockers broke-up in 1999, reunited in 2011, and as promises of a new album began to surface, nothing materialized. Now in 2016, D Generation – comprised of Jesse Malin on vocals, Bassist Howie Pyro, Richard Bacchus on guitar, Guitarist Danny Sage, and Michael Wildwood on drums – has reunited once again for the release of Nothing Is Anywhere, their first studio album in seventeen years.
So, the band has been around for a while and has not been around in a while. Those who need some brushing up, during its first iteration, D Generation (also known to some fans a D Gen) released three critically acclaimed CDs: 1994’s D Generation, 1996’s No Lunch produced by the Cars’ Ric Ocasek, and lastly, the Tony Visconti-produced Through The Darkness in 1999. Though critical darlings, D Generation’s albums did not garner high sales, and as a result, the group, whose sound melded Punk Rock, Glam Rock, and Garage Rock, broke-up.
While the members continued to be active in the music business, in the eyes of dedicated fans, nothing would be a return of D Generation. Thankfully, Nothing Is Anywhere finally saw its release on Friday, July 29th, via Bastard Basement Records/MRI/Megaforce Records. A busy day for the band, earlier on, they signed copies and rocked an in-store set at New Jersey’s Vintage Vinyl and a day later, on Saturday the 30th, they celebrated in their hometown in front of a packed out Irving Plaza. With that, a hot summer night welcomed in a night of Rock in all its variations as Punk Rock, Classic Rock, Rockabilly, and a bit of Hair Metal theatrics all melded together in the heat to produce a cohesive lineup of sweaty fun with Wyldlife, Jeremy & The Harlequins, Biters, and, of course, D Generation.
Opening act Wyldlife got things started at 8 PM as the audience was still filing into the storied venue. Also based out of New York City, Wyldlife is a young three-piece Punk Rock band comprised of Vocalist “Dangerous” Dave Feldman, Guitarist Samm Allen, and Bassist Spencer “Ray Guns” Alexander. Releasing their self-titled debut album in 2011, Wyldlife have been honing their skills over the years playing local shows in and around the city, and this opening slot for D Generation could arguably be a big stepping stone for the band.
Coming out to play fast and tight, they were definitely the least accomplished act of the evening as they gave it their all, playing original tunes like “Wasted.” Though playing fast and tight, Wyldlife, to sum it up succinctly, in some’s eyes are just scratching the surfaces, and given a bit more seasoning, this band could make something of themselves.
Up next, was another New York City based band by the name of Jeremy & the Harlequins, who were ready to shake things up as they took the small stage. Comprised of brothers Jeremy on vocals and Stevie Fury on drums, plus Craig Bonich and Patrick Meyer on guitar, as well as Bobby Ever on bass, they gave off the vibe of a throwback to the ’50s and ’60s with an edge of 2016 mixed together, both visually as well as the sound they create. The group’s debut full-length album, 2015’s American Dreamer, is the perfect example of this hybrid sound.
Part Rockabilly, a huge dollop of Rock-n-Roll, with clever lyrics and strong vocals, it is no surprise that Steve Van Zandt picked “Trip Into the Light” to play on Little Steven’s Underground Garage radio show. Their newest full-length release, Into the Night, was released on Yep Rock Records as of August 5th, and their performance at Irving Plaza had the high energy and happy expectations of a new release coming around the corner. Clad in denim and leather, Jeremy & the Harlequins had the fairly large crowd engaged with high spirited performances of “Heart of Stone” and “Right Out of Love.” Frontman Jeremy has the right presence for the job, crooning in a set of harder rockers, but it worked. With a short thirty minute set, Jeremy & the Harlequins made their mark on the audience before exiting the stage.
As direct support from evening, the only non-New York based band, Biters, grabbed the stage next. Hailing from Atlanta, Georgia, the band came out with hair flying and digging into their tune “Low Lives in High Definition.” With a following in the audience wearing their t-shirts, taken from their dresser drawers, not bought that night at the merchandise stand, the energy in the room was high for their arrival. Biters is a strong unit of four: Tuk Smith on vocals and guitar, Joey O’Brien handling drums and all percussion, Philip Anthony on bass and vocals, and Matt Gabs on guitar and vocals.
Paying attention to their set, it was relatively easy to pick out the band’s early influences, like Cheap Trick, David Bowie, New York Dolls, and Alice Cooper, especially with tracks like “The City Ain’t the Same,” “Heart Full of Rock and Roll” and “1975.” Pure Rock with lots of energy, their fans were here to see them play, and they brought it all and left it on the stage this Saturday night. Theatrical and intense, “Restless Hearts” and “Loose From the Noose” were well-received along with their cover of 38 Special’s “Hold On Loosely,” which was a crowd favorite, drawing a wild response. Biters made the most of their half hour set, and by the time they departed the stage, the crowd was packed in, shoulder to shoulder, with any milling about taking place in the hallway, which was rapidly filling up as well. Those interested and checking them out, their debut album, Electric Blood, was released last August via Earache Records.
By the time D Generation hit the stage, Irving Plaza was so overheated and packed that the walls of the tiny venue were sweating. Arriving casually late in true Rock-n-Roll fashion, the band played with a ferocity that announced, “We’re Back!” while simultaneously stating, “We Never Left!”
Opening with a ferocious one-two punch of “Scorch” and “She Stands There,” both of which were on the No Lunch album, D Generation showed that it had not lost a step. After hearing those two sonic Glam, Punk masterpieces, many in the audience were left wondering if the new material could stand-up with the old. Not to fear; it did. The band showcased its new material, playing a perfect version of “Queens of A,” which also serves as the opener on the new CD. Later in the set, D Generation delivered fantastic back-to-back versions of “Apocalypse Kids” and “21st Century Blues,” which coincidentally appear in the same order on Nothing Is Anywhere. “Mercy Of The Rain” and “Piece of the Action” also made their appearance, and to the delight of fans. The band did not rely solely on these new tunes, as their set featured another dozen as well.
That being said, the band visited and returned often to its original three releases with powerful versions of “Feel Like Suicide,” “Wasted Years,” the rockin’ “Cornered,” “Helpless,” and “Vampire Nation.” Malin introduced one of the older tunes with a story. He called it a song of its time (1994), and said it was about a New York when “people would tell you don’t go down there, you’re gonna be in trouble…people would say if you went past 1st Avenue and you went toward Avenue A – you were adventurous, Avenue B – you were bold, Avenue C – you were crazy, and Avenue D – you were dead. This track is called ‘Working on the Avenue,'” and it also received a ruckus reaction from the audience. Other highlights included “Stealing Time” and the main set ender, a frenetic version of “Frankie.”
Not to disappoint, for the encore, D Generation reached way back delivering a driving and insistent “No Way Out” and “Degenerated” to an audience that was beyond delirious. They jumped and bobbed up and down causing the floors to bounce with each and every juke, shake, shimmy and move.
Currently there are only a handful of other tour dates booked for D Generation – they are all at the end of August 2016 and they are all on the West Coast. East Coast fans hope that changes soon. Based on the fire, energy, and musicianship of the performance coupled with the fun, yes fun that the band had while playing, followers hope that D Generation will stick around for awhile longer, do a full-fledged tour behind the Nothing Is Anywhere album, and perhaps a follow-up release. Until then, welcome back to D Generation!Photo credit: Christine Connallon Photography