johnny ramone birthday show

Really, these things are difficult to organize. Especially given that the LA show a few weeks back was such a blowout, it was going to be hard to get people to commit to this one. And god love Arturo Vega, keeping the Ramones legacy alive, I mean, much, much respect to the guy. He painstakingly organized the same priceless exhibits that they had in LA, handwritten lyrics and old t-shirts and photos to die for, Joey’s glasses, old tour calendars, you name it.

So I don’t want to say that the show wasn’t righteous or amazing or fantastic but it wasn’t. Maybe if I didn’t hate the Strokes with a blinding passion now surpassing my former hatred for the Dave Matthews Band; maybe if their fans weren’t a large group of obnoxious, spoiled, ignorant, rude asses it wouldn’t have been so bad.

Yes, I bought the ticket knowing the Strokes were on the bill, but didn’t know they were going to be the primary reason people would attend. I have officially learned my lesson. At least at the Underground Garage Festival, I was not isolated in my contempt for this band. Tonight, I had to deal with spoiled brats yakking through everyone else’s set, whining when the obligatory mosh pit opened up (and it was a kinder, gentler mosh, nothing serious or bad, so there was nothing to complain about), and ducking down in the crowd to smoke cigarettes and cheap, nasty-smelling pot. When they came on, I gave them one song and then gave up and went and browsed the exhibits, but you would have thought the Beatles had reunited on that stage, based on the crowd reaction. It depressed me, and then it depressed me that I didn’t get it, and then I remembered that when I was in high school and loved the Ramones, the majority of my counterparts embraced Styx, Journey and Rush, so the fact that an overwhelming majority tonight was going ga-ga over the musicians on stage didn’t mean a goddamn thing.

Back to the positives: Sonic Youth were fantastic and in great spirits. The tribute pick-up band put together by Ramones producer Daniel Rey and CJ Ramone was also rock-solid – Joan Jett and Josh Homme putting in stellar appearances. However, David Johansen (on the top of my list of reasons I wanted to be at the show) was apparently stuck on an airplane and didn’t make it, and Tommy Ramone somehow couldn’t get the lyrics to “Sedated” together. On the other hand, I learned that Rob Zombie does a fantastic Johnny Ramone imitation. It was hysterical. And, the aforementioned exhibits – the only bad thing there was that there was no way to properly light the display cases, and some were difficult to see clearly for that reason – not being able to view that photo of Johnny and Joe Strummer in all its glory just *hurt*.

Finally, exhaustion from the 14 hour drive back from Chicago (post-Vote For Change tour) on the previous day probably contributed to the fact that I got a headache so bad I couldn’t see and finally left in the middle of the Strokes’ set. The club had to open for “dance night” at 11:30, it was already 11:10, and if I toughed it out for Blondie (whom, aside from Clem Burke, I was never a huge fan of) and whatever finale was going to be put together only to find the latter rushed and unsatisfying – well, I decided I’d be a wimp and take my chances and leave early.

At the end of the day, my $50 went towards cancer research and in tribute to the Ramones, which is never a bad thing. Arturo will undoubtedly have photos of the event up at – if you look at the photos of the LA show, you can see the memorabilia exhibit too.

It still makes me sad, out of nowhere. When we were on the road last week, one night the iPod kept serving up Ramones songs, and after the sixth one, I finally started to cry: “I can’t believe they are gone.”