Words by Bill San Antonio | Photos by Nick Karp
“We are Aerosmtih,” says Frank Iero, guitarist of the now-defunct My Chemical Romance, before correcting himself to match the name scribbled in Sharpie on the bass drum behind him. “Uh – Aerosniff. This is our first show, and we’ve even made a sign. It’s laminated, so it’s not biodegradeable. It’s going to be here forever.”
The crowd at the Bowery Electric in Manhattan on this Saturday night is about as small as the stage Iero stands on, and much smaller than the crowds that once came out in waves to see his former band, but they seem, if anything, receptive. Iero’s full-length solo debut, Stomachaches, is out in a few days, and he’s called a few friends in the New York area to help him work out some songs before his September tour kicks off in New Jersey.
But don’t blame the crowd. The show was a secret, of course, and the first rule of a secret show – like Fight Club – is you don’t talk about a secret show. Not directly. You speak in code, in fake names and wry smiles. Everyone who’s supposed to know about it already does, and that’s fine. The Bowery Electric is a two-room bar in lower Manhattan; not exactly its older brother, the Ballroom. There’s no need to complicate things.
No, the crowd here tonight is here for Long Island’s This Good Robot, here headlining with New Jersey prog rockers Science serving as the opener. This Good Robot makes the music My Chemical Romance popularized in the mid 2000s, the kind of poppy screamo punk you heard at basement shows when you were fourteen. The sound is much grander this time around, filled with keyboards and a menagerie of guitar effects. Iero, with sweaty chunks of hair covering his eyes, is sandwiched in between.
Both bands crack jokes during their sets about the name Iero & Co. have selected, with some of the banter focused on the Disney World ride popularized by Steven Tyler & Co. Good Robot singer Michael Ragosta, who paired khackis and suspenders with a toy gun and matching holster, chides guitarist Andrew Sclafani about injuring his finger earlier in the day and limiting his piano-playing abilities.
Midway through their set, Ragosta dedicates the band’s next song to his sister, who stands out on the floor away from the crowd. He says she gave him two rules of advice when he started playing in bands: to never cover a song less than a decade old and to never, ever cover Queen’s “Bohemian Rhapsody.”
Then, in a move known all too well to siblings the world over, Ragosta begins to sing: “Is this the real life…” The crowd giggles and joins him. Science singer/guitarist Alexander Paul returns to the stage to assist Ragosta in the epic medley, and before long the tension dissipates and the show continues. Iero, away from the action, watches the set on a video feed above the bar, nodding in approval.
TheWaster.com | NYC