by Alissa Ordabai
– Senior Columnist —
August 6, 2015 at Arlene’s Grocery in New York City, NY. —
Where more demure cities feel awkward about their sleazy side, New York flaunts it. And for a good reason. After all, it’s precisely the gritty, trashy streak of NYC that has given the world beat poetry, pop art, and a unique breed of punk rock. Take mass culture, pop culture, a bit of fine art, and loads of gall, and here you have it — a recipe for neighborhood trends equipped to conquer the world.
Arlene’s Grocery may not be located on rough turf — in fact, it’s more bohemian than hazardous — but the bands it hosts on nights presented by Tommy London take the first prize in the rowdiness department. This includes tonight’s bill-toppers Panzie who stand for everything that is good and raucous in NYC. Genres collide (there is old-school Punk, Groove Metal, Goth Rock, and Industrial) but the outcome is complete unity of action and purpose. And the purpose is to entertain while staying in sync with the crowd: not talking down to it, but engaging on equal footing, and with simple methods too — catchy chugging riffs, snappy songwriting, and some flashy visuals.
Newly recruited singer Jasin Cadic spans the range from death growl to shouty punk, but also catches and maintains the full force of the crowd’s attention. Changing persona’s and outfits from an axe-wielding maniac in a blood-stained headdress to a hustler in crimson mirrored jacket does more than just juice up the show. It also charts the phases of the NYC underground scene — from campiness of P-Funk to theatricality of Gothic Metal.
Guitarists Jonnie Rockit and DC Gonzalez, bassist Dave Sussman, and drummer John Servo prefer solid grooves and hard-working riffs over showy displays, which is just as well, as the crowd wants to rock out — not follow knotty solos. And when they lock into a groove, the magic of the moment lifts you into a self-governing zone where all individual realities become suspended and the room simply throbs in a collective trance.
Special kudos go out to Servo this evening for keeping things bouncing and solid after having broken a few ribs in a bike accident last month. A band like Panzie that lives by its rhythms, needs all it can get from a drummer, and Servo delivers all that and more.
The fans responded to the show with ferocious headbanging and a mosh circle spontaneously growing in the middle of the dancefloor. Meatalheads, punkheads, and young women with model looks all followed each song like they themselves have written it. Self-described as “new age hard rock” Panzie know how to draw in an as wide an audience as possible. Closing the set with a punkishly loose rendition of Led Zeppelin’s “Rock’n’Roll” they traced their pedigree right back to the early Seventies teenage stargazing. The song may not always remain the same but the dream does, no matter the transfigurations that rock went through since 1971.
Follow Panzie on Facebook: www.facebook.com/PanzieOfficial