Happy Hanukkah, Hipsters!
This looks to be one of the best Chanukahs ever...thanks to the Hardcore Hanukkah tour!
(Brooklyn's Golem Makin Chanukah Look Good)
The lead up to the tour was pretty good in and of itself...with the Film Arts holiday party at a pub where my team kicked arse at pub-wide trivia and won ourselves each a whopping $5! That was Wednesday night, and Thursday rocked even harder at the "Vodka Latka" party where punk-klezmer band Golem blew me away (I never knew the accordion could be so foxy!), following a set by Conspiracy of Beards (I kid you not--a men's choir that covers Leonard Cohen tunes), at the great evening put on by some of my favorite Jewish entities: Reboot, JDub Records and the Progressive Jewish Alliance.
But Jewish Subculture Junkies, Listen Up, Cuz You Ain't Heard Nothin' Yet! Friday and Saturday were the first two days of the first Hardcore Hanukkah tour, seriously one of the coolest, funnest, rock-the-dreidel events ever! As part of the Workmen's Circle's Hanukkah Tour, we were lucky enough to screen Jericho's Echo clips amidst the Hebrew hijinks of Australia's Yidcore, New Orleans's Zydepunks and the Bay's very own Jewdriver.
What these bands may lack in mainstream appeal, they make up for in originality and Jew-tasticness. We all know that Jews formed the backbone of punk rock in the US (See The Heebie-Jeebies at CBGB's if you don't) but Jewdriver and Yidcore just come out and shout it, albeit in the silliest ways possible. Yidcore dresses up shtetl-fabulous and does fast and furious punk rock Fiddler on the Roof covers, Bette Midler tunes, traditional Jewish songs, and my personal favorite, the Arabic-Hebrew peacenik number, "Od Yavo Shalom." Jewdriver, a spin off on the neo-Nazi skinhead band Skrewdriver, does Jewish pride songs taking the piss out of their fascist counterparts. Sporting kilts, Fred Perry shirts, yarmulkes and pais, they chug Manischewitz and dodge the audience pelting bagels during their sets.
(Bram Yidcore and Ian Jewdriver Lighting the First Candle)
We had planned to have a little Chanukah party at our place after the first night's show at Balazo, but our travelers were far to weary so we ended up with only the lovely Bram, Rory and Myki from Yidcore who we were putting up for the night and somehow we managed to eat 15-persons worth of latkes between the five of us the next morning! What can I say? Growing boys and a Yiddishe Mama are a natural combination. Anyway, we didn't get too much time for sightseeing with our guests, what with their priorities being laundry and shopping for sleeping bags (someone forgot to tell them they might need those on tour--woops!) but we did spend lots of quality time. I think they are my favorites of the gajillions of bands we've hosted over the years, and not just because of those adorable accents. They really are awesome dudes who have more going on than just the band (Myki runs Vice Magazine in Australia and Bram is a law professor and book critic, for example) and I hope we can visit them down under one day.
So the second night's show was at 924 Gilman Street. This legendary place gave rise to so many bands, including most famously Green Day and Operation Ivy. (Did I mention that one of the members of Jewdriver was IN Operation Ivy?!?! Seriously.) As Bram described in his blog about the tour, "924 Gilman Street is the home of the whole independent California punk scene. It is to the West Coast what CBGB's was to the East, except Gilman is a collectively run, non-profit community centre run by kids for kids." I have witnessed a bunch of bands playing their first show at Gilman, including one of Seth's old bands, Breaker Breaker, and it is always really exciting to feel their energy in a house of legends. I guess it's sort of like a Catholic praying at the Vatican, but then, what does a Jew know of such things?
At any rate, it didn't really hit me until the projector started flickering that *I* was now having my 15 minutes to shine at this place. It was really amazing to see a bunch of punks, in the middle of a show, quiet down and gather around to watch some clips of Jericho's Echo. I think some of the guys in the movie would have been really proud...after all, this was sort of like their chance to play at Gilman! Also, I have screened the film at so many festivals in front of a "certain crowd," while the kids at Gilman are really the intended audience. I actually had one skinny little dude in a huge leather jacket come up to me and say that he saw the whole movie in Berkeley last year and has since gone to Israel and hung out with some of the guys in Dizengoff Square. Fucking awesome!!
Oy, I still have more to tell but the last candle just burned out and I seriously have to go to bed. I promise I'll finish this post eventually!!