Named after the now-demolished former home of the New York Mets, Shea Stadium is the kind of place where anything can happen.
Iron Chic, live in New York
Venue: Shea Stadium
Long Island punk vets prove their mettle
Named after the now-demolished former home of the New York Mets, Shea Stadium is the kind of place where anything can happen. A DIY venue/rehearsal space run by New York punks The So So Glos, it puts on shows almost every night, until recently allowed smoking inside and offers up very cheap booze out of a fridge. There’s no barrier between the crowd and the stage, either. So it’s no surprise when, midway through Iron Chic’s headline set, a crowdsurfer escapes from the crush of bodies in front of the band and careens violently into both bassist Mike Bruno and the stage right PA, nearly – but not quite – knocking both to the ground. For one slow second, everyone looks a bit worried, but Bruno just smiles and the band carry on without missing a beat.
But then again, the gruff but melodic punks from Long Island are veterans at this sort of thing. They may have only formed in 2008 and have just two albums to their name, but all five members have been doing the rounds in punk bands for years – most notably, guitarist Phil Douglas was in Latterman, a highly influential (and similarly gruff but melodic) punk rock outfit until they disbanded in 2007. And while punk might not be known for its technical prowess, his guitar playing is utterly phenomenal, and a genuine thrill and joy to watch.
The rest of the band are just as tight, but it’s more than just that that makes Iron Chic so compelling tonight. From the moment opener Cutesy Monster Man kicks into life, a noticeable surge of excitement sweeps through the room. The crowd – mostly men with beards and Jawbreaker patches and Descendents t-shirts who look like they’re mostly in their thirties – suddenly grow young and wild, all scrambling to get as close to singer Jason Lubrano as if he’s Justin Bieber and they’re pubescent girls. Whether it’s the explosive passion of Wold Dix Rd, the insistent nostalgia of Timecop or the call to (brothers in) arms of Every Town Has An Elm Street, choruses are sung and bodies are flung and hearts are wrung out until they’re empty and dry. The heat and the sweat are insane, matched only by the atmosphere and sense of comradery that this band and these songs instil in their fans.
It’s the kind of fervour that music should create, though one that bands and fans alike often – sadly – grow out of as they get older. Not so for Iron Chic. They’re all in their thirties and they all have day jobs. They do this because they love it, because they have to, because it keeps the blood inside their veins and their brains inside their heads. That much is clear when the final song – the existential agonising of Time Keeps On Slipping Into The (Cosmic) Future – bursts into life. Band and crowd unite for a rambunctious, impassioned singalong of the song’s outro chants, resulting in a crescendo that feels like it shakes both the building and the bones inside it. And then, just like that, it’s over. The band start packing up and the bubble bursts. There are homes to go to and jobs to go back to once the weekend is over and real life to think about. But for the 45 or so minutes Iron Chic are onstage, everything feels different and anything seems possible. Maybe anything can happen, after all.