I’ve hit more than my fair share of punk rock shows in New York City, so I’d like to share a few pics and videos.

First up, legendary UK punk, the Subhumans, hit The Meadows at the Brooklyn Monarch in NYC to kick things off.

One of the things that always strikes me about punk rock shows in NYC is the incredible diversity of the crowd.

From the older punks who’ve been rocking out for decades to the fresh-faced adolescents

just discovering the scene, everyone is welcome and can be a part of the punk rock family.
It’s the opposite of exclusionary, which is at least part of the appeal.


The next gig was the Adolescents at Gramercy Theater opening up for Strung Out.

This was my second time seeing this band.

I first saw them in December 2011 at the Goldenvoice 30th-year reunion in Santa Monica.

While there have been some lineup changes over the years, a couple of the old originals are still performing.

Tony Reflex / Adolescents

Needless to say, both lead singer Tony Reflex (Anthony Brandenburg) and I have aged. But the crowd, again, was a great mix of young and old with a smattering of black and brown represented in the crowd with a slightly more robust female-to-male mix (35% Female/65% Male, I’d estimate) than in typical punks shows, which can swing 20% Female /80% Male easily.

I spied fans wearing band shirts from Bad Religion, Misfits, Descendents, Unseen, Ramones, and a few bands I didn’t recognize, but the colorful, tatted-up, and mohawked street punk in leather jacket and Doc Martins was nowhere to be seen.

As such, the pit was pretty tame (lame?) and never fully got into full swing, which was fine by me as I could watch up front without being worried about getting broadsided by a flailing enthusiastic punk twice my size.

I like a good pit, but there are pros and cons, times and places, and this didn’t feel like the time.

This, for whatever reason, had the feel of  a more chill and relaxed evening.



Then Strung Out hit the stage like a slap across the face (the good kind that wakes you up from a lazy stupor). 

Many in the crowd may have come to see Strung Out’s lead singer, Jason Cruz, who’s a bit of a badass on stage.

The entire band is one big, bold, badass bundle of bravado. 

The band, all clad in black, had a decidedly more up-to-date and more metal sound and vibe than the Adolescents, and the head bobs in the crowd confirmed it. 

But these are no up-and-comer newbies. Strung Out has been around since 1989 when they were signed to Fat Mike’s “Fat Wreck Chords” label and were a staple of the label through the rock music heyday of the 1990s. 

Strung Out’s sound has undergone a significant evolution over the years. Their recent release, “Dead Rebellion,” marks their return after a five-year hiatus. In my in-expert opinion, this album bears little resemblance to their earlier work, a departure that is both intriguing and refreshing.

Artists are bound to grow or die, and the lead singer, Cruz, is an actual visual artist and musician). If you don’t believe me, check out his gnarly paintings on his website.

The sound at the Gramercy Theater was really loud, adding a raw and gritty element to Strung Out’s performance.

But with earplugs, distinguishing songs was challenging unless you were fully dialed into your favorite, adding to the immersive and intense concert experience.

Still, I was bummed not to hear my favorites of f 2003’s “Live in a Dive” cut, “Cult of the Subterranean” and 1998’s “Ultimate Devotion” from “Twisted by Design.”

That said, after the show, I gave singer Jason Cruz’s art a closer look and his solo music a more in-depth listen on the way home from the show and absolutely fell in love with his song “Swallow,” with its haunting, melancholic sound and lyrics, which include:

“As the band forgot to play your favorite song again, on the night you decided you couldn’t carry on without.”

That song is a must-have and must-listen, a testament to how great music is still being made, even though it can be hard to find in the massive mediocrity.

Also, give “Warsong,” which has a rockabilly or psychobilly vibe, and the stripped-down “Deathless” a listen.

After the rousing encore of “Bring out Your Dead” (video below) and the band exited stage left, Jason stayed around to kindly shake hands with anyone who wanted.

I thought that was a hell of a nice touch.


I finished my three-concert run in a decidedly less punk rock way with an outdoor show at The Rooftop at Pier 17 on a stormy and rainy night when the weather got rid of its anger just in time for a surreal bluegrass jam band experience with Greensky Bluegrass to carry on uninterrupted.

Stormy Skies

GSBG is a band I’ve been trying to catch for some time. In a way, they are the punk rockers of bluegrass music.

With a proud underground origin, GSBG has spent over 20 years showcasing their musical prowess to a growing fan base. Their journey from the fringes to the mainstream of bluegrass music is a testament to their talent and dedication.

That said, this concert had the least diverse (white, mostly young, but mixed 50/50 male to female) crowd offering of the bunch, and perhaps I was just tired, but it was also the most annoying.

GreenSky BlueGrass

Compared to the punk shows, some, but certainly not all or even most, of the crowd felt performative, posing as bluegrass fans. How cool is it to be in NYC and pretend you like bluegrass?

Pier 17 tickets are costly (one is partially paying for the ambiance of a rooftop with spectacular views), and the whole scene is pretty corporate with JP Morgan Chase as a sponsor, but Greensky Bluegrass is anything but corporate. I didn’t even see the press or anyone besides fans filming or taking photos of the show.

The band’s commitment to their craft was palpable. They seldom spoke to the crowd; when they did, it was short and sweet. Their attention remained on each other and their instruments. This led to a series of mostly 5-10-minute jam sessions that held the audience spellbound.

Personally, I found the shorter songs more appealing, as they allowed for a greater variety of music. (And yes, my two favorites remained elusive even after an almost 3-hour set – a recurring theme, perhaps?)


Still, even with the omissions and the drunken Wall Street, tech, marketing bros and their gal pals in tow, I had a good time. I can roll in almost any crowd just fine.

But when the silly clog dancing began, and drunken fools behind me yelled for the guys to play “Rocky Top,” I could feel the jump-the-shark moment in my multi-decade migration to New York City.

The Dead Heads / Widespread Panic fanatics and serious music lovers interspersed throughout made the night more than bearable.

I’m glad I ended my music exploration by listening to some Tennessee / Kentucky-inspired bluegrass from great musicians on a stormy but fantastic summer evening on a rooftop in lower Manhattan, New York City!

I’m thankful for all of these boundary-pushing musicians and their impact on the broader listening public, Yours Truly included. 

Bluegrass has no geographical boundary












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