Wednesday, December 31, 2014

The Dictators NYC at the Bowery Electric

Handsome Dick Manitoba
The Dictators formed in New York City in 1973 with a raw and aggressive rock and roll crudeness. The raucous band built a live reputation and following that never resulted in significant radio play or record sales, however. The members frequently split to develop other projects, yet every so often the Dictators would resurface, albeit with different members. In 2011, three former Dictators, vocalist Richard "Handsome Dick Manitoba" Blum, guitarist Ross "The Boss" Friedman, and drummer J.P. "Thunderbolt" Patterson, recruited guitarist Daniel Rey and bassist Dean Rispler to form Manitoba for some live dates. Manitoba the band morphed into The Dictators NYC by 2013. A compilation album, Faster... Louder - The Dictators' Best 1975-2001, was released on April 15, 2014.

Regardless of the name of the band, the musical marriage of Handsome Dick and Ross the Boss will result in a set list filled with signature songs by the early Dictators and its affiliate bands. At the Bowery Electric on New Year's Eve, that set list was what the Dictators NYC knew and performed. The band rocked from the start with "New York, New York," originally recorded by Manitoba's Wild Kingdom for the Mondo New York soundtrack in 1988. "The Party Starts Now" said equal truths about the band and the audience. "Avenue A" concretized the band as a Lower East Side icon. (Ironically, years after the song was originally recorded, Manitoba opened and still operates a bar called Manitoba's a block away on Avenue B.) "Who Will Save Rock And Roll?" asked a still-relevant question. Manitoba the man sang about gritty city life and superficial junk culture, all filtered through an ironic sense of humor and a bigger-than-life WWE-type personality. His impromptu between-song rambles showcased this cartoonish Bronx-born persona, and it was like Comedy Central on the Bowery. Meanwhile, his hoarse singing voice and the band's locomotive blast delivered light-hearted songs with waves of frenzied punk energy. The Dictators NYC generated a loud, hard and fun New Year's Eve party.

Visit the Dictators NYC at