Thursday, December 31, 2015

The Dictators NYC at the Bowery Electric

Handsome Dick Manitoba
The Dictators formed in New York in 1973 as a punk band before the punk scene existed. Glam rock ruled the local scene, and the Dictators' music was far more testosterone-driven compared to the tights, platform shoes and make-up that energized the more popular club bands like the New York Dolls and Kiss. The Dictators was a proto-punk band that gained a rabid following but sold virtually no albums and who were frequently booed when opening for more mainstream headliners in concert halls. After several near splits, the band finally ended in 1981, with members joining Twisted Sister, Manowar, the Fleshtones, the Del-Lords, Shakin' Street and Manitoba's Wild Kingdom. Many reunions later, a core Dictators lineup in 2011 became Manitoba, then in 2013 became the Dictators NYC; the band presently consists of vocalist Richard "Handsome Dick Manitoba" Blum, guitarists Ross "the Boss" Friedman (also known as Ross Funicello) and Daniel Rey Rabinowitz, bassist Dean "The Dream" Rispler and drummer J.P. "Thunderbolt" Patterson.

At the Bowery Electric tonight, the ever-verbose Manitoba told many stories between songs. At one point, he reflected on the band's disappointing lack of success in the 1970s, yet gave thanks that on New Year's Eve 2015/2016, the band was playing for 200 friends. Now past 60 years of age, he and the band rocked stronger and with more heart than bands one third of their age. Manitoba's outsized humorous personality dwarfed his limited vocal range and rallied the audience to chant along to the choruses. Rey and the Boss played fiery leads that powered the front of the locomotive and the heavy rhythm section exploded dynamite at the back end. The set ranged from old Dictators songs to several songs from Manitoba's Wild Kingdom and a cover of the MC5's "Kick Out the Jams"; the only new song was the recently released single "Supply and Demand." The Dictators NYC brought classic big fun back to New York rock and roll.

Visit the Dictators NYC at