The Dictators NYC – Live in Vienna
If you remember my review of the Night Beats show here in Vienna, you might already have some sort of picture in your head of what the Arena looks like. For word saving purposes I will just selfishly assume that you have read it and if not then it’s on you to check it out. I also mentioned the fact that Vienna’s crowd usually is very subdued and quite frankly sometimes it seems like the audience all have broomsticks up their asses.
The Austrian Dee Cracks opened for The Dictators and they did all they could to motivate the audience, starting with their invitation to step towards the stage, while at the same time admitting that it is an extremely lame thing for a band to do. All their attempts to get the people pumped failed. From playing a Ramones-style set that barely left breaks between the songs to save everyone the embarrassement of a crowd slow-clapping for a total of about 10 seconds, to trying to save the akward silences when they did leave pauses by making statements like: “Wow, the energy is really on fire tonight!” The crowd’s reaction was completely undeserved for these three boys, who played a pretty great set with a lot of energy. What can I say, Vienna’s punks are selfish lovers and they are not easy to please.
However, once The Dictators showed up on stage everyone rushed to the front and started bopping around. The giants of 70s punk started the set with one of my personal favourites, The Next Big Thing from their 1975 album The Dictators Go Girl Crazy!. The star of the show was singer and frontman Handsome Dick Manitoba – a fabulous creature with an impressive moustache like a jewish Hulk Hogan, a bandana under a black grandpa hat and a ton of NYC bling and a bejeweled Star of David around his neck. A group of teenagers from one of our slavic neighbour states must have come in one of their dads’ cars to see the show and they insisted on hoisting each other up on their shoulders and causing havock. Needless to say, they were an essential part of the experience and a well planted kick in the butt of Vienna’s gig scene.
After a string of pummelling rock’n’roll songs that kept the crowd in a constant state of frenzy, Handsome Dick held the microphone to his mouth and announced: “We didn’t just come here to play a show, but we’re here to remind everyone of our generation, of a time where New York wasn’t just full of hipsters, but when we and our friends the Ramones and the Dead Boys would all play at CBGB’s. Who here is a Ramones fan?” Immediately, the crowd burst into a chant of “HEY-HO, LET’S GO!” and it was a bittersweet feeling to see the joy on Handsome Dick’s face. A flood of warm nostalgia pulled my heartstrings for a time when I wasn’t even born. I know what a cliché thing this is to say as part of our generation that often wishes that we could be the Blank Generation, but seeing Handsome Dick and his band partner-in-crime Ross the Boss rock the stage together like they have known each other for 40 years (which they have), made my guts turn to mush.
Yet, the two absolute highlights of the show were still coming up. “I know that some of you might feel like: Aaah, I don’t wanna dance, because everyone can see me and I feel stupid,” Dick said. “Would all of you feel better if I came down and danced with you?” Hell yeah. Moments later, my friend and I were clamped on each side of this ball of punk energy, bouncing around in circles with three or four other lucky by-standers. I was of course overjoyed when he passed the microphone straight to me not once, but twice, as I frantically screamed along to Baby Let’s Twist.
The absolute climax of nostalgia celebration happend at the end of the show, with the epic phrase: “It’s time to… KICK OUT THE JAMS, MOTHERFUCKER,” as the band launched into their cover of the MC5 anthem. When my friend scored a guitar pick signed by Ross the Boss and gifted it to me, the gig experience reached perfection.
The Dictators review by Julia Boyle.