Lucid Culture


The Supertones Live at Otto’s, NYC 2/2/08

The Supertones differentiate themselves from the legions of other bands in the thriving surf instrumental underworld in that they write excellent original songs. The long-running unit has been together since 1988; their weekly residency at the old Luna Lounge in the late 90s is the stuff of legend. But the band seemed to lose interest after that, phoning in covers of awful 60s pop hits like Georgie Girl on the increasingly rare instances that they played out at all. Although their drummer and rhythm player left shortly thereafter to form Mr. Action & the Boss Guitars, the rhythm guy is back, and their lead guitarist is better than ever, tremolo-picking furiously and really taking his playing to the next level. With Simon Chardiet from Simon & the Bar Sinisters on bass, way up in the sound mix, playing wildly furious, intense lines on an 8-string Hamer and then a vintage Rickenbacker, and a new drummer whose stock in trade obviously isn’t surf but proved up to the challenge, they immediately reclaimed their status as one of this city’s must-see live bands.

As usual, most of their set was originals. Stylistically, they take their cue more from the Ventures or the Shadows, jangling and clanging in major keys with a ton of reverb rather than doing the Beirut stomp a la Dick Dale. Of the few covers they did play, the best were a spot-on recreation of the old Lee Hazelwood classic Baja and the obscure, gently twanging Morgan, along with a driving take of Journey to the Stars. Their best original was a gorgeously melodic, nocturnal number introduced by Chardiet: “That one is dedicated to George Bush. It’s called Bushwacked. And this next one is dedicated to Rudy Guiliani’s prostate. It’s called Last Ride,” he gleefully told the crowd, as they launched into a swaying, spaghetti-western tune.

The show was put together by Unsteady Freddie, who is something of a legend in the surf world, a promoter who tirelessly travels the country, spreading the gospel of reverb and 2/4 time. The shows he puts together here on the first Saturday of every month are reliably good and sometimes absolutely transcendent. The latter promised to be the case tonight. It would have been awfully nice to have been able to stick around for the scorchingly powerful Coffin Daggers and another recently resurgent band, the Sea Devils, but by then it was already past one and time to nudge a handful of overindulgent people in the direction of home.


February 3, 2008 - Posted by | concert, Live Events, Music, music, concert, New York City, Reviews, rock music | , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,


  1. […] The Supertones Live at Otto’s, NYC 2/2/08 […]

    Pingback by Index « Lucid Culture | February 4, 2008 | Reply

  2. God Bless You for making the scene and helping to get the word out on my SURF-ROCK SHINDIGs. A good site to stay after is, where I post posters for my shows. THX MUCHO, most grateful, UN/F

    Comment by UNSTEADY FREDDIE | February 4, 2008 | Reply

  3. Thank you for this terrific review (and background info, too!). I am a big fan of The Supertones, a faithful attendee of Surf Night at Otto’s, and have the pleasure of knowing Unsteady Freddie as host for my own shows and also as friend.

    Comment by Julie Rozar | February 5, 2008 | Reply

  4. Great review! Unsteady Freddie is a tireless supporter of surf and his monthly shows have become the staple of nutrious diet of surf and reverb on the East Coast.

    Comment by Blue StingRaye | February 5, 2008 | Reply

  5. Right on! Your review captures The Supertones wonderfully. Alas, too bad you could not stay for the infectious sounds of The Coffin Daggers, who packed the room to near capacity. El Muchacho also captivated the space with their electric kazoo-infused surf/punk … maybe an opening slot for Agent Orange is in their future?

    all the best to Unsteady Freddie, your support for surf is boundless.

    Comment by Bobby D. | February 5, 2008 | Reply

  6. Who are the Supertones’ bass player & drummer?

    Comment by KQ | February 6, 2008 | Reply

  7. Sorry – who R the Rhythm guitarist & drummer of Supertones?

    Comment by KQ | February 6, 2008 | Reply

  8. Dunno who the Supertones’ new guys are (can anybody fill us in on that?) This was the first time we’d seen them in New York in several years, possibly since a Manitoba’s date when they still had Mr. Action playing drums! Nice to see these guys back and at the top of their game.

    Comment by delarue | February 6, 2008 | Reply

  9. The Supertones’ rhythm guitarist is Seth Lipscher, the brother of Mark, who previously played bass in Supertones. Both Seth & Mark plays in Mr Action’s group. The drummer is Glenn Healy, who is the original and current drummer of Simon & the Bar Sinisters, and also drums for Tom Clark & the High Action Boys. The Bar Sinisters are plying monthly at Lakeside. The original Supertones and original Bar Sinisters did many historical double bills together at McGoverns & Nightingales.

    Comment by jan-L | February 9, 2008 | Reply

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