Monday, May 23, 2011

The Return of Urban Blight?

No, I’m not referring to the term about urban decay, I’m referring to the band.
So a couple of weeks ago, I'm scanning my facebook news feed and I see this:

Seeing this admittedly evoked an emotional response in me. I was introduced to this band up in college, when a girl who had graduated from Bronx Science ( my high school rival) mentioned that there was a band coming up from NYC to play, and a lot of the members were from my high school alma mater Stuyvesant High. Apparently they had graduated about 5 years before me so I wasn’t very familiar with them. So in 1986 we made the trek to a downtown hotspot called Hunts in Burlington Vermont. I was not disappointed.
What I heard that night was a combination of The English Beat, mixed in with some Bob Marley, mixed in with a dash of Run DMC. Their tunes were catchy, the music was phenomenal, and  it was a night I never forgot.
Through the years, the band got pretty popular amongst the college circuit, and the NYC music scene. They returned to our university several times and I never missed an opportunity to catch them.  I got to hang out with them a few times after they played, and we shared conversation mostly about Stuy and the teachers we knew. When I started to DJ parties for a little extra cash with a good friend of mine, we always played a bit of their tuneage as well.
I caught them a couple of times after college graduation when they played in various NYC hotspots.
These guys were good, and I knew they would make it big. Sadly, and I’ve never really known why, I was mistaken. UB faded from the music scene, and I believe in 1998 the band went their separate ways.
Fast forward to the year 2010 and I found a box of cassette tapes in my house. In it, was a bootleg tape that I had recorded from that very first encounter with them in 1986 up in Burlington Vt. I wondered how it would sound, I went down to the basement dusted off a boombox, and brought it up to the kitchen. I placed the tape in and hit play, and instantly I was transported to a time where I was 24 years younger. The tape sounded great and soon my 13 year old and 7 year old, saw their old man bopping around the kitchen listening to the awesome sounds of Urban Blight. My kids like their vibe as well.
Did I mention these guys were good?
Later that evening,while surfing the net, I found them on Youtube. Apparently they had a reunion where the played for the night in the Canal Room in NYC. I was bummed that I had missed it, but real happy to see them jamming like they used to. My son who is a musician (keyboards and bass) and has an old soul when it comes to music immediately said,  “These guy’s are good”. He chuckled at some of their choreography as band, which was always visually catchy.
So that was about a year ago... And then I saw the facebook post. WOW. I didn’t wait, I called right away bought my ticket (I was going with, or without anyone), and then I RSVP’d on the post itself. I shared the invitation with others.I shared with those that I remember to be big UB fans as well...and then it began to happen again, not sure why but I couldn’t get any traction in trying to get a bunch of fans together for what could be a chance to see a band that we had seen 25 years ago. I didn’t care, I was going. I ended up roping my best friend along (the same guy that DJ’d with me back in school).
The show was a benefit for a Children’s Art Museum, and was going to be on from 6-9 pm. I had every reason, after camping with my son’s scout troop in rainy and muddy conditions on Friday into Sat, and then going to see a Beatles revival concert on Saturday night, to call it quits as I was a wee bit tired, but I wasn’t going to miss this.
My buddy and I first shared shared some great ethnic middle eastern food at Mamouns, and then headed in .
We got to Webster hall around 6:45 ish and I thought perhaps we had missed some of their opening songs, but I was happy to be wrong. There were a two other bands that would play before UB would take the stage.
I did a quick recon of the surroundings and noticed that there was a balcony level with a much better vantage point of the stage, so we made our way to the top level only to realize that we had some how inadvertently gained entry to the VIP level. Security just assumed that if we were up there , we should be there and actually ushered us into our primo viewing area. Well, who were we to argue with anyone right? We settled in with a couple of Corona’s and awaited UB.
My buddy and I looked at the program and noticed that the band opening for Urban Blight would be John Oliver. I had never heard of them, but soon came to realize it wasn't the John Oliver Band, it was John Oliver, the British Comic from the Daily Show. Well, he came on and delivered his set. The crowd was receptive but a bit small, and still had some kids present from earlier benefit activities , so John couldn't deliver any racy stuff. One joke though stood out in his gig. It was a joke about how nowadays, during live performances , people will stand there and film an event on their camera phones, as opposed to enjoying it in real life, right then and there. I thought about it , chuckled to myself on how true that was...and then realized that was what I was about to do myself. I figured if I could keep Urban Blight alive for me, in the form of cassette tape, twenty five years later, I could do the same with the high definition camera built into my phone, with perhaps better results...And thus the idea of this article was born. I would film UB on stage and then place it up on the net for others to enjoy with my secret intent that perhaps it might spark a bit of a UB revival.
When Urban Blight took the stage I really just wanted to go downstairs and bounce around a bit, but I noticed no videographers present, so I almost felt compelled to take video of the event. After all, we somehow had stumbled upon the expensive seats, so mine as well put them to good use.
I have to admit, I was wondering after 25 years would these guys still have it? Could they deliver the same music, could they  bounce around on stage like they used to? And the answer to that question was simply, "Yes".
Urban Blight came out and did their thing, and it was like they had never left. In fact they almost seemed better.
What follows is the video footage that I took last night. I'm hoping the band doesn't have an issue with me posting them up...but as a true fan, I'm hoping that in some way this helps in the return of Urban Blight, and this time I'm hoping they do make it big.
Did I mention these guys are good?

Here are videos of the concert. For the best viewing effect go to full screen for each video by clicking on the full screen icon in the bottom right hand corner of each screen.

 I hope you enjoy the videos as much as I enjoyed Urban Blight's latest concert. Please tell your fellow UB fans about this page and perhaps their latest concert won't be their last.