Wednesday, 28 December 2011

Video - Konk Live in Tompkins Square

Konk are one of my favourite post-Punk New York bands, listening to their records always evokes images moments I never actually experienced on the dancefloors of The Roxy, Danceteria and Save The Robots. Pretty much all their records are great, but ‘Konk Party’, ‘Your Life’, and ‘Love Attack’, which is featured in this video, all come highly recommended.

Tompkins Square is just one of those really interesting places New York. It nestles between Avenue A and B in the lower East Side of Manhattan, in an area known as Alphabet City (because the avenues are lettered rather than numbered) just north of Houston Street. But when I first visited, there wasn’t any sort of NoHo vibe going on, east of Avenue B Alphabet City was pretty lawless - derelict buildings were abound, third world-esque shanty towns of homeless people existed on bulldozed blocks, projects bordered the area and drug dealers openly plied their trade on street corners.

Tompkins Square was also favoured by many homeless people and has a history of being a breeding for protest and public disorder, with it providing a back drop to the American Civil War draft riots in the 1860s, the infamous Tompkins Square riots when workers clashed with police in he 1870s, through to clashes in 44 people were injured, when the police tried to clear the square of homeless people in 1988. And the following year the ‘Butcher of Tompkins Square’ fed the homeless people, who were still there, soup made with human body parts (look it up if you’re ghoulish enough).

This video was made 3 years prior to that and 6 years before my first visit, so it was a pretty edgy place you probably didn’t want to hang around too much at night. I’ve been back many times since, not least because the now defunct Dance Tracks record store was a couple of blocks away, and Alphabet City has been massively gentrified and the only thing you need to worry wandering those streets after dark now is which coffee shop to buy your tall skinny frappucino from…

Anyway, the video is great and from another, more interesting time and if you watch the whole thing you get a few glimpses of world in in hard to imagine in existing in the heart of Manhatten. Oh and the music is great too!

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