Intrigued by the name more than anything, I was one of a handful of people who witnessed this crazy gig on a wet Monday night in May.
Date: May 2, 2011
Venue: Rescue Rooms, Red Room
Due to the lack of an audience – seriously, there were more tramps outside Rock City than there are people in here – New York ‘ghettocore’ 5-piece Cerebral Ballzy decide that their stage at the Red Room is too limiting, and so they carry out their onslaught of dirty speed-punk on the dance floor, ahead of the perplexed few who have ventured out to witness this ramshackle show.
Lead “singer” Mel confronts the first few rows of the crowd with a torrent of barking diatribes and barbed rhetoric, while the band’s guitarist spirals his way through the empty spaces, oblivious to anyone’s safety as he spins with his axe with some gusto.
During a song entitled Beer, Mel parts the sparse crowd like a punk-rock Moses and heads for the bar at the rear of the room. Vaulting the bar, he makes for the fridge and grabs a can, much to the bemusement of the bartender, and in-keeping with the band’s rebellious streak.
They tear through their set of stoopid dumb-ass skater punk, each song lasting no more than two minutes.
They play songs called Puke Song and Insufficient Fare which nod to early 80s speed-punk noiseniks Bad Brains and Black Flag, and there are several scuzzy odes to seminal punkers Minor Threat.
They appear unapproachable, awkward and threatening even. During the first few songs no one really gets their agenda, and there’s almost a tense anxiety in the audience. It’s almost as if people are waiting, fists clenched, for something to kick off.
But once the realisation that it’s just a facade sets in, and that this is actually a lot of fun, we can relax and thoroughly enjoy their raucous shtick.
Indeed, towards the end of the set, a moshpit develops and suddenly the floor is reclaimed by the audience, and several members of the two support acts.
Then, just 30 minutes from their snotty arrival, they leave, marching through the crowd like angst-ridden teenagers. But again, you sense it’s just for show, and backstage they’ll be high-fiving and joyously sipping beers and scoffing pizza – their staple diet – to mark another triumph.
Raw and unadulterated, feral in fact, Cerebral Ballzy are rallying against the Brooklyn artsy types like Animal Collective and Vampire Weekend. They care little for intelligent, twee knob-fiddling flimsy music.
Instead, they’re speaking out to the disillusioned youth of The Big Apple. Stoopid as hell their music may be, but my word is it a lot of fun.