Hank Wood and The Hammerheads - Live in New York (Cover Artwork)

Hank Wood and The Hammerheads

Live in New York (2018)

live show

I called off work today. I’ve been preparing for this day since it was announced. This day would not be missed.

Can you tell I’m a fan?

It’s been four years, man, since the last record. It’s a constant rotation between ‘goin’ home’ and ‘stayin’ home.’ But sometimes the ears need something fresh, ya know?

The record came out earlier today, so of course I blasted it all the way from Philly to NYC.

Mati is first. The singer appears skittish. Stiff and stuck to the mic stand, he hunches into his slouched posture. Some drunk asshole halfway through their set gets rowdy. It’s past 11 and these people are ready to go. I see him wrestle another audience member and it begins to get ugly. They separate, but the dude just shifts his focus to the lead singer. Spit flies as he yells towards the wide eyed and - at this point - crazed lead singer. Whatever drunk-and-rowdy spits towards him isn’t polite by any stretch because the mic wielding performer suddenly retaliates with a mighty loogie towards the patron. Fellow audience members begin to brawl, which lands the disrupter flat on his back and on the stage. The singer take his chance and punches him and kicks him and sends his ass out the door.

Without skipping a beat, the band trudges on and Rowdy is no more.

Mommy is a delight. The singer feels the music under their skin and moves around to try and get rid of the itch. They become transfixed; trancelike. The bass cuts out and you just hear them whine, “fix yur shit,” and sways around to the beat. There’s no guitar fiddling around; the bass ties it all down and give room for the drums to breathe with heart thumping breakdowns and blood pounding call-and-responses between the two. Sometimes the singer whines, sometimes they speak in a fast cynical tone, a faith-lost-in-humanity speech. Back arched in a sideways bend, they spasm to the beat and wrap the cords around their body as they please. “I hate this song,” they groan. And as quick as them come, they’re gone.

And Hank Wood and The Hammerheads are next.

Now, I’ve seen Hank Wood more times than I can really comprehend. I’ve seen them the most DIY warehouse/garage space and I’ve seen them on one of the biggest stages in Philadelphia.

But this was something else.

There’s no curtains  or nearby ‘backstage’ to hide behind. Everyone can see Henry Wood bouncing up-and-down to stage right. He‘s already shirtless.

He gazes upon the large crowd that - earlier in the evening - spun a line around the first floor bar area, waiting to get in. It’s a packed house.

“Thank you for everyone that made this record possible,” Wood says in - from my midwestern point-of-view - a heavy New York accent. He struts the stage and gives his friends smiling-eye glances and low-headed nods.

He pleads for people to come on stage. He thanks a friend that made their music video. No one moved on stage so he beckons them again. A guy shrugs and slinks across the stage from right-to-left. A couple more guys join him.

The music finally kicks at some point and the crowd explodes. Beer cans begin to fly and bodies throw themselves everywhere. Wood contorts and twists his usual James Brown style moves, squatting low or walking to the edge of the stage while pulling his hands towards his face in a pleading manner.

The guitarist has ‘hammerheads’ written across his pick guard. At some point, his professional black shirt becomes unbuttoned to view his full chest of tattoos.

“Hey you, get outta my house,” Wood croons, “get outta my house, get outta my house.” The crowd crawls upon itself, reaching towards the stage in ultimate exhilaration.

“I’m sorry. I’ve gotten fat,” he belches into the mic as he squats over, breathless on the stage. His stomach folds over his pants a little more than previous shows, it’s true. But when the organ comes in, pulsating that New York beat no one can tell if he lacks any energy.

“Walkin’ down the street,” yells Wood in full thrust.

“FUCK THE STREET,” chants back the crowd.

“Just walkin’ down the street. It’s hard on the street,” replies Wood.

And with that the night was over. The new record is out, the moment celebrated came and went. We all walked out into the street, spilling into the New York night, chanting to ourselves...

It’s hard on the street.