- by Kevin Orton Rating: Release Date: Label:
When people think of the Athens music scene they think of R.E.M. and B-52's. But the band that gave both bands inspiration were PYLON. R.E.M. notably covered their song, 'Crazy' on Dead Letter Office. Formed in 1979, they were angular and stripped down. Having more in common with Gang of Four and PIL, than R.E.M.'s influences of Let's Active and the Byrds. Pylon's eclectic mix of New Wave, Post Punk and jangle Pop was undeniably danceable. In essence, they were an Art Rock party band. Before they officially folded in 1983, Pylon cut two remarkable albums, Gyrate and Chop. Guitarist, Randy Bewley was downright iconic in his playing. In lead singer, Vanessa Briscoe Hay they had a true original. There is frankly no one like her. One of a kind phrasing and vocal textures that combined primal shrieks and guttural howls. Lyrically, they were spare and witty. For an Art Rock band, they were also remarkably devoid of pretension. Not to mention, pure fun.
The band reformed for reunions over the years, even cutting a new album in 1990 (Chain). However, after Randy Bewley's untimely death in 2009, the band went into permanent retirement. Fortunately, Briscoe Hay is keeping their legacy alive by fronting The Pylon Reenactment Society. Is it a tribute band? Covers band? Technically, its the next best thing to Pylon. As evidenced by their live show July 1st at Mercury Lounge in New York City, Briscoe Hay still has it. In shiny disco pants and an electric cowboy hat, she took the stage with a band that was simply incredible. Jason NeSmith on guitar. Kay Stanton on bass. Damon Denton on keyboards. Last but not least, Joe Rowe on drums. While these players are drawn from Athens bands like Caspar & The Cookies and The Glands, for all practical purposes, they are PYLON. And they rocked the house like motherfuckers.
To be honest, I haven't had this much fun at a gig in ages. Briscoe Hay took the stage, all warmth, camp and humor. Kay Stanton also has incredible stage presence and charm, not to mention the fact she is one hell of a bassist. NeSmith and Rowe are fierce and formidable players on guitar and drums. When not playing the keys, Damon Denton acts as cheerleader. They hit all of Pylon's classics from 'Crazy' to 'Beep' to 'Precaution.' The new material they came up with sounded as if it could have been cut in Pylon's heyday.
While most of the audience was middle-aged, there were some young, smart hipsters bopping around. But this is the only gig I've ever been to where older folks with canes were dancing. My wife is from Atlanta, and she's known for ages how great Pylon are. And in this incarnation, they're still great. She also bumped into an old high school friend from Atlanta, which only made for a more fun evening. To top it all off, Richard Barone hosted and opened. A truly sweet deal. If The Pylon Reenactment Society hit your town, do not hesitate. You will have a blast. I guarantee it.
About a year ago I started talking to a woman at a taco shop here in Tampa that was wearing a Pylon t-shirt. I never lived in Athens, but certainly knew the scene and we were talking about all the bands from back in the heyday. Turns out she...
About a year ago I started talking to a woman at a taco shop here in Tampa that was wearing a Pylon t-shirt. I never lived in Athens, but certainly knew the scene and we were talking about all the bands from back in the heyday. Turns out she was Randy Bewley's widow. Small world.