“I go out of business better than anybody,” Art Fredette told us as he handed me another Budweiser from behind the bar on Saturday night.
The free-for-all farewell fling at Fredette’s Positively Fourth Street in Troy was a complete blur, as you may be able to ascertain from my unintentionally abstract photos of the frenetic, furious performance of the Fleshtones.
As Fleshtones vocalist-keyboardist Peter Zaremba frequently declared throughout the band’s sweat-soaked, bash-’em-out, uber-garage rock frenzy of a show, “Yeah, we’re goin’ out, but we’re not goin’ out easy. We’re goin’ out in style.”
Following performances by Intelligent Television and Fredette’s latest band Keith & the Cockroaches, the fab Fleshtones whipped through dozens of primal, dance-party-rock anthems during a non-stop show that stretched out well past the two-hour mark.
I was about a block away from the club when I first heard the band playing. And when I arrived at P4th, the big front glass windows were so steamed up that I couldn’t see anything inside, but the thumpin’ beat was irresistible, even out on the street.
Slowly making my way inside through the crowd, I could see the band behind the chain-link fence that separates the performance area from the front bar. They were tearing through “I’m Not a Sissy,” and guitarist Keith Streng and bassist Ken Fox were standing on chairs in the middle of the well-oiled crowd.
At a Fleshtones show, there really aren’t any barriers between the band and the crowd. Before the song was over, Streng, Fox and Zaremba had forged their way into the front bar-room, climbed up on the bar and pulled Fredette up there to dance around with them. Rock-solid drummer Bill Milhizer was the only musician left to hold down the stage – until a few lubricated fans jumped up to fill the void.
They plowed through “Whatever Makes You Happy,” “Tearing Me Apart” (with Fox taking over the lead vocals) and “Push-Up Man,” which not only saw Zaremba pumping out push-ups in the middle of the crowd, but also saw Streng passing his guitar around to several members of the audience, each one proudly displaying the varying skill levels of their fretboard-mastery.
After a blitz through “Alright” – during which Zaremba repeatedly chanted “Do ya feel alright?” and got the proper response each time – he wrapped it up by declaring, “In the words of Uncle Sam Wilson, let us repair to the bar. P4 – over and out.”
Ah, but no, the crowd wouldn’t let them go, and Fredette coaxed the band back for a triptych of encores – “Bigger and Better,” “Girl From Baltimore” and the signature “American Beat” – by declaring the Fleshtones to be “the world’s greatest rock and roll band. The Rolling Stones are a bunch of doddering old fucks. This is a rock and roll band.”
While I’m not sure that I wholeheartedly agree with Fredette’s assessment from a historical perspective, on Saturday night, he was dead right.
Yes, Positively Fourth Street is gone now, but don’t mourn for long. Fredette will be opening a new place – the Judge’s Inn – around the corner on Broadway in a couple of weeks. Stay tuned for details.
Photographs definitely NOT by Andrzej Pilarczyk