Dave Franklin with a Vision sing along at The Court Tavern, New Brunswick, NJ, 11/6/2010, Photo: Ken Salerno
About two weeks ago, Vision guitarist Pete Tabbot shot me an email asking if I'd be interested in doing guest vocals on a Vision song at the Court Tavern in New Brunswick, NJ, in honor of Vision frontman Dave Franklin's birthday. Pete said he was working on also getting Ensign frontman Tim Shaw, The Fire Still Burns frontman Alf Bartone and Sick Of It All's Lou Koller to step in and do some songs with them as well. My initial reaction was that I was honored to be asked, but I was in the middle of figuring out when and where my band Hands Tied would be playing that same weekend. I didn't want to commit to being at the Vision show and singing a song if I had to be somewhere else with Hands Tied. As luck would have it, Hands Tied ended up getting booked with the Cro-Mags in Philadelphia on Friday, November 5th, which left my schedule wide open for Saturday the 6th and very able to hit up the Vision show. I confirmed with Pete, picked which song I wanted to do, scheduled a practice with them during the week…it was on.
Now for those that don't already know, Vision are the true essence on New Jersey Hardcore. They've been around for over twenty years and have released a slew of great albums and EP's, my favorites always being the "Undiscovered" 7" and the "In The Blink Of An Eye" LP. I've got so many great memories of Vision shows, wether it be the first time I saw them at City Gardens in 1988 when they opened for The Exploited and the Pagan Babies, or seeing them at Scott Hall opening for BOLD (the "In The Blink Of An Eye" cover shot show) or seeing them at Club Pizzaz in Philadelphia when they were touring with Insted or the other hundred plus times I've seen them, sang along and jumped on heads for them. Always great, always a good time, always the most stand up, exceptional dudes who represented New Jersey Hardcore as well as anyone could. To put it lightly, Vision have held a spot in my heart for a long, long time and like I said, I was honored at the chance to give back to to the band and sing one of my favorite tracks.
Matt Riga, Pete Tabbot, Lou Koller, Tim McMahon and Alf Bartone at Vision practice, 11/2/2010, Photo: Nate Gluck
So Tuesday November 6th, Vision practice was booked in Kenilworth, NJ. I assured Vision guitarist Pete Tabbot that I'd make it out to practice so that I could run through the song that I picked. Alf and Lou were also planning to make it out to the same practice so that they could run through their prospective songs as well. I chose "The Only One", a definite favorite of mine off the "Undiscovered" 7" and "In The Blink Of An Eye" LP. Alf chose to do Dag Nasty's "Can I Say" and the Vision guys agreed. Lou Koller by default was given three classic Sick Of It All songs, "Pushed Too Far", "My Life" and "Friends Like You", plus Vision's "Absence Of Hope". Tim Shaw wasn't able to make it to the scheduled practice, but chose Vision's "Again and Again".
Practice went well and Lou, Alf and myself all went through our songs numerous times. It was particularly cool watching Lou tear through those SOIA classics. I had a hard time staying seated and not diving off a sofa or climbing over Lou's shoulder for a sing along. I mean really, who wants to sit still when they hear "Pushed Too Far"? By the end of practice, I was super pumped and ready to hit the stage on Saturday.
Pete Tabbot with Vision at The Court Tavern, New Brunswick, NJ, 11/6/2010, Photo: Ken Salerno
Come Saturday my stomach was a pile of twisting nerves. I had just come off a Hands Tied show where we played with one of hardcore's greatest bands EVER… the Cro-Mags, yet the idea of doing this one song with Vision had me super excited and nervous all at once. The other interesting aspect of this show was that Vision's frontman Dave Franklin had no idea of the special plans that had been set in place to honor him on his birthday. So, in hopes that we could all pull this off and deliver it as a surprise to Dave meant a lot.
Once I walked into the show, one of the first things I got a chance to see was the sheet cake that Pete had made for Dave, complete with an old photo of a young X Swatched Dave Franklin. Pete had the cake hidden in a back room and assured me that Dave still knew nothing about the surprises that were going to unfold on this night. As Maximum Penalty were rocking the stage, I stood in the back of the room, waiting and biding my time until Vision. As much as I enjoyed MP's set, I kept myself reserved and ready.
Dave's birthday cake, Photo: Ken Salerno
Once Vision hit the stage, I moved up front and anxiously awaited for my opportunity. The band jammed through eight tracks with Dave, then Pete stepped to the mic and asked Dave to exit stage left. Dave looked a bit confused, but listened to Pete and before I knew it, I was being asked to take my place on stage. I picked up the mic, spoke my piece and bam… into "The Only One" we were. I felt good, I felt comfortable and most of all, I was psyched to be sharing the stage with one of New Jersey's finest. The crowd reacted positively, the band did their thing and I tried my best to nail it all down. As quickly as it started, I was done and Tim Shaw was being brought up. I stepped to the side of the stage, full cotton mouth in effect, and watched as Tim Shaw and Alf went on to do their part.
To finish off the whole Dave Franklin B-Day surprise, Lou Koller took the stage and hammered it home as Lou has done for 25 years now. Finally I got my chance to sing along to these SOIA classics, as did Dave and it was clear that this whole thing came together perfectly. Dave had the biggest smile on his face, the band clearly enjoyed themselves and the crowd ate it all up.
Tim DCXX, doing "The Only One" with Vision at The Court Tavern, 11/6/2010, Photo: Ken Salerno
Dave came back for two more songs, Vision's version of the Stiff Little Fingers song, "Suspect Device" and the Vision set closer, "Falling Apart". When it was all said and done and the last bit of sound echoed, the crowd thinned out, hand shakes commenced, hugs and smiles abroad and the night came to an end. Surely a night to remember and hopefully Dave enjoyed it as much as I know I did. -Tim DCXX
If you’re not too careful, hardcore shows that take place in the modern era from bands who, let’s say, are getting up there in age, can end up being nothing more than an excuse for a bunch of dudes to assemble in a predetermined location and scream, punch their fists in the air, and sweat to the oldies. It really runs the risk of looking more like a bro-bang than anything musically relevant.
Thankfully, the overly cerebral guys in Vision take great care into avoiding such pitfalls for their now semi annual get-togethers at New Brunswick, New Jersey’s Court Tavern.
Lou Koller with Vision at The Court Tavern, 11/6/2010, Photo: Ken Salerno
A couple years ago, they celebrated their 20th anniversary with a collection of special guests that included Bryan Kienlan and Pete Steinkopf (Bouncing Souls), Alf Bartone (Ex Number Five, The Fire Still Burns, Damn This Desert Air) and Ari Katz (Lifetime). Then it was the 20th anniversary of the release of ‘In the Blink of an Eye,’ where they played the album in its entirety.
Alf Bartone delivers "Can I Say" with Vision at The Court Tavern, 11/6/2010, Photo: Ken Salerno
Knowing that you can only run that 20th anniversary flag up the pole so much before it gets weathered and torn, this year’s party celebrated the birthday of lead singer Dave Franklin. Guitarist Pete Tabbot secretly assembled a list of heavy hitters that would relieve Dave of his singing duties about midway through the set.
Former Mouthpiece frontman and DCXX co-editor Tim McMahon was first to hit the stage and provided the vocals for ‘The Only One.’ Ensign’s Tim Shaw followed with ‘Again & Again’ and Damn This Dessert Air’s Alf Bartone made his second guest appearance of the night covering Dag Nasty’s ‘Can I Say.’
Tim Shaw sings Vision's, "Again and Again" at The Court Tavern,11/6/2010, Photo: Ken Salerno
What followed next was an epic mini-set featuring Sick Of It All’s Lou Koller. Vision and Lou ripped through renditions of SOIA’s ‘Pushed Too Far,’ ‘My Life,’ and ‘Friends Like You’ before wrapping up with Vision’s ‘Absence Of Hope.’ The final guest spot of the night featured Dave’s brother Brian, and the two siblings powered through SLF’ s ‘Suspect Device.’
Long time friend of the band and legendary City Gardens and Thrasher photo documentarian Ken Salerno was also celebrating his birthday and was front and center to capture the images for this story.
Vision's Matt Riga pounds with Precision at The Court Tavern, 11/6/2010, Photo: Ken Salerno
No matter how many years pass, there are a few things that are standard issue with Vision shows at the Court: First, the guy that takes the money at the door will be a cranky fucking curmudgeon; secondly, you’re bound to see a ton of old friends; and finally, Vision sets ALWAYS end with the all-hands-on-deck, full house sing along of ‘Falling Apart.’ On this evening, ceiling tiles showered to the floor and the PA stack nearly toppled as Vision closed. Hopefully these things will never change...even the cranky fuck at the door. Happy Birthday, punks!!! - Derek Rinaldi
Vin with Vision at The Court Tavern, 11/6/2010, Photo: Ken Salerno
Nate Gluck, Vision's bearded bass master at The Court Tavern, 11/6/2010, Photo: Ken Salerno
Tuesday, November 9, 2010
Posted by DOUBLE CROSS at 8:12 PM