Dan O'Regan


Waves Overhead Tour Rocks Huntington’s Paramount

Indie visionaries Circa Survive rocked a packed house at The Paramount in Huntington March 19 along with Minus the Bear and Now Now. (Photo: Dan O’Regan/Long Island Press)

The house lights drop. More than 1,500 people scream at the top of their lungs. Shadowy figures ghost around the stage, led by small handheld beams of light. The apparitions of Minus the Bear take their positions before the first four twangy chords of “Steel and Blood” split the darkness. Swelling waves of music roll over the crowd like a tsunami of light and sound. Piercing beams of red and blue punch through the masses. Ear-to-ear grins are only broken to shout back the lines to each chorus. This moment could pass for an encore, yet the show’s only just begun.

Progressive indie rockers Circa Survive and electronic indie-rock heroes Minus the Bear packed out The Paramount in Huntington Tuesday, March 19 in support of their Waves Overhead tour. The night was filled with crowd-pleasing high-energy sets from all—though I did regrettably miss Minnesota indie darlings Now Now due to a traffic jam on the Sagtikos Parkway (luckily I’d already caught them two days earlier in Poughkeepsie, where they killed). None disappointed at The Paramount—a show to remember, indeed.

The first three songs of Minus the Bear’s set—“Steel and Blood,” “The Fix” and “Secret Country”—were knockout punches, one right after the other and ignited a frenzied uproar among the sea of 20-somethings hoisting each other into the air and crawling on top of each other like penned animals.

Epic roto-tom hits from drummer Erin Tate on “Secret Country” boomed over the crowd, just before lead singer Jake Snider repeatedly shouted the line, “We forget where we are!” atop the ebb and flow of its conclusion.

The crowd clapped on-beat to “Absinthe Party at the Fly Honey Warehouse” before lead guitarist Dave Knudson let loose, the notes glistening and sparkling to rival the dazzling glow of blue, red, purple and yellow lights behind him.

Not a single member of the band sat still through their entire set. Bassist Cory Murchy remained in a state of constant motion before flashing a stern thumbs-up to the crowd in-between most songs, a gesture always returned by the fans on his side of the stage. Murchy head-banged like a madman, flipping his stringy hair before sauntering from the front to the back of the stage, hammering out the most fluid and dynamic bass lines of the night and heading back to the crowd for another firm thumbs-up.

Knudson’s movements were like a haywire windup toy, his ridged head bopping from his tower-like stance almost enough to distract from his delicate guitar work. Knudson preferred to play his solos directly to the crowd; standing, oftentimes, right on the edge of the stage, eyes closed, with fans grabbing and reaching for a piece of the action.

“There’s something emotional and human about [performing],” Snider told me between sips of Jack Daniels in his Paramount dressing room just after Minus the Bear’s set.

Just as he emptied the bottle we were interrupted by a knock at the door. A short brunette poked her head into the dressing room holding up a fresh bottle of the good stuff.

“Oh yeah,” Snider told her. “Amen, thank you so much.”

He paused for a moment to admire the bottle, and after collecting his thoughts, resumed.

“It’s kind of a tribal thing, playing music in front of people. You kind of want to connect with [the crowd] on some level and I think that when you’re enjoying it… I mean obviously, that’s going to be the best.”

Two thirds of the way through Minus the Bear’s set, a figure in a black hoodie rigged up another microphone on the right side of the stage before vocalist Heather Duby, backing vocalist on the band’s latest studio album, Infinity Overhead, joined the fray.

Duby filled out a stunning three-part harmony with keyboardist and backing vocalist Alex Rose on “Into the Mirror” and “Toska,” a song Snider says is his current favorite to play live.

Two slam-dunk songs off their second studio album, 2005’s Menos el Oso [Spanish for Minus the Bear]—“Pachuca Sunrise” and “Drilling”—finished the set, leaving the audience reeling.

“Drilling” positively electrified the crowd. Some red-faced fans screamed every word while jumping with their fists clenched in the air and radiating beaming smiles. The not-quite-punk, not-quite-emo kids applauded too soon, exposing the casual Minus the Bear fans that were unaware of the band’s fondness for the “fake ending.” “Drilling” faded out and resurrected twice before the band ultimately left the stage to a roar of applause and the house lights.

“It’s all a part of the dynamics of our songs,” Murchy told me during a pre-interview from his tour bus just before a show in Burlington, Vt. on March 14. “You want to try and use those to really try and catch the listener. Makes for a good song, ya know?”

“One more song!” some shouted.

“Four more songs!” screamed others.

From the perspective of the balcony, fans below resembled a stormy swelling ocean, ebbing and flowing with black t-shirts and hoodies, bleached hair and side bangs rolling and cresting to the sonic avalanche of sound. Watching this celebratory swirl made me realize just how much a venue can impact the performance.

Just two days prior, similar waves of kids sporting homemade neon green spray-painted scribbles proclaiming “Circa Survive” waited for the opening act in the packed, tiny The Chance, tucked between large warehouses in downtown Poughkeepsie. DIY punk rockers bashed and convulsed their way around the floor throughout the night, though the scene was less a group ocean of teenage celebration and more a stone-cold gaze supplemented with a handful of loose cannons who just wanted to thrash. The crowd had little to no room to make it even to the bathrooms, let along organize a mosh pit like that inside The Paramount.

The grime on the walls of The Chance stands as testament to the more than 40 years of live shows it had endured; battle scars worn proudly like a soldier after a triumphant war. Ancient Egyptian sarcophagi adorn both stage walls and watch over the crowd occupying a two-tiered floor area below.

Now Now’s set that night began with two girls strapping on their Fender Telecasters and a guy with the pompadour to end all pompadours sitting behind a drum kit. The crowd gave them the obligatory applause as they tuned up their amplifiers and positioned their Macbook.

“No bass?” shouted someone from the crowd over the first few bars of the outfit’s first song.

After long it was clear that the band’s supplemental tracks would provide more than enough bass for the three-piece.

“We had [a bassist] a long long time ago,” Now Now’s drummer Bradly Hale told me backstage at The Paramount, as thunderous bass from the show boomed and echoed through the backstage lounge. “I record all the bass parts and it’s a lot of effort to teach someone all the parts and it’s hard to find someone you’re cool with being around for this long.”

The applause rose as the set progressed, singer/guitarist Cacie Dalager letting her fluffy brown bangs cover her eyes after tossing her black beanie to the side of the stage, echoes of Kurt Cobain’s signature “Cousin-It” look.

The inclusion of a backing track allowed the band to incorporate notes well below the standard low-E of a four-string bass—low moans bellowing from the onstage sub-woofers on stage and rattling the walls; less of a sound and more of an intense vibration.

Dual female vocals and hypnotizing harmonies gave their set a soft touch that set them apart from their all-male touring mates.

“I don’t feel like a female-fronted band at all,” Dalager told me from her perch atop a kitchen counter backstage at The Paramount just after Circa Survive’s set. “We have girls in the band, but the band started with Brad and I, and so in my mind, we’re just a duo, now a trio. The only time I really notice it is sometimes we’re on tour and I’m like, ‘Whoa, we are literally the only girls on this tour.’ But I don’t ever think about it other than physical number of people on a tour.”

Now Now exited The Chances’ stage to thunderous applause. Somewhere in the sweaty adolescent chaos, the kid who couldn’t understand a band without a bassist surely applauded, too.

As I leaned on the railing of The Paramount’s mezzanine section and looked out over the crowd, I couldn’t help realize the shared connection between the kids packing The Chance, just two days earlier, and those here, now, unleashing their fury and devotion to the same bands, the same songs, for the most part, the same show. The two sets of fans were the same, I thought, but also different. Those before me now are Long Islanders—a dedicated breed that sacrifices sleep on a work night for a few hours of pure, unbridled rock and roll.

And although Circa Survive sat at the top of the billing for this tour, Minus the Bear could have been as well—their set gave crowds at both venues simply sheer electrified sonic thrill. What a magnificent pairing.

Crowd surfers climbed and were tossed to and fro throughout the sets at The Paramount. Large men in highlighter-green shirts lined the barricades, catching airborne fans hurled too close to the talent.

With 1,555 adoring fans screaming in unison, it was hard to distinguish Circa Survive’s lyrics from the mouth of the singer from those of the audience, or make out even what the first three songs were. Singer Anthony Green’s sterling tenor eventually won that battle, beaming out of the speakers and inspiring riot-like conditions on the floor.

“When we started the band, Anthony and I started it together and it was a dream-come-true really,” Circa Survive’s lead guitarist Colin Frangicetto told me over the phone from his tour bus in Stroudsburg, Pa. three days after the Paramount gig. “I always thought he had one of the coolest voices I’ve ever heard.”

The mass of reaching arms and outstretched hands evoked visions of a zombie herd a la The Walking Dead as Green stalked the front of the stage, gripping his mic with both hands out to the crowd and swaying like a rock-and-roll snake charmer.

One fan is successful in slipping around a bouncer and reaching Green just after being carried about the crowd like a rag doll—the kid’s grin sure to not come off any time soon.

Green’s super-sonic voice combined with Frangicetto’s on-point guitar work and the band’s thrashing rhythms making for a much bumpier ride than the mellow swells of Minus the Bear.

“The Long Island show was fantastic,” Frangicetto told me. “Super-high energy you know, just really—when you’re on stage at that place it’s just, there’s nothing b-market or half-assed about it, it’s just a real amazing rock and roll show at a venue that is gorgeous.”

The night, like any great rock show, was not with out incident, however.

Circa Survive stopped abruptly in the middle of their set, as bouncers swam toward a handful of fans in white tank tops. Others pointed to one man in particular, mouthing, “Him, it was him.” A short girl with bleach-blonde hair stood amid the fray, mascara running down her face as a man stood over her trying his best to ensure she was okay.

The scene caught the attention of Green, who began to try and mediate the situation from the stage. As he asked what happened and squinted to try and see into the crowd, the soggy-eyed girl faked a smile and flashed a thumbs-up. Her mouth formed silent words resembling, “It’s okay—just an accident.”

“Just an accident?” Green boomed through the PA. “Aw, it’s okay. You come to a rock show, you’re gonna get popped now and then.”

With that, the band started up where they left off. The crowd resumed their punk-rock acrobatics and three of the bouncers stood their ground in the sea of adolescent angst.

The joy and the love that filled The Paramount that evening was palpable. The smiles and shouts of celebration filled the room with light and joy that rivaled the volume of the music itself.

This is rock music at its finest. This is a Long Island rock show. This, truly, is a night to remember.

For more event and performance dates at The Paramount in Huntington, check out their schedule HERE.

Jackie ‘The Joke Man’ Martling Brings Laughs to Paramount

Jackie "The Joke Man" Martling
Jackie "The Joke Man" Martling comes to the Paramount
Jackie “The Joke Man” Martling

The next installment of The Paramount Comedy Series returns Sunday, Feb. 17 with Long Island’s own Jackie “The Joke Man” Martling leading the laughs and sharing the stage with “The Young Comedians,” four up-and-coming (and younger) jokesters: Joey Giarratano, Scott Schendlinger, Chris DiStefano and Harrison Greenbaum.

Huntington’s The Paramount has been hosting a bring-down-the-house comedy show every month since early 2011, blending local talent with international and celebrity comic acts. The list of past headliners includes such funnyman and women as Gary Gulman, Maria Walsh and Louie Anderson.

Martling, a Mineola native, fondly remembers downtown Huntington as the area where he got his start in comedy and subsequently helped kickstart comedy on Long Island.

“I recorded my first album a few doors away from [The Paramount],” he tells the Long Island Press. “I think that’s kind of interesting.”

Martling toured with his rock band Off Hour Rockers until 1979, when he decided to start telling his dirty jokes on stage. Two comedy records later, and in 1983 Martling sent a copy of his work to a then little-known radio DJ named Howard Stern.

“He loved them,” Martling recalls. “I went in on his program and then I went to the moon.”

These are just some of the revealing (and hysterical) details Martling shared recently with the Press during an interview that left this reporter in absolute stitches. Below are a few additional tidbits—for much more, check out the show Feb. 17. Trust us, you’ll be laughing all week long.

LONG ISLAND PRESS: What were the early days of Long Island Comedy like?

JACKIE: “After my band broke up I played shows on my own. I met a couple comedians and I invited them to come down to my gigs. I’m talking about Rob Bartlett, who’s on Imus now, Eddie Murphy, who of course you know who he is, and Bob Nelson. These guys would all come down [from New York City] because there was no place to get stage time and Richard M. Dixon had a place in the late ’70s but he wouldn’t pay us, so me and my buddy Richie had the idea to set up my microphone and my amplifier and speakers I used when I played gigs by myself.

“We started doing shows and bringing people out from the city. We had all the big ones, you know, Seinfeld and Carol Leifer and Dennis Wolfberg. They all came out because they’d make money. And we actually started comedy on Long Island in 1979 at Cinnamon. I started putting up shows everywhere. There isn’t a bar on Long Island where I didn’t have a comedy show. All the major people from New York were going around making five dollars a set, or a hamburger. They’d come out to Long Island and make 40 or 50 dollars. It was like they died and went to heaven. The audiences were great, and after a year Richie and his brother opened the East Side Comedy Club.”

LIP: What are the challenges for a comedian trying to work on Long Island?

JACKIE: “The thing is, you need hard bark on ya. That’s the important thing. It’s so funny because when your start out and when you start to get the least bit known, a lot of the same stuff happens. You get interviewed and people ask you the same questions and you get sick of saying ‘I don’t know,’ so you get to making an answer for everything. People always say, ‘Jackie I want to be a comedian, what should I do?’

“I got to where I had a stock thing that I said. I’d tell them, ‘Well don’t do it, give up, you don’t have a chance.’

“It was funny, because it wasn’t just about blowing people off; there was a real reason there. If telling someone you don’t have a chance is enough to stop you, you really haven’t got a chance. [Comedy] is such a tough thing to do and you’re going to hit so many obstacles that if me telling you that you haven’t got a chance is enough to stop you, you might as well give up.”

LIP: What was your first impression of Stern?

JACKIE: “He was very tall. [Stern and the cast] couldn’t have been nicer, they treated me so well, and they plugged the hell out of Governor’s Comedy Club and my joke phone line. At the time I was working in Levittown at Governor’s and all of a sudden here I am at 30 Rock looking at pictures of Carson and Donahue and I’m going up sitting there in the big time. They were funny and it was fun. I always got a good laugh, so it was a perfect wedding.”

LIP: Why radio?

JACKIE: “I had no intention of being a radio guy, that totally happened by accident. But I love it. It’s so immediate. You could write a movie and in a year or two, see your work come to fruition. You write a TV show in a couple of months, you get to see your work come to life. You’re a comedian and in a best-case scenario you can come up with something that morning and tell it on stage that night.

“I’d be sitting next to Howard and an idea comes to my head and I’d write it down and put it in front of him. Five seconds later he reads it and immediately 15 million people are laughing. It is so immediate and personal and in your face just knowing that you’re telling jokes on Jackie’s Joke Hunt and there’s a couple hundred thousand people listening, it’s just so fun.”

The Paramount’s Box Office is located at 370 New York Ave., Huntington, NY 11743; 631-673-7300. The Paramount Comedy Series Presents: Jackie “The Joke Man” Martling & the Young Comedians Sunday, Feb. 17 at 8 p.m.; Doors open at 7 p.m. For tickets, click here. The Feb. 17 date is a rescheduling from its original Saturday, Feb. 9 date, due to inclement weather. Refunds are available through point of purchase if unable to attend the rescheduled date. For questions, please contact The Paramount at 6310673-7300. 

Looking to Katrina for Perspective on Sandy Recovery Timeline

Superstorm Sandy and Long Island
This Oct. 30 aerial photo shows 126 burned-out homes in Breezy Point. (AP)
This Oct. 30 aerial photo shows 126 burned-out homes in Breezy Point. (AP)

[dropcap]W[/dropcap]ith tons of Sandy debris at Nickerson Beach shipped away, Long Island downtowns bustling again and conversations turned from hurricanes to holidays, it almost seems as if normalcy has returned two months after the superstorm.

But the side streets in the hardest-hit communities like Long Beach are still littered with debris. Stray sandbags used in futile attempts to stop the historic floodwaters continue to blot some sidewalks. Eerily darkened waterfront apartment buildings sit vacant.

Although most of the Island has cleaned up and dried off after the worst storm to hit the region since 1938, more questions than answers remain. Many are tedious, like queries listed in insurance paperwork and Federal Emergency Management Agency applications. Others are unanswerable.

“But, mommy, if we’re not home, how will Santa Claus know how to find me?” was one question Rev. Msgnr. Donald Beckmann of St. Ignatius Martyr church in Long Beach recalled hearing during Christmas Eve mass.

The hardest of all to answer may be this: how much longer will it take?

Local officials say it may be at least a year. Those still recovering from Katrina—the only hurricane to cost more than Sandy—and officials in other tropical cyclone-prone regions say a comeback could take even longer. Less certain is recovery from the incalculable emotional toll—or how many residents will permanently move off LI as a result.

In the days immediately following Sandy, Gov. Andrew Cuomo called getting hit with such devastating storms “the new normal” after tropical storms Lee and Irene caused comparatively catastrophic flooding upstate last year.

Amityville Mayor Peter Imbert is among those doubting the possibility of returning 100 percent to pre-Sandy conditions.

“Some homes just won’t be rebuilt,” he says of his village. “I think we can hope for a 99 percent recovery.”

Other local officials, like Long Beach City Manager Jack Schnirman, see the recovery as a chance to plan for future storms.

“We’re foolish if we look for 100 percent recovery,” he says. “We need to look for 200 percent recovery. If we build back exactly as things were before, we miss the opportunity to provide the protection and the security that our residents need and deserve.”

Nassau County Executive Ed Mangano, who’s requested nearly $1 billion to repair the troubled Bay Park Sewage Treatment Plant that failed during the storm, characterized the superstorm as a turning point.

“There are now two eras in the history of our county: pre-Hurricane Sandy and post-Hurricane Sandy,” he said in November.

Homes surrounded by floodwaters in the aftermath of Hurricanes Katrina and Rita Sunday, Sept. 25, 2005 in New Orleans.  (AP)
Homes surrounded by floodwaters in the aftermath of Hurricanes Katrina and Rita Sunday, Sept. 25, 2005 in New Orleans. (AP)


When Katrina, the costliest and fifth-deadliest hurricane in national history, breached the levees in New Orleans in 2005 and government response efforts collapsed, now-retired Gen. Russel Honoré was sent in to clean up the disaster.

“Nothing will ever be exactly like it was before,” Honoré says of the Sandy recovery, noting that the Crescent City’s population is about two thirds what is was before Katrina. “Regardless of what politicians have said, they will not make this whole again. It will never be the same. Never.”

LI will likely see a similar population drop as New Orleans, says Honoré, who has been called in to help with the Sandy recovery efforts. He attributes the decline after Katrina to increased insurance and property costs. Those working toward recovery shouldn’t be too hasty, he warns.

“There’s a term we used to use in the Army called, ‘rush to failure,’” says Honoré. “In disaster recovery, you can literally rush to failure and people never recover because they made decisions too quickly.”

Long after Katrina, New Orleans continues to work with FEMA on recovery efforts, according to Cedric Grant, the city’s deputy mayor. City officials are now planning to service their subsurface water lines and finally make permanent repairs to roads that were torn apart by Katrina.

“This is just stuff that has taken that much time to get to,” Grant says. He expects all of the work to continue well into 2018—13 years after the catastrophic hurricane.

It’s unlikely that LI will be dealing with Sandy through 2025. But, even if New Orleans is more vulnerable since it’s below sea level, Grant says that the best advice he can give to municipal leaders in areas affected by Sandy, is to practice patience.

“[Recovery] is a long process,” says Grant. “I’m hoping that everyone in the country learns from us…it just takes time.”

In North Carolina’s vulnerable barrier islands—the Outer Banks—officials say they only recently recovered from the damage left by Hurricane Isabel in 2003.

“We were still working on [reconstruction] after Isabel as late as 2010,” says Jessica Phillips of the Emergency Management Agency in Dare County, which includes Hatteras Island, the state’s easternmost tip. “The last problems we had to deal with were mostly mitigation projects, raising houses up out of the flood zones.”

In Florida, home to the National Hurricane Center and the country’s most hurricane strikes, some officials say it’s the mental impact, not the structural damage that lasts the longest. Hurricanes can shake residents’ faith in the area as a safe place to live, causing some to move away for good.

“I think the psychological effects last a long time afterwards,” says West Palm Beach City Administrator Ed Mitchell.

After the back-to-back hurricanes of Frances and Jeanne in 2004, he recalls, some West Palm Beach residents packed up and simply said, “We’re not living through another hurricane season, this was bad enough.”

The damage of those storms doesn’t compare to Sandy’s devastation, but the vacuum left by residents who fled can still be felt today, he says.

The remnants of the west end of the Long Beach boardwalk in December. (Joe Abate).
The remnants of the west end of the Long Beach boardwalk in December. (Joe Abate).


The hits LI took from Sandy likewise may be felt in more than just the destroyed homes and ruined beaches.

Carole Shepherd, a therapist practicing traumatology with an office in Long Beach, is among those trying to heal the invisible wounds residents suffered when they lost their homes, possessions, or both.

“I specifically have created group programs for this particular disaster because the need is so great,” says Shepherd. “Most importantly, the groups help to build community. A lot of people have different resources and information that other people could use, that’s happening all over already so this group is a way of consolidating that.”

Shepherd says that trauma therapy has helped her patients put the past behind them and start to create a new present and future for themselves.

“It’s inevitable that things are going to happen, the only question is, how are we going to deal with them?” says Shepherd.

Predicting a timeline for recovery is hard to do.

“There is no way to put a time frame on it,” says Gordon Tepper, a Long Beach city spokesman. “There is a lot of work left to be done. We’ve worked around the clock and will continue to work around the clock and rebuild stronger, smarter and safer. We want to get the beach and the boardwalk up and running as soon as possible.”

One thing is clear: it’s going to be very expensive.

“Money is the fuel of the engine of recovery, says Schnirman, city manager of Long Beach. “Whether it be rebuilding the boardwalk or the beach; repairing and improving our water plant and our sewer plant to protect our residents and guarding against future storms, all of that takes money.”

More than 100,000 people have registered for individual FEMA assistance in Nassau and Suffolk counties, totaling about $316 million in individual assistance. Long Beach has already received $24.3 million to help fuel their recovery, although a $9 billion request for all of LI’s municipalities was pending in Congress as of press time.

“I would expect we are going to be reimbursed,” says Steve Bellone, Suffolk County executive, “but of course that’s going to be a concern because it’s a major hit in your budget in a time where we are already facing great fiscal challenges.”

Village officials across LI were also facing the same cash crunch before the storm blew an even bigger hole in their checkbook.

“If we didn’t receive FEMA money, we would be in big trouble,” says Imbert, Amityville’s mayor. “Spending that kind of money could cripple our budget.”

Rev. Beckmann of St. Ignatius recalled that although the recovery process is still underway and uncertainties abound, there’s still plenty to be thankful for.

“I can’t count how many have said to me, after talking about all of the things that you’ve lost…but those are just things,” he says. “We have our lives. We have one another…and in light of that, the other things really aren’t important.”

—With additional reporting by Rashed Mian, Timothy Bolger and Lindsay Christ