This past Saturday, July 31st, famed downtown bar and venue, Rudy's, closed its Elm Street location forever with a blowout punk and metal show featuring The Black Noise Scam, The Boardlords and Nasty Disaster.
Part of the massive crowd in attendance for Rudy's last night of operation at its Elm Street location. The bar/venue will be re-opening on Chapel Street by October. Photo by Bob Rock.
It was clear upon arrival at the bar, which had been located at 372 Elm Street since 1934, that this was not going to be just another of its regular Saturday night shows. At 9:30pm the crowd had already filled the sidewalk patio and the main bar area, an occurrence that usually does not happen until much later in the night. And aside from the crowds and beer signs in the windows, Rudy's itself had already begun its physical transformation from favored townie/Yale bar to...something else. Gone were the multitude of framed photographs that filled every possible inch of the walls as well as pretty much every other piece of decor, save the black tile ceiling, that were Rudy's signature. Even the bar's wood paneling, carved up by the bars' many patron of the years, was gone. In the main room this removal revealed a hidden painting (which looked like something straight out of the artwork for Mellon Collie and the Infinite Sadness) while elsewhere all that was left was bare sheet rock (which had already been subject to extensive graffiti, a trend that continued most of the night). Outside of the stage area, the band room was the most transformed, its usual set up of tables and chairs removed in favor of a wide-open, standing-room-only space (a setup that would have worked well at past shows too). All in all, the venue looked a shell of its former self.
Nasty Disaster at Rudy's last show. Photo by Jamie Arabolos.
As 10pm closed in, the band room quickly filled in anticipation of Nasty Disaster, a New Haven metal band I heard a lot about but had never gotten the chance to see. From the beginning of their set, it was obvious that these guys did not take themselves seriously (I mean with a name like Nasty Disaster, who could?). 6 foot plus singer 'Herman VonRuhl' was dressed in a stringy blond wig and enough metal spikes to accidentally stab himself to death if he wasn't careful. Most prominently displayed though was his shirt which read 'Death to False Metal,' an ideology that seemed central to the band's schtick. The remainder of the quintet was decked out in array of cliche metal fatigues (leather, viking hat) that, coupled with their imposing physical presence, lent itself well to the over-the-top subject matter of their songs (this aspect of the band in particular reminded me of another local metal band, Garbage Barge, who couple metal with off-the-wall lyrics and stage costume). How over the top you ask? Well, I'm pretty sure that every song the band performed made a least some lyrical reference to 'metal' (a suspicion that I later confirmed after visiting the band's website). Two of the more memorable tunes, 'Sluts of Metal' and 'Play Some Fuckin' Metal,' contained the choruses "Sluts of metal (sluts!), whores of rock 'n roll (whores!), sluts of metal (sluts!), come ride my iron pole (pole!)" and "play some fuckin' metal, play it really loud, play some fuckin' metal, rock you to the ground," respectfully. Yeah, you get the idea. While a vast majority of the crowd were really into the band (fist pumping! stage diving!), others were less than enthused by the band's vulgarity and/or lack of seriousness, heading for the outside patio instead. Regardless of what everyone thought of the band, their energy (and the crowd's response) started off the evening well.
The Boardlords at Rudy's last show. Photo by Jamie Arabolos.
After a brief interlude, New York-based punk quintet The Boardlords took the stage. By this point the band room crowd had dwindled slightly although this worked in the band's favor as a member of the crowd (and later the Boardlords' singer) had room to skateboard inside(!) Rudy's during the band's set (surely something I never thought I would see). The band itself was tight and possessed a better command of their instruments than most punk bands I've seen lately. What the band lacked in stage presence (at least in comparison to the other bands on the bill), they made up for in sheer musical attack. The rhythm section in particular was locked in throughout most of the set and really made the band's songs come to life. The band's twin guitar attack also helped give the band a heft that helped their live sound immensely. After a Suicidal Tendencies cover and a slew of originals, the band exited the stage amid the shards of a broken skateboard and the prominent smell of Sharpie markers, setting the stage for the final band of the night, the Black Noise Scam.
The Black Noise Scam at Rudy's last show. Photo by Bob Rock.
By the time New Haven's the Black Noise Scam took the stage sometime after midnight, the crowd size at Rudy's was at critical mass. The band room in particular was the most crowded of the night, even eclipsing the attendance for Nasty Disaster. Seizing the opportunity, the quartet wasted no time in launching into their high-energy brand of hardcore punk (I mean, what other kind is there?). Singer Jeffrey Thunders in particular, with his seemingly endless amount of energy and stage presence, whipped the crowd into a fury. It seemed to me that, throughout the night, everyone had been waiting for the opportunity to let loose, and that the Black Noise Scam finally gave them that chance. One after another, the band air-punched their way through a series of blistering originals including one appropriately titled 'Never Again.' A full-on mosh developed at varying points throughout the band's set, the crowd ebbing and flowing along to the band, and the band seemingly doing the same. The energy inside began to spill outside onto the patio as multiple drinks were thrown against the windows behind the stage (this after much chiding from Thunders for people to come inside). Following a Black Flag cover and more originals, the band ended their set in a mangle of drums and wires barreled over by drummer Chris Taylor. In that moment, Rudy's last show came to a crashing end.
Rudy's aftermath. Photo by Jamie Arabolos.
As the night wore on, the reality of Rudy's pending closure and move to Chapel Street became increasingly clear on the faces of the people sticking it out to last call. Some seemed dazed, either from excess of alcohol or emotion or moshing while others let their tears flow freely, in a remembrance of a place and time never to be repeated again. Still more remained defiant, all the way until that final shout of last call, all the way until being forced out onto the sidewalk, all the way until being forced off of the sidewalk by NHPD, and ultimately all the way into being forced away from a place, and now a memory, held close by so many.