There’s an old saying that goes, “tell me who your friends are, and I’ll tell you who you are.” New York’s glam rockers, D Generation, never quite reached the level of platinum albums and commercial success like some of their contemporaries. They didn’t become household names like Green Day or The Offspring, even though they were often asked to tour alongside these acts. When longtime bassist for D Generation, Howie Pyro passed away, the number and magnitude of star-studded friends who came out to help pay tribute showed just who he was.
The night began with D Generation lead singer and co-founder, Jesse Malin. All the credit in the world goes out to Malin, who organized the night’s entire event, lining up dozens of performers, and he himself performed throughout the evening.
He started out with a solo acoustic cover of The Clash’s “Stay Free.” The night’s host, Jimmy Marino, then brought up D Generation guitarist Richard Bacchus, who did an accosting rendition of the D Gen song “Waiting for the Next Big Parade.”
Next up, the house band, who would go on to play a whopping total of 30 songs as various artists sang with them. Guitarist Derek Cruz had to adapt to several different genres of music and killed each one, backed up by James Cruz on bass who would later nail Matt Freeman’s solos covering Rancid. They were rounded out by Dash Hutton on drums, who kept a solid backbeat all night, and Rob Clores on keys, adding that signature glam rock sound to D Generation songs.
The first singer to join the house band was Holly Ramos of Oso my Brain to do a beautiful rendition of Johnny Thunders’ (New York Dolls) “You Can’t Put Your Arms Around a Memory.”
Next up was The Mighty Manfred from The Woggles who did an animated performance of Paul Flagg’s “Papa-Mama-Romper-Stomper” that was reminiscent of watching David Byrne. Dez Cadena of Black Flag joined the band on guitar and Joe Sib (Wax, 22 Jacks) took to the stage and annihilated the crowd with a performance of the Black Flag classic “Nervous Breakdown” in truly one of my favorite performances all night. Cadena then led the band on Black Flag’s “Jealous Again.”
Jimmy G of the legendary New York hardcore band Murphy’s Law sang the Rezillos’ “Somebody’s Gonna Get Their Head Kicked in Tonight,” and even jumped into the crowd to sing from the audience. Eugene Hutz of the band Gogol Bordello dominated the night by ripping through a pair of Stooges songs including “Down on the Street.”
After a short intermission, the house band was joined by Jesse Malin again. Malin mentioned that he had visited Howie Pyro’s grave, where he is buried (thanks to Linda Ramone, wife of the late great, Johnny Ramone) at the Hollywood Forever Cemetery. Malin played a couple of his solo works, including “Prisoners of Paradise” and “In the Modern World.” He then ended his set with a cover of Bad Brains’ “The Big Takeover” that brought the house down.
Maybe the highlight of the night for me was getting to witness Wayne Kramer of the MC5 perform live. Decked out in a red, white, and blue guitar, he was joined by Eugene for the classic “Kick Out the Jams.”
As a yin to Kramer’s yang, Kid Congo Powers of the fabulous Cramps came out in a brown, camelhair coat and fedora, dressed to the nines. Powers talked about “my friend Howie of 45 years, since we were 17.” He played Pyro’s favorite Cramps song, “Goo Goo Muck.”
He was followed by Suzi Gardner of LA’s own, L7. Dressed in a black trench coat and black sunglasses, she played guitar and sang the L7 hits, “Shove” and “Andre.”
It was time for the night’s headliner, Tim Armstrong, co-lead singer and co-lead guitarist of Rancid. Cheers and camera flashes immediately greeted Armstrong who spoke about the time Pyro had told him about his first religious experience: getting to see the Ramones live as a teenager.
In tribute, Armstrong led the band in a rendition of the Ramones’ “Carbona Not Glue.” He then launched into “I Turned Into a Martian” by the Misfits and “Sonic Reducer” by the Dead Boys.
Armstrong then told a story about how Pyro and he were hanging out in New York as the older punk told him a story about hanging out with “Sid.” Armstrong found out he was talking about Sid Vicious of the Sex Pistols, to which he decided to write a song about those days with Pyro. The band then played that very song, “1998” off of Rancid’s “Life Won’t Wait.” He closed his set with the two Rancid classics, “Olympia, WA” and the radio-friendly hit, “Ruby Soho.”
Next up were fellow Los Angeles legends, The Dickies. The only band to have a full band and play more than just a handful of songs, they opened with their cover of the Moody Blues’ “Nights in White Satin.” They played their latest single, “A Gary Glitter Getaway,” and finished with “Manny, Moe, and Jack,” and “Gigantor.”
After a short intermission, the house band returned to the stage for their last songs of the night. Kevin Preston (of the band Prima Donna and touring guitarist for Green Day) graced the stage in a sport coat and black shades. Behind the scenes I discovered he took a red eye flight just to make the show, having played with Green Day not 24 hours before in Delaware. Preston showed no signs of jet lag, however, as he led the crowd in a cover of the D Generation song, “Capital Offender,” in one of the night’s highlights.
The night ended with Malin on lead vocals, Jimmy G and Hutz returning on backing vocals, and Tim Armstrong on guitar for the D Generation cover of the Reagan Youth anthem, “Degenerated.” It was an amazing night of music to remember an even more amazing man.