The gesture was characteristic of power pop's history of missed opportunities, unfortunate circumstances, and generally shitty luck. The scene, built on sugary melodies and electrifying riffs, blossomed in the early '70s but was bullied out of existence soon thereafter by punk. In their day, bands such as the Speedies, the Go, and Milk 'n' Cookies sold out shows at CB's and Max's and signed major deals, only to watch their heart-on-sleeve sentiments get pissed on by punk's more rousing needle-in-arm aesthetic. A few short years later, it was over. "We just got lost in the sauce," shrugs Justin Strauss, singer for NYC power-pop legends Milk 'n' Cookies, whose 1976 debut album rotted on Island Records' shelves for two years before the label released it just as the band dried up.
The idea of a festival (really, a record-collector rally) celebrating bands that could've been contenders sounds about as much fun as a lecture series from Other Music employees on how you don't appreciate Hot Chip enough. That wasn't the case with Radio Heartbeat. The classic bands, many of which hadn't performed in 30 years, talked less about finally getting their due and more about being happy that someone wants to hear them again. "After 25 years, I finally feel like I fit in," Sir David James Minehan, frontman for the Neighborhoods, told the crowd on Friday night during a wild and frantic set. Many of the old bands, especially Milk 'n' Cookies and the Go, gave killer performances that left super-fans smugly grinning at those of us who didn't own the out-of-print singles.
They should have asked us first. We could have helped.
Plus, don't miss the NYC Pop Fest in May! (kudos to our regular reader Preznit Give Me Turkee, one of the organizers)