Monday, January 24, 2011

Rare Footage: The Reactors Last Show At Max's Kansas City In 1980

Two videos containing extremely rare footage from short-lived punk band The Reactors' final show at Max's Kansas City in 1980 has appeared on YouTube, uploaded by the band's founder, Shepherd Ginzburg. After touching base online, NYC The Blog reached Ginzburg—seen here in The Reactors - Exploration on the Cheap, a 1981 documentary about this last show—on the telephone at his home in Ventura, California, to hear more about the band and video.

Songs played in video above include, in order, "I Want Sex," "Julian Stole a Supercar," "Never in the Race" and "Die Walking." Heard in the second video are "The Disposed," "No Excuse" and "I'm a Reactor."

The Reactors were formed at the University of Bridgeport in Connecticut in 1978 with Ginzburg (son of the late Ralph Ginzburg), Bob Payes on Bass, Jason Levitt on drums and Keith Reimer on guitar. At the time of their final show at Max's two years later, the band consisted of Ginzburg, Marc Casey, Bob Payes and Mickey Crash. They were one of three bands that played that night and Ginzburg recalled there were about 75 people in the audience. "Did anything notable happen, did anyone throw a bottle at you on stage?" I asked. "No, no. Not that night," he responded.

Having only released one single to share with bookers at the clubs and never meant for sale, the band's music lives on regardless. Re-issue labels like Killed by Death records and Italy's Rave-Up stoke interest through unsanctioned releases which get sold and re-sold. Rare demo tapes pop up online. "This past year, Almost Ready Records in Brooklyn re-released our original single and will be releasing another LP," Ginzburg told NYC The Blog. "If I can find enough old recordings to fill it."

"Bootlegger's made us big," he explained, almost perplexed at the interest in his band's music from punk music aficionados. He once received an email from an Iranian kid in Germany who told him: "You're my favorite band of all time!" At the time, Ginzburg was barely aware their music was even available.

After putting the band together in Bridgeport, they practiced a few times and played their very first gig warming up for Epitome, a local Bridgeport punk band. Ginzburg wrote in an email: "Our second gig was at Ron’s Place (the center of New Haven, CT’s punk scene)...Our audience was primarily female, unusual for punk bands. As a result the other bands in the area were jealous." So jealous in fact, that the booker at Ron's stopped booking the band on the weekends, according to Ginzburg. The band stopped playing in New Haven and started booking gigs in New York City.
Video still from the documentary: "The Reactors - Exploration on the Cheap"
Talk turned to the documentary, The Reactors - Exploration on the Cheap. Via text message, I commented to Shepherd about the girls in the video. "Most of them were my girlfriends," he texted back. "I am kinda like Charlie Sheen in Two and a Half Men."

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