When singer-guitarist Richard Lloyd, drummer Billy Ficca and singer-guitarist Tom Verlaine played together in the ’70s in the NYC proto-punk act Television, there was reportedly an unusual amount of tension in the group that led to its early demise. While the band has subsequently reunited for the occasional tour, those reunions have been few and far between. Some of that inner turmoil was on display last night at the Grog Shop as Lloyd played a headlining show as part of a trio that included Ficca.
Shortly before taking the stage, Lloyd and Ficca started shouting, appeared to shove each other and then threw their respective drinks at one another. Lloyd walked up to the microphone and pleaded Ficca to still play despite the fight. “You quitting or playing? I want you play. I love you like a brother,” he told Ficca. “Yeah, like Cain loved Abel,” responded Ficca. After a short stand-off, Ficca finally acquiesced, and the band opened with the Lloyd tune “I Thought,” an anxiety-ridden song that bristled a little more than usual. At the song’s conclusion, Lloyd muttered, “I’m so tired of the crap I have to put up with."
Even after delivering spot-on renditions of the Television tracks “Friction” and “Elevation,” Lloyd was still simmering. “I take all the blame,” he said while tuning in front of his amp with his back to his audience. The show was so sparsely attended, however, that even when Lloyd didn’t speak into the microphone, you could still hear what he was saying. He sounded like someone with Tourette Syndrome as he muttered random things about Gamma Rays and DNA tests. Before playing the tune “Monkey,” he said, “monkey see, but monkey don’t do,” alluding to the fact that he wasn’t happy with the performance of his band mates.
Despite the tension, Lloyd and co. got it together for an impromptu rendition of the Jimi Hendrix track “Are You Experienced?” that really smoked. Lloyd is still a tremendous guitar player who clearly hasn’t lost his touch, but whether he’s still in touch with reality is another issue altogether.