FMH & The Bowery Present
with Yella Belly
Friday, May 3rd
Doors: 7:00 PM
Tickets: ADV $30 • DOS $35
** All Ticket Sales Are Final **
The early 1980s weren’t the best of times to be an aspiring guitar player. Twenty years earlier, the head of Decca records, Dick Rowe, had made the biggest A&R gaff in pop history with the legendary clanger "Guitar groups are on their way out, Mr Epstein". But in 1982, Rowe’s apocalyptic prophecy suddenly sounded frighteningly real. After the initial roar and storm of punk, British pop music had succumbed to a synthesizer-driven pursuit of new waves and new romanticisms. In an age of Vienna’s, Tainted Love’s and Too Shy’s, the pure sound of six-stringed, melodic pop - be it as amorous as The Beatles, as lascivious as The Stones or as giddy as T.Rex - was fast becoming a lost cause with few willing to fight its corner.
That all changed with Johnny Marr.
Born in Manchester on Halloween 1963, of Irish heritage, Marr’s earliest musical memories are the get-togethers of his extended family, perhaps - as his early guitar idol Marc Bolan would sing - dancing himself out of the womb to the traditional strains of Black Velvet Band. As a child he’d be spellbound by his parents’ record collection: the forlorn dramas of Del Shannon, the prison doldrums of Johnny Cash and the heart-popping bliss of his mother’s Four Tops singles. All these influences would linger at the back of the boy Marr’s brain, waiting for the command to attack his finger tips at a later date.
That date finally came during the early summer of 1982 when Marr, just 18 years-old, formed The Smiths after seeking out the reclusive and elusive Stretford poet, Morrissey. Musically, the sound of The Smiths was a guitar noise nostalgically familiar yet equally dumbfounding in its pristine newness. The tunes were giant, euphoric and instantaneous but woven together with such nimble flair it appeared as if the guitar was playing Marr instead of the other way round. Lost for words, early critics of the day undersold him with the words "jingle" and "jangle" when, had they tried, they might better have described the sound of Johnny Marr as that of Van Gogh’s Starry Night in angry animation. Or the echo of diamonds raining down upon zinc-plated cobblestones. Or the sound of kitchen cutlery bouncing off a gaffer-taped Telecaster (which, ridiculous as it sounds, is how Marr achieved some of the resonant clangs in This Charming Man.)
Yella Belly is William Thompson, Connor Jones, and Jake Hiebert. After wandering in the New York City music scene, the trio found themselves writing together in 2019 by way of their previous projects Elliot & The Ghost and Toma. The group brings together their rock roots and lust for infectious riffs both live and in the recording studio. Equal parts Texas grit and New York energy, Yella Belly is a feeling set to a rebellious holler, a firecracker spark in a world on fire, a bunch of soft boys making music for a hard world.