Tom Verlaine Stops Bitching Long Enough to Satisfy Summerstage Fans

Tom Verlaine, looking less fierce than this post might suggest. Photo: Lindsey Thomas

A recent message on Richard Lloyd’s Website announced that Television’s Saturday-afternoon Central Park show would be his last, if in fact he played it at all. And he didn’t: The guitarist had been hospitalized with pneumonia. But the band’s lead singer had more important things to worry (read complain) about.

“An $8 million surplus and they give us this crap system. The city of New York!” muttered Tom Verlaine about the sound, and by way of greeting the rapt Summerstage crowd. (The sound quality seemed fine from our side of the stage.) Verlaine later complained about not being able to hear himself in the monitors, but we had to wonder, When a singer is known for his lack of tonal accuracy, does it really matter?

Despite Verlaine's rumblings, fans disappointed by Lloyd’s absence nevertheless got their fill of tangled guitar work, including a lengthy jam that migrated from abrasive riffs to a rather David Lynchian southwestern groove — a strange change of pace after mismatched openers the Apples in Stereo displayed their mastery of the three-minute pop song. But it was a fifteen-minute rendition of “Marquee Moon” that ended the evening and earned the loudest cheers from the crowd.

It also prompted a few middle-aged ladies in the press section to dance on chairs until a security guard busted them. In response, one of them pantomimed chucking her chair into the audience. So punk rock. —Lindsey Thomas