Purim Punk Performances, Pre-Pandemic

The pandemic has curtailed Purim celebrations this year, so I’m taking this opportunity to remember the five Jewish punk artists I saw at three different Purim shows in Downtown Manhattan during the 2010s!

2010: CAN!!CAN, the Shondes, and Steve “Gangsta Rabbi” Lieberman

The Shondes headlined a Punk Purim show organized by JDub Records, a nonprofit Jewish record label that was a big deal at the time. One second into this video for “Will You Still Love Me Tomorrow,” I can be seen wearing my Swedish Chef costume in the front row. Drummer Temim Fruchter almost dressed up as Animal from the Muppets, and toward the beginning of this video for “Gather Up Your Prayers,” she asks, “In honor of the Swedish Chef, are there any other Muppets here tonight?”

After staying in my apartment the night before (read the exciting story in Punk Rock Hora), CAN!!CAN had an engaging stage show and the heaviest performance of the night. Front man Patrick Aleph sang, jumped, danced, convulsed, and stuffed a microphone in his mouth. Several years before he got ordained as a rabbi, Patrick gave a brash, unconventional one-man shpiel, which you can view below.

Steve “Gangsta Rabbi” Lieberman had recently signed with JDub and was about to release the album Diktator 17 on the label in April. He focused on material from that album, including “Obama Rama Yeah” and “The Diktator.”

2012: The Groggers

The Groggers played “A Very Groggers Purim!,” which was fitting considering that their name is based on the Purim noisemakers. “We’re making noise. We’re loud and obnoxious,” explained singer L.E. Doug Staiman in an interview the following year.

The Facebook event page promised “one epic, drunken night of Music and Mayhem.” The band had just released the controversial video for “Jewcan Sam (A Nose Job Love Song)” in February, but it hadn’t been covered by ABC News and The Doctors yet. The Groggers put on a high-energy show featuring originals and fun covers. I was up front rocking out. When they played “Eishes Chayil,” the actress from the video joined them onstage. The next day I emailed a friend, “I’ve never believed in Jewish punk so much! These guys are going places!”

2019: Golem

Wearing Purim costumes, Golem started off playing amidst the audience. A few days before Purim and the night before St. Patrick’s Day, singer/accordionist Annette Ezekiel Kogan said, “Both holidays, I believe, it’s a mitzvah to get drunk.”

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Before Golem played their hora medley, their other singer, Aaron Diskin, quipped that there was limited space available, so people should go online to see a map of areas appropriate for dancing the hora. The lack of space didn’t stop the crowd. A rambunctious hora broke out from the start of the song, with dozens of people joining hands and moving around with frenzy and jubilation. We weren’t arranged in a circle or even an oval, and different segments of the group crossed paths and sometimes ducked under other people’s arms. Except for the horas at my first Golem show, their fake wedding, and my wedding, this might have been my favorite Golem hora.

Past Purim Posts

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