City Slang: Sylvain Sylvain and Glen Matlock rock Small’s

March 17, 2014


It seemed astounding to us that this show, originally scheduled to take place at the Magic Bag in Ferndale, was in danger of being cancelled due to poor ticket sales. Thankfully, the good people at Small’s swooped in and saved the show at the last minute, but it’s still odd just how few people came out for a gig featuring key members of two of the most iconic punk rock bands. Plus, Sylvain is one of the most charming men in rock.


It’s especially odd considering the fact that Brian McCarty and Rick Rat of local heroes the Trash Brats opened up the show with an acoustic set fittingly dedicated to Scott Asheton. A closing cover of the Jim Carroll Band’s “People Who Died” spoke volumes, and they also slotted in a cover of a Cranford Nix tune, another fallen local hero. Of course, the duo played a lot of Brats oldies too, and they sounded great all night, at their best when McCarty took the lead vocals and Rat added the harmonies and “ooo’s.”


Syl Sylvain had been playing solo shows like this for years, way before the New York Dolls reunion, and so he’s particularly comfortable standing along on a bar stage in front of a few loyal fans and a few local barflys. “I get to celebrate the tunes that I love from the New York Dolls. I tell them some cool stories, and it’s really like a sing-along,” he told us, and that’s exactly what happens. Syl told the tale of how the Dolls got their name, and how they came to cover the Bo Diddley song “Pills.” He played Johnny Thunders’ “Can’t Put Your Arms Around a Memory,” and Dolls classics like “Trash” and “Jet Boy.” He smiled like a child throughout, interacting with the enthusiastic few at the front, and he left the stage still playing and singing. Syl is a ham, and we love him.


Glen Matlock is a man who doesn’t ever really get the respect he deserves. Despite what Rotten says, popular opinion is that Matlock at least co-authored 10 of the 12 songs on Never Mind the Bollocks, and he was certainly a better bass player than Vicious ever was. On Sunday night, Matlock played a mixture of his new material (not at all bad), Sex Pistols classics (like “God Save the Queen”) and tunes from some of his other bands, like the Rich Kids. His voice sounds better as he gets older, like a rowdier Paul Weller, and he’s an underrated guitarist.

The show ended with Sylvain joining Matlock for a final jam, two old Sex Dolls still kicking ass.

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    I wish the show had remained at Magic Bag…I would have attended. Sylvain is a top notch entertainer and I feel bad to hear there was a light turnout for two legendary punk rockers.