Valente and Dan Neet are standing in a firearms warehouse
surrounded by guns—lots and lots of guns. (They asked to
do the interview here, as Valente works for a gun shop on
Central Avenue, and they thought the back warehouse would
make a good location for the photo.) This weekend, Neet
and Valente (of local bands the Clay People and Brick by
Brick, respectively) will be in Northern Lights surrounded
by even more guns. But in that case they will be tattoo
guns, not the array of empty handguns and Uzis they currently
have at their disposal. The two musicians have organized
a two-day extravaganza of a tattoo festival featuring 15
local tattoo artists, and a number of local record labels,
as well as around 20 local bands including the Clay People,
Disciples of Berkowitz, Dead Rabbits, the Erotics and Dead-Lift.
And just to make sure no one feels the need to leave the
venue, the duo have secured the catering services of Bombers
Burrito Bar and Cheesecake Ma chismo. As you can tell, they
are not just fooling around. Except that, well, maybe they
According to Valente, the idea for the show came together
by thinking about what would constitute a good time for
him and his friends. “Dan and I thought about what we would
go see,” Valente says. “What would get my ass off the couch
and out. Well, I get tattooed. I play in a band, and this
area probably has the best local talent in the tri-state
area, so let’s do it here first and see what happens.”
talked to Mike two months before he called me about the
expo,” says Neet. “I was kicking around the idea of how
we can put attention back on the local-music scene. It felt
like it was kinda dragging its ass, for lack of a better
term. I said to Mike, ‘Let’s put together a big show. We’ll
put 12 bands on it, all local, and market it and get some
attention on some of the local acts so people know what’s
going on here again.’ And that’s the worst thing: People
don’t know what is going on locally.”
With Valente planning a tattoo expo and Neet a local-music
fest, Neet says it was only logical to combine the two ideas.
would I call a success?” asks Valente. “If everyone has
a good time, checks out some local tattoo artists, hears
a band they might not have heard. If people leave saying,
‘Man, I had an awesome time.’ ”
just gonna be a gigantic party,” adds Neet.
Valente says he will spend as much of the two days as he
can getting tattoos from each tattoo artist in the building.
The rest of the time, Valente says, he may have to spend
putting out fires. As he admits, the festival will be a
learning experience. “We will have our friends there and
they can understand why I made this mistake or that mistake
and they can say, try this.”
Neet says he and Valente are putting all they can into the
expo: “Not only are we giving out prizes for best of show,
but we are giving a prize to the artist as long as the artist
is at the expo. I mean, we are giving out a trophy. . .
. How do I put this? It’s an accomplishment. . . . I mean,
it’s only from Mike and myself, but still, we’re like, hey!
It’s us handing out the award but still it’s an award in
Valente insists that the festival is for anyone, not just
die-hard tattoo heads. “What better crowd of people
for a tattoo fest than metal heads and hardcore kids!” he
exclaims. Neet interjects, “Punk rock, metal, hard
might not go to a NAMJAM,” continues Valente, “so why not
give them something in their own scene?”
Furthermore, he says that tattoos are far more appealing
to the mainstream than some would like to think they are.
“Tattoos are everywhere,” he says. Neet nods his head. Valente
continues, chuckling: “Even respectable people like Dan
Neet have tattoos.”
The Rat-a-Tat Tattoo Festival will take place Saturday (Dec.
16) and Sunday (Dec. 17) at Northern Lights (1208 Route
146, Clifton Park), beginning at noon each day. Tickets
are $12. For more information, call 371-0012.
of Our Fathers
the last week or so, considerable critical and award-season
buzz has attached itself to this year’s other Clint
Eastwood World War II movie, Letters From Iwo Jima.
(Among today’s directors, only Eastwood could shoot an entire
film—in Japanese, no less—while editing another.) While
we eagerly await Clint’s take on the Japanese side of the
battle, we don’t want people to miss this chance to see
Flags of Our Fathers on Proctor’s big screen.
we can’t say we’re surprised that moviegoers passed on this
bloody, complex epic—with the Iraq war spiraling out of
control through the fall, an ambiguous look at the human
and financial costs of war didn’t stand much of a chance
next to Irish gangsters and dancing penguins—we implore
you to give Flags of Our Fathers a chance. Flags
tells the story of how the iconic photograph of four soldiers
raising the American flag on the Japanese island of Iwo
Jima affected the men in the picture and helped change the
course of the war. Eastwood delves into multiple levels
of drama, from survivor guilt to the senseless terror of
battle to the cold realities of paying for war. It’s a bravura
Also notable are the performances of Ryan Phillippe (pictured)
and Adam Beach as two of the flag-raisers. Hopefully, they
won’t be neglected come award season, either.
of Our Fathers will be screened Tuesday (Dec. 19) at
7:30 PM; Wednesday (Dec. 20) at 4:30 and 7:30 PM; and Dec.
21 at 1:30, 4:30 and 7:30 PM at Proctor’s Theatre (432 State
St., Schenectady). Tickets are $3. For more info, call 346-6204.