A fond farewell this evening to Alan Bermowitz aka Alan Vega, the voice of NYC duo Suicide who shuffled off this mortal coil Saturday at the age of 78. Vega, along with partner Martin Rev, Suicide’s 1977 self-titled album for Marty Thau’s Red Star label (recently reissued by Superior Viaduct) casts a shadow taller than the Empire State Building over what would come to be known as punk or electronica or whatever. Accounts of Suicide’s early performances at downtown venues like the Mercer Arts Center and Max’s Kansas City make modern notions of “confrontational” rock gigs seem downright quaint by comparison, and even as late as their first European tour in 1978, audiences impatiently waiting for Elvis Costello or The Clash to take the stage reacted with physical violence.
To say the rest of the contemporary music world is struggling to catch up with Vega and Rev would be an exaggeration. But only a very slight one.