I’ve seen a lot of strange things in my short 38 years on this earth, but the oddest has to be the time I saw Electric Frankenstein play the men’s section of Bloomingdale’s at the Willowbrook Mall in Wayne, NJ.
It was December 21, 2013 and I was about to start my winter break when I a notification came over Facebook from Electric Frankenstein’s ringleader Sal Canzonieri. He revealed that the band had struck a deal with Bloomingdale’s to do a pilot shirt sale and he wanted as big of a crowd as possible to show up to the mall and check them out. Electric Frankenstein shirts would be available at the Wayne Bloomingdale’s and if enough shirts were sold at that store, the band’s visage would be made available at more and bigger Bloomingdale’s locations. To drum up publicity, the band was going to play a Sunday matinee at the Willowbrook Mall location. I was not going to miss this for the world.
We arrived a half hour early, completely unaware of what type of turnout to expect. Electric Frankenstein is well regarded among smart NJ punks, but the band never really achieved huge mainstream success. The band set up their equipment on the edge of the men’s shop, right before it flows into women’s purses and watches. The scene was surreal.
A few minutes before showtime, a decent ensemble of fans emerged ready to root for their Jersey heroes. Electric Frankenstein, not caring about their surroundings, kicked into high gear for a half hour of high-octane rock and roll to the joy of everyone around them. You should have seen the looks on the faces of the random people that were at Bloomingdale’s to shop and stumbled upon the performance by accident. Just picture the housewives of Wayne pushing fancy strollers with disgusted looks on their faces and their husbands who were stoked to break away from shopping to see something new.
The set was short and fierce and the band was clearly in on the joke. If this was 20 years earlier, they would have been considered the biggest sellouts ever. But here we all were, older, grayer and excited to see something so out of the norm on a cold winter afternoon. The good news? The band sold enough shirts that they got to play the flagship NYC store a few days later. This is subversive art at its best.