Tuesday night the Ramones, rock's quintessential garage band, played Ritchie Coliseum, the area's quintessential garage. A cavernous, concrete bunker, the Coliseum is to quality sound reproduction what Gilley's is to Carnegie Hall.
But what better place for the uncontested champs of three-chord power-punk to pummel their fans into rock 'n' roll ecstasy? Thousands of them turned out, taking part in what was as much a communal baptism in beer and sweat as it was a celebration of the Ramones' primitivism.
Even before the Ramones punched up "Rock 'n' Roll Radio" at full blast, Washington's Black Market Baby had the crowd tied in knots near the bandstand, bouncing about as if on a trampoline. When the lights went up on the Ramones, dressed as usual in their black leather jackets, anyone caught in that maze got the ride of a lifetime.
Uninterrupted uncompromising and largely unintelligble, the band's music whipped the crowd into a clammy frenzy. Punk anthems like "I Wanna Be Sedated," oldies like "California Sun" and new material like "The KKK Took My Baby Away" were all given the same compulsively manic treatment. The Ramones' sound may be simple, but the energy it tapped is undeniable. Hollie and the Italians did not appear as scheduled.