Musical Interlude – The Optic Nerve @ Neither/Nor 1986

While digitizing some old cassettes when I ran across this gem of a performance from NYC’s own Optic Nerve. Centering on more folk-rock stylings, the Nerve were unique amongst the plethora of harder sounding NYC bands. Bobby Belfiore, Tony Matura and Orin Portnoy formed the core of the band throughout their existence, supplemented on drums mainly by Ken Anderson, Greg Clark and Frank Max. This performance is taken from a show at Neither/Nor bookstore on 703 East 6th St..

Located in what was once the wastelands between Ave C and D, Neither/Nor was a launching point for much of the literary talent in lower Manhattan during the mid 80s. The bookstore occupied the ground floor of an old, dilapidated loft building which amazingly survives to this day. No small feat considering that directly opposite the building in the 80s one would have found just open lots strewn with rubble.  Neither/Nor not only served as a artistic oasis for the community, it also nurtured future talents such as Joel Rose and Nuyorican poet and playwright Miguel Piñero.

The Optic Nerve went on to have one of their songs immortalized on the Children of Nuggets box set alongside the likes of The Cramps, Lyres, The Hoodoo Gurus and other equally important contemporaries.  At Neither/Nor though, they were just another local garage group scraping by and playing their hearts out to a small, but passionate, fanbase.

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