concert memoirs pt. 19 – husker du

Husker Du w/Peter Case
3/30/87 First Avenue w/John & Bob Ticket Price: $8.50

This is the last time John and I would be seeing Husker Du in concert. However, it was the first (and only) time for my older brother, Bob. John and I were unimpressed.

The show was in promotion of their latest release, Warehouse: Songs and Stories. It would be their last studio release and I found it somewhat disappointing. It’s hard to pinpoint, but I think it was that the cleaner the production became the thinner their sound became. Still I like much of the album, but I did take to calling it Warehouse: Songs and Storage. Ha ha ha, oh, stop me!

So the show…

We pretty much ignored former Plimsouls member, Peter Case. I had no idea who he was. I didn’t know he was in The Plimsouls. I didn’t know who The Plimsouls were at the time. Whatever.

So, out came Husker Du and it wasn’t long before we could sense something wrong in the air that night. The band just didn’t seem into it. Their sound was very good. Very clear. Very clean. But they lacked energy.

It didn’t help that they played the new album, in its entirety, in order. They only broke it up twice. Once to play a very slowed down version of Flexible Flyer and later to play what I think was a cover.

The audience grew restless very quickly and then many became angry. John was very angry. He and Steve, a fellow First Avenue regular we referred to as Iggy Pop Guy (medium length story), were standing together shaking their fists, giving the finger and its verbal equivalent, telling the band to make an effort. I was less vocal, but just as annoyed.

I’m not opposed to a band playing an album in that way, IF it’s a theme album, such as the rock operas of The Who. As far as I can tell, Warehouse is not a theme album. And doing their show in that manner took all sense of spontaneity away.

They were merely going through the motions. They were tired of being a band by that point and it showed.

My brother, who hadn’t seen them before, enjoyed the show. He didn’t get to experience the high energy and intensity and fun as we had.

Sometime after the show, I fellow we knew in those days, Jimmy the Punk, admonished us for being so angry at the Huskers. We needed to accept what the artists are trying to do. Well, I thought they were trying to piss us off.

Husker Du would not last much longer and we would never see them play again. It’s too bad it ended that way. But we still saw them when they were great.

As we were leaving First Avenue that night, we were making our way back to John’s car parked in the cheap parking lot tucked behind the disco, just across 8th St. on 1st Ave. We were heading across 8th, John in front, then me, with Bob last, when a car came careening from 1st Ave. onto 8th. Right toward us. We all stopped. At the last second, the car widened it’s turn, went up onto the curb, knocked down a no parking sign, pulled back onto 8th St. and went on its way. The whole event was over in an instant.

We returned to making our way back to the car. John told us as he stood, frozen, watching the car heading right at him, he thought to himself, “If they don’t turn, they’re going to hit me.”

They turned. No harm done. Except to the sign. And the guy’s bumper. And suspension.

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