concert memoirs pt. 28 – semisonic, bauhaus & the church

Semisonic

6/6/98 First Avenue Alone Ticket Price: Unknown

I must admit feeling strangely smitten by this band. At least, at the time. It must have been the catchy tunes that were reminding me of Trip Shakespeare, the previous band of Dan Wilson and John Munson. When I bought Great Divide I wasn’t aware of the connection. I heard a couple songs on the Modern Rock radio by them, I liked them and thought I’d take a chance on buying the album.

I quickly became aware of the connection and it made sense. There is a lot of Trip Shakespeare in Semisonic’s sound.

Anyway, I went to the show alone and was right up front, leaning on the stage, watching the band play. I was very impressed by how big their sound was. They were a three piece band, after all. In fact, for a portion of the song Singing In My Sleep (I think) drummer, Jake Slichter, played keyboards and drums at the same time!

He played a melody line while keeping the beat. How is that possible?

I guess good musicians just make it look easy.

Bauhaus
8/26/98 Historic State Theatre w/Norman and others Ticket Price: $34.50

This was a big time show. Finally able to see the Goth legends in concert.

I was working at Cold Side back then. Cold Side was (still is) a failing shirt printing shop in downtown Minneapolis and many of its crew were jazzed to see the band. Lee Ann, my then art director, had a front row seat. From which she was able to easily admire Daniel Ash’s butt. My seats were too far back for me to get a full appreciation of the greatness of his backside. How unfortunate.

Since I lived in St. Paul, I decided to hang out downtown to await the show. I would meet up with Norman and a couple other Cold Siders, with whom I had seats, at the theater.

I met up with the guys and we headed in to take our seats. While we sat in wrapped anticipation, I spotted a couple familiar faces. It was Lou and Troy!

Who are they? Well, I’ll tell you.

Lou and Troy were two of my old art school classmates!

I know!

Ok, I’ll stop channeling Craig Ferguson.

Anyway, I hadn’t seen Lou and Troy for years. So, I ambled over to say hi. I was greeted by an enthusiastic, “Dim!” Dim was the nickname I picked up in art school. I’ll tell the story some other day. And, yes, my website’s and blog’s name Dimland is derived from the nickname.

I sat and chatted for a couple minutes when Lou spotted something that shocked him. He pointed and said, “Check out that dude! He’s got tattoos on his face!” I gotta say that for having gone to art school and hanging out with punks, hippies, goths, and other assorted weirdoes, Lou could be really square at times.

So, we looked over and, as I expected, it was my friend, Norman. Norman is tattooed and pierced all over, including his face. I said, “Oh, yeah, that’s Norman. I work with him. He’s cool.” My art school friends were impressed.

The show itself was pretty good. It opened with the band taking the stage, everyone but Peter Murphy, that is. In his place at center stage was a large TV monitor. As the band began to play In the Flat Fields (I think), Peter’s face appeared on the screen. His pale, gaunt face sang at us from that TV.

I joked with friends later that it would be funny if he had been up in the hotel room and would sing the whole concert from there. Actually, it wouldn’t be that funny considering I paid $34.50 for a ticket. He did take the stage in person after the first song.

They sounded great, they played their hits, Ash shook his ass. I guess it was worth the $34.50.

The Church
9/30/98 First Avenue w/John Ticket Price: Unknown

This was the fourth time John and I would attend a concert of The Church. But, something was missing. The Church had been and still is one of my favorite 80’s bands, however, their albums lost their luster after Starfish. Their next two albums, Gold Afternoon Fix and Priest = Aura, had some good moments, I still like Metropolis and Ripple, but over all they were disappointing.

I’m pretty sure there had been at least one more album after Priest which I knew nothing about. So, John and I didn’t know much of what was played that night. That wasn’t a problem the first time we saw the band (First Avenue, 11/14/84). The only song that I knew of theirs then was Electric Lash and I still thoroughly enjoyed that show.

This time around they just were, I’ll say it, boring. Slow, mid-tempo, too stuck in the ethereal for my tastes. It may be that at age 20 I was more open to hearing material I didn’t know then I would be at nearly 34. Whatever the reason, John and I just didn’t feel engaged in the show. We spent the entire show standing off to the side of the stage, leaning against the bar, watching from there. Bored.

After the show, John and I were trying to figure out what went wrong. John said that they never really got rocking until they played You Took during their encore. And, by that time, it was too late.

It was a shame that they’d lost their edge. We would see them one more time, stayed tuned.

By the way, You Took is a great song from their great album, The Blurred Crusade. And if you only know The Church from Starfish, their commercial breakthrough album, and the albums that followed, do yourself a favor and go back and find the albums they released before Starfish. Not a clinker in the bunch.

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