concert memoirs pt. 31 – robyn hitchcock & stereolab

Robyn Hitchcock w/Tim Keegan

11/11/99 First Avenue w/Amy Ticket Price: Unknown

This was my first official date with Amy, the woman who would later become my wife. We did the traditional dinner thing first at a nearby restaurant, Pizza Luce. We then made our way over to First Avenue and were greatly entertained by Mr. Hitchcock. Robyn delivered his usual good show while Amy and I held hands. How sweet.

It was at this show that some gal standing next to Amy “accidentally” nudged her. She sweetly apologized to Amy saying, “Oops, I bumped you.” We’re pretty sure that this gal was hitting on Amy. Amy has told me that it wasn’t unusual to have women occasionally approach her. Hmmm.

Here’s where I have to apologize to my wife. You see, this concert was on the same night as the concert Joe Strummer was performing at another Minneapolis club, The Quest. Amy had won tickets to that show! But did we go to see Joe Strummer play? Nooooo. No, I had bought the Robyn Hitchcock tickets and I was the man, so we had to miss Joe. Even though it would have been a wash or we could have sold the Hitchcock tickets to someone else. Typical male thing, eh girls?

Who knew Joe would die three years later? I had seen Joe Strummer before, but Amy never had. And she never would.

Robyn Hitchcock is still alive. Not only that, but both Amy and I had seen Robyn Hitchcock prior to this show (although not together). And we would see him again later when he toured with The Soft Boys!

What the hell was I thinking?! We should have gone to see Joe Strummer. What a jerk I was. Dumbass! Stupid, stupid, stupid! I’m such a dope!

I’m sorry, Honey Bunny.

Stereolab w/Papa M & Jim O’Rourke
12/4/99 First Avenue w/Amy Ticket Price: Unknown

Amy and I enjoyed this show. Stereolab is a very cool band, although I’m not as enamored with their more recent material. However, I don’t have much to tell about the show. I don’t remember any specifics, except one.

The audience. Or rather a small group of people in the audience who were standing near us. They were smoking. (This was before Minneapolis banned smoking in bars and restaurants.) Smoking in itself can be annoying, but it was more the way this group smoked that got under our skin.

They all held their cigarettes up by their mouths when not taking a drag. One hand holding the elbow of the arm held straight up with the lit cigarette also pointing straight up smoldering away. Allowing the smoke to drift right at us through the duration of the show.

These chain-smokers just struck us as being so pretentious. Oh, how European to smoke that way. It’s Stereolab, let’s all act European.

This show may have been marking my growing disinterest in concert going. I had already cut my concert going to one or two shows a year. However, when Amy came along, I started going to more shows. Still, I found myself far more annoyed with the crowds of people. Amy was having the same feelings.

I must have been much more tolerant when I was younger. Plus the fact that I was usually dancing down front and didn’t pay much attention to the audiences. I guess that as I was aging I danced less and was more likely to observe the people around me. I was beginning to think that staying home would be more pleasant.

a promise to president-elect obama

I can’t say that I’m pleased with the outcome of the presidential election. I am pleased and proud that our country, once again, shows the world that we can peacefully transfer power.

President-elect Obama has a tough road ahead. He’s going to be facing a lot of daunting challenges. I’m pretty certain that I won’t be thrilled with his solutions, but I will promise one thing:

He is our next president and I won’t hate him.

I think the hatred and vitriol hurled at President Bush everyday for nearly eight years (he was given a little break after 9/11) is appalling. It’s childish, shameful and mean-spirited.

I have not always agreed with the actions and policies of George W. Bush, but I know this to be certain: he loves this country. Everything he has done he has done because he believed it was best for our country, whether we all agreed with him or not.

If you can’t give President Bush credit for anything, I ask you to take off the blinders and give him this…

By my count, it’s been seven years, one month and 25 days since America has been attacked on her soil. NO ONE thought on 9/12/01 that we wouldn’t have been attacked in the next year let alone seven plus!

The lion’s share of credit is due to the American servicemen and women and their leaders, number one of whom is President Bush.

I know President-elect Obama loves this country, too. And that he will act in a way he thinks is best for America. I probably won’t like much of it (he’s a little too socialist for my tastes), but I won’t hate him.

I promise.

concert memoirs pt. 30 – love & rockets & buzzcocks

Love & Rockets w/Orgy
3/5/99 First Avenue w/John, David & Kjrsten Ticket Price: Unknown

The opening act, Orgy, was ok. Just ok. I hadn’t heard much about them before the show. I knew they did a cover of New Order’s brilliant “Blue Monday”. About all this new Goth band did was remind me that the bands they resembled were much, much better.

Case in point, the headliner Love & Rockets. This was my second time seeing this band, the first time since their hit, “I’m Alive.” I never thought much of that song. It isn’t an awful song, but L&R have much better songs. Songs that don’t have Daniel Ash doing that annoying growly voice technique.

L&R were doing a techno-industrial sound at this stage of their career. They still had much of their style from before (including some of the Ash growl), but they were bringing in that techo sound that you would find in the ‘Run Lola Run’ soundtrack.

I really liked it. The show was loud, fast and flashy. I had their latest album, ‘Lift’, so I was familiar with the new material. My friend, John, however was not. I’m not sure how much him enjoyed the show. David may have known the material, but David was always more accepting of new stuff if it moved him. L&R were really moving the crowd that night.

I liked the gimmick when, during the song “R.I.P. 20C”, David J had a sign out in front of him that listed all the acronyms used in the song. Not an especially exciting memory – it just stands out.

Correction 1/21/09: My friend, David, informed me that it was his now wife, Kjrsten, who attended the show with us, not his ex-wife, Diane. I made the correction. Sorry, David and Kjrsten.

Buzzcocks w/Lunachicks, Down By Law & Boris the Sprinkler
11/6/99 First Avenue w/John & Amy Ticket Price: Unknown

Uh, does that say “Amy”? A concert with a woman? Who is this Amy?

Well, it had happened before that I attended a concert with a woman (Paytee, The Jayhawks, First Avenue, 7/9/95), but this time was a bit different. Whereas the earlier show was with a female friend, this young woman was more important.

There’s a story here. I stated before in this series that I had worked at a shirt printing shop in Minneapolis. I left the company in the spring of 1999 to work at an ad agency. Although, I had left that company, I still kept in loose contact with the guys still working there. I would even visit if I got off early at the agency, which was rare.

Because I had left Cold Side (the printing company) was left with one staff artist and they needed two. They hired a talented, young artist named Amy.

I got off early on a Friday afternoon and decided to go pay a visit on my friends at Cold Side. The day had been a particularly stressful one and I thought it would be nice to unwind with my old coworkers.

When I arrived, I was almost immediately set upon by one of the printers. He was so excited he was like a little puppy. Jumping around me and telling me that I just had to ask Amy out. He said she was perfect for me. That she was so much like me that they had taken to calling her Amy/Jim.

I wasn’t much of a ladies’ man (still ain’t much of one) and any talk of getting me involved with a woman made me want to run for the hills. I ain’t gay. I’m just afraid of women. I told him if he didn’t settle down I might leave.

I didn’t leave.

A group of us ambled over to a local bar (Amy was in the group). Amy and I sat together and, as the night wore on, we found the rest of our group had all left. We didn’t close the bar, but pretty close to it. I got her home, we hugged, and we parted at the door.

She told me that I had nice hands.

Well, as evidence that the printer was right about how much alike Amy and I were, we each had a ticket for the Buzzcocks show the next night.

This brings me to this entry’s show. John and I headed to First Avenue together and we met up with Amy there. The three of us sat in a corner somewhere upstairs as the opening acts played. John and I have always had a habit of irreverently joking around. We would joke around just about anywhere whatever the situation. We were joking around that night and Amy joined right in. Amy is very funny.

The Buzzcocks played and they were great as always. Amy and I opted to stay off the floor, but John was itching to get into the slam dancing. Off he went, but he didn’t last long. He came back winded. Well, we weren’t getting any younger.

When the show ended, I didn’t hang out with Amy. I know, I know. I just met her and I wanted to take things slow. Yeah, sure! I was scared.

Well, I would be seeing more of Amy, after all, she did become my wife.

concert memoirs pt. 29 – cheap trick, cheap trick & cheap trick

Cheap Trick

11/5/98 First Avenue w/Dave Ticket Price: Unknown

This was the first night of three night concert event. Cheap Trick had rereleased their first three albums: “Cheap Trick”, “In Color” & “Heaven Tonight”. To promote the rereleases the band did this three night concert event with each night focusing on each album. They would play each song, in order, from that night’s featured LP. Then they would play a variety of their other songs afterward.

I had complained about Husker Du (First Avenue, 3/30/87) playing their latest release first song to last in order that last time John and I had seen them. It pissed us off when Husker Du did it, but when Cheap Trick did the same thing three nights in a row it was cool. The difference being that we knew going in what Cheap Trick would be doing and we know the material well. You know what they say about the time bands play their new material, “Time to get a beer.”

This being the first night, they played their first album the self-titled, black and white covered “Cheap Trick”. I really liked that album. It doesn’t have a hit, but it has some great rock tunes, such as, ‘Hot Love’, ‘He’s A Whore’, ‘Oh, Candy’ and ’ELO Kiddies’. They played all the songs with great intensity while still having a load of fun.

These guys are true, road-tested, rock’n’roll professionals. The show was a load of fun and we still had two more nights to go.

Cheap Trick
11/6/98 First Avenue w/Dave Ticket Price: Unknown

On this, the second night of the big event, the band showcased their second LP, “In Color”. This was the best of the three concerts with a big surprise finish.

Dave and I decided to stand farther back then we had the night before to avoid the crowd and still get a good view of the band. We were standing with some other friends, I’ve forgotten who, when Dave’s brother, John, excitedly approached. He was busting to tell Dave, “They’re here! They’re gonna play!”

They were the big surprise finish. There was another fairly noteworthy band in town. They would be playing a show at the Target Center, which is located across the street from First Avenue. There were rumors that they might join Cheap Trick on stage that night, but, until John had come in with his news, we weren’t sure they would. I don’t know where John got his information, but he was correct.

For the last song of Cheap Trick’s concert, Aerosmith took the stage to join Cheap Trick in an amazing, kick ass version of Aerosmith’s ‘Train Kept A’Rolling’! It was fantastic. With the exception of Aerosmith’s drummer, the entire band got up there with Cheap Trick and had a ball!

It was a fun unexpected treat for us and I had a far better view of Aerosmith then when John and I had seen them back in 1983. It was a lot of fun and I’m glad I was there.

Cheap Trick
11/7/98 First Avenue w/Dave Ticket Price: Unknown

Night three of the big Cheap Trick event. It was “Heaven Tonight” that night. It was also a night of technical difficulties.

Something went wrong with one of Rick’s guitars. It just zortched out and stopped playing. No problem. He just got one of his many, many other guitars. However, once he started playing it, he realized it wasn’t tuned right. And, if memory serves, the next guitar he grabbed was also improperly tuned. He was getting a little perturbed and told us that he preferred playing a guitar that was in tune.

Well, they are professionals and they soldiered on.

There was also a special guest for this night’s show, albeit not nearly as exciting as last night’s. The guest was some local Top 40 radio DJ, I can’t remember who he was or what station he was with. He was brought out to do the DJ patter heard at the end of the song ‘On The Radio’.

An interesting note on that song was how Rick introduced it. Let’s face it, if you know the album and the song, you know that it’s pretty much filler. It’s not one of Cheap Trick’s better songs, but they were featuring each album and they weren’t going to leave it out. Rick introduced the song as being “somewhat… shitty.” And he should know, he wrote it.

The show came to an end and I had the feeling that I had been a part of something special. Not quite on the level of The Screaming Blue Messiahs (First Avenue, 7/22/86) or Pete Shelley (First Avenue, 8/20/86), but I’m glad I was there.

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


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.

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.