concert memoirs pt. 20 – hunters & collectors, echo & the bunnymen, new order, gene loves jezebel, game theory & naked rayun

Hunters & Collectors
5/31/87 First Avenue w/John Ticket Price: $5.00

I didn’t know this Australian band well, but John really liked them. I enjoyed the show very much. I’ve got to say this band definitely wore their hearts on their sleeves. They played some of the most heartfelt music I’ve ever heard at a concert. Not the best vocalist, but he was dedicated to getting his point across. They also had a big sound with meaty bass lines and a hot horn section.

These next three entries do not have ticket stubs. What I have is a back of an ATM receipt on which I had written the basic show information. You know it goes back a few years because there are no ads on the back. Why I did this for only these three shows, I have no idea.

Echo & the Bunnymen, New Order & Gene Loves Jezebel
8/13/87 Northrop Auditorium w/John Ticket Price: Unknown

As far as I can remember, this was the only show I had seen at the Northrop Auditorium located on the University of Minnesota campus. I seem to recall seeing a show at the Coffman Union on campus which was a popular venue for the punk bands, but I can’t remember what act we saw.

Anyway, the Northrop show was a mega show with three pretty good bands. Any of which could have headlined at First Avenue. And, of course, I don’t remember much about the show. Hmm. It’s weird how this happens, because I can assure I was stone sober.

What comes to mind is going to the U of M campus, noting the braveness of the campus squirrels (so used to people being around) and hanging out on the steps waiting to head in for the show.

Of the show, I remember the lead singer of Gene Loves Jezebel prancing around and hanging on the other band members.

I can also picture the New Order bass player with his legs apart and bass hanging low. So low it was nearly hitting the floor. I thought it was so cool that he played that way. He was also the most animated member of New Order.

Nothing comes about Echo & the Bunnymen.

Game Theory w/27 Various & Swingin’ Uncle Jimmy
1/15/88 7th Street Entry w/John Ticket Price: Unknown

Ed Ackerson was a bit of an icon of the local music scene whose first band was The Dig. The Dig was a mod band that was part of the brief mod revival thing. He went on to form 27 Various and, then, Polara. All three bands had a different sound. All were very interesting.

So, this night it was 27 Various. They had a kind of Sonic Youth discord sound going.

Later, Game Theory was doing their jangly, pretentious, catchy, alterna-pop show, when Scott Miller (the bandleader) slowed things down to talk to the crowd. He wanted to thank the opening acts for playing.

He mentioned something interesting about 27 Various. He said that he didn’t quite dig their sound at first. He thought that they sounded out of tune, but then he started to catch onto what they were doing. And he dug it.


Naked Raygun
3/5/88 7th Street Entry w/John Ticket Price: Unknown

Ahhh, Naked Raygun in the Entry. What could be better? This band never disappointed us. And this was another outstanding show. It was also the last time we would ever see them.

Naked Raygun should have been bigger than they were. They could have been bigger than Nirvana. Well, enough hyperbole.

The highlight of this night was seeing John at the front of the low set Entry stage, his arm flung over some hefty fellow’s shoulder (no, we didn’t know him), that fellow with his arm across John’s shoulder, their other arms held aloft, shaking their fists and heads, all while bopping up and down. This was an unbelievable sight. It was absolutely uncharacteristic of the normally stoic and standoffish John. Especially when he is sober, which he was.

Such was the power of Naked Raygun. God damn! I miss them.

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.

concert memoirs pt. 18 – game theory, the woodentops, peter murphy & chameleons uk

Game Theory w/The Jayhawks

10/19/86 First Avenue w/John Ticket Price: Unknown

Nothing. I’ve got nothing here.

The Woodentops w/Trip Shakespeare & New Marines
11/5/86 First Avenue w/John Ticket Price: $6.00

I don’t recall anything of the open acts, but I did like Trip Shakespeare a lot. I’m pretty sure I saw their first ever show in the 7th Street Entry, but I’ll write about that at another time.

The Woodentops put on a good show with their fast, jumpy style of acoustic alternative/pop music. Very high energy. The crowd was jumping and some fellow kept yelling, “Frenetic! Frenetic!”

I kept thinking, “Ok, pal, nice word. Very descriptive. Now shut-up!”

A highlight moment was when the lead singer hopped down to the floor and sang and danced his way through the audience.

“Frenetic!”

“Man! Seriously, shut-up!”

Peter Murphy
2/24/87 First Avenue w/John Ticket Price: $5.00

Five bucks to see Peter Murphy, not bad.

At the time, I was more of a fan of his solo material than of Tones on Tail or Love & Rockets (the bands the other former members of Bauhaus were in). Don’t get me wrong though because I liked them all. It’s just that Peter Murphy’s stuff seemed more lush and musical (whatever that means) while TOT and L&R was more striped down and dark.

The show itself has few memories. I don’t recall if he played any Bauhaus songs, although I’d say probably not. I might have more memories of the show if he had.

What stands out are images of him dancing about, doing his Gothic thing. And it seems as though he was lit by a very bright white light from underneath.

Chameleons UK w/The Mighty Lemon Drops
3/11/87 First Avenue w/John Ticket Price: Unknown

Both John and I liked The Mighty Lemon Drops, but, if you know their stuff, you gotta admit they sound an awful lot like Echo & the Bunnymen. (Also a good band that has a strong Doors influence. We like Echo & the Bunnymen even with their similarity to that extremely overrated band.)

Anyway, as I said the Lemon Drops sounded very much like Echo and John felt compelled to point that out. Once or twice between songs, John would call out, “Rescue!” Which, if you don’t know, is a song by Echo off their great album, Crocodiles.

I don’t think the band appreciated it, but John and I thought it was funny. It wasn’t that we weren’t enjoying their set, we were. It was just that it was funny. At least John didn’t yell, “Freebird!”

Speaking of birds (brilliant segue, Jim!), when The Chameleons were onstage, Birdy (lead vocal/bass) took to berating a couple of the more uncouth members of the audience. I can picture a couple dudes holding up their beers and whooping or something. (I never understood the holding up of the beer. Was it a salute? Was it an offer to the band? Was it to show what lousy taste in beer they have?)

I can’t remember exactly what Birdy said, but it was along the lines of… “Look at the moronic frat boys drinking Bud and looking for a fight.”

So, the band played great. They were promoting my favorite of their albums, Strange Times. They have other good albums but Strange Times holds together beautifully from beginning to end. I especially remember the lead guitarist stepping up front while playing the excellent lead in to the fantastic song, Swamp Thing.

Good show.

concert memoirs pt. 17 – guadalcanal diary, naked raygun & rem

Guadalcanal Diary w/Timbuk 3

9/17/86 First Avenue w/John Ticket Price: Unknown

The opening act is, mainly, remembered for their one hit, ‘The Future So Bright, I Gotta Wear Shades’. However, they were still an interesting band to watch play live. Just a guy and a gal and a boombox. Their hit song might not have gotten too big by then, because most of the crowd seemed to be indifferent to what Timbuk 3 was playing.

But the real stand out moment of the night involved Guadalcanal Diary and my friend, John…

And this is an excellent example of the quickness of John’s mind.

So, Guadalcanal Diary had taken the stage and John and I were right down front. It was a somewhat light crowd for the show that night. The band was in good form and rockin’ right along.

They were about to play their version of the campfire sing-a-long ‘Kum-Ba-Yah’. The band was quietly playing as the lead singer was introducing the song. He was talking in a calm and reserved manner. He said we should all hold hands. We all stood there.

He shouted, “I SAID HOLD HANDS!”

Without missing a beat, John fired back, “F@#K YOU!”

The singer was taken aback momentarily then he laughed and the band played the song.

No one held hands.

Naked Raygun
9/21/86 First Avenue w/John Ticket Price: Unknown

Seeing as how I’m virtually certain that the time John and I saw Naked Raygun open for Husker Du was the only time we’d seen them in the main room, this show was most likely in the 7th Street Entry. Which is the best place to see Naked Raygun. Small, intimate, dank, sweaty, loud. John and our friend, David, took to referring to it as the “particle accelerator’. An apt name if I’ve ever heard one.

I have to say that Naked Raygun always put on a great show. I’ve seen them a few times and have never been disappointed.

As sometimes happened in those days, you’d get someone in the crowd that didn’t understand the whole slam dancing thing. They’d either think it was a free pass to knock some people’s heads together (that was usually some knuckle-headed frat boy) or they’d get pissed off and start a fight. I think the latter was the reason for a little scuffle that broke out on the dance floor that night.

Pat Woods, the lead singer for the local band Man Sized Action, was in the audience. The fight broke out and Pat, who was a pretty big fella, muscled the two knot heads to the floor. He held them there while the bouncers made their way over to boot the morons out.

Once the scene had settled, one of the Naked Raygun members stated, “There’s no extra charge for the floor show.” And the band played on…

REM
10/14/86 Roy Wilkins Auditorium w/John Ticket Price: $13.50

This was an increasingly rare larger venue show, but REM was special.

REM was promoting their ‘Life’s Rich Pageant’ album on this tour. The band still hadn’t hit it mega-big, but they were well on their way. I seem to recall that they had an additional guitarist along and I think he was Peter Holsapple of The dB’s. However, I’m not entirely certain.

The show was good, if not the most memorable. It was the encore that I remember most. The band came back out and started playing a Bruce Springsteen cover.

Let me tell you, John and I had just about had it with the “Boss”. Never big fans of his in the first place, we had endured about two or three years of the Springsteen adoration. People all drooling over him and that overrated “Born in the USA’ album. Jesus Christ! We’d had enough of that shit!

So what does REM do? They play ‘Born to Run’. John said, “The hell with this! Let’s go.”

Incidentally, I believe it was for this concert that John and I lined up at the ticket counter at Dayton’s in downtown St. Paul to get the tickets. I’m not sure how long we waited, but once we’d purchased our tickets John commented on how stupid it was to queue up so long for tickets. He vowed never to do it again.

We never did it again.

concert memoirs pt. 16 – ramones & pete shelley

Ramones w/Funseekers
7/27/86 First Avenue w/John Ticket Price: $8.00

This is one of my feather-in-my-cap shows. True, it wasn’t very early on, it wasn’t at CBGB’s, but it was before Dee Dee left the band. And well before they all died, most of them anyway. I hope that doesn’t seem to mean, because I do feel very fortunate that I was able to see them play.

It was a hot July night, the local leather-clad rockers and John and I (John eventually owned a leather jacket but not at that time and I’ve never owned a leather jacket) gathered at First Avenue to take in the greatness of The Ramones. The excitement was as unmistakable as were the heat vapors that could be see rising from the crowd on the main floor.

As a gift to their fans, the godfathers of punk rock had the club play the video of a song from their latest album, ‘Animal boy’. The song was ‘Something to Believe In’ and the video was brilliant. It was a biting parody of the whole BandAid, ‘We Are The World’ trend. The Ramones weren’t attacking the cause, they were merely attempting to deflate the celebrity ego. Besides, if your not in it, you’re out of it. Check for the video on YouTube.

Finally, as the crowd bellowed, “Hey, Ho! Let’s go!”, The Ramones took the stage. And they delivered the goods! “1-2-3-4!” “Gabba Gabba Hey!” Pinheads. Banners. Fantastic songs! And best of all, fun!

Pete Shelley w/Information Society
8/20/86 First Avenue w/John Ticket Price: Unknown

Here’s another great show. The Buzzcocks was one of my favorite bands, but they had broken up by the time I had discovered them, so it was cool to at least be able to see Pete Shelley. And he didn’t have that I’m-only-playing-my-solo-work attitude. He was more than happy to crack out a few Buzzcocks tunes. And we loved it.

There was a good crowd in attendance, but, surprisingly, it wasn’t a packed house. There was plenty of room to dance and pogo and slam our hearts out. And the dozen or so fans down front (John and I included) were going wild. It was exhilarating!

Pete kicked off with his solo effort ‘Telephone Operator’ and kept us jumping with others of his excellent solo tunes and lots of Buzzcocks classics. We were exhausted when we called him back for his encore, but we didn’t stop. In fact, we were so enthusiastic that we got him back out for a second encore!

He and his excellent band came back out after the first encore and Pete looked a bit surprised and certainly pleased. However, he had apparently run through all his rehearsed material, because he treated us to an encore performance of ‘Telephone Operator’.

It was wonderful!

I can’t remember a thing about the opening act, Information Society, but when you’ve seen such a great show why waste brain cells remembering the opening act?