Red Hot Chili Peppers, 311, Bicycle Thief, Cow Palace, SF, Tues., December 28, 1999
(311) : Freeze Time, Freak Out, Misdirected Hostility, Lucky, Beautiful Disaster, All Mixed Up, Come Original, What I Was Thinking, Down, Do You Right, Feels So Good
(RED HOT CHILI PEPPERS) : Around The World, Give It Away, Your Pussy’s Glues To A Building On Fire, Scar Tissue, Suck My Kiss, Parallel Universe, If You Have To Ask, Otherside, Out In L.A., I Could Have Lied, Organic Anti-Beat Box Band, Guns Of Brixton Intro – I Like Dirt, My Lovely Man, Right On Time, Tiny Dancer, Under The Bridge, Me & My Friends, (encore), Soul To Squeeze, Fire
This is it. Last show of the millennium. I know some people insist that the end of 2000 was the actual end, but that’s kind of lame. God knows, everybody was wetting their pants around this time in anticipation of the so-called “Y2K” disaster that never happened. Still, one can’t blame folks for being cautious. Even my parents stocked up a bit up at their ranch in Ukiah. I remember them telling me a story about how mom was asking dad whether he had enough “ammo” for something, it being a metaphor for something else, but dad had to stop and think for a moment. He did have a shotgun and pistol up there, used primarily for taking out rattlesnakes, but for that instance, pop had to consider defending the ranch from the two legged variety. I had attended a New Year’s Eve concert every year since 1991, but I chose to spend this special one with my friends. Besides, there wasn’t anything playing that night that I felt I couldn’t miss. Instead, I and my friends got drunk with hundreds of other revelers out at Alamo Square and watched the sky light up with fireworks when midnight dropped in front of the Seven Sisters. I had the mother of all hangovers the next morning, but I’m happy to say I was suffering through it in a large bed with three attractive, (though clothed), young women. I wouldn’t trade that memory for any show.
Though this would be the second time I’d be seeing the Chilis at the Cow Palace, I will never forgive myself for missing the one they did there that was historic. Yes, my long time readers will remember I missed them on New Year’s 1991-1992 with Nirvana and Pearl Jam opening so I could hang with my friends in the pouring rain in the parking lot of the Grateful Dead at Oakland Arena. Afterwards, I came down with a really, REALLY nasty cold and had to fly to London the next day. That memory, I would have gladly traded for the Chilis show or practically any other show now that I think of it. It had been three long years since I’d seen the Chilis at the Tibetan Freedom Concert as well as 311, who also played The Warfield that year. I can say with some certainty that this is the last show I ever saw at the Cow Palace for which I’m thankful. I despise that venue for reasons I’m sure I’ve bellyached about already.
This was an important time in the history of the Chilis. They had just fired guitarist Dave Navarro the year before who had been descending into drug addiction. Conversely, Flea had talked former guitarist John Frusciante to get cleaned up at the Las Encinas Drug Rehabilitation Center at the beginning of the year and soon the newly reconstituted Chilis would once again team up with producer Rick Rubin to create their smash hit album, “Californication” that June. It’s inspiring that John was able to turn his life around so dramatically, his arms scarred from years of heroin abuse, not to mention his reconstructed nose and dental implants he received after suffering from an oral infection. Before hitting the road on tour proper, they did some warm up gigs playing high school proms calling it the “Stop The Hate” tour, a response to the recent Columbine shootings. There, students who wrote essays on how to prevent violence would get to see them play.
But if their aim was to prevent violence, they chose the worst possible place to relay the message that summer when they were the last act of the catastrophe that was Woodstock ’99. The place had already gone to holy hell by the time they went on stage there, but they had the astronomically bad choice of timing to end their set with a cover of “Fire” by Jimi Hendrix. Ironically, a group at the festival there to promote gun control had passed out candles for a vigil and well, in a very short period of time everything was burning. Anthony Kiedis claimed that at the end of their set, the band was quickly whisked off to the airport and the looting didn’t actually begin until they were checking into their hotel in Manhattan. Clearly, that was bullshit, but after that disaster of a rock festival, it’s understandable that all parties involved were not eager to share the guilt of it all. I guess it makes sense the Chilis soon went on tour in Europe. I’d leave the country too if I were them. They famously did a free show in Moscow then to a crowd of over 200,000 Russians. On a smaller sad note, Flea had his prized turquoise “Felapants”, (named after Afro-rock artist Fela Kuti), stolen when they were in Milan.
While the rest of America would have to wait until March for the band to tour promoting the new album, I was lucky to be able to see one of only four shows they’d do in California before they hit the road to Japan, New Zealand, and Australia. They had played in San Diego two nights before this show and then did Arco Arena in Sacramento the following night and wrapped up this micro-tour with a New Year’s Eve show at The Forum in L.A. I’m pissed that I didn’t know about the Arco show. I definitely prefer that venue (or any other fucking venue) to the Cow Palace and they had Primus opening for them that night instead of 311. Still, the Chilis were back on top and were tight, showcasing six songs from the new album.
Though like John, Anthony was clean and sober, his feud with Mike Patton around that time was reaching a boiling point. Frustrated that he felt Mr. Bungle was getting kicked off of festival tours at Anthony’s request, that Halloween, Bungle did a show in Michigan openly mocking Anthony and his band. They crudely covered Chili’s songs, changing the lyrics and pantomiming injecting a syringe of heroin into the ghost of Hillel Slovak, their dearly departed original guitarist. I love Patton and Bungle and yes, it may have been Halloween and Mike had a bone to pick with Anthony, personally it didn’t sound funny. Maybe you had to be there. On the lighter side of the news, Anthony was dating “Sporty Spice” from The Spice Girls around that time, their relationship inspiring the Chili’s new song “Emit Remmus”, though it wasn’t played that night. Flea was going through a rough patch having just broken up with his girlfriend Marissa Pouw and battling depression, but was keeping busy during those years taking some parts in movies, notably in “The Big Lebowski”, the remake of “Psycho”, and “Fear & Loathing In Las Vegas” the year before. Drummer Chad Smith had some good news in ’98, welcoming the birth of his son Justin.
But back to the show. I will never forget that I actually personally let another band down that night seeing this show. A bit before this night, I was at a friend’s place in town and the members of the band Born Naked were there. Their drummer had mentioned that the band was playing in town on the 28th and asked if I was interested. In hindsight, I should have simply said I had a prior commitment and left it at that, but I impulsively mentioned that I was seeing the Chilis. Well, he mocked me jovially saying, “Well we know where your loyalties lie! I guess you’re more into something like this!”, and he contorted comically, parodying Anthony’s signature gyrations when he was on stage. At least I could partially make it up to them when I caught Born Naked a couple years later playing at The Fillmore.
There actually was an earlier opening act that night that I was unaware of, up until just yesterday in fact while I was doing research, called Bicycle Thief. Obviously, I missed them. This short lived band was fronted by Thelonious Monster singer Bob Forrest featured guitarist Josh Klinghoffer, who would become the Chilis’ guitarist ten years later until John would reclaim that position another ten years down the road in 2019. But Josh and John were friends and contemporaries, John even playing lead guitar on one of the songs on Bicycle Thief’s first and only album, “You Come & Go Like A Pop Song” released that year. Josh also has recently played guitar for Iggy Pop’s new band, The Losers, along with Chad on drums. Because the Chilis’ were inducted into the Rock & Roll Hall Of Fame in 2012, Josh became the youngest person in history to join that venerable institution at the young age of 32, beating out Stevie Wonder who got in when he was 38.
I’m sorry I missed Bicycle Thief. Like I said, that band was short lived. When I arrived at the Cow Palace, their set of which I was blissfully unaware had ended. In fact, I showed up just as 311 began their first song. Now I know I would have preferred to see Primus over 311, but they did fine that night anyway. I will defend that band, even though they tend to get lumped into a blob of bands that typified music in the 1990’s. People forget that they wrote memorable songs, especially the ones off their self titled third album, and back then, their sound was rather unique. I appreciated that such a band could emerge from Nebraska as well. One shining memory from that show actually occurred during the set change between the bands. Up a couple dozen rows in the bleachers there were some spunky young ladies who entertained the crowd, periodically pulling up their shirts to tantalize the eager young men (and rest assured some young women), with the brief visage of their bouncing naked breasts. This went on for a few minutes before most of the women seemed to lose interest in it, but I recall one of them, the ring leader of the bunch, fruitlessly tried to egg them and the crowd on. It felt rather anticlimactic by the end of it all, if you pardon the expression.
But soon enough, the Chilis took the stage and went right into “Around The World”, the opening track of the new album, before revisiting their last hit single, “Give It Away”. For a reason I still can’t fathom, they allowed John to sing a couple solo numbers. I had learned very quickly when he played with Trulio Disgracias at the Maritime back in ’97 that not only could John not sing, but his voice is seriously at the level of Yoko Ono cringe-worthiness. He did one of his own, the cryptically titled “Your Pussy’s Glued To A Building On Fire”, but later on committed the musical equivalent of a crime against humanity when he covered “Tiny Dancer” by Elton John. I’ve always hated that tune to begin with, but to hear Frusciante sing it was positively torturous. I’m just glad he abbreviated the song, keeping it just under two minutes, but it was two minutes of pure hell. Anthony was kind, praising him afterwards saying “it’s nice to have John back” and that “he’s a very sweet man”.
Anthony was sporting a new hairdo, though he had been wearing it short since he chopped off his until then trademark mane of long, straight Fabio-like locks, it was now dyed conspicuously blonde. I will dare say Sasha Baron Cohen would go on to steal his look for when he did the “Bruno” movie ten years later. Flea was his usual harlequin self, bopping around stage and cracking jokes all night. He introduced himself in the beginning, declaring “I’m George Burns!” Before they did “Scar Tissue”, Anthony praised the crowd adding, “You smell good too. Nothing like the bouquet of 14,000 kids from San Francisco.” Afterwards, he encouraged the young women to throw up their bras, panties, and used tampons on stage for the next song, “Suck My Kiss”. Flea wished everybody a Merry Kwanza before they did their next new song, “Parallel Universe” and then took an extended bass solo for “If You Have To Ask”.
They continued into the new material again with “Otherside”, but Anthony seemed half serious when he was trying to recruit someone up front to come up and sing it for him claiming that “This song is a shot in the dark for me”. The new album had been out five months, so there was bound to be at least a few people up front who knew the lyrics, but Anthony sang it anyway. He dedicated “Blackeyed Blonde” to Curtis Mayfield who had just passed away two days before this show from complications from type II diabetes and introduced “I Could Have Lied” saying, “Somebody broke my heart one time. It’s a good excuse to write a song.” Rumor has it, it was inspired by his brief relationship with Sinead O’Connor in the early 90’s. Most of the material that night was newish but they did dust off some classics like “Out In L.A.” and “Organic Anti Beat Box Band”. Anthony took a moment to give a shout out to some old bay area venues before that song like The Fillmore, The Stone, Berkeley Square, and Slim’s.
Before they did “I Like Dirt”, another new one, they did a little intro to it, playing the opening licks to “Guns Of Brixton” by The Clash. Flea stopped clowning around for a bit and got all sincere with the crowd saying “Nothing else matters but love!” They played the obligatory “Under The Bridge” before wrapping up their set with “Me & My Friends”. It took a while for them to return to the stage for their encore, but they did starting it off with “Soul To Squeeze” before ending the night with their cover of “Fire”. One would think that after the calamity they took part in that summer at Woodstock ’99, that they’d never, EVER play that song again, but they did. Now that I think about it, I saw many alumni from that doomed festival that year, including Sheryl Crow, Moby, Jamiroquai, The Brian Setzer Orchestra, not to mention James Brown, The Roots, and Jewel just in just the previous month alone. But all and all, one has to give the Chilis credit for the new album, going platinum a whopping seven times, easily making it their most successful one. It was also a sign to their fans as well as their detractors that as they were gracefully maturing into their 40’s, they weren’t entirely the brain dead, jock rock, party animals of their youth anymore. Thanks once again to John and his excellent songwriting, the new material was clearly some of their best songs they have ever written.
And three short days later, the people of the Earth would wake up to the 21st century. The Y2K disaster thankfully never materialized and life went on as usual, with the exception of the Panama Canal which was handed over to Panama after midnight. An usher had given me the schedule from Galactic at The Warfield from their New Year’s show, if memory serves, I believe it was Jordan who saved it for me. 2000 would be a sparse year for me show wise, doing only an even 60 in total. It might sound like a lot to the average person and it is, but bear in mind that I had done 18 in the previous October alone. It took me a while to get my groove back, seeing only five shows in the first three months of the year, but I caught some good ones all the same. 1999 was a great year, a banner year for me in music. And as I put that year to bed, along with the century and millennium, I’m filled with gratitude and relief that I can move forward.
Chicago, Jewel, The Girl & I, War., SF, Thurs., December 18, 1999
It had been two and a half weeks since I saw my last show, Stereolab at The Fillmore, easily the longest I had gone without a show in a very long time. If you haven’t been following along, I was still in mourning after leaving the Maritime Hall, so if you want to go back and hear me bellyache about it, please do. But for now, I’m moving on for which I’m eternally relieved. This was one of the few BGSE (Bill Graham Special Event) shows I’d ever do, where the house would have the place rented out for corporate parties. I mean, with the sparse crowd, this one being I would estimate no more than four or five hundred tops, and all the free food and hooch, you’d think I’d love these things. But no, and no matter how easy the job is there, I can never escape the feeling that I’m at a company party. Even when I’m not working one of these things and just happen to be there, I can’t shake that feeling.
From the get go, and this happens at every corporate party, any act would be lucky to have less than half of the crowd jibber jabbering throughout their set. Never is this more annoying to me and the artist when this happens to a solo acoustic act like Jewel. There’s something terribly undemocratic about having talent like that there was that night playing at a private party. Like all these BGSE shows, everyone knows there’s no shortage of true fans of these acts out there who would give a whole lot to witness it, unlike most of these uncaring stuffed shirts. Jewel looked pissed that evening, especially near the end of her set. At least it wasn’t as blatantly hostile and sexist as the crowd she faced at Woodstock ’99 that summer. Glad she got clear of that one before that doomed festival self destructed. Jewel still was professional and sang her best, especially belting out the “Star Search” long notes during her hit “Save Your Soul”. She had been criticized the year before for lip syncing the national anthem at Super Bowl XXXIII, so it was good that she could still prove to the world she has the pipes.
Jewel had also just released her Christmas album, “Joy : A Holiday Collection” the month before, but didn’t do any songs off it this night. She’d also just released her first full length video “Jewel : A Life Uncommon” on DVD that year. And to top it all off, Jewel also had her debut acting role around that time in Ang Lee’s western, “Ride With The Devil”, co-starring with Tobey McGuire and Jeffrey Wright. I only was able to decipher about half her set but apart from the aforementioned “Save Your Soul”, but I know she opened with “Pieces Of You”, then “You Were Meant For Me”, followed by the ultra-cute “Do You Wanna Catch A Cold With Me?” Later, she’d do “Sometimes It Be That Way”, “Near You Always”, and “Barcelona”. There was another an opening act that night called The Girl & I who weren’t half bad either. But it was just a young woman singing on an acoustic guitar and some other guy playing along on conga drums and she struggled to be heard to the very few people who were there when she played in the beginning.
Both opening sets were quiet enough that I overheard some of the wisecracks I was making with fellow ushers. There was some sort of announcement in the beginning and I joked that he should have added to “not eat the brown acid”. I went on hoping that Marilyn Manson would show up, though I doubted there would be much crowd floating or stage diving at this one. The singer off The Girl & I did mention that a lot of her favorite bands played there like Shawn Colvin and Nine Inch Nails, (an interesting combination who should tour together sometime), before she finished their set with a cover of “Tom’s Diner” by Suzanne Vega. It was a strong finish. I could hear myself later talking with someone about Lollapalooza ’95 and how I got Beck’s autograph there just before Chicago was introduced. There was some executive type, to this day I still can’t recall who this party was for though clearly it was for rich people, who gave a speech thanking his boss, his wife, “the best decision” he ever made, and encouraged everybody to hug the person next to them.
To attempt to chronicle the expansive history of the band Chicago would take a while. By this time, they’d already been around over thirty years and this being my first and only time seeing them, I don’t think I’m in a position to be the best person to do them justice. But I will tell you what I do know and leave it at that. Most people like myself only knew Chicago from the years that Peter Cetera was singing in the band where he’d for better or worse peg the band for a time firmly in the dreaded genre of “yacht rock”. Now, I knew enough about them to know that their body of work stretched into several directions, having just released their (gulp!) 26th album that year, “Chicago XXVI”, each album numbered in roman numerals. It was a live album appropriately recorded that year in the city of Chicago.
Like Jewel, they had also just put out a Christmas album recently, the “Chicago XXV : The Christmas Album”, the year before this. But yeah, despite Chicago’s endless chops, they’ll always be associated with syrupy, soft rock lamentations like “Hard Habit To Break”, “Hard To Say I’m Sorry”, and “If You Leave Me Now”. Still, I appreciated when that last song had been used in the movie “Three Kings”, ironically played while the heroes were infiltrating an Iraqi fortress disguised as Saddam Hussein’s entourage. Come to think of it, “You’re The Inspiration” was also used cleverly a few years ago in “Deadpool” when the titular hero had a knife stuck in his head. Regardless, even if I did knew more about Chicago, I’m afraid I only recorded one song that gig, “Does Anybody Really Know What Time It Is?”. I think I was just tired and demoralized by the whole corporate party experience and called it an early night. I only have one tape full of material from that show, so I either lost the other one, or didn’t bring a second tape. Either way, I didn’t get Chicago’s set and haven’t seen them since.
But I will leave you with one strange and unlikely association I have with the band. As luck would have it, in high school I used to live just a few doors down from Chicago’s trumpet player and founding member, Lee Loughnane. He had a swanky mansion just down the street from my folks’ old house in Alamo and my sister Erica used to babysit his son Brian and daughter Patricia. One night, Erica couldn’t do it, so I filled in for her. They were good kids and we watched “E.T. : The Extra-Terrestrial” on VHS together. I never forgot when Brian cracked up at the sight of the person dressed in a spacesuit coming into Elliot’s house to take control, Brian giggling, “You’re not in outer space!” He understood the irony, even at that young age. Lee’s house was an impressive one, tastefully decorated. I noticed he had a lot of Tom Waits stuff around including a couple of his albums up on the walls in picture frames. Lee no longer lives in that house though, currently residing in Arizona. Hard to believe those kids are in their fucking 40’s now.
Stereolab, Papa M, Fill., SF, Wed., November 23, 1999
SETLIST : John Cage Bubblegum, Infinity Girl, Escape Pod (From The World Of Medical Observations) AKA Heavy Munich, The Free Design, Op Hop Detonation AKA Buggy Boo!, Metronomic Underground, Monday, Strobo Acceleration AKA Amalgamatea, Analogue Rock, Blue Milk AKA Piano Mode, The Seeming & The Meaning, Come & Play In The Milky Night AKA Moody, Tone Burst, Super-Electric
It had only been four short days since I heard the calamitous news that Pete had been fired from the Maritime and Tory and I decided to leave as well. It took me a while to get back into my groove of regularly attending shows. Frankly, for the first half of 2000, I had little stomach for it. So, I must say how grateful that the first show I’d see after that emotional atomic bomb would be Stereolab. There are only a handful of bands that could reach me when I am that low and they’re up on the top of the list, at least in the top three. Seeing this gig at least gave me a little wiggle room mentally so I could eventually climb up the rest of the way. I had always hoped that Stereolab would one day play at the Maritime and I’d get to record them, but alas it never happened, and after this night, they would be firmly in the iron clutches of The Fillmore from then on out.
Before I continue, if you forgive my towering immodesty, my record keeping has been accurate 99 times out of hundred and probably better, but I do have to part company with the internet’s account of the setlist for this night. I know I was attending the first show of their two day stint at The Fillmore, so I think they might have listed the setlist for the second night by accident. Incidentally, the setlist I swiped from the sound person that night was handwritten on stationary from the Phoenix Hotel, a fashionable place well frequented by touring acts, so at least I know where they were staying then. The Phoenix was just down the street from me when I was living then in the Tenderloin, though I didn’t really hang out much at it, occasionally getting a drink in its bar. Anyway, one of the many things I appreciate about Stereolab is their habit of totally changing their sets from night to night. So, there’s no mistaking the difference between these two lists, not even close. Also, setlist.com has the opening act listed as Olivia Tremor Control instead of Papa M. But it was over twenty years ago and I can say that I’m probably the only person, or one of very few who would give a flying fuck on any level.
But speaking of Papa M, yes, they, or rather he was there as the opening act that night. This was the brainchild of a guy named David Pajo, a highly prolific musician and songwriter, most notably being the guitarist of Slint. Papa M. was the third part of a trilogy of albums he put out, the first two being “Ariel M”and simply “M”. David had actually filled in as the bass player from Stereolab briefly in 1995, but I didn’t see them that year. Up till then, he had done work with Tortoise, Royal Trux, and others and afterwards would go on to play with Zwan, the Yeah Yeah Yeahs, and Interpol just to name a few. He currently is touring with The Gang Of Four. David had just released his “Live From A Shark Cage” album just a month before this night. Tim Gane, the guitarist from Stereolab, helped to produce it. Yeah, David had talent and his set was relaxing as well as easy to usher. He also won some brownie points with The Fillmore’s old guard that night when he did a respectful instrumental cover of “Turn Turn Turn” by The Byrds.
I was especially eager to see Stereolab that evening since it had been two years to the day since I’d seen them play the Great American. Though I was up to my eyeballs in shows during those years, I missed them and glad they had come to town again. As it turns out, they were taking a little hiatus because Tim and singer Laetitia Sadier were having a bouncing baby boy named Alex. He would be their only offspring before they separated three years after this, though they still tour together to this day. During this time off, they wrote some new songs and had just released “Cobra & Phases Group Play Voltage In The Milky Night” just two months before this show. We were lucky to hear five new ones performed in their set.
Laetita had a really short haircut then, probably the shortest I’d ever seen it. The band was breaking in their new bassist, Simon Johns, the fifth since their inception, though Johns would stay with them for the next ten years. Guitarist and back up singer Mary Hansen had formed the band Schema with members of Hovercraft that year, though she sadly had recently lost her father. Even more tragic, Mary would join him three years later after being hit by a car while she was on a bike. I’m grateful I saw her as often as I did back then and I’d see her play with Stereolab two more times before she was gone. I’m sorry, this has taken a bit of a dark turn.
Indeed, I should celebrate this show even more since I must declare after listening to it again, that it was one of the best sets I’d ever hear them do. I had to work through the first two songs, but I dashed fast as lightning upstairs when I was cut, snatched my drink tickets, and bolted back downstairs. I can hear myself on the recording going up to the bar and getting a Sierra Nevada pale ale during “Heavy Munich”. Back then, it was only that or Bud on tap, an easy choice to make. Laetitia was in a happy mood and spoke some French with a few of the fans up front. You can hear me at the end of tape rejoicing that they had played “Tone Burst” saying that it was “one of my favorites”. I was also very relieved at the end of the night when Stereolab got a poster. If they hadn’t gotten one especially since they were doing a two night stint and I was feeling a bit emotionally fragile, that I might have made a scene. It was appropriate that Stereolab had finally played the hallowed halls of The Fillmore having proved themselves over their career to be more than worthy. Though they would return to play The Warfield the following year, the largest venue I’d ever see them headline in, they would return to The Fillmore again in 2001 and I would see them play there exclusively from then on out. It’s hard to believe as of the last time I caught them there last year, I have seen an even dozen Stereolab shows at The Fillmore. That’s over half of the 22 times I’ve seen them live in total.
The Roots, 75 Degrees, Eternal Measure, Mike T, Kelis, Maritime Hall, SF, Fri., November 19, 1999
OK, this is it. Last call. Though I would return to the Hall to fill in for Wade, my replacement in the recording room for a mere ten shows in 2000 and one more time for the final show in 2001, this gig with The Roots would be the final one I’d work as a full time recording engineer at Maritime Hall. The confrontation between Boots the owner and Pete my partner was a long time coming. Boots had been less than forthcoming for years about the royalties we were owed from the CD and DVD releases that the Hall had been putting out and Pete was at his limit. By this time, Boots was already bouncing checks left and right. I can’t say what was the last straw that put Pete over the threshold to make that fateful phone call, but he did it the day after this show. Pete warned me it was coming, but I naively shrugged it off hoping that he was just blowing off steam. Heartbreaking as the results were, I have to admit the moment I received the news had some comic timing.
Pete had phoned me that morning telling me he was going to do it and it was not my place to tell him to reconsider. Part of me hoped that this reckoning would result in Boots opening the books to reconcile the matter, but that was wishful thinking at its worst. I waited to hear how things were going that morning, but figured it would be a while, so I decided to take a shower. I’d just gotten to through my usual routine as people do in the shower and was in the final stages of washing off the soap suds from my body when, you guessed it, the phone rang. Anxious to hear what had transpired, I didn’t wait and burst from the shower to pick up the phone, trying to get the water out of my ear when I listen out of the phone’s receiver. Well, it was Boots, not Pete. Boots quickly informed me that he had fired Pete and when I questioned his motives, naturally he got angry and defensive merely stating that he was “tired of his shit”, told me I could join him if I wanted, and promptly hung up.
At that moment, butt naked, still dripping suds, I saw red and seriously considered getting dressed, buying a gun, marching over to Boots’ office, and personally send him back home to Hell. But I took a beat, called Pete and talked through it. Pete seemed relieved and not surprised in the results in the slightest. I was totally traumatized and didn’t know what to do. Pete said he obviously was not going back to the Hall and told me that I could do what I wanted. Well, I didn’t want to stay at Maritime without him, but still had Tory to consider. I thought about it and called Tory what had happened and what I was going to do and Tory agreed that he’d bail too. Tory was no fan of Boots, nobody at the Hall really was. So that was it.
But I was ashamed when four months later, Boots had asked me if I could fill in for Wade for a night and I had accepted. I was emotionally in a bad place over what had happened. Seriously, it was classic addictive behavior and I was too selfish and stupid to see it. I had missed the Hall, recording all these great musical acts and was envious that the Maritime was still carrying on despite us and I still wanted part of it. I was especially ashamed because of Tory and my going back after he had also packed up with Pete felt like the worst kind of betrayal. I’d known Tory since I was 6 years old, one of my oldest friends, if not the oldest. Tory seemed a touch peeved when I told him I was going back, but seemed to understand. He had already moved on and was looking elsewhere for work. There was no way he could have sustained himself financially full time just on the money Boots was paying him. I think he was getting only $50 a show back then.
Likewise, Boots offered me the same instead of the royalty scheme we had set up with Pete before this. Junkie as I was, I would have done it for free which before that time, I was practically doing anyway. Of course, I didn’t let Boots know this and took his blood money. And though I would only do those shows that I mentioned before, enough to just count them on both hands and one toe, the money did help, but I’d give it all back and never have returned at all if I had to do it all over again. I guess this is the “confession” part of my blog. I still harbor the guilt from that decision and will carry it with me for the rest of my days. I was a different person then obviously and like to think that today if I ever had to make such a terrible choice, that I would remember this time and opt for the moral one. But that being said, one would understand that my occasional returns to Hall at least afforded me to do a handful of shows that I remembered fondly, including getting to record The Flaming Lips, my borther’s old band the Dance Hall Crashers, and Todd Rundgren. The recording from Todd’s show would go on to become his “Live In San Francisco” DVD, though as usual, I didn’t end up in the credits.
But enough of my lamentations. Y’all will hear enough about these shows as I did as a “scab” in the future when I get to them chronologically. I like to call these last days of the Maritime, “The Blue Period”. I named it that for a couple reasons, but partially because the lighting guys had a leftover par can light on a floor stand and they had parked it in the recording room. It had a navy blue gel in its frame and I would light it up, reflecting off of one of the recording room’s white plaster walls giving the room a soothing blue glow. Pete had taken his lava lamps with him by that time, so the room needed some additional lighting anyway. Also, as it is with all venues on it’s last legs, it was truly a depressing time to work there, a real “blue” period filled with bounced checks and dwindling resources. By the end, Boots was having the sound guys use VHS tape labels stretched alongside each other to label the boards because he wouldn’t spring for board tape. But again, I digress and I have one last show to regale you all about.
As you might have read before, The Roots were no strangers to the Maritime. This would be the fifth (and final) time I’d record them there. Why, when I first encountered them at the Hall way back in December of 1996, they were still a three piece act headlining their first tour. But with the release of “Things Fall Apart” that February, it had become obvious that they were outgrowing the Hall and would soon be moving on to bigger and better venues. Like James Brown, who had rocked the house the night before, The Roots had made the unfortunate decision to join the bill of Woodstock ’99 that summer. At least they got through their set at that doomed festival and had hit the road before everything went to holy hell. But even though they had just co-headlined a show with Everlast at The Warfield with Macy Gray opening just two months before this night, they still packed the Maritime from top to bottom.
I’m glad to say that I would see The Roots four more times in the years that followed this show, but this would be the last time I’d see them with rapper Malik B. in the band. He had left The Roots after this tour, though he’d return to do vocals on other albums. Tragically, he passed away three years ago at the all too young age of 47, though the cause of death to this day has still not been revealed. Whenever somebody dies under such circumstances, it is more often than not either a drug overdose or suicide. As I said before, few would have predicted just how big they would become, ultimately taking the mantle of the house band for “Late Night With Jimmy Fallon” ten years later and then following him to “The Tonight Show” in 2014 where they still reside today.
This show had some decent, quick opening acts, but I do remember The Roots’ set being a good one, probably one of the best that I’d ever hear them perform. 75 Degrees who had been on the bill when The Roots played at the Hall eight months before with Common, was second to last this time. The first act was the young Kelis, who was getting fresh attention with her debut “Kaleidoscope” album, produced by Pharrell Williams and The Neptunes, which just came out that year along with the single “Caught Out There”. She was only 20 years old when she performed at the Hall that night, not even old enough to legally drink yet. Originally, that song was meant for Busta Rhymes, but he had turned it down, lucky for Kelis. Her chanting of “I hate you so much right now!” sticks in your head almost as much as “Milkshake”, the infectious song that Pharrell would pen for her four years later that would supercharge her career.
Strangely enough, the thing I remember most about their set that night was the little musical interludes they did at the end of the show. The band was clowning around and did little songs for each other, cracking each other up on stage. Though I can’t recall the others, I remember as if it was yesterday that they did an acapella version of “Feel The Heat”, that ridiculously silly rock song from “Boogie Nights” done by John C. Reilly and Mark Wahlberg. Those who had seen the movie will never forget their off key voices and corny lyrics while they rehearsed it in a recording studio along with Wahlberg’s cringe inducing cover of “The Touch” by Stan Bush. Other than that, The Roots pretty much covered most of the same ground they did when they had performed at the Hall the previous March.
So, that was it. Finito. Though a small part of me was bracing for the impending divorce from Boots and the Hall, that night I was focused entirely on The Roots and their fun set. But reliving this show means reliving the divorce. I finish this installment with bittersweet feelings of my whole experience with that dreaded pirate ship of a venue, but also with an overwhelming sense of relief and graditude. I’m also relieved that in my future writings that I won’t be blindsided anymore discovering the CDs and DVDs of ones I did, unaware of their release. Confession is good for the soul and though it was painful to relive those terrible feelings again, it is cathartic as well. That time there will always be a part of me and I’m proud of the work Pete, Tory, and all the others involved took part in. Even though we didn’t get credit for a lot of the things we recorded there, those CDs and DVDs exist and are enjoyed by those musical acts’ fans in perpetuity, despite how obscure some of them might be or how good they were. At least my tenure at the Maritime ended on a high note with The Roots.
James Brown & The Soul Generals, Maritime Hall, SF, Thurs., November 18, 1999
SETLIST : Overture, I Can’t Turn You Loose, Mercedes Benz, At Last, A Little Bit Harder, Get Up Offa That Thing, Cold Sweat, Gonna Have A Funky Good Time, Super Bad, Get On The Good Foot, My Mama Did Told Me, Every Piece Of My Heart, Heavy Juice, solos, If You Ever Leave Me – Prisoner Of Love – The Payback – I Found Someone, This Is A Man’s World, Hot Pants (She Got To Use What She Got To Get What She Wants) – Make It Funky – It’s Too Funky In Here – Funk On Ah Roll, Try Me, I Got You (I Feel Good), The Popcorn Intro – Papa’s Got A Brand New Bag, Please Please Please, Get Up (I Feel Like A Sex Machine)
OK, obviously this is a big one, maybe the most important show I ever taped at the Hall. Straight out of the gate, I just want to say how shocked I was that Pete left me this one to do. I mean, Wilson Pickett was one thing, but the Godfather Of Soul, Mr. Dynamite, AKA Soul Brother Number 1? Maybe it was because he had already taped Mr. Brown back in 1996 at the Hall but more likely that he was fed up with Boots the owner. This would be the second to last show I’d do at this venue as a full time recording engineer, but I was so excited at the prospect of doing it that I could scarcely devote any thought to the Hall’s impending doom. I’ll leave the details of this unpleasant divorce for The Roots who played the following night.
All morning, I’m ashamed to say that I had the “Weird Al” Yankovic song “Living With A Hernia” stuck in my head, his parody of “Living In America”. A funny song it might be, but as luck would have it, wasn’t performed that night. I also made the unwise decision to give blood that day. I was in the habit of giving blood routinely back then mostly because the medical world so desperately needed it and continues to, but also because I was aware that the act was good for men’s health, spurning my body to produce fresh blood cells. The word I heard was that it helps men particularly because women do this replenishment naturally through menstruation. Anyway, I did it around lunchtime that day, knowing I’d get to the Hall around 3 PM, well ahead of the usual time for soundcheck. Well… I was wrong. They don’t call Mr. Brown the hardest working man in show business for nothing.
When I arrived, I was horrified to discover that not only was his band there already, but they had set up on stage and were smack dab in the middle of their soundcheck. With a woozy head, I frantically turned on the recording room, got the input list, and did my best to piece together the mix as fast as I could. The good news was that they were such a tight band, that mixing them was that much easier. The bad news was that it was easily the largest band I had ever had to mix, forcing me to improvise like a motherfucker to bus inputs together in the 8 tracks out of the 24 I could do that with. Right away, the four audience mics had to take up two tracks. There was no way around that. My memory is understandably fuzzy, but I believe I put all the guitars and keys on two tracks, the horns and back up singers on another two, along with all the percussion, toms, and overhead cymbals on the last two. Somehow I squeezed them all in there and had a half decent mix by the time they finished their soundcheck. I caught my breath, made sure all my tapes were properly labeled, and waited for the glorious event.
Now one thing I wanted to point out was that James Brown had his dressing room that night right next door to the recording room in Grant’s office. Boots personally knew I was there, but unconvincingly gave me the whole, “Oh, I didn’t know you were even here” routine at the end of the show, intercepting me with the tapes before I could give it to Mr. Brown or any of his crew. He took the tapes and told me that he’d take care of it, but somehow (a-hem!) that never happened that night and the tapes were left on the shelves in the recording room the following day. Oops. To be fair, I have sympathy for Boots on this one. It was no secret that Mr. Brown’s tour manager was a just a wee bit of the demanding sort and it’s a safe bet that if he was aware of the recording going on, he’d shut it down right away, so I’m glad Boots kept it on the DL. It wasn’t the first time he pulled a sneaky fast one on acts that had performed there and rest assured, it wasn’t the last. But still, if Boots hadn’t bent the rules as much and often as he did, the Maritime would have never got off the ground, much less put me in the recording chair of a James Brown concert. For that alone, I must thank him.
Fast ones aside, it happened. Like I said, this was the biggest band I ever mixed, save for one that probably tied it, being the time all the members of the Hothouse Flowers joined Donal Lunny’s Coolfin on stage there that August. All and all, it was at least 40 odd inputs, we’re talking full drum and percussion kits, 3 basses, 5 guitars, 5 keyboards, a full horn section, and back up singers. The Soul Generals weren’t messing around. When you get a band that size, it’s no longer a band, it becomes an orchestra. And with his reputation, came the tour rider which I’m sure cost the Maritime a bundle. For starters, I know they had him shacked up at presidential suite at the Fairmont on Nob Hill. I shutter to think how much that one costs a night. Along with the catering and amenities, they had set up an old school hair drying chair in Grant’s office for him. Dear lord, the work that must go into maintaining that bulletproof helmet of hair he has must be exhausting. Furthermore, the Soul Generals all had matching suits with bow ties and cumberbunds that certainly needed to be dry cleaned after every performance. I noticed in other gigs they would do that year, they had blue suits, but that night they were red. I imagine they would rotate between the two and probably had more sets that I don’t even know about and that’s just for the band. The extensive wardrobe that Mr. Brown has donned over the decades is truly mind boggling. Like the late great country legend Rose Maddox once eloquently coined, he made “Liberace look like a plucked chicken”. It came to no surprise that the floor tickets would be $50, the balcony ones $75, to cover the costs of it all. It doesn’t sound like a lot of money today, but back then that was a bundle.
Before I continue on to the show, it should be noted that Mr. Brown was as busy as always that year. He, along with The Roots who played the Hall the following night, made the unfortunate decision to be on the bill of Woodstock ’99 that summer, but were long gone before that festival self destructed. He had also been the entertainment for the Super Bowl halftime show in 1997. As luck would have it, he had just released “The Merry Christmas Album” just two days before this show, his (gulp!) 58th studio album and the 4th Christmas album he’d put out in 31 years. Like back in 1996, the Soul Generals were lead by Hollie Farris, their trumpet player and musical director. It was no secret that James had been battling drug addiction for his entire career, though he held a strict no drug policy with his band members, and had just finished a stint in rehab the year before only to be charged with marijuana possession and unlawful use of a handgun only a week later. He had allegedly taken a woman named Mary Simons hostage for three days demanding oral sex when he discharged the weapon, though the charges were ultimately dismissed. To go into the myriad of other charges leveled upon him in his life ranging from domestic and sexual abuse, car chases with the police, and numerous assaults would imply that Mr. Brown perhaps was the most dangerous man in show business as well as the hardest working. I suppose one would have to work hard to be that dangerous.
Speaking of Mr. Brown’s troubles, he had a similar track record with his love interests. Along with the nine children he admitted to siring, he had at least three kids out of wedlock, including the last one, James Jr., who he fathered with his lead back up singer in the Soul Generals, Tomi Rae Hynie. They held a wedding ceremony three years after this show, but there was legal wrangling over the validity of their marriage after James’ death, but she was ultimately decreed as his widow in the end and was entitled to her share of his estate. But that ruling was struck down three years ago when a judge determined that she was not legally his widow since she had failed to annul her previous marriage. Tomi was there that night, introduced by the diminutive Danny Ray, James’ longtime emcee, and did a few songs with the Soul Generals before James took the stage, including a cover of Janis Joplin’s “Mercedes Benz”. She had actually been working as a Janis Joplin impersonator in Las Vegas when they first met two years before this show. She also did a quick cover of “At Last”, the wedding standard by Etta James.
Anyway, like the first time I’d witness this spectacle of soul, they brought the house down once again. James burst onto stage after a medley of his hits and the traditional introduction by Danny Ray and the band went straight into “Get Up Offa That Thing”. I was still desperately trying to piece together my mix during that song, having had so little time to do it during the soundcheck, but by the time they followed it with “Cold Sweat”, I think it was passible. I’ll never forget that Chris, one of the Brotherhood Of Light guys, had advised Tory to get extra close in his close ups for the video that night and Tory obliged him, though I thought he should have ignored him. Tory was great at his job by then and needed no coaching for his skills on the camera and video switching. They covered hit after hit, James doing his signature dance moves, finishing with Danny Ray coming in doing the traditional bit where he would escort him off stage, draping him in a cape. But James would soon return to finish the night with the seminal soul classic, “Get Up (I Feel Like A) Sex Machine”.
And like that, it was all over. I had little time to grab some beer to celebrate, but managed to grab a couple pints from the bar to blow off some steam with Tory. We hung out in the back alley of the ground floor near the cafeteria to try to stay clear of Mr. Brown and the load out. Bonz, the head of security, even gave us the stink eye when he saw we were drinking beer out there and told us to stay out of sight. We assured him that we were going to drink up and skeedaddle soon. After a minute or two, we were almost done when none other than Mr. Brown himself walked by us on his way to his tour bus and as you might imagine, we were caught by surprise. But Tory and I quickly regained what composure we had, shook his hand, and probably blubbered something about how much we loved him and how much he ruled that night. I remember he was all smiles and had a firm handshake and before we knew it, he floated past us like a jewel encrusted breeze and he was gone. That was it. That was my little microscopic moment with the Godfather Of Soul. And even though that show would sadly be one of my last at the Hall, the memory of that wild, funky night sustains me to this day and makes me proud.
Buju Banton, Beres Hammond, Hurricane Gilbert & Majestic, Maritime Hall, SF, Sun., November 14, 1999
It had been a long extended weekend of shows at the Maritime and this one would end the five night stretch. And what a night to end it on, a late, LATE reggae show with Buju Banton. Though it was definitely a stylistic left turn from the night before from the bombastic sounds of Slipknot and Coal Chamber, oddly enough Buju had just been signed at Epitaph Records, a label populated almost entirely by punks. Granted, punks and rastas had always a good relationship, particularly with guys like The Clash, Bad Brains, and The Police, but having Buju on their roster is still a little bit of a surprise. His music is about as dancehall as it comes, but nevertheless, along with his new album, “Unchained Spirit”, Buju would collaborate with Rancid for three songs, “No More Misty Days”, “Hooligans”, and “Life Won’t Wait”.
Beres Hammond who opened that night would also appear on Buju’s new album, contributing vocals for the song, “Pull It Up”. Though I’d never seen the reggae veteran before, I was familiar with Hurricane Gilbert & Majestic who had just performed at the Maritime that July opening for Beenie Man. Like Beenie Man, Buju would torture me into the wee hours of the night doing his halting thick drum and bass music. It’s like he’d do part of a song, break it down, toast some acapella in his indecipherable Jamaican patois, and then start all over again. I mean, I like dancehall as much as the next guy, but after a couple hours of this on top of the sheer exhaustion from this stretch of concerts, I was more than ready for it all to be over. Little did I know that by the same time, the following week that it all would be. After The Roots played the following Friday, my partner Pete finally confronted Boots the owner and Boots fired him. I’ll get to that soon enough.
Coal Chamber, Slipknot, Dope, Maritime Hall, SF, Sat., November 13, 1999
(SLIPKNOT) : Intro – 742617000027, [sic], Eyeless, Wait & Bleed, Surfacing, Purity, Spit It Out, Eeyore, Scissors, (unknown)
(COAL CHAMBER) : Loco, Big Truck, No Home, Bradley, Not Living, Untrue, First, Clock, I, Tyler’s Song, Oddity, Sway
Ugh. Here we go again. No sooner than I had just got through bellyaching to you all about how S.O.D. clumsily ripped off my recording of them for a live DVD, that I find Coal Chamber, the very next show literally the day after, would also release a live DVD without my knowing about it. Now before I continue, I will say that having vented so much about S.O.D. and taken a beat to think it all over, I’m not nearly as furious as I was a couple days ago. To begin with, I’m coming to the end of my bittersweet history with Maritime Hall and I’m finding myself more and more grateful that so much stuff we recorded there had been released in one form or another, whether we got money or credit or neither. At this point, I’m just glad they exist and somebody got to appreciate them. Secondly, upon hearing Coal Chamber’s set again, I was reminded that I wasn’t really a fan of their music. I’m not exactly enthusiastic about bragging that I have them in my resume of recording accomplishments. Nevertheless, they liked the video that Tory and I made that night, enough to add it to the 2005 re-release of their debut album as a bonus DVD.
Besides, Coal Chamber didn’t rip us off like S.O.D. did. Boots the owner had mixed the DVD himself and made a deal with them. I know Boots was in on this one because he did one of his trademark misspellings in the credits spelling the word video, “Vidio” when he listed the video crew. I swear to God, only Boots would screw something up that simple. Boots had listed guys who had done video work with the Hall after Tory had left with Pete and me, guys like James McCloud. And though the video system was basically designed to be run by a single person, Boots had listed four different guys in the video department. Naturally, I am pissed that neither Tory or I were listed in the credits, but Boots did list Pete in the audio crew, though he listed his role as “Basics”. Seriously, just the wording he used obviously screamed that he wasn’t intending on giving Pete or me one thin dime from this DVD. At least placing him on that list of credits at all confirmed that the set was recorded during our tenure there and there’s no denying that Tory and I did that one. Still, we got hosed and as Stephen Colbert once so eloquently phrased it, I’m just “screaming into an Altoid’s can and throwing that can over a cliff into the ocean”. Even if Pete was alive today, I’m sure he’d find trying to shake Boots down over it or any of the others wouldn’t be worth the headache.
The good news about this show was it was the first time I got to see Slipknot. This was one of those rare gigs where the opener blew the headliner out of the water. I mean, I’ve seen guys get clearly upstaged like when I saw Radiohead open for Soul Asylum or when The Cranberries opened for Suede, but not like this. Slipknot stomped on them with both feet and buried them alive. Dear God, I thought when The Misfits had Gwar open for them recently at the Hall that they would be a tough act to follow, but Coal Chamber tried their best and managed to get a pittance of the mosh pit Slipknot got, probably the craziest the Maritime would ever have. At least Dope, the first band on that night, didn’t have to follow Slipknot. They had just rolled through the Hall two months before this opening for Fear Factory and I thought they were pretty good, better than Coal Chamber anyway. They once again did their industrial metal covers of “Fuck Tha Police” by N.W.A. and “You Spin Me Round (Like A Record)” by Dead Or Alive. The band Amen had been on the bill for this tour, but I don’t remember if they were at the Hall that night. They were between record labels and I think they might have had to drop out of the tour.
There was little to prepare me for the spectacle that is Slipknot, other than I knew they were pretty heavy and getting popular fast. One thing I knew and was curious about was the fact they were from Des Moines, Iowa, just down the road from all my kin in Ames. The idea that such a remarkable group of psychos could emerge from such an obscure place still boosts my morale. Their debut self titled album had just come out that June while they were touring around with Ozzfest headlining its second stage. This was being billed as the “Livin La Vida Loco” tour and this was their second to last show opening for Coal Chamber. Slipknot clearly took a page from Mr. Bungle with their matching speedsuits and assigned mask characters. But the real star of the show in my opinion with that band was their drummer, Joey Jordison, who sadly just passed away a couple years ago from a rare neurological condition called acute transverse myelitis. Joey was one of the fastest, tightest metal drummers that I ever had the honor of seeing perform. Slipknot was so outrageous and frantic, that many people would overlook his skills on the skins.
That man’s drum kit turned out to be a bit of a controversy that night between me and the monitor engineer, Jack Shaw. Now, I did and still have the utmost respect for Jack. He’s a brilliant sound man, ten times the sound man I’ll ever be, but I had to part company with him that night when he refused to set up overhead mics for the drum cymbals. He had affixed all of Coal Chamber’s mics in place, but with all the inputs that he had to dig up for Slipknot, he came up short, so he simply didn’t put the overhead mics out. I did my best to try to implore him to simply just use Coal Chamber’s overhead mics, even if he just used one of them, and convince him of the importance of Slipknot, but he wouldn’t budge. I wouldn’t normally go to Boots over such a matter, but I thought it was that important. Well, I should have predicted that there would be blood over this and when Boots confronted Jack in the only way Boots knows how to confront people, Jack took it as the last straw and quit the Hall when the show was over. I still feel guilty about the whole incident and would take it back if I could, but let’s face it. It was the Maritime and Jack would have quit eventually anyway. Disappointed as I was, I’m happy to say after cranking up the high hat mic and some of the high end on some of the other drum mics, that enough of the cymbals bled through to be passable.
Before they took their places on stage, they played a weird recording of a bunch of southern kids yelling profanity at each other. I still can’t figure out where they sampled it from. Singer Corey Taylor pumped up the crowd, yelling, “Are you ready for the fuckin’ sickness, people!?! Let me see your middle fingers in the air! Are you ready to tear this place apart!?!” He stuck up his middle finger, fingernails painted black, leading a vast sea of middle fingers on the dance floor and in the balcony. The crowd cheered when the droning “[sic]” intro began and the mosh pit exploded the moment they began playing “Eyeless”. The stage was crowded with their nine members, but there was room enough in the wings for a couple of their techs to watch over them. One of them, a skinny shirtless fellow was wearing an Elvis wig, sunglasses, and had the words “The King” along with a cartoon crown painted on his chest in large black letters.
Corey took time to give a couple speeches between songs that night. After “Wait & Bleed” he addressed the crowd saying, “You know, not too long ago, we rolled though here on a little thing called Ozzfest. Do I got any friends from that fuckin’ day here? Let me see these fuckers! Light these fuckers up so I can see my friends here!” The lighting guy obliged him and he went on, “If you were there, you know I said some pretty horrible things about hippies & love, peace and all that fuckin’ bullshit. Well, I got something else to fuckin’ say, cus’ there’s a lot of idiotic, pussy motherfuckers ruining music today and I’m personally fuckin’ tired of it, are you!?! I’m not gonna mention any fuckin’ names like Kid Rock, Eminem, that fuckin’ shit. I don’t give a fuck. I just want to see your middle fingers in the air! Because if you feel the same way I do, I want to hear you sing this song till it makes this fuckin’ ceiling shake! This song is called ‘Surfacing’!”
Afterwards, he spoke again catching his breath, “I’m not afraid to kill you all. I just need one second please. Shhh… This song is about something terrible that happened to a little girl. This song is about a girl in a box. This song is called ‘Purity’”. During the song, another interesting thing happened. Corey would stand still at the edge of the stage, extended his free hand, holding an open bottle of water, and started pouring little splashes of water onto the heads of the security guys up front. As you can imagine, they weren’t very pleased about that amongst other things and they absolutely aired their grievances with the band when their set ended, but I’ll get to that in a bit. The DJ, his table adorned with a black tarp with large, white letter banner on it saying “People = Shit”, did a series of little scratches for the intro of “Spit It Out”. Corey got everybody to put their fists in the air and near the end of the song, the DJ did a rather impressive stage dive into the mosh pit.
For their second to last song, they did “Scissors” and the member with the pointy nose mask brought out a metal beer keg with a ribbed tube attached to it and he rubbed the tube with a percussion stick occasionally banging the side of the keg. The big guy in the bald clown mask pretended to play pocket pool as security rather brutally took away in a choke hold some young man who bum rushed the stage. At the end of the song, the DJ knelt at Coreys feet and he brought him in, hugging him, the DJs face nestled in his torso. Yeah, it was a touching moment, but for the last song, of which I still don’t know the title, Corey went someplace dark, giving us a little melancholy monologue.
It began, “I can hear the maggots scream. I can feel the shadows of hell. I can feel your filth like a coat or sweater on my fuckin’ eyes. I still don’t believe a fuckin’ word you say to me… Your own existence is a joke. You hide yourself inside skin & bone. Do you people even know who the fuck you are? Do you people know who the fuck you are!?! Can you see right through the fuckin’ haze?” The guy in the pointy mask simulated jacking off his own nose, hypnotising the guitar player next to him and Corey continued, “Conspiratorial bloody gaze of your own pathetic ways to get through your own fuckin’ pathetic days. You break bones on your own. You break bread with your enemy and you still look yourself in the mirror every day. Your friends lie and they cheat and they fuck you around until you can’t even see yourself. What is real? Am I real? Am I real to you? Can you hear me? Am I real to you!?! Or am I just another lie?… I… I feel sick. I know why…”
The bald clown faced guys put his fingers down his own throat as Corey wrapped things up, “But you’ll never listen to me. Even though I show it all to you! You’ll never listen to me! You just keep going around, let yourself behind until there’s nothing left!” He kept screaming “Until there’s nothing left!” and the bald clown started kicking things on stage over, tearing off the banner from the DJ table. I have to say, having to pause and replay this monologue over and over again was beginning to take its toll on me. It was starting to get so depressing that it became hilarious. Anyway, the band climaxed at the end abusing their instruments until the set finally finished in a chaotic din. I took a deep breath and took a moment to process what I had just witnessed. I knew this recording was important to me, but knew it would probably never be published. Slipknot was already too big by then for the Maritime and could do a live DVD their own way and they did, having just put out the “Welcome To Our Neighborhood” DVD just four days before this show and then “Disasterpieces” three years later. They would also rerelease a 10th anniversary special edition of that double platinum debut album with a bonus DVD of a live set they did in 2000 from a festival in The Netherlands called “Dynamo Open Air”.
But I was still proud of the work Tory and I did and was looking forward to meeting the band when I would hand the tapes off to them. Because of the lack of space, they had actually parked Slipknot in the hallway on the level where the recording room was, so I found them right away. And that’s when they were having shall I say an awkward encounter with the Hall’s security. When I strolled around the corner, I came upon a melee in progress between security and members of the band, each lunging and angrily shouting at each other while more sensible members of each group tried to hold everybody back. I found the closest Slipknot member who wasn’t engaged in fisticuffs and it happened to be their bass player, Paul Gray, the one with the pig mask. Paul didn’t seemed phased in the slightest from the commotion just a few feet in front of him and very casually took the tapes, signed the release, and thanked me. I was pleasantly surprised by his friendly demeanor, especially since he was a rather burly fellow. I’m sad to say that this gentle giant, the one member of Slipknot I actually met, would pass away eleven years later from an accidental drug overdose.
But at least I would get to see him and their original drummer perform with Slipknot a couple more times the following year when the headlined The Warfield and again in 2001 when they would lead the second stage at the B.F.D. festival at Shoreline. Yes, Slipknot wouldn’t be opening for any other acts for a while after this, promptly beginning their own headlining “World Domination” tour just two weeks after this show. Indeed, I believe they were supposed to play the Maritime again when they returned to town the following April, but they were too big by then and The Warfield snatched them up. After that, they would graduate to playing arena sized venues and continue to do so to this day. The last time they played in the bay area in 2019, they headlined at Shoreline, calling it the “Knotfest” tour. Yeah, and poor Coal Chamber had to follow them that night.
They cleared out all of Slipknot’s gear and there was once again a little elbow room on stage. They set up a couple par cans as uplights on the front corners of the drum riser and one below the guitarist. This would be one of the last shows bassist Rayna Foss would do before taking some time off to give birth and spend time with her first child and was replaced for a time by Nadja Peulen. She would then return after Nadja left the band in 2002, claiming that she and her husband had found Christ. Either that, or she just wanted to stop being in a band that sucked. I know I sound harsh, but understand, Coal Chamber had just been kicked off a tour opening for Insane Clown Posse because their fans hated them. Seriously, when you can’t even get fans as lame as the Juggalos to like you, maybe it’s time to call it a day.
Coal Chamber had played the Hall the year before with Sevendust and their singer Dez Farfara made a note of it saying the last time they had played there, that there had been only 150 people attending and boasted of the crowd they had amassed at this one. Frankly, most folks were obviously there for Slipknot and quite a few bailed after their set was over. Still, the dance floor was pretty full and managed to get a little mosh pit going for some of their faster numbers. They had set up a step box in front of the drum riser where during “Not Living”, Dez laid down on his back for a bit and then sat Indian style in front of it. I have to admit, I thought their guitarist Miquel Rascon was pretty funny the way he would do little robot moves throughout his grating guitar playing and that he wore a face veil when they did “Tyler’s Song”. At the end, he was futzing around with some sort of theremin device and when it was all over, they set off a confetti cannon. Yes, blown away they might have been that night by Slipknot, but they swung for the fences anyway. I’d see them one more time three years later at The Fillmore headlining a tour sponsored by Jagermeister.
S.O.D., Skinlab, Crowbar, 40 Grit, Maritime Hall, SF, Fri., November 12, 1999
SETLIST : We Are The World/What’s That Noise Intro, March Of The S.O.D., Sargent ‘D’ & The S.O.D., Kill Yourself, Milano Mosh, Speak English Or Die, Make Room Make Room, Fuck The Middle East, Douche Crew, Celtic Frosted Flakes, Ballad Of Jimi Hendrix (played twice), Ballad Of Jim Morrison, Ballad Of Michael Hutchence, Ballad Of Nirvana, Ballad Of Frank Sinatra, Ballad Of Freddy Mercury, Chromatic Death, Fist Banging Mania, Skool Bus, No Turning Back, Not – Momo – Taint – The Camel Boy – Diamonds & Rust – Anti-Procrastination Song, King At The King – Evil Is In, Charlie Don’t Cheat, Milk, (encore), Aren’t You Hungry? Pussy Whipped, Freddy Kruger, United Forces
It’s hard for me to write this one. This show took place on the day of the Duzce earthquake in Turkey which killed over 70,000 people, so I try to keep that in mind when consider the personal and professional slights that I endured from this night. I had been accustomed in my research of these many Maritime shows to discover that bands had clandestinely taken footage from our recordings and released them for official and unofficial videos and CDs. Everyone from Keith Emerson to Public Enemy thought our material was good enough to steal, but for some reason, what the Stormtroopers Of Death did stings a little more than the others. They had taken the set we recorded and used footage from it for their live DVD “Kill Yourself : The Movie”, splicing in a handful of songs into the movie and having the entire set to watch in the DVD’s special features. That in unto itself wasn’t that upsetting. It was just the way they tried to cover their tracks in using it. But before I continue in my rant of self pity, I admit now that it hurts the most because I like these guys.
For starters, every time the Maritime or San Francisco was mentioned, the film makers covered it with an obnoxiously loud electronic beep. At first, I thought they were censoring out some bad language, but for the folks who know S.O.D., know that they, especially their lead singer, Billy Milano, have reputations for having potty mouths to say the least. So that wasn’t it. Personally, I thought it would have been less intrusive to just leave a bit of silence instead. Most folks would just attribute it to a gap in the recording or something. Though I didn’t realize this attempt to cover their tracks right away, I instantly noticed that the film makers had cropped the image of the video on the bottom portion to leave out the “2B1” logo that was on all the copies given to the artists at the end of their sets. I’m not entirely sure what the band was hoping to accomplish by this, since I knew immediately that the footage was from the show I did and if Boots, the Maritime’s owner was aware and wanted too, could dig up the master tapes and prove it in court like we had with KRS-One.
It definitely didn’t help S.O.D. that the director, Bill Philputt, basically confessed to the footage’s theft about an hour and twenty minutes into the DVD commentary of the movie, literally saying, “We had to add a bleep into the sound there because we were going to mention the name of the city this was filmed in which of course we couldn’t do due to some licensing negotiation problems that we were having with our attorneys” He even slipped up and mentioned that the show had taken place on the west coast. All that, and the fact that Mike repeatedly mentioned that they hadn’t toured in 14 years, landed this show squarely in the middle of 1999, promoting their new album, “Bigger Than The Devil” which had just been released that May. On a side note, I did appreciate the fact they were calling their tour the “Killeth Fair”, an obvious parody of the Lilith Fair, a festival which I will just say is quite a different scene from this show and leave it at that. Yep, we still have them cold, but to add insult to injury, I know there’s little to nothing to be done about it. The DVD came out over 20 years ago and I doubt it made much money, not enough to bother suing over anyway. It would take a lot of money to convince me to contact Boots in any way to begin with. As with all the others ripped off from the Hall, it’s not so much the money, but the credit I wished I could have had, especially for Tory. He did such fine work that night.
It helped a bit that in lieu of traditionally labeling the gig by the location and date, they gave our show at the Hall the moniker of the “Ronnie Dobbs Entitilitus Foundation Benefit” for the movie. For all those who don’t know, Ronnie was a hillbilly character comedian David Cross regularly played on “Mr. Show” on HBO and “Entitilitus” was a fictitious disease that he suffered from. This disease Ronnie claimed “no one knows where entitilitus comes from or what entitilitus is, but entitilitus kills” and encouraged others to bring awareness to his ailment by having people participate in “Talk Backwards Day”. Wearing his trademark black mullet and trucker’s hat, the shirtless Ronnie breathlessly finished his plea asking if folks that if they found themselves in a crowd “ya’ll wear condoms on both your ears… I think it’s funny.” Scott joked on the commentary that they managed to raise $18 for the Foundation at that show, but I can’t say that this humorous angle is enough for me to forgive them, at least not yet. They still haven’t found a cure.
Hurt feelings aside, it was a fun and momentous occasion. Like I said, the band hadn’t toured in 14 years apart from a single one-off gig they did in New York City which they recorded the deceptively titled “Live At Budakan” album, which I own and enjoy. These were funny guys and their work reflected it, brutal as their sound was. Many people misunderstood them, thinking they were actually serious when they penned songs like “Speak English Or Die”, clearly a satire on racism in general, but Americans are pretty dumb. Some skinhead types didn’t get the joke and would show up to some of their gigs, but would soon discover that the whole white power thing wasn’t exactly welcome there. Guitarist Scott Ian is jewish, for heaven’s sake, and Billy often reminds him of that on stage. And to help clarify their stance, Billy had an S.O.D. T-shirt on that night with the words “I’m Not Racist. I Hate Everybody” on the back.
Anyway, during the intervening years, the members apart from Billy were refocusing on their primary band, Anthrax, and Billy was doing well managing bands like Agnostic Front. S.O.D. was sort of a lark for them to begin with, recording their seminal debut album, “Speak English Or Die”, in only three days with no real intention of continuing the act in the future. Since their inception in 1985, S.O.D. only did a little over a dozen live shows in total, but they had recently got back together in 1997 for another reunion show in Hoboken, New Jersey, and then did about nine more other random gigs, including the Milwaukee Metal Fest and the Full Force Festival in Germany. But the lure of playing together brought them once more into the recording studio and like before, they found themselves hatching songs at a breakneck pace, writing four new ones in the first day alone.
Opening that night were thrash mainstay’s 40 Grit, their third time playing the Hall and Crowbar, who I saw many moons before opening for Pantera at The Warfield. With Pantera vocalist, Phil Anselmo, guitarist and singer Kirk Windstein would take part in metal supergroup Down, who I saw at The Fillmore four years before this. Skinlab, who I’d seen open for many bands at the Maritime, had moved up to the penultimate act that evening. In fact, that band holds the distinction of tying for the record for number of times of any other act I’d see play at that venue, matching Merl Saunders, both chalking up SEVEN times performing there. They edged out The Earthlings, The Mermen, and Papa Roach who all come in second with six shows each. I’ve said it before, but it merits repeating that although I wasn’t a fan of Skinlab in the beginning, they improved over the years and grew on me. And though this would be the last time I’d record them at the Hall, I would at least see them play once more opening for Judas Priest at The Fillmore three years later.
S.O.D. had quite an impressive set of gear on stage for this tour. Both Scott and bassist Dan Lilker had adorned the massive stacks of amps with the visage of their cartoon mascot, “Sargent D”, a skull wearing an army helmet smoking a fat cigar, but he was only the right half of The Sarge’s face. The other half was that of the devil and adding to the satanic, or at the very least pagan, motif, drummer Charlie Benante had his dual kick drums decorated with large, red, upside down pentagrams. Billy had dyed his hair blond for the tour making him look conspicuously like Food Network TV star Guy Fieri, unintentionally of course, since Guy wouldn’t even get famous on TV for another seven years. Maybe Guy stole his look,,, Think about it…. Scott was sporting a black bodied electric guitar with flames painted on it and wore a white tank top with the logo of the adult magazine “Hustler”, a shirt he mentioned he ultimately lost in the aforementioned DVD commentary. Billy caught a glimpse of himself up on the Maritime’s giant video screens after they did “Kill Yourself”, pointed and joked, “Look at that big, good lookin’ guy up there!”
They did a little breakdown near the end of “Speak English Or Die” where they did a few licks from the beginning of “Raining Blood” by Slayer. On other legs of the tour, they would do a couple licks from “Angel Of Death” instead. As contemporaries of each other, it was an homage, but it turns out that S.O.D. was a big influence on Slayer around the time they wrote that song, so it kind of went full circle. S.O.D. would go on to do a very Slayer-eque single of their own called “Seasoning The Obese”, an obvious parody of “Seasons In The Abyss”, though they didn’t play it live on this night. They covered a lot of new material at this show, six new ones not including the “Ballad” songs which I’ll get into later. After they did “Make Room, Make Room”, Billy noted the songs extraordinary length, clocking in at “like three minutes, epic like three songs in one!”
After they did “Fuck The Middle East” which Billy claimed was a love song, they did “Celtic Frosted Flakes” an homage to the now disbanded Swiss extreme metal band Celtic Frost. At the end of the song, Billy asked Scott the key question of the song’s chorus, “What ever happened to Celtic Frost?” and Scott made claims about the band member’s current whereabouts. He said “Tom Warrior has a new band with Paul Baloff (of Exodus). Martin Ain is running a club in Zurich and Reed St. Mark is teaching aerobics.” Apparently, Scott would change up the descriptions for every show, but it was true that Reed had become a personal trainer of some kind. Sadly, Martin passed away in 2017 from a heart attack at the too young age of only 50. Technically, Celtic Frost was still together in 1999 and wouldn’t actually disband for another nine years.
Back to the show, they then went into a series of “Ballads” like I mentioned where they’d play a bit of music from a famous rock musician for a couple bars and then Billy would shout “You’re dead!!!” They started with the “Ballad Of Jimi Hendrix”, doing the first couple bars of “Purple Haze”, then did ones for Jim Morrison, Michael Hutchence, Nirvana, Frank Sinatra, and Freddie Mercury. For that last one, they did a bit of “We Will Rock You” and Billy sang to the thumping beat, “You are, you are, DEAD NOW!!!” You get the idea. A couple songs later, Billy did a little spoof on the B-52’s singing something about “S.O.D. in the Hate Shack” and Scott played a little riff from the beginning of “Rock Lobster”. Afterwards, Billy pointed out Pinky our monitor engineer and asked him his name, celebrating his hippyish appearance and making a “Freedom Rock” wise crack. They then did a six song medley in nine seconds, a medley so fast they reprised it twice. The crowd started chanting for their song “Pussy Whipped” a little later, but Billy rebuked them saying, “You Want ‘Pussy Whipped’? Well, guess what? You got ‘Milk’ instead!” which they finished their set. That tune is a textbook example of S.O.D.’s work, a brutal metal song about not having any milk for your cereal in the morning.
When they came back after loud chants of “S.O.D.! S.O.D.! S.O.D.!” from the crowd during the encore break, Billy beckoned Scott to come back on stage getting the audience to slowly chant, “Baaaaldy! Baaaaldy! Baaaldy!” then Billy introduced Scott joking, “It’s Stone Cold Steve Austin! Man, you are ripped!” and mentioned that he had a fight with him the day before, said sorry, and gave him a hug. Billy introduced the rest of the band calling Dan “the man with the blackest of souls and blackest of hearts”, Charlie “the motherfucker with the magic feet… not the guy above N’Snyc”, and came back to Scott, first admiring his shiny bald head, then declaring him the “Israeli assassin, the Matza marauder, the rabbi of destruction” He’s not entirely wrong there. Scott does hold a black belt in Krav Maga. Scott payed him back calling Billy “the big daddy, the nature boy, the man of the hour, the tower of power, the guy who’s too sweet to be sour!”
They opened the encore with another new one “Aren’t You Hungry?” and Billy noted afterwards that they’d “been about three weeks on tour” and this was the “first gig where all the ladies showed up” and got all the women to scream “Yeah!” He asked them, “You’re all very special, you know why?… You were born with something very special. Something that could conquer any country, control any man, and is stronger than any weapon fuckin’ made. It’s called a pussy” and then they finally played “Pussy Whipped”. After “Freddy Kruger”, they finished the night on an uplifting note, playing “United Forces” and the crowd took the opportunity to storm the stage right and left, dancing, stage diving, and hugging Billy and shaking his hand, much to the predictable consternation of the Redcoats in security.
Despite my bitterness about the DVD, I’m glad I got to do this show, being one of a limited number of live shows the Stormtroopers Of Death would ever do. They would return to the Hall one more time along with Anthrax to each play short sets at the Thrash Of The Titans show in 2001, a benefit for Chuck Billy, the lead singer of Testament, who was suffering for cancer at the time but has thankfully recovered. Billy Milano was the emcee for that show. But alas the Stormtroopers Of Death haven’t toured since. The closest S.O.D. has come to a reunion was a couple years back, when Ian, Dan, and Charlie teamed up with vocalist Mike Patton to do a video on YouTube parodying their old song, this time calling it, “Speak Spanish Or Die”. Still, if I ever, by some miracle, run into any of these band members in the future, I’m going to have a hard time holding my tongue about this debacle. I just hope it’s not Scott. I’m positive he could kick my ass. I only got a yellow belt in Krav Maga. Billy, Dan, & Charlie probably could kick my ass too come to think of it. Fuck it. I’m lucky. It’s another baby and a rare one at that. I’ll take it.
Guided By Voices, Joe Doe, Those Bastard Souls, Maritime Hall, SF, Thurs., November 11, 1999
SETLIST : A Salty Salute, Tight Globes, Frequent Weaver Who Burns, Zoo Pie, Things I Will Keep, Pop Zeus, Release The Sunbird, Dragons Awake!, And I Don’t (So Now I Do), Surgical Focus, Do Something Real, Cut-Out Witch, Picture Me Big Time, Shocker In Gloomtown, My Valuable Hunting Knife, Teenage FBI, Tractor Rape Chain, Submarine Teams, Alone Stinking & Unafraid, Time Machines, Game Of Pricks, I Am A Tree, Big School, Far-Out Crops, The Goldheart Mountaintop Queen Directory, Subspace Biographies, Maggie Turns To Flies, Psychic Pilot Clocks Out, I Am A Scientist, Don’t Stop Now, Circling Motorhead Mountain, (encore), Whiskey Ships, Motor Away, Hot Freaks, Hold On Hope, Echos Myron, (encore), Postal Blowfish, Peep-Hole, Smothered In Hugs
I had been curious about Guided By Voices ever since I saw their name listed on the acts populating the side stage of Lollapalooza in 1993. They were performing then on another leg of the tour than I saw, but I took note that they were one and made an effort to see others on that list as well. I also knew them from a cover The Breeders did of theirs called “Shocker In Gloomtown”, which they played that night. Both bands were Ohio natives and I’m sure they had to have played together once if not plenty of times. But on this occasion, GBV were at the Hall and I was recording them, sight unseen. Renown for their prolific frontman, Robert Pollard, they were on tour promoting their 11th studio album in only 12 years, “Do The Collapse”, produced by Ric Ocasek of The Cars, and Pollard had just released his third solo album, “Kid Marine” that year as well. To this day, he’s responsible for penning almost 3,000 songs. This was a man who did his homework, fitting since he used to be a school teacher.
Opening first that night were Those Bastard Souls, the solo side project of David Shouse from The Grifters, who I’d seen open for Sebadoh two years before at The Fillmore. Then, they had none other than Fred Armisen on drums, a full five years before he would join the cast of “Saturday Night Live”. He wasn’t on tour with them this time, not that I would have known him then either, but I was sad that I couldn’t have that credit under my belt now knowing and admiring his works as an actor and comedian. The next opening act, I was familiar with, that being John Doe from X. I had seen X at The Warfield back in 1993, but was unfamiliar with Mr. Doe’s solo work. In a strange coincidence, his ex-wife and fellow X bandmate had just performed a spoken word set at the Maritime just four days before this show.
Like Mr. Pollard, John was a prolific artist as well, taking a break from X, who had finished a short lived “farewell tour” the year before. He would eventually rejoin them as well as his other band The Knitters in 2005. In the meantime, he was also quite busy acting that year, playing roles in movies like “Drowning On Dry Land”, “Sugar Town”, “The Rage : Carrie 2”, “Forces Of Nature”, “Wildflowers”, and “Brokedown Palace” as well as appearing in episodes of TV shows like “Veronica’s Closet”, “Martial Law”, and “The Strip”. I’ll never forget his brief role in “Boogie Nights” that had come out a couple years before, where he played Julianne Moore’s estranged ex-husband.
But I digress. It is difficult to accurately describe the music of Guided By Voices, primarily because they had so many songs. To use a reductive phrase like “indy rock” really doesn’t do them justice. Still, listening to them now, I can’t help but think of The Who, especially since Pollard likes to swing around his microphone and do high kicks like Roger Daltrey. They both kind of have curly hair too. Also, though the band comes from Dayton which is about as American as one could be geographically, I can’t help but think that Guided By Voices sound English. Maybe it’s the way Pollard sings, almost as if he had an accent, something in the way he slurs his vowels or the way he puckers his lips like Mick Jagger. He was and remains a notorious, though friendly drunk when performing. After about an hour into their two hour plus set, he commented “We’re getting to the point where we’re really drunk now. This is when we do all the old tunes… We went through 5 cases of beer, a bottle of Jack Daniels, & a couple bottles of cabernet… Oh yeah, and a bottle of water!”
Yeah, it’s hard not to like Pollard, such a funny guy. Donning a black, long sleeve shirt and black jeans, he introduced the band at the beginning of their set as “Emerson, Lake, & Pollard… We’re schooled in the 4 P’s of rock : punk, pop, prog, & psychedelic!” They had brought along a neon sign that they hung behind the drummer reading, “The Club Is Open”, the first three words glowing in blue, the last one in red. Near the end of the set, a fan bum rushed the stage and Pollard gave him the mic to sing the song “Postal Blowfish”. It was a long night, the second show in a five show stretch at the Maritime for Tory and me, but we took the time to eat Thai food after the show was over, one of our traditional “victory laps”. Thinking about what we heard that night with GBV, I couldn’t help but think of Martin Short and his character of Irving Cohen, a decaying caricature of elderly Tin Pan alley vaudeville songsmiths. Irving, like Pollard, was a ridiculously prolific songwriter, his character claiming to have authored over 100,000 songs and would make up songs on the spot just asking for the band to give him “a bouncy C”. When I would see Guided By Voices again two years later at The Fillmore, they would play an even longer set, clocking in at about three hours. Great songs, though.
Eric Burdon, Neal Schon, Jody Counter, Robert Leroy Jones, Maritime Hall, SF, Wed., November 10, 1999
This was a last minute addition to the shows in November at the Hall, too late to be listed on the monthly poster. It’s last minute scheduling is probably the main reason that it only had about 50 people attending, a pitiful turnout even for the Maritime and especially for rock & roll royalty like Eric Burdon. Yes, I got to record the once and future singer of the seminal British invasion group The Animals. After years of legal wrangling, Eric had just put together the “New Animals” band the year before this show, but actually didn’t officially secure the name legally until years later in 2013. Coincidentally, Jello Biafra of the Dead Kennedys had just did a spoken word show at the Hall three days before this and would lose the rights to his band’s name the following year. Eric & The New Animals were there for a charity event put on to raise funds for sick kids I think, though I can’t say exactly for sure. The fact that the gig was for charity only punctuates the failure of the show to get a crowd at all and was frankly kind of depressing. In fact, if it hadn’t been a charity gig, the show probably would have been cancelled. I remember Robert Palmer’s show at the Hall got the plug pulled on it the month before when it had about the same number of tickets sold. That one really stung, since I liked his music and Palmer would die unexpectedly of a sudden heart attack in 2003 at the all too young age of 54 and consequently, would never get to see him.
The fact that they had Journey guitarist Neal Schon there on this bill wasn’t enough to boost the crowd’s numbers either. It’s a pity. One would think, despite the short notice and lack of promotion, just with the amount of friends they as well as bay area rocker Jody Counter had in town on the guest list that it would have more people. It didn’t help that it was a Wednesday night as well. Still, Eric’s band was tight, consisting of two members from the prog rock band Spock’s Beard, Dave Meros on bass and Neal Morse on keys. Dave was also performing double duty as the band’s tour manager. They also had Dean Restum on guitar and Aysley Dunbar on drums, who rumor had it lost out to Mitch Mitchell to be the drummer for the Jimi Hendrix Experience from a coin toss. Folks might remember that Eric and Animal’s original bassist Chas Chandler were good friends of Jimi’s and helped him establish his career when he moved to London from Seattle.
Eric literally had just stepped off a plane and immediately drove to the venue and got on stage, still wearing a blazer and long scarf when he started his set. He joked that this was the first gig he did in San Francisco since he was sober, but technically it was the second since he did a set at the Black & White Ball at the Civic Center that June. Yes, Eric spent some time in San Francisco around 1969 after the original Animals parted ways. Here, he would pen “San Francisco Nights” and predictably, that was one of the songs he played that night. He also began his famous collaboration with the funk band War here, lending his vocals to such hits as “Spill The Wine”. That tune had recently gotten big again in 1997, immortalized by the soundtrack to the film, “Boogie Nights”. I can still close my eyes and see long, Steadycam scene around the poolside at Jack Horner’s house when that song was playing. Though I didn’t get a set list, I know he also did “Sky Pilot”, bellowing out the chorus till he was red in the face. Eric finished the show with “House Of The Rising Sun”, giving it a slow, acapella opening. There was little hope that the recording from that night would be used, since not only the turnout was abysmal, but Eric would put out three, (count em’), three live albums between the year before and the following year, “Live At The Coach House” and “The Official Live Bootleg” Numbers 1 & 2.
Still, it was an honor to have recorded him and Neal Schon too who I had taped before when he unexpectedly sat in with the members of the reggae band Strickly Roots the year before, a memorial for their recently deceased lead singer Jahson. Neal was very nice to me both nights and though I still think most of Journey’s songs are corny earworms, plaguing bay area denizens to this day, I did appreciate his warmth and his unquestionable skill with a guitar. Unfortunately, he too had just put out a live album of his recent solo work, “Piranha Blues”, which he recorded at the Piranha Lounge in Oakland that year. On a lighter note, Eric had just tied the knot recently to Marianna Prostou, a lawyer from Greece, and I believe they’re still married to this day. But it would be 18 years later when I’d finally see Mr. Burdon again when he played Stern Grove with a new assortment of Animals. He put on a great set again even at the young age of 77, his hair white as a ghost. I do have to admit, it was a little scary meeting him at the Hall, not only because of his stature in rock & roll history, but for the fact that he looked a lot like Boots, the Maritime’s psychotic boss.
Spitfire Spoken Word Tour : Jello Biafra, Andy Dick, Exene Cervenka, Krist Novoselic, Michael Franti, Maritime Hall, SF, Sun., November 7, 1999
This show was a unique change of pace for me being the one and only spoken word show that I would record at the Hall. I love spoken word shows, but they are too and far between for me. This collection of speakers was part of the Spitfire tour, the brainchild of Zach De La Rocha, the vocalist for Rage Against The Machine. Annoyed by the apathy he was encountering on tour with his band, he decided to put together this cavalcade of stars to promote social activism and though Zach wasn’t leading the bill on this leg of his 20 city tour, they had none other than the high priest of punk himself, Jello Biafra at the top of the list. The tour had the unfortunate timing of also being at Woodstock ’99 that summer, so there was understandably no mention of that catastrophic event during the evening. They had set up a handful of booths in the back of the Hall for many causes and there were plenty of petitions to sign and schwag to give out. And though I’d seen Jello do spoken word and perform music before, as well as Exene who I’d seen play with X at The Warfield in 1993 and also do spoken word set along side Henry Rollins also that year at that venue, I’d only seen Novoselic and Franti perform as musicians and had never seen Andy Dick before in either capacity. Jello was no stranger to the spoken word scene, having released five spoken word albums on his label Alternative Tentacles by then, a label I used to intern for a few years before this. All and all it was an impressive group of names and it only cost $15 to get in, a cheap show even in 1990’s dollars.
Jello was going through a bit of a personal catastrophe that year, dealing with the seemingly endless legal battles with his former bandmates in the Dead Kennedys. He had steadfastly refused to let the band use the song “Holiday In Cambodia” for a Levi’s Dockers ad, citing that the move was about the most un-punk thing a band could do, especially siding with a company that had shall we say a not so stellar track record with its labor relations. Apparently, there had been a whistleblower at Alternative Tentacles, though I couldn’t imagine who, that found an oversight in their accounting which left the other bandmates shy of around $75,000. I mean, I’d be surprised if Jennifer or Greg in the office would do it, but I don’t know. It happened. Anyway, Jello insists it was an accident and took steps to correct it, but they sued anyway. The others won their case, costing AT over $200,000 in the end, half of all future royalties, and the rights to the name of the band. DK quickly hired a new singer and began performing again under the original name. Jello was pissed that the judge agreed that the oversight somehow caused the the other band members to lose royalties they WOULD have gotten from that Levi’s ad, but by the following year, the nightmare would finally be over for Jello. I could never bring myself to see DK without Jello and sadly now I never will after the passing of drummer D.H. Peligro, who died from an accidental fall only six months ago.
Jello had been active in the Green Party in 1999, even going so far as having their New York chapter attempt to draft him as their presidential candidate for the 2000 election. Jello chose Mumia Abu-Jamal, the activist wrongly imprisoned on Death Row, to be his running mate, but the party ultimately chose Ralph Nader as their candidate and Jello campaigned for him vigorously. Well… we all remember the tragic results of that notorious election and I’ll refrain from wallowing in my bitterness towards Nader and his misguided crusade. Jello was there to promote his varied talking points of economic and social justice, including such as ideas as the non-violent extermination of the rich, spraying yuppies with whipped cream until they leave town, ending homelessness by allowing people to squat in vacant buildings, and melting down SUVs, (which were still kind of a new thing back then), and using the metal to make a giant cross he’d send to the Vatican… C.O.D. of course. He also made sure to give a shout out for supervisor Tom Ammiano who was trying in one of his many unsuccessful bids to run for mayor of San Francisco.
Krist Novoselic had taken to political activism even before the end of Nirvana, helping organize the benefit for Bosnian rape victims at the Cow Palace in 1993. There would be the one and only time I’d see Franti perform with the Disposable Heroes Of Hiphopricy and then quickly move on to the band he fronts today, Spearhead. Franti was no stranger to Jello, who at Alternative Tentacles, put out the debut and only album from Franti’s first band, The Beatnigs. Krist and Jello would hit it off at this show and go on to form the punk supergroup, the No WTO Combo, a one-off musical act that after wrangling with clubs and the police curfew, performed a single show up in Seattle three weeks after this night, supporting the protests that were raging on up there at the time. They managed to get Kim Thayil to play guitar for them, the first gig he’d do after the recent break up of Soundgarden. This rare musical event was recorded that night and put out a live album which included the DK classic, “Let’s Lynch The Landlord” as well as early live versions of “Electronic Plantation” and “New Feudalism” which Jello would release years later with his Guantanamo School Of Medicine band.
Krist was continuing to make music, having formed the band Sweet 75 in 1997 and had also just directed a pseudo-documentary the year before this show called “L7 : The Beauty Process”, for those grunge pioneers, who’d I’d seen open for Nirvana two of the three times I would see them perform live. On a personal note, Krist had just divorced his wife that year and began taking an interest in flying, getting his pilot’s license in 2002. He spoke briefly at the Hall that night, first reading a funny piece that was basically a word salad of political pleasantries, mocking how politicians string meaningless talking points together with flowery language. He had a freshly shaved head, finally embracing his gradual hair loss. Believe me, I was losing my hair then too, but wouldn’t start shaving my head regularly for a few more years down the road.
Anyway, then Krist got down to brass tacks making some thought provoking points about how America could reform its election process, more accurately reflecting representative democracy. To this day, Novoselic is a hard one to label politically, being a sort of Libertarian who supports left wing causes, yet freaked folks out a bit recently with his seemingly tacit approval of Trump during that terrifying regime. I’m sure after January 6th, he recanted any admiration he had for Donald. Sure, he voted for Obama, but then he turned around later and voted for Ron Paul and Gary Johnson. Go figure. Politics aside, he at least got a round of applause after he burped in the middle of his set. It was good to see him again. I had been almost six years since I saw Nirvana play their last bay area show on New Year’s ’93-’94 in Oakland. I just remembered at that New Year’s show, moments before the countdown, Krist sang a little line from “California Uber Alles”, changing the lyrics to “Welcome to 1994… Knock knock on your front door…” I’m sure Jello was proud.
Exene has also freaked out people a little recently with her rambling rants against getting vaccinated, though this would be decades later obviously. But on this night, she mostly talked about mental health issues, including stories about her mother who suffered from them. This would be one of the only occasions that I would take a picture alongside a bone fide rock star. Tory had his camera with him when I came to give her the tapes from her set and got a quick pic with her. I know I have it somewhere, but for the life of me, I still can’t find it. Sorry. I looked damn handsome in that pic if I do say so myself. As luck would have it, her ex-husband and fellow X bandmate, John Doe, played just four days later at the Maritime, performing solo opening for Guided By Voices.
Clearly the skinny white elephant in the room that night was Andy Dick. How he got on the bill was beyond me, but as an American, I can’t help but enjoy witnessing a train wreck. Andy was hitting one of the many, many rough patches he would experience in life that year. He was smack dab in the middle of the legal aftermath from his arrest that summer where he got really high and wrapped his car around a utility pole. He was convicted of felony possession of two grams of Coke, misdemeanor possession of marijuana, and possession of smoking device, something I didn’t even know you could get arrested for at the time. He was shackled with three years of probation, though the charges were dropped once he completed an 18 month long stint in a drug diversion program. Andy joked about it on stage that night saying, “A class for drugs? I know everything there is to know about drugs!” He whimsically dismissed any grievances he had with the cops who arrested him because he was “obviously guilty”.
But his legal problems continued that year when he was questioned in the suicide of his friend, actor David Strickland. He and David had been partying for three straight days in Vegas when David, drunk on a six pack of beer and having just been serviced by a sex worker in his hotel room, ended up hanging himself. He had been discovered by a private detective sent out by Brooke Shields, the star of the NBC sitcom, “Suddenly Susan” where David had a regular role, after he didn’t show up to work. Poor guy was only 29 years old. Though no charges were filed against Andy, his legal woes would continue to this day, including several arrests for indecent exposure, public intoxication, and sexual battery. Yes, Andy was a crude and infamous groper.
But apart from his then recent run in with the law, I was happily unaware of his egregious behavior and enjoyed his talk. He cracked me up with a song he did at the end of it called, “I’m Not Stalking You (I’m Just Calling A Lot)”, a hilarious, though obviously creepy ode to his former girlfriend. I especially remember the line “How’s your new boyfriend, have they found his body yet?” And though the sitcom, “NewsRadio” had ended that May, Andy was able to at least get some work doing a voice on the animated series “Dilbert”, playing the title character’s assistant. Scott Adams, Dilbert’s creator, if you didn’t know has been in the news recently, making some racist remarks on his podcast, joining Andy in becoming pariahs to the public.
Thankfully, Franti is still respected and going strong with Spearhead to this day. Back that year, he had his new song, “Sometimes”, added to the soundtrack to the film comedy “Mystery Men”. Coincidentally, I had just seen Tom Waits, who played a part in that movie, just a week before this show for the first time at the Bridge School Benefit. Unlike Andy, Franti had a few choice words about the police that night, recounting a harrowing encounter after being pulled over, an all too common trauma experienced by black men in America. Exene would also take part that year in a cult video called “Decoupage 2000 : The Year Of The Goddess” with legendary cult film star Karen Black and, (showing up again like a bad penny), L7. Sadly though, she had just closed the doors on a novelty store she owned down south called “You’ve Got Bad Taste”. Jello, despite his legal wranglings, also found time to be in a couple movies that year. First, he was in the horror comedy “The Widower” which he actually played Satan. The reviews of the movie are dismal, but I’d love to see him play that role anyway. He also was in a movie called “Virtue” with local swing artist extraordinaire Connie Champagne where he played a “VR Poker Dealer”. The whole night was an uplifting experience and it being a spoken word show, mixing it live was ridiculously easy.
Suicidal Tendancies, Suicide Machines, Custom Made Scare, Oppressed Logic, Maritime Hall, SF, Fri., November 5, 1999
SETLIST : (OPPRESSED LOGIC) : This Is Reality, You’re Doing It Wrong, Don’t Come Back, P.C. Full Of Shit, Abort The Kids, Living Abortion, Eighty-Sixed
As I mentioned in the previous entry, it had been a few days of stylistic U-Turns, first starting with the Pet Shop Boys at The Warfield that Wednesday followed by the Lyricist Lounge with EPMD at the Maritime the night before this. But this time, I’d be recording the punk rock pioneers Suicidal Tendencies from Venice, California. Like so many venerable punk rock acts of yore, I was introduced to them by my brother Alex. They had forever immortalized themselves in music history with their anthem to teen angst, “Institutionalized”. That tune would be one of many great ones that would comprise the soundtrack to the greatest movie of all time, (in my opinion), “Repo Man”. That song, with its hilarious narration from their lead vocalist Mike “Cyco Miko” Muir, and breakneck chorus of “I’m not crazy! Institution! You’re the one who’s crazy! Institution! You’re driving me crazy! Institution!” would undoubtably save countless young folks from the brink of ending it all. Yes, we all only want a Pepsi in the end… But as luck would have it, they didn’t play it that night, though they dusted off plenty of other golden oldies, including “Saw Your Mommy”, one of their oldest ones.
Suicidal Tendencies had been around for a while, but hadn’t put out a new album in five years, just releasing “Freedumb” that May, though their fans mostly hated it. They had been tearing up mosh pits since 1981 when Mike was only a 17 year old, straight edge, 10th grade dropout, the brother of skateboarder Jim Muir of the pioneering Dogtown skate team. He also was a boyfriend friend of the late great actor, Bill Paxton. The band’s sound had evolved some over the years, especially during the time they had Robert Trujillo on bass, who brought a little funky prog metal into the mix. Together with guitarist Dean Pleasant and Brooks Wackerman on drums, the four would perform double duty also playing in their alter ego band, Infectious Grooves. Brooks, drumming protege since the age of 5, would leave the band the following year to join Bad Religion and now plays drums for Avenged Sevenfold. By this time, Josh Paul had replaced Trujillo on bass, but Rob would go on to play with Ozzy Osbourne and later in an obscure little band called Metallica.
But one group that made quite an impression on me that night, despite their set coming in at just under 15 minutes, was Oppressed Logic from Oakland. They were lead by a skinny young man with a short mohawk named Mike “Cyco Loco” Avilez. Whether he got the “Cyco” in his nickname from Muir, I can’t say, but it’s probably likely. Apart from Avilez, the band had just began an entirely new line up, including his wife Adrianne on bass, and had just released their new album, “It’s Harassment”. Both Mike and Adrianne had taken turns playing bass for the Angry Samoans in 1996 and 1997 respectively. Oppressed Logic still managed to squeeze 8 songs into their short set, even leaving a little time to chat. Obviously, most of their songs were about a minute or two minutes long. Adrianne looked pretty that night, her shiny, red hair with two side pony tails and wearing a black tank top and matching shorts. Her bass was adorned with several stickers and curiously, she had an eyepatch over her right eye, but I can’t say if that was a prop or not.
Mike was making wise cracks when he was introducing songs like “You’re Doing It Wrong”, saying, “You’re doing it wrong by standing around. It’s about working. Fuck work!” Their new drummer Egore was certainly a quick one and by the third song, he’d taken his shirt off. He had what I presume was a friend, a bald guy in a black T-shirt and shorts squatting next to his drum kit for their entire set, mouthing the lyrics to the songs. Near the end of their set, Avilez introduced “Abort The Kids” announcing that it “goes out to all you people who have kids”, got into the mosh pit up front for a bit, and cried “Waaa!!!” like a baby near the end of it. Keeping with the abortion motif, they did “Living Abortion” and he egged on the crowd demanding that he “see you guys fuckin’ slam!”
Before the last song, “Eighty-Sixed”, he said that it “goes out to Gilman Street cus’ you’ll never see us at Gilman Street. And it goes out to Max Frost cus’ I’m not going to give him no more beer… You need T-Shirts talk to this guy… The fuckin’ around guy” and he pointed to a chubby guy up front on the stage right side. Avilez shook his hand and handed him a half full pitcher of beer from the stage. They had a small delay helping the guitarist fix his amp and Mike said, “Thank you to the Maritime Hall for letting us play. Suicidal is coming up soon. Go in the back to buy our shit for cheap!” Yeah, I liked those guys and was happy to see that they had posted their set on YouTube from the video I gave them, especially since I hadn’t saved a copy for myself. I did run out and buy a live album they did and still have it today and I was lucky enough to see them one more time open for The Dickies at the Covered Wagon Saloon three years later.
I don’t remember much from Custom Made Scare. That band wasn’t around for long, but the next act, The Suicide Machines, had been around since 91’ and still play to this day. The punk ska band from Detroit were originally called Jack Kevorkian & The Suicide Machines, an homage to the famous doctor embroiled in the debate over euthanasia, but abbreviated it. They had toured on the Warped Tour that summer along with Suicidal Tendencies and seeing that they had a little something in common with their names, it’s not surprising that they’d take an interest in each other. The Machines were just about to release their third, self titled album three months later, but this would be the last tour they would do with bassist and tour manager Royce Nunley. After eight years with the band, Royce was butting heads with guitarist Dan Lukacinsky and would ultimately leave the band in 2001 to start Blueprint 76. The Machines had also added a new drummer, Ryan Vandeberghe, who had just replaced Derek Grant. I would see them again performing on the Warped Tour in 2003 and then opening for Pennywise at The Warfield three years later.
Likewise, Suicidal Tendencies had been going through numerous line up changes since their inception, leaving them with Mike Muir as their only original member. It must be noted that Dean, who joined the band three years before this show, is still in the band to this day, easily making him the longest serving non-original member. That band has gone through thirteen drummers, for God’s sake. Incidentally, Muir had fought and lost to pro skateboarder Simon Woodstock on “Celebrity Boxing” three years before this show. God, I miss that show.
Anyway, I remember it was a great set, but I regret that I wouldn’t see them perform again until (gulp!) 17 years later, when they opened for Megadeth at The Warfield with Children Of Bodom, quite an interesting line up that night for sure. There, I finally got to hear them play, “Institutionalized” live at long last. In a small coincidence, I saw the Red Room Orchestra do the music of “Twin Peaks” a couple months ago at the Great American Music Hall, and although I couldn’t attend the following night, the band then did music from the soundtrack of “Repo Man”. I regret missing it, but it was my wife’s birthday and that is easily more important, even if it’s a live show with stellar musicians playing music from my favorite movie at one of my favorite venues. I love live music, but I love my wife a lot more. Still, I was able to see videos of the show on YouTube including their rendition of “Institutionalized”. They got none other than comedian Kevin McDonald from “Kids In The Hall” to do the vocals and his hilariously shrill, though off time ranting of the song’s lyrics is something to behold. Check it out if you get a chance.
Lyricist Lounge : EPMD, Da Outsidaz, Planet Asia with Rasco, Screwball, Saafir, Encore, Dungeon Squad, Maritime Hall, SF, Thurs., November 4, 1999
It had only been six months since the legendary hip hop duo EPMD played the Hall and this time they were headlining the Lyricist Lounge tour and had just put out their sixth studio album, “Out Of Business”, that July. It was the second national tour of this rap enthusiast spectacle, the brainchild of Anthony Marshall and Danny Castro. Slick Rick and Xzibit would headline on other dates of this tour, both acts I loved and had taped before at the Hall. The line up that night would be a remarkable change of genres from my seeing the Pet Shop Boys the night before at The Warfield, a very white English synth pop act fronted by two diminutive gay men to the bill this night, populated by an army of muscular, butch, predominantly black fellows who I assume were mostly straight. I would take another sharp left turn of genres the following night at the Hall, switching from these mostly east coast rappers to the thrash punk stylings of Suicidal Tendencies from Venice, California. Strangely enough, the Lyricist Lounge tour would swing way north to Arcada the day after this show, but then bounce twice as far down south the next day to perform in L.A. Glad we could catch these guys before they got too road weary. The Lyricist Lounge had done their first national tour at the Maritime the year before by De La Soul with its own impressive roster of talent which included the then unknown Eminem, five full months before “The Slim Shady LP” was released. Though none of the opening acts this time would reach that level of meteoric stardom, all were nonetheless skilled on the mic.
Coincidentally, around this time Eminem was a part time member the Outsidaz, one of the openers that night. The New Jersey act fronted by the duo of Young Zee and Pacewon were collaborating with him on the road and in the studio before Eminem struck it big. Eminem even gave them a shout out at the end of “Just Don’t Give A Fuck” and other songs. Joining them in their collective on stage that night was Rah Digga, who was a couple with Young Zee at the time and they had sired a daughter together named Sativa, who was two years old then. The three of them were also guests on the song “Cowboys” by The Fugees on their multi platinum, hip hop juggernaut, “The Score”, put out three years before this show. Rah Digga would ultimately leave the band when at another Lyricist Lounge the year after, Q-Tip from Tribe Called Quest introduced her to Busta Rhymes and she’d then join his crew, the Flipmode Squad.
Though the Outsidaz were on the cusp of releasing their debut album, “Night Life”, the following January, their group had been struck by tragedy when member Slang Ton was gunned down two months to the day before this night. Ton got into an argument with a couple guys in a restaurant back in New Jersey and one of them shot him in the chest and leg. Though he made it to the hospital, apparently he already had extensive lung damage from years of smoking weed and succumbed to his wounds. The Outsidaz dedicated their new record to him and I’m quite sure they gave him a shout out on stage that night as well.
I was glad Planet Asia was there with Rasco too. I had taped Rasco the year before when he opened for the Hieroglyphics and had already taped Planet Asia twice that year when he opened for Slick Rick that May for the Mystik Journeymen that July. Together the duo make Cali Agents, but they both had plenty of solo stuff of their own, all of which they covered that show. I learned doing research on this show that Planet Asia was a member of the Five-Percent Nation, a renown Islamic black nationalist movement based out of New York City. He along with the aforementioned Busta Rhymes were adherents to their teachings, along with other such notable New York City rap artists like Big Daddy Kane, Rakim, Erykah Badu, Guru, and for a time, LL Cool J. Now I know what Ice Cube was rapping about in his song “When Will They Shoot?” when he said, “I met Farrakhan and had dinner, Now you ask if I’m a Five-Percenter. Well, no but I go to where my brothers go, Down with the Compton Mosque, Number 54”. And now I know. That movement help inspire hip hop slang such as “word is bond”, “dropping science”, “break it down”, and “represent”.
Saafir, who used to dance beside Tupac Shakur in Digital Underground, was also there promoting his third album, “The Hit List”. The hip hop quartet Screwball from New York City was there too, three months shy of their debut record, “Y2K : The Album”. Sadly, this would be the only time I’d see them, since half their members have passed away, KL who died of an asthma attack in 2008, and Hostyle in 2020, the cause of his death still unknown. The folks from the Lyricist Lounge the year before had put together a compilation album, “Lyricist Lounge, Vol. 1” comprised from tracks from the artists of the first tour and they would released “Vol. 2“ from folks the year after this one. Kinda weird that they skipped this year, but maybe that also makes it special. This would be the last time I’d see EPMD, but I’d see both Planet Asia and Rasco together again when they opened for the Cali Comm tour, headlined by The Pharcyde at The Fillmore two years later.
This would be the first Maritime show I’d record that month of November, but I was blissfully unaware that it would be my last there working full time. I mean, I was however well aware of my partner Pete’s displeasure with the owner, Boots, for a number of reasons I’ve gone over before, but by the end of the month, tensions finally came to head and Boots fired Pete. I would follow Pete, though I returned from time to time to fill in for Wade Furgeson who became my replacement in the recording room until the place finally tanked in the spring of 2001. I will rehash all this when I get to the last show of the month, The Roots, but like I said, back then, it was just steady as she went. There were plenty of brilliant acts that month to look forward to and the new monthly poster, which I found out had been painted by Kathy, Boots’ wife. It depicted a young Native American woman holding a dead turkey by one of its legs while sitting on a rock under a starry moonlit night in front of some pumpkins and corn stalks. Sure, Kathy was no Picasso, but it was OK and definitely parlayed the November/Thanksgiving motif. I still miss Kathy, God rest her sweet soul.
Pet Shop Boys, War., SF, November 3, 1999
SETLIST : For Your Own Good, West End Girls, Discoteca, Being Boring, Happiness Is An Option, Can You Forgive Her?, Only The Wind, What Have I Done To Deserve This?, New York City Boy, Left To My Own Devices, Young Offender, (set break), Vampires, You Only Tell Me You Love Me When I’m Drunk, Se A Vida E (That’s The Way Life Is), Don’t Know What You Want But I Can’t Give It Anymore, Always On My Mind, Shameless, Opportunities (Let’s Make Lots Of Money), It’s A Sin – I Will Survive, (encore), It’s Alright, Go West
I’d been familiar and enjoyed the music of the Pet Shop Boys since I was a teenager, first seeing the music video for their smash hit “Opportunites (Let’s Make Lots Of Money)” in 1985. They were a special band to me since they were one of the only musical acts both I and my biological father both enjoyed. But I soon discovered their many other catchy synth pop tunes and was thrilled that I was finally able to see them live for the first time. It was their first world tour in eight years and they were promoting their eighth studio album, “Nightlife”, which they had put out less than a month before this show. The Pet Shop Boys had only been on the road for two weeks since they started the tour in Miami. That year, they also had collaborated with playwright Jonathan Harvey to create the stage musical “Closer To Heaven” which ran at the Arts Theater in London and other worldwide locations a couple years later. They performed the title song as well as “Vampires”, “In Denial”, and “Shameless” from that musical during their show that night.
There was no opening act, making this “an evening with…” show, but the Pet Shop Boys did two sets. So, I had to work through the first set, the set break, and then the first couple songs of the second set before I could be cut from ushering and really start enjoying myself. Still, it wasn’t a difficult crowd to wrangle, even though it was sold out. I was relieved to have a couple days off before this show after finishing October, a month where I’d been to 23 shows in 31 days, on top of one of the busiest work months I’d ever have with Local 16, and finished this marathon with The Creatures at the Maritime for Halloween. Though sadly November would be my last month working full time at the Maritime, I did mercifully only 12 concerts that month. Still, November too was a stretch.
The duo of singer Neil Tennant and synth maestro Chris Lowe strolled out onto an impressive, multi level stage set designed by legendary deconstructionist architect, Zaha Hadid. When Hadid wasn’t masterminding plans for massive elaborate pavilions, auditoriums, and train stations, he found time to put together this zigzagging structure that looked like a scene out of “Fantastic Planet”. Sure fellow deconstructionist Frank Gehry might have made an opera set or two, but the Pet Shop Boys were pretty cool. Neil and Chris were wearing black overcoats and matching baggy samurai pants called Hakama. On their heads, they wore sunglasses and cartoonish, bleached orange spiky hair wigs making them look like characters out of “Dragon Ball Z”. The crowd went nuts two songs in when they broke into “West End Girls”.They followed it with “Discoteca” joined on stage by a female back up singer and afterwards, Neil introduced the next one saying, “This is a song about friendship. It’s called ‘Being Bored’”. That back up singer really belted it out for the next song, “Happiness Is An Option”. A few songs later he gave a shout out to Dusty Springfield who sang along in the recording of their next song, “What Have I Done To Deserve This?” They then were joined by 5 burly black guys dressed as old sailors to be back up singers for “New York City Boy”. Four of the five of them actually were from New York turns out.
At the end of the first set, they took off each other wigs revealing their bald and greying scalps. Just as well, since it obviously wasn’t their hair and must of been hot as hell to wear them. They returned after twenty minutes and Neil greeted the crowd, “Thank you very much! Welcome to part two. This song is all for the vampires out there.” I was cut from ushering after that song and got myself a beer before heading up front. A few songs later they got the crowd to sing along enthusiastically to their upbeat dance cover of “Always On My Mind”, made famous in the 70’s by Elvis. The Pet Shop Boys originally did that song in 1987 for a TV show commemorating the tenth anniversary of the King’s death, but it was such a hit, they decided to record it as a single. Afterwards, they prefaced “It’s A Sin” with a few bars of church organs and Neil preached, “And now… We must all beg for forgiveness.”
When they returned for their second and last encore, Neil introduced the back up singers and Chris before ending the night with their infectious and strangely moving cover of “Go West” by The Village People, another band my dad liked. I’m sad to say the headphone mic for my recording was starting to crap out during that show, but I got most of it nonetheless.Though the Pet Shop Boys didn’t get a poster that evening, they would get one when they returned to play at The Warfield again three years later and it was a nice one. They did promise at the end of this show that they wouldn’t wait as long to play again. But the 2002 show would the last time I’d see them, though they just toured again this year with New Order, so they’re still active.
When my dad passed away in 2008, he had us play the aforementioned “It’s A Sin” as one of the songs at his memorial. I imagine he did it as one final stick in the eye to the Russian Orthodox Church which cruelly shunned him when he came out as gay. Likewise, I think it might have been a not so subtle jab back at his own father, but I can’t say that for sure. Incidentally, Barry Humphries AKA Dame Edna, passed away today. Dad loved her. One thing’s for sure, I think this would have been at least one concert he’d have enjoyed seeing with me. Pity he never did, but then again, I’ve probably seen enough concerts for the both of us.
The Creatures, Switchblade Symphony, The Voluptuous Horror Of Karen Black, Maritime Hall, SF, Fri., October 31, 1999
THE VOLUPTUOUS HORROR OF KAREN BLACK : Story Of Vanilla, Spelling Bee, Am I Blue, Bills To Pay, Black Date, Underwear Drawer, Chopsley Rabid Bikini Model, Get Out Of Me, Shopping Spree, Pillowcase, Oh Diane
THE CREATURES : All She Could Ask For, Disconnected, Turn It On, Take Mine, Pinned Down, Miss The Girl, Venus Sands, Pluto Drive, 2nd Floor, Red Light, Night Shift, Prettiest Thing, Exterminating Angel, (encore), Don’t Go To Sleep Without Me, Red Over White, (encore), Peek-A-Boo
I feel a tinge of sadness writing this now, knowing that this was the last Halloween I would be working at the Maritime, as well as the last time I’d encounter The Creatures and Switchblade Symphony. Both bands had been dear to me having performed there a number of times, especially since the lovely and talented singers of Switchblade Symphony actually remembered my name. I don’t want to go so far as to say we have a history together, but they were one of the opening acts of the very first show I recorded at the Hall with Pete, going on just before Christian Death in September of ’96. Indeed, writing about this final show of this exhausting October where I did 23 shows in 31 days, not to mention working for Local 16 in one of my career’s busiest months, fills me with a sense of relief that is only matched by my feelings of bittersweet nostalgia. I was still recovering from attending the Bridge School Benefit the night before which went into the wee hours, a show so long, that I wasn’t entirely upset that I would be missing its second night to do this one. I do regret however, that I would be missing The Cramps at The Fillmore that evening, perhaps the greatest band anyone could witness on Halloween.
But all those feelings will take a back seat momentarily as I remember the first act of that gig, The Voluptuous Horror Of Karen Black. I struggle to find the words to accurately describe this collection of New York City rock & roll weirdos, but I’ll try. This act is the brainchild of performance artist, filmmaker, founder of “The Cinema Of Transgression”, and former Calvin Klein model Kembra Pfahler, the sister of Adam Pfahler, the drummer of Jawbreaker. Donning a gargantuan head of stringy black hair, most likely a wig, a pair of knee high, black leather boots and matching black bikini bottom, all she had on otherwise was a coat of blue body paint and a smile. Joined by a second similarly adorned topless female that night, insured that they would have my undivided attention during their brief set as well as a persistent boner. It was my understanding that any venue with topless performers weren’t supposed to serve alcohol, but I would be the last one to bring that to anyone’s attention.
A few years back, I had discovered that the band had released a live CD from their performance that night and were selling it on the internet and although I had sent them the money to send me a copy, I never received it. It’s not entirely surprising and I didn’t waste that much money, but it still pisses me off. I’m still waiting to get the live CD from GZA’s show at the Hall, but I’m not holding my breath on that one either. The good news is that I was able to hear The Voluptuous Horror’s set on YouTube, though it was audio only. I doubt YouTube would have allowed the video to be shown unless they blurred out the offending bare nipples. The Hall had decorated the side fills on stage with fake cobwebs and it being Halloween, I wore my skull mask all night while I worked.
Kembra started their set asking, “Is that a rainbow I see? This song is Story Of Vanilla! Halloween 1999, Ladies & Gentlemen!” A couple songs later, she introduced the appropriately titled “Am I Blue” calling it “a love story between those above and those below”. Afterwards, she celebrated the night saying, “This is going to be a glamorous Halloween, Siouxsie, Switchblade Symphony in the house! This next number is about money difficulties. I’m sure you all can identify”, and they played “Bills”. Then came “Black Date” where she declared, “Love is the greatest perversion! Wanna grab the hand of the person to right or the left?” and that the next song, “Underwear Drawer”, was “all about throwing out the old and bringing in the new.” A third topless dancer, this time in red body paint and freakish face make up stormed the stage and danced for “Chopsley Rabid Bikini Model” and Kembra, feigning shock asked, “Do you think it followed me all the way from New York City? I saw it moving backstage!”
I cracked up a little when she lamented, “My mother has been complaining, ‘Karen, when are you going to have some kids?’ This is our exorcism number!” and then they did “Get Out Of Me”. Next she introduced “Shopping Spree”, saying, “This next glamorous, well choreographed number you all might know. It’s a heavy metal number and it’s for all you people with shopping disorders!” They wrapped up a couple of songs later, Kembra announcing that we had “seen the decomposition of you favorite band, The Voluptuous Horror Of Karen Black! Until next year, we love you!” And after 37 mind bending minutes, it was all over. I never did see this macabre spectacle again, though I did learn that Kembra went on to work with the group, Future Feminism, which popularized the slogan, “The Future Is Female”. Good for her, I wish her well, even if I never got my album. I’m just honored that it’s out there. And after them, I would record Switchblade Symphony for the last time and they performed admirably as both times before. They would break up shortly after this show, making it undoubtedly their last one in the bay area.
It had only been five months since The Creatures last played the Hall, that coupled with the back to back shows they did there a year before that, I was well versed in their material by then. They were still on tour promoting the “Anima Animus” album, which they had released that February. Siouxsie, fashionable as always, was hearing a white and silver lame vest with a zebra pattern like fur collar over a matching jumpsuit. It kind of made her look a little like Cruella DeVille. Budgie on the other hand had a on a pair of white short shorts which I will simply just say were VERY short. Frankly I was relieved that he planted himself behind his drum kit for most of the show.
They has a special guest for many of the songs that night, a young boy, couldn’t have had been older than eight or nine tops, dressed in a brown cloak that made him look like a Jawa. Can’t say for sure how he was related to the band at all, but Siouxsie brought him on stage during their second song, “Disconnected”, hugged him and danced with him a little. He scampered into the wings for a bit, but soon came back on before the next song and Siouxsie joked, “OK, I’m married to you, right? Come back for more?… If I’m going to get married, I should know your name, kid.” The kid said his name was James and she joked, “Related to Osterberg maybe?” referring to the real last name of Iggy Pop. She had the kid press a sample on her keyboard during “Turn It On”, making him technically part of the band, at least that night. Siouxsie was handed a bouquet of flowers at the end of that one which she placed off stage for later.
She took off her vest for their third song, “Take Mine” revealing a skintight, black tank top underneath and…a-hem… Siouxsie clearly wasn’t wearing a bra. The conspicuous boner I had during The Voluptuous Horror Of Karen Black sprang back to life again as she dedicated the song “for all the empty spaces out there.” She pounded a pair of conga drums with little white mallets for that tune. A couple songs later, she shook a string of bells on her fist while hitting a rectangular percussion block with a drumstick during “Miss The Girl” and afterwards, slipped on a pair of hand cymbals for “Venus Sands”. Siouxsie had her dancing shoes on for “Pluto Drive”, getting down to the fans up front on both sides of the stage. For the next one, “2nd Floor”, she asked the lighting guy for some more red lights “with a little bit of blue this time”, but didn’t get it. Afterwards, she pleaded with him again, this time in Spanish, asking for some more “Roja! Aye Caramba!” which was understandable since the next song was “Red Light”, an old Banshees song from 1980.
They followed that with their second Banshees song of the evening, “Night Shift”. Siouxsie did a slow, sultry opening to that tune, pantomiming spinning her index finger at her temple and smacking her forehead while singing the lyrics “out of my mind with you”. Budgie hopped off his drum kit and hit the congas with mallets alone with Siouxsie singing “Prettiest Thing”. He switched to pounding a giant, upright bass drum for “Exterminating Angel”, the last song of their set and Siouxsie wished the crowd a Happy Halloween as they strode off stage. When they returned, she once again encountered the boy and said, “You’re still here? It’s getting late for you”, and gave him another hug. She held him gently from behind as she sang the lullabye, “Don’t Go To Sleep Without Me” and led him off stage, giving him a little peck on the lips, before finishing the first encore with “Red Over White”, punctuating its ending with a blood curdling shriek. For their second encore, Siouxsie opened by saying, “This is the last time we’ll be here this millinneum. So, see you next millineum! Don’t a thousand years go fast?” and then they began their final song of the night, the Banshees classic, “Peek-A Boo”.
Near the end of the song a fellow who looked like he stepped right out of Burning Man joined her to dance, wearing a black, feathered carnival mask and a suede vest. Little Boots, the stage manager, strolled out to kick him off stage, but clearly Siouxsie was down with it. They put an arm around each other and did a bit of a chorus line kick walk and slowly made their way off stage as the song was winding down. Little Boots looked pissed, but back then he often looked pissed. The security also accosted a young man when he tried to bum rush the stage to grab a setlist. And that was that. October was officially over, though technically it was already November since The Creatures didn’t really get on stage until midnight. Though that fact frustrated me since I was so tired from Bridge School the night before, it was welcome to my friend Dina who showed up late to the show, but just in time to see The Creatures.
Like I had mentioned, this would be the last time I’d see them, but it wouldn’t be long until Siouxsie and Budge would return to San Francisco three years later reuniting with the Banshees for the “Seven Year Itch” tour. As you might have guessed, by then it had been seven years since the Banshees toured, back when I saw them then for the first time for back to back shows at The Warfield in 1995. They would play The Fillmore in 2002 and would not only perform the three Banshees songs they did at the Maritime at this show, but record them for a live album when they did shows in London at Shepherd’s Bush that July, six weeks after I would see them. I like to think that this Creatures show was sort of a warm up for those songs for that following tour and I’m happy to say that The Fillmore show got a good poster.
Bridge School Benefit ’99: The Who, Sheryl Crow, Pearl Jam, Neil Young, Tom Waits, Brian Wilson, Green Day, Billy Corgan & James Iha, Lucinda Williams, Shoreline, Mountain View, Thurs., October 30, 1999
(NEIL YOUNG) : (Opening Set) Long May You Run, Good To See You, Heart Of Gold
(BILLY CORGAN & JAMES IHA) : Stay (Faraway, So Close!), Ol’ 55, Stand Inside Your Love, Summer, Age Of Innocence, Glass & The Ghost Children
(GREEN DAY) : Geek Stink Breath, Hitchin’ A Ride, Warning (live premiere), Longview, She, King For A Day, When I Come Around, Scattered, Good Riddance (Time Of Your Life)
(BRAIN WILSON) : California Girls, In My Room, Surfer Girl, Add Some Music, Do It Again, Lay Down Burden, God Only Knows, Let Me Wonder, Help Me Rhonda, Surfin’ USA, Good Vibrations, Love & Mercy
(TOM WAITS) : Gun Street Girl, Jockey Full Of Bourbon, Hold On, Chocolate Jesus, 16 Shells From A Thirty-Ought Six, Tango Till They’re Sore, Innocent When You Dream, Tom Traubert’s Blues (Four Sheets To The Wind In Copenhagen)
(NEIL YOUNG) : I Am A Child, Good To See You, Heart Of Gold, Greenville, Surfin’ USA, Harvest Moon, Looking Forward, Out Of Control, Long Man You Run, Southern Pacific, Mother Earth (Natural Anthem), Slowpoke, Old Man, (encore), I Shall Be Released
(PEARL JAM) : Soldier Of Love, Wishlist, Thin Air (live debut), Elderly Woman Behind The Counter In A Small Town, Footsteps, Last Kiss, Yellow Ledbetter
(SHERYL CROW) : Everyday Is A Winding Road, Leaving Las Vegas, Riverwide, Strong Enough, Juanita (with Emmylou Harris), If It Makes You Happy, The Difficult Kind, It Don’t Hurt, Home
(THE WHO) : Substitute, I Can’t Explain, Pinball Wizard, Behind Blue Eyes, Tattoo, Mary Anne With The Shaky Hands (1st live since 1989), Boris The Spider, Who Are You, There You Go, I Walk The Line, Ring Of Fire, Won’t Get Fooled Again
Aswad, Eek-A Mouse, Sir Mix-A-Lot, Maritime Hall, SF, Thurs., October 30, 1999
Festival shows, especially the one’s that went this long, tend to take a lot of time to cover, so apologies in advance if this piece goes long as well. The Bridge School Benefit often goes late, due to its impressive roster of talent, usually seven or eight acts, but this one was special for many reasons. For starters, it being the Saturday show, started at 5 PM instead of 2 PM like it does on Sunday. Adding to the lateness, this one had the dubious distinction of taking place on the eve of daylight savings time, AKA “fall back”. So, though we were gaining an hour on the clock, we actually got out of there at 1 AM instead of midnight. Now, this wouldn’t have been an issue with me, but my sister, my friend Jeff Pollard, his lovely wife Christine, and I roped my dear mother into joining us for this hootenanny. Though she may have been only 60 years old at the time, I having just turned 50 am beginning to understand just what a physical undertaking this show must have been for her. She deserves much credit for being a good sport and sticking it out to the very end.
Cruel as it may sound to stick around to that late hour, her and our suffering I’m afraid were compulsory, since the final act of the night was none other than The Who. I had been waiting all my life to see these legendary British rockers, though I did manage to catch their bassist John Entwistle do a solo show at The Fillmore in 1994. It had been ten years since they had done a tour and I had missed their last one in 1989. The line up that night was equally as punctuated by the presence of Tom Waits. Likewise, I had been waiting for all eternity to see this enigmatic artist, who despite taking residence in nearby Sebastopol, never played live around the bay area. My guess is that he just wanted to avoid being recognized by the locals, but it still annoyed me that I hadn’t seen him perform up until then. All the other acts, though stellar, I had seen plenty up till that point and would have been less inclined to stay as late for.
Before I continue to the show at hand, I have to point out that this was one of those rare shows that I chose to miss working at the Maritime on that night. The Hall was hosting reggae acts Aswad, who I still haven’t seen yet, and Eek-A Mouse, who I had seen there altogether too many times. But what stung missing that show was the unlikely opening act of Sir Mix A-Lot. The legendarily horny hip hop artist had a short but spectacular set and though I wasn’t in attendance to record him, I made sure to get a copy of that set to compensate. Like I had written before, my partner Pete, who came out of the woodwork once again to take the helm in the recording room, had little or no interest in hip hop music, but even Pete was impressed by Mix A-Lot’s skills on the mic. There are many MC’s out there with excellent diction and speed, but there’s no one who even comes close to him. His ability to clearly and seemingly effortlessly annunciate his lyrics at his break neck velocity boggles the mind. And of course, he finished his set with his smash hit, “Baby Got Back”. Thankfully, I was able to witness his unmatched skills in person seven years later when he did an intimate show at the Red Devil Lounge. But back to the Bridge School gig.
This was my seventh Bridge School show in eight years, the lucky thirteenth in the Benefit’s rich history. I had only missed the year before since ‘92, partially because I was recording Bunny Wailer at the Maritime on its first day and that I wasn’t particularly impressed with the line up that year. This would also be the first Bridge School to be broadcast over the internet, though there were complaints about the broadcast’s reliability, image, and sound quality. But that wasn’t entirely unexpected, after all, it was only 1999. Neil Young did his traditional brief, solo opening of the night before quickly yielding the stage to Lucinda Williams. Hers was the one setlist of the show that I don’t have, though I know she was joined by Neil and Emmylou Harris, who was on the bill replacing Lucinda for the following day, for Lucinda’s songs, “Greenville” and “Sweet Old World”. Emmylou had actually gotten a shout out from Jill Cunniff from Luscious Jackson two days before this when she played the Maritime. Jill played a song called “Why Would I Lie?” which Emmylou had sang back ups on the album version of it and Jill praised her recent collaboration with Linda Ronstadt for an album of duets they made together called “Western Wall”. Pity neither artist got to sit in with each other that weekend. Lucinda was doing well that year, having just won a Grammy for Best Contemporary Folk Album for “Car Wheels On A Gravel Road”.
The Smashing Pumpkins had graced the Bridge School stage two years before and they were back again, though truncated to be billed simply as Billy Corgan & James Iha. The band was going through a transitional period then, having lost their bass player D’arcy Wretzky who was hitting a rough patch, having just divorced her husband and suffered a miscarriage. Unsuccessful in her pursuit of an acting career, poor D’arcy would descend into drug addiction leading to her arrest of possession of crack cocaine. Thankfully, the band’s drummer Jimmy Chamberlain had bounced back from his drug habit and just got out of rehab. So, he joined his bandmates for the last two songs of their set, at least making them for a small time three quarters of Smashing Pumpkins on stage.
They had replaced D’arcy recently with ex-Hole bassist Melissa Auf Der Maur, who had left the dumpster fire that was Courtney Love after her five year contract with the band had expired. However, she wasn’t at this show, Billy explaining after they finished playing “Summer”, “We were gonna play with our new bass player tonight, but she’s in a chess tournament in Italy. So we’d like to bring out another friend of ours… Jimmy Chamberlain. Fresh off the Billy Squire tour.” Billy then introduced “Age Of Innocence” saying, “We’d like to play a new song for you. It’s about a week old.” The new album “Machine/The Machines Of God”, where that song as well as “Stand Inside Your Love” and “Glass & The Ghost Children” would eventually debut, wouldn’t come out for another four months, but it didn’t sell that well and the band split up shortly afterwards. Billy and Jimmy would form the band Zwan, who I caught at The Warfield four years later, before the Pumpkins reformed in 2005. And though the Pumpkins are still playing today and back to playing arena sized venues, this would be the last time I’d see them.
The duo casually took the stage, Billy dressed in a long, black coat and fishing hat, James also dressed in black and they opened up inexplicably with a cover of U2’s “Stay (Faraway, So Close!). They followed it with another cover, “Ol’ 55” by Tom Waits, one of Tom’s oldest songs that was later made famous by The Eagles. James sang that one. Hopefully, they asked permission from him and they probably did since they also played it the following night. If not, I guess Tom didn’t mind, though it would have been nice if he had joined them on stage for it. One wouldn’t guess that the Pumpkins were coming apart then since their career had been nothing but a meteoric rise since their inception, recently awarded with back to back Grammy wins for Best Hard Rock Performance for their songs “Bullet With Butterfly Wings” and “The End Is The Beginning Is The End”. The latter song had been part of the soundtrack for the catastrophic flop “Batman & Robin”. Maybe that movie was the real reason the Pumpkins were on the skids. The movie was that bad, nearly destroying the careers of all involved with it. To make matters worse, Billy produced the music to the religious hysteria horror film, “Stigmata” with Patricia Arquette and Gabriel Byrne that year which was even less watchable than “Batman & Robin”. Both films got plenty of nominations for Razzie awards, but thankfully didn’t win any.
Coincidentally, the band to follow would be the one that was on first when the Pumpkins headlined the Lollapalooza tour in 1994, the bay area’s own Green Day. Yes, while the Pumpkins’ star was starting to fade, Green Day’s was on the rise. This would be their first live performance with Jason White on rhythm guitar, officially ending Green Day’s status as a three piece. Jason had actually played a small part kissing a girl during their music video for “When I Come Around”. On a grimmer side note, bassist Mike Dirnt had just divorced his wife, Anastasia Serman, that year, and though he’d remarry in 2004, that second marriage would quickly dissolve the same year. He’d marry for the third time in 2009 and so far, that one sticking. Their next album, “Warning”, wouldn’t be released until the following October, almost a year after, but we were treated to the live premiere of the title track. Billy had a lot of energy that night introducing the band before singing “Hitchin’ A Ride”, saying, “We’re Green Day from Oakland, California! I’d like to thank Neil Young and everyone around him” and then he let out a high pitched yodel. Before the did “Warning”, he introduced Jason and joked, “Check out his butt!” Jason turned his backside to the audience to for a moment and they applauded.
It was interesting to hear Green Day play acoustic, probably the first time they had done it, at least for an entire set. They hit their instruments as hard as they did the electric ones, but it still was a little weird, like Metallica’s set had been two years before this. Still, “Good Riddance (Time Of Your Life)” clearly was made to be played acoustically, so that one didn’t feel out of place. Though “Warning” wasn’t commercially successful as their previous albums, they bounced back with a vengeance big time when they put out “American Idiot” four years later. Hell, the next time I’d see them, they’d be headlining the goddamn ballpark and they’re still just as big. They played the ballpark again in 2021 and headlined one of the days at Outside Lands last year.
The (then) young act of Green Day would soon give way for the surf rock elder statesman, Brian Wilson. I had just seen the former leader of The Beach Boys at The Warfield a mere ten days before this show. So, if you want more backstory about Brian, feel free to revisit my entry from that night. Once again, he had brought along his band, The Wondermints, and though he still came off as stilted and singing flat, I think he was a little looser that he’d put a few performances under his belt by then. Neil, Eddie Vedder, and Sheryl Crow joined him on stage to sing back up for “Surfin’ USA”. Since they weren’t allowed to use amplifiers for this acoustic event, they replaced the theremin they normally employed for “Good Vibrations” and did that part with an acoustic guitar with a slide bar. And though Brian’s songs were infinitely appreciated, his set went on a bit long, contributing to conspicuous length of this night. I had hoped mom would have liked Brian, but as a former voice teacher, she was unimpressed by his off key attempts to harmonize to say the least.
Tom Waits might not have been performing quite as long as Brian, but the fellow Southern Californian, was equally as revered to me. I was ecstatic when he took the stage, donning an old, rumpled fedora hat with the brim tilted up in the front. Tom was lit from underneath, giving him an appropriately ghostly look to him, it being Halloween weekend. He had been out of the limelight for a few years, but had triumphantly returned to form with his new album, “Mule Variations”. Having left Island Records, he was free to explore musically with this seminal piece, his first studio album in six years. I appreciated that he used Primus to be his band for the first track on that album, “Big In Japan”, though I didn’t find out it was them until years later. I’ll never forget that song since earlier that year, the front of house sound engineer at The Fillmore accidentally left that tune on a repeating loop for almost a half hour between sets of the Chris Cornell show there. I got to know that song well that evening.
We were lucky to hear two new songs that night, the sublime “Hold On’ and the hilarious “Chocolate Jesus”. That album would nab him a Grammy for Best Contemporary Folk Album and a nomination for Best Male Rock Performance. The musicians he assembled were tight, though they had just played their first live show in three years recently in Austin. Also that year, Tom found time to play a part in the comedy “Mystery Men” where he played Doc Heller, who made non-lethal weapons for that band of misfit superheroes. I was equally as delighted to hear Tom’s hysterical banter between songs that night. Before playing “Hold On”, he claimed it was “a song written by Gregory Peck and was Lincoln’s inaugural address”. Tom also dedicated “Chocolate Jesus” to “everyone there who’s like me that might have difficulty getting up for church on Sunday” and sang that song through a bullhorn wrapped in black gaff tape. Finally, before “Innocent When You Dream” he joked that it was a “song my dad taught me when I was a kid… That’s a lie… This is a song I learned from some kids behind a theater… That’s also a lie… I learned it from Gregory Peck… That’s also a lie. They’re all lies… No, they’re not.” He finished his set with the sentimental ballad, “Tom Traubert’s Blues (Four Sheets To The Wind In Copenhagen” and left the stage, saluting the kids and audience saying, “Good to be here. Thanks for asking us.”
Neil Young came up afterwards, abdicating his usual final slot on the bill to The Who. He covered a good assortment from his long career as well as three new songs from his latest album “Looking Forward”, that had just been released four days before this show, his final album with Crosby, Stills, & Nash. About halfway through his set, he played the title track, followed by “Out Of Control”, and later did “Slowpoke” for the second to the last one. He brought up some folks from the show to do the Bob Dylan classic “I Shall Be Released” for his encore. His set was followed by Bridge School veterans Pearl Jam who would be returning to this annual benefit for the fourth time and I’m proud to say that I’d witnessed all four appearances. They would play at a total of nine times in Bridge School Benefits thirty year history and singer Eddie Vedder would play twice as a solo artist. But tragedy would strike PJ the following year when they played the Roskilde Festival and nine people were suffocated to death in the crowd when they were on stage. Though they tried to calm the crowd down, it was too late and they cancelled their next two concerts after that, even contemplating splitting up for a while. I was lucky to see Pearl Jam as often as I did back then in the 90’s, but I wouldn’t see them for another eight years until I would finally catch them again at the Civic Center.
PJ had just replaced their drummer Jack Irons with fellow Seattle native Matt Cameron, who had just became a free agent after the break up of Soundgarden. Though the “Binaural” album wouldn’t hit the stores for another seven months, we were treated to the live debut of their new tune “Thin Air” that night. Eddie introduced it, comparing it to getting a “new bike or a new coat” and they just “can’t wait to try it out.” That new album wasn’t a hit as much as their earlier stuff, being the only one that didn’t go platinum. Thankfully, they started to release official live “bootlegs” after that, appeasing hardcore fans like my friend Jeff and relieving me from having to tape them in the future. They also did a cover of “Last Kiss” by Wayne Cochran which PJ had given to their fan club as a Christmas single, benefitting refugees from the recent fighting in Kosovo. Eddie told another little story before “Footsteps” saying that Neil had taken him for a walk in the woods recently and confessed that he was his father. Eddie said, “Cool”, and when he asked if he could move in with him, Neil said no.
And as much I enjoy Sheryl Crow, the show’s length was starting to take its toll on us by the time she was on and it was getting really, really cold. We did our best to bundle mom up and assure her that the night would wrap up soon, but even I was starting to lose my patience. Still, it was nice that Emmylou Harris made another appearance joining Sheryl on stage for “Juanita”. I did appreciate Sheryl’s bravery doing “a bit of an experiment” as she put it, strapping on an accordion to play “Strong Enough”. She even did a little lick of the theme to the movie “The Godfather” before playing it. She’s no Weird Al, but I think she pulled it off well enough, especially for a beginner.
Sheryl was still riding high in her career after winning a Grammy for Best Rock Album for “The Globe Sessions” that year. Lots of recent Grammy winners on the bill at Bridge School that year. She had also made her acting debut in “The Minus Man” with her then boyfriend actor Owen Wilson. Sheryl and the band did something sweet halfway through her set, turning around to play “If It Makes You Happy” to the kids behind her. Following that, she did “The Difficult Kind” saying it was an ill fated attempt to win back an old boyfriend, but she was glad it didn’t work since she had a new boyfriend who was “fabulous” which certainly had to have been Owen. But after such a long parade of talent, the time came at long last to see The Who. They had Zak Starkey, the son of Ringo Starr, on drums touring with them, though he only played tambourine for about half the songs at this one.
Not to be outdone, by Tom Waits, Pete Townshend had plenty to say between songs that night as well. Before “Pinball Wizard”, he mentioned it was the second time he’d been to the benefit, the first being three years before as a solo act, and this time he’d brought Roger and John, despite complaining that “they all should be in bed”. He went on to say that he was “still in tears to have seen Brian Wilson… so unbelievably moving” and was inspired by the collection of talent backstage. Pete made a bit of a disclaimer before they did “Mary Ann With The Shaky Hands” saying that it was a “rather touchy song to be playing tonight” and that people should “take it as it was intended” as a tune about “a man who falls genuinely, deeply, and permanently in love with a girl whose hands shake.”
They gave Entwistle a chance to sing and Pete joked as he lurched over his mic stand that “he’s going to stoop over to sing but not as much as Tom Waits”. John, appropriately wearing a necklace with a silver spider pendant, did “Boris The Spider”, a perfect song for a (pre) Halloween concert. Pete continued to ham it up after the song ended, pretending to see a spider on the ground and repeatedly trying to stomp on it shouting, “There he is!!! After 39 years!!!”, but afterwards apologizing saying that they don’t so stuff like that anymore. He then prefaced “Who Are You” telling the audience that “this is where we used to play a tape in 1975”, that it was “still a new thing to do” and that now people would just “buy something by Casio or Yamaha and press button 16, but when I first did it, it was brilliant because back in those days, synthesizers were made in America!”
They took a bit of a left turn after when Roger and Pete did a little Johnny Cash mash up of “I Walk The Line” and “Ring Of Fire”, but it fell apart after a couple minutes, Roger laughing that he hadn’t “played it in years”. Pete ribbed him back, “it was just getting good when you stopped!” Before they finished the night with “The Kids Are Alright”, Pete did one more riff about Tom Waits saying that he “may have been stooped over, but he has the most beautiful family” and Pete wondered “coming from England as I do how can you father so many children when you have a goatee beard”, but he laughed and dedicated the song to him anyway. Pete raised a few eyebrows then saying that he could say what he wanted about Tom since he had “left the building” and claimed, “You see, it’s like when someone’s dead and you can say whatever you want about him… John Lennon? I fucked him!” Embarrassed a little when he glimpsed the children lined up in their wheelchairs behind him, he made a caveat, “Oops! Forgot where I was for a minute. I didn’t really. That’s just an example of the kind of thing you say about people after they’re dead.”
We shivered as we stumbled back to our car after the show ended. It had to have been after 2 am, or rather 1 am after the clocks were set back, when we finally got mom home. I still give her props to this day for her stoicism on that long night, but I’m glad I could share that with her. It was mom’s second Bridge School, seeing the one in 1996 before and not only did she see Pete Townshend also at that one, but she would accompany me to see The Who when they returned to play the Shoreline the following summer. I made a point to taunt my brother Alex who had never seen them despite being perhaps the biggest Who fan I know apart from Duke the stagehand from The Fillmore who positively worships them. I made sure he never forgot that his own mother had seen The Who twice until he finally got to see them a few years later. Coming back for the next day’s show was tempting, but I chose to record The Creatures with Siouxsie Sioux at the Maritime instead. It was definitely a more appropriate show for Halloween and let’s face it, after all the time I spent at this musical marathon, once was more than enough this time around. Still, I consider this Bridge School line up to be one of the best in its history.
Luscious Jackson, Ben Lee, Maritime Hall, SF, Sat., October 29, 1999
SETLIST : Pele Merengue, Here, (unknown), Electric, Ladyfingers, Naked Eye, Angel, Summer Daze, Space Diva, Devotion, Why Do I Lie?, Country’s A Callin’, Christine, Sexy Hypnotist, Nervous Breakthrough, (encore), Surprise, City Song (NY State Of The World)
Ever since I finally broke into writing about these October shows, I’d been looking forward to revisiting Luscious Jackson. They were and still are one of my favorite bands ever, but getting to this concert means that I’m nearly at the end of one of the longest monthly stretches of shows I’d ever endure. It had been nearly four years since I’d see them play at The Fillmore, the Edge the year before that. I’m sure I don’t have to remind the readers how much I enjoyed their music and how hopelessly horny I was for singer/guitarist Jill Cunniff. They had just put out their new album, “Electric Honey” four months before this and the single “Ladyfingers” had already been scooped up to be in the soundtracks for both “Buffy The Vampire Slayer” and “Charmed”. The single “Why Do I Lie?” that had been put out with the “Fever In Fever Out” album in 1996 was also on the soundtrack for the film “Good Will Hunting”. Petra Hayden had been a guest violinist on the songs “Space Diva” and “Lover’s Moon” on the new album, a year before she was struck by a car crossing the street in L.A. that put her out of commission from performing for months. I’m happy to say she recovered and I saw her play with the Red Room Orchestra just this last February. But back to Luscious Jackson.
Naturally, the band had been busy promoting the new album, going on tour earlier that year alongside fellow Grand Royal label mates, Cibo Matto. They both would join the line up of the Lilith Fair that summer. I can’t remember why I had to miss that tour when it came around to play Shoreline that summer, but I regret it since it would be the last Lilith Fair, save one more put together 11 years later that ultimately was cancelled mid tour. Luscious Jackson had just replaced their keyboardist, Vivian Trimble, with Singh Birdsong and added Tia Sprocket on percussion, though both Singh and Tia would pinch hit on guitar and bass. DJ Alex Young was also on the turntables for this tour, warming up the crowd between sets and playing along with the band. Vivian had grown tired of touring and wanted to stay put on their home turf in New York City and started a band called Dusty Trails with Josephine Wiggs from The Breeders. I’m sad to say that Vivian just passed away after a prolonged battle with cancer last month at the all too young age of 59.
Opening that night would be Ben Lee, a singer/songwriter from Australia, who had also just been signed to Grand Royal. His song, “How To Survive A Broken Heart” had been featured in the soundtrack for the comedy, “There’s Something About Mary” the year before and he had put out the “Breathing Tornados” album that November. As luck would have it, Petra Hayden was a guest on his album as well, contributing back up vocals to his song, “Nighttime” along with Donovan Leitch, the venerable hippie icon, more commonly known simply as Donovan. Speaking of hippie icons, that album also had Sean Lennon, John Lennon’s youngest, doing back up vocals on the song “Sandpaperback”. Undoubtedly, somebody would had to have made the obvious “Sandpaperback Writer” pun when they made that one. Too easy. Ben was dating actress Claire Danes at the time, though they would split up four years later. He would marry actress Ione Skye in 2008, who coincidentally had just divorced, Grand Royal founder and Beastie Boy, Ad Rock, the year of this show.
It was a fairly well sold evening that night and the audience was enthusiastic when they took the stage, opening with “Pele Merengue”. Between songs, Jill asked, “Did anybody watch that really cheesy show on the WB network that we were on?”. Jill had been referring to the “WB Radio Music Awards” which aired two nights before this and continued, “It was so bad… You were smart not to watch it.” After, they did “Here” they got the crowd to participate for the next one, an instrumental, getting them to scream for a while every time they said, “Go!”. Gabby Glaser teased us a little afterwards, saying, “I’m about to make a confession tonight since it’s the city of love”, then hesitated, “Sorry I can’t to it”, the switched to a comical English accent, “It’s smutty and dirty. I can’t. Maybe later.” She grinned as she did a little bit of the bass line from Queen’s “Another One Bites The Dust” before they played “Ladyfingers”.
Gabby was in the middle of saying something before they played “Angel”, when somebody threw a pair of underwear at her, hitting her in the face. She laughed it off, telling the crowd that they had “just saw Tom Jones in Las Vegas” and told a story about one of the many women who threw her underwear at him, as was tradition at his shows, and the pair was so big, that “it looked like a table cloth.” Tom gave that woman a kiss on the lips and he let her rub his leg for the rest of the show. Somebody up front was complaining that they couldn’t hear the vocals, so Jill encouraged them to get closer to the P.A. It being two days before Halloween, she then asked the crowd “Is anybody going to go trick or treating? I’m going with my niece and nephew… very exciting.”
They brought things down for a bit, doing the aforementioned “Why Do I Lie?” Jill introduced the song, wanting “to do an advertisement for something”, going on to say “I wrote a song with Emmylou Harris who is a wonderful singer if you don’t know her and it’s on an album with Linda Ronstadt called ‘Western Wall’ and I highly recommend the entire album.” The album was a series of duets with her and Linda and the song Jill wrote with Emmylou was called “Sweet Spot”. As luck would have it, Emmylou was in town for the Bridge School Benefit down at Shoreline for the next two nights and it was a pity she couldn’t have been in the house that night for a cameo, since she had originally sang back ups for this song. Singh switched to guitar for a couple tunes after that and Jill made an observation that she felt like they “were in The Fillmore in 1969” marveling at the graphics mixed into the video feed on the Maritime’s giant screens adding, “And that’s just fine with me.” Sure, Jill didn’t realize that The Fillmore and BGP were the Hall’s mortal enemies, but she was astute in the sense that both venues were sharing the talents of the Brotherhood Of Light guys.
She went on to introduce “Christine”, saying “I used to write a lot of songs when I was a teenager, but I would never play them to anyone. I was much too shy. So, I wrote a song about it. It could be about any girl, any boy.” Afterwards Jill said, “we’ve been spending so much time in Las Vegas on this tour for some reason. We added a new song to our repertoire… It’s actually about all the girls who assist the magicians” and they went into “Sexy Hypnotist”. Jill shook a tambourine for a bit in the middle of that one and for the last tune of their set, “Nervous Breakthrough”, the first song on the new album and one of my favorites. I swear to God, there’s something about the adorable way Jill dances on stage that just turns me all weak in the knees. I can’t help it.
They came back for an encore and Jill asked the audience “to do the pogo dance for the next song. We also will be doing it” and they all hopped in unison throughout “Surprise”. Jill then invited “a few people” to dance with them for their last song of the night, “City Song (New York State Of The World)” as was the “Luscious Jackson tradition”. The audience accepted that invitation and then some, filling every square inch of the stage to the point where folks could barely move to their mild dismay. Gabby politely requested that they didn’t step on her pedals. Near the end of the song, she shouted, “Make room for Kate!” and drummer Kate Schellenbach joined her at the front of the stage, Tia taking over for her on the drum kit. One of the random people dancing on stage I recognized and that’s another story.
The Maritime’s psychotic owner, Boots, finally realizing that he had alienated my partner Pete to the point where he was rarely coming in to work anymore, leaving me alone most of the time, tried to recruit a volunteer assistant for me to help out in the recording room. Personally, I think he was fishing for someone to replace me that he didn’t have to pay for. He found some young man named Xander who I believe had been an usher and introduced him to me. I quickly discovered that despite his friendly demeanor, that he knew jack shit about sound and wasn’t particularly interested in learning anything about it. He mostly just sat around and I did my best to ignore him and do my job. Well, Xander, obviously bored, asked if he could go upstairs to watch the end of the show and I obliged him. When I saw him on stage dancing with the others on the video, I simply rolled my eyes and shook my head apathetically. He was even hamming it up before the song began, doing a little obnoxious chorus line kick routine with another guy until Jill told him to cut it out. After the song ended, Boots caught him amongst the throngs of stage bum rushers and gave him one of his trademark tongue lashings. Let’s just say that was the last I saw of Xander.
I can’t say how relieved I was to catch that show since Luscious Jackson would disband the year after this to make time for their families and pursue other projects. Unfortunately, Grand Royal would soon go out of business, filing for bankruptcy a year and a half after this night. Jill and Gabby have both put out solo records since then and after having kids of their own, eventually assembled and released an album together called “Baby DJ”, comprised of songs for children. It would be a full fifteen years later in 2014 until Luscious Jackson would finally return to the bay area and I would see them perform at The Independent and they were just as awesome as I remembered them to be. I will always have warm feelings for Luscious Jackson and I’m proud to say that I just put up their poster from The Fillmore show they did back in 1995 in my new bedroom here in Alameda just a few weeks ago.
A Perfect Circle, Laundry, Enemy, War., SF, Wed., October 27, 1999
SETLIST : The Hollow, Orestes, Magdalena, 3 Libras, Thomas, Brena, Diary Of A Lovesong, Rose, Judith
This side project of Tool frontman Maynard James Keenan had been developed all year and now they were ready to be thrown in the deep end of the rock & roll pool. I had missed the show they had done in September at Slim’s, getting their sea legs opening for Oxbow, but now the word was out and they were getting big, Warfield big, though I would say the venue was only half full at this show. As you can imagine, I’m kicking myself for missing that Slim’s gig, especially since I thought Oxbow ruled and they were only changing $5 to get in, but it was sold out before I could buy a ticket. For al those who have read my stuff before, you would know that I was and remain a big fan of Tool and Mr. Keenan’s powerful voice and stage persona, so I was naturally curious to hear what this new endeavor sounded like.
To be fair though, it wasn’t Maynard’s baby. For years, guitar tech Billy Howerdel had plied his craft with acts like Nine Inch Nails, Smashing Pumpkins, and Fishbone before working for Tool in 1992. There, he became friends with Maynard, who was even gracious enough to shack Billy up at his house in North Hollywood three years later. As luck would have it, I had some extensive time listening to Tool’s soundcheck at their back to back shows at the Warfield in 1996 where they had let their guitar tech fill in for Adam Jones and I was impressed with his chops, even getting the deadpan praise of Maynard saying that he had “passed the audition”. That guitar tech had to have been Billy. In his downtime, Mr. Howerdel wrote and recorded songs until he put together a five song demo of his work. Initially, he had hoped to recruit Elizabeth Frazer of the Cocteau Twins whose band had just imploded a couple years before to sing for him, but she declined.
Upon hearing Billy’s stuff, Maynard thought he’d give it a go and from there, they were off to the races. They enlisted Troy Van Leeuwen who had been a session player for Korn and Orgy, and would eventually play guitar for Queens Of The Stone Age. Also, A Perfect Circle employed Paz Lenchantin from Failure, the band that opened for Tool at that aforementioned Warfield show in ’96 and was the first act on the main stage of 1998 Lollapalooza tour where Tool was the penultimate act on that bill. Like I said, this stuff was new, so new that A Perfect Circle had actually only performed their first live show two months before this at the Viper Room in L.A. Word got out fast and just two and a half weeks before this show, they were playing at Coachella. Troy was performing double duty that night, kicking the show off with his band, Enemy, a name which seemed like an obvious one for a rock act though inexplicably nobody had taken by then. Troy also had a Failure alumni in his new band, Kelli Scott on drums. I’ve made it no secret that I wasn’t a fan of Failure, so I was relieved to hear that they’d broken up, though I still do give them props for their cover of Depeche Mode’s “Enjoy The Silence”.
Also opening that night was Laundry, Tim “Herb” Alexander’s band, the once and future drummer of Primus. I’d seen Laundry open for Tool during their first headlining Warfield show in 1994, but by this time, Herb had left Primus and was spreading his talent around to several other projects. He had actually been A Perfect Circle’s drummer for some of their earliest gigs including this one, playing double duty that night like Troy did with Enemy, but Herb would eventually be replaced by legendary session drummer Josh Freese, who had been touring with Devo and Guns N’ Roses. Incidentally, Maynard had named his first son Devo, so it’s understandable why he’d have taken a liking to Josh, who had first learned drums listening to Devo’s “Freedom Of Choice“ album. Afterwards, Herb would go on to play with the Blue Man Group, an obvious fit considering his skill and the convenience that he’d recently shaved his head, and also play drums for Maynard’s other musical side project Puscifer, before rejoining Primus in 2003. Laundry had just released their second album, “Motivator”, and Herb was singing vocals for the band as well as playing drums this time. Near the end of their set, they did a respectful cover of Pink Floyd’s “Welcome To The Machine”. Herb doesn’t have the best singing voice in the world, but let’s face it, neither does Les Claypool. I’m just glad I caught Laundry one more time, since they would disband shortly after this show.
I wasn’t then and still unsure entirely how I feel about the music of A Perfect Circle. I appreciate that they are a spooky, radical departure from Tool’s bombastic sound as is Puscifer, but none of the songs really stick with with me save one. They did an interesting mash up of Ozzy Osbourne’s “Diary Of A Madman” and The Cure’s “Lovesong”. Now, I’ve heard a couple variations of the title used for this mash up including “Diarrhea Of A Madman” and “Ozzy’s Cure”, but regardless, it was a compelling composition. Apart from that one, they did a relatively short set, playing eight songs that would be part of their debut album, “Mer De Noms”, (french for “Sea Of Names”), that wouldn’t even hit the shelves until six months later. After that album came out, A Perfect Circle would return to The Warfield four months later and I would see them again. Thankfully, they got a poster that time.
As I mentioned before, my brother Alex was in the video for their single, “3 Libras”, where he can be seen obnoxiously accosting Maynard as he stumbled through the ballroom of the Ambassador Hotel in L.A donning a wig of long, stringy, black hair. and then Alex paired up with a young woman and joined a group of couples doing some ballroom dancing. Folks might remember that the Ambassador was the place where Robert Kennedy was assassinated and it had been used for private events, TV and movie shoots, as well as music videos alike since that fateful day in 1968 ever since. I regret to say Alex is not a fan of A Perfect Circle’s music, nor Tool for that matter, but that video does have the distinction of being the first of many on camera acting jobs he would have during his time in L.A. Anyway, Maynard mentioned that they were playing at the Cactus Club in San Jose the following night and finished their encore with “Rose” and “Judith”. But after that, the secret was out and A Perfect Circle went on to bigger and better things, opening for Nine Inch Nails the following spring before headlining their own tour.
And though as I reiterated, A Perfect Circle’s music didn’t make that much of an impression on me, this show remains as one that would forever haunt me in my memory for another reason. For the first time in my life, I stuck around at the end of the show to attend a ritual called “Shift Off” that had normally been reserved for The Warfield’s full time employees, security, bar, and maintenance people. These full timers could hang out and cash in tickets to have drinks after the crowd had dispersed and blow off some steam. At the time, my friend Drew, who had been my plus one ushering that night, had been dating one of The Warfield’s many young, attractive waitresses and he wanted to linger about, specifically to impart to her that they had “some babies to talk about”. I believe that was a reference to his desire to knock her up or at least enjoy the process of attempting to do so. Well, upon declaring this to the young woman, she wasn’t receptive and we were lingering about, just about ready to leave when Maynard, the rest of the band, and their friends had come back on stage in their street clothes, about to leave as well.
At first sight, my dear friend in an instant got stars in his eyes and impulsively marched down the aisle of The Warfield’s main floor in an attempt to get Maynard’s attention. He at first waved towards him and beckoned him to come and talk to him from the stage down below to him on the dance floor, but Maynard wasn’t taking the bait. Frustrated, Drew returned to me while I was finishing my last beer, clearly distressed over the situation. After a few seconds, he clenched his jaw, shook his head, and grew a steely determination in his face, declaring to me, “I’m going back there, man!” and before I could stop him, Drew was marching double time back time down the aisle towards his target.
Then Drew let out a syllable that haunts me to this day. He loudly blurted out, “HEY!!!” to Maynard, startling everybody in the house, echoing into its cavernous ceilings and silencing everybody else. God almighty had to have heard that. It totally reminded me of the scene in David Lynch’s “Blue Velvet” when Dennis Hopper first encountered Kyle McLachlan, stopping him terrified in his tracks with that utterance. And I have may mentioned before, that though Drew may be of average height like myself, he is quite muscular, arms filled with tattoos, and has one of those intense, thousand mile stares. Maynard and his people stood there like deer in headlights for what felt like ages and I was thinking to myself how I was going to explain all this to the authorities. But Drew finally broke the tension by simply pointing to Maynard and proudly uttered… “MJK”. He repeated it again confirming Maynard’s initials before declaring, “I fucking love you, man!” I saw Maynard take a half breath of relief before replying that he loved him too.
With the tension (slightly) broken, Drew immediately asked him in his usual jovial tone, “So, where we goin’? Where’s the party at, yo?”. Then Maynard’s girlfriend, who I believe was his future wife Lei Li, took him by the arm and led him away after Maynard graciously shined Drew on saying something to the effect that they weren’t into that or had to go or something. Anyway, Drew strolled back up the aisle to me and I caught my breath and calmed down, relieved that there we weren’t going to be entangled in any kind of legal trouble from this incident. Years later, I was enlisted into the audio crew for A Perfect Circle when they played the Civic Center in 2017 and I messaged my dear friend Drew who had long since relocated to Colorado that if I ran into Maynard, I would say, “HEY!!!!” I got a crew shirt from that show and sent it to my friend for Christmas.
Del & Casual, Ugly Duckling, Maritime Hall, SF, Sun., October 24, 1999
SETLIST : freestyle, Disastrous, Eye Examination, Future Development, Dr. Bombay, Press Rewind, Catch A Bad One, Mistadobalina, DJ – freestyle, Boo Boo Heads, Phony Phranchise, Proto Culture, At The Helm
After a grueling five day run, which after one day off was preceded by another five day run, it was a relief that this final show was this one. I had been accustomed to mixing hip hop at the Hall for a couple years now and basically knew what to expect when Del & Casual performed that night. God knows, I had more than enough experience in my previous encounters with their hip hop supergroup, the Hieroglyphics, who had finally released their long awaited debut album “3rd Eye Vision” the year before this. I had recorded the Hieroglyphics crew at five separate gigs by the time this show came up, but on this occasion, Del and Casual would be performing on their own, so I wouldn’t have to sort through the din of various mics being passed around their numerous members and so forth. This gig was added too late to make it to the monthly poster, but it still was fairly well attended. These guys had little trouble finding fans to come see them at the Maritime since we were on their home turf in the bay area.
Del’s “Future Development” album had already been out a couple years and he was just on the cusp of releasing “Both Sides Of The Brain”. Likewise, it had also been a couple years since Casual had put out his second solo album, “Meanwhile…”, but he had just released a single called, “VIP”. Six weeks before this show, Del performed at the launch party for Sega Dreamcast, the video game console, at Club Townshend. He gave a shout out to Sega a couple times during this show declaring that they “were back” and that their “new shit is hella fresh”. Sadly, Del backed the wrong horse there and this would be the last console Sega would ever produce, ultimately eclipsed by the PlayStation 2. Opening that night were Ugly Duckling from Long Beach and though they were a bunch of nerdy white boys, I thought they won the crowd over with their talent and humor. They were brand spanking new back then and had just put out their first EP, “Fresh Mode”, that April.
There was a DJ spinning records between acts that night and before Del’s DJ took over, he finished his set playing Pharoah Monche’s “Simon Says (Get The Fuck Up)”, a staple for hip hop DJ’s at the time. He even massaged his pecs and mouthed along with the lyric ,”Girls, rub on your titties”. Del’s DJ had a small case full of vinyl records that had a Korn sticker on the side of it. In a strange coincidence, A Perfect Circle played The Warfield three nights later and my brother Alex had parts in music videos for both that band and Korn. Small world, eh?
His new album wasn’t out yet, but Del was still calling this the “Both Sides Of The Brain” tour. The sides of the stage had been decorated with posters promoting the upcoming album, “Supreme Clientele” from Ghostface Killah from the Wu Tang Clan. Domino from the Hiero crew came out and introduced Del, strolling on stage wearing a tan fedora and a black “Cottonmouth 3.5” T-shirt under a blue and white checkered, long sleeve collared shirt. Del was flanked by fellow rapper KU from the Bronx and they warmed up the crowd with a little freestyle before doing “Disastrous”, a new one. KU got the crowd riled up repeatedly chanting “When I say D-E, Y’all say L! D-E!” and the crowd answered “L!”.
Del got back into familiar territory with “Eye Examination”, took off his collared shirt and followed that with “Future Development”. After Del said, “I don’t want to talk about anybody else. I don’t give a fuck. I feel you deserve a real show so I’m gonna give it to ya’”. And then he said he was going to “take you back to 1975” and said something about bell bottoms before doing “Dr. Bombay”. When they wrapped up, he said the song was from “ancient times, but it still works”. Del let out a rather impressive belch into his mic before doing another new tune, “Press Rewind”, which he did the first verse a cappella and then the song morphed straight into “Catch A Bad One”. They cut into “Mistadobilina”, KU and Del chanting at the beginning, “He still exists!”, before Del adding the caveat, “He on the run though”.
They then got the audience to chant “I like what I’m hearing right now!” before they gave the DJ a solo followed by another freestyle session. Pinky, a hippie veteran from Yoshi’s, was working the monitor board, but I saw Little Boot, the owner Boots’ youngest son who was the stage manager dabbling with it for a bit as well. After “Boo Boo Head”, Del belched again into his mic before introducing another new one called “Phony Phranchise”, declaring “I don’t care what sells” decrying rappers with “your phony jewelry that y’all be rentin’”. He went on later saying “we don’t need no fuckin’ video if y’all going to peep this shit anyway. Y’all know what the real is. I’m not going to spend all my scrilla on some digital video with doves coming out my arms that aren’t real”.
Del reiterated his passion for video games introducing the final new song of the night, “Proto Culture”. He explained, “anybody out there seen ‘Robotech’ knows what Proto Culture is, the energy source that nigga’s was funkin’ over. We gotta get that Proto Culture”. I was and still am a big “Robotech” fan, so I appreciated the reference. He followed up, praising video games, shouting, “Fuck watchin’ TV when you can control the screen!” Del shook hands slapped a bunch of the fans up front five before finishing his set with “At The Helm”. It was a fun show, despite the occasional squeaking mic, but I was sad that this would be the last time I’d record Del or any of the Hiero crew at the Hall, especially since Del would release his seminal “Deltron 3030” album the following year, easily his best work since his first album.
The Black Crowes, Maritime Hall, SF, Sat., October 23, 1999
SETLIST : Black Moon Jam, Black Moon Creeping, No Speak No Slave, Go Faster, Hotel Illness, Sting Me, Kickin’ My Heart Around, Oh Well, My Morning Song, Horsehead, Sometimes Salvation, Bled To Death, Wiser Time, Cursed Diamond, Gone, Thorn’s Progress, Thorn In My Pride, Be Your Side, Jealous Again, Virtue & Vice, (encore), Sick Again, Nobody’s Fault But Mine, Remedy
It had been less than a year since the Crowes played the Hall, but once again they brought their own monitor board, so we couldn’t get the hook up down in the recording room. So, I was able like last time to just couple the stereo feed from upstairs with my audience mics and do a simple stereo recording for the night, leaving me plenty of leisure time to relax, have some beer, and enjoy the show. The time before, the Crowes were just a month from putting out the “By Your Side“ album, their first outing since Columbia absorbed American Recordings, so this time we were treated to live renditions of the title track, “Kickin’ My Heart Around”, and “Virtue & Vice” which they ended their set with that night. It had been three years since the release of their previous album, “Three Snakes & One Charm”, having been stymied after scrapping their “Bands” album when American Recordings rejected it.
But it had been an eventful time for the Crowes in 1999. Singer Chris Robinson had just divorced his first wife, Lala Sloatman, the niece of Frank Zappa, and had started dating actress Kate Hudson, a different daughter of a celebrity, her mom being Goldie Hawn. They’d marry the following year on New Year’s Eve in Aspen and though there were rumors that Kate was in the house that night, I never saw her. Kate would be nominated for an Oscar for “Almost Famous” the following year, a movie which I despised, though I do admit that she clearly was the best part of it. They would sire a son together in 2004, but split up three years later.
Also earlier in ’99, the Black Crowes performed in a pre-game show for Super Bowl XXXIII and co-headlined a tour along with Lenny Kravitz that spring. On that tour, poor Rich Robinson had his vintage 1963 Fender Esquire guitar ripped off in Grand Rapids, Michigan, never to be recovered. To make matters worse, their keyboardist Eddie Harsh had to suddenly leave the tour to have emergency surgery to fix his twisted intestine. While he recovered, the band continued, placing a human sized, inflatable, green alien to stand in his stead in front of his unmanned keyboards. They had recently replaced their bass played Johnny Colt, who had left the band to become a yoga instructor, with Sven Pipien. Sven would also be replaced mid-tour the following year by Greg Rzab, but would rejoin the band in 2005.
But the most significant achievement of the Crowes that year was their brilliant collaboration with guitar god Jimmy Page from Led Zeppelin. They had just completed back to back shows of this musical marriage made in heaven at the Greek Theater in L.A. just four days before this night, which would ultimately lead to the release of their “Live At The Greek” double album. Sadly, Mr. Page was not at this Maritime show, but the band would play a smoking hot version of “Nobody’s Fault But Mine”, the Blind Willie Johnson cover that Zeppelin made famous, for the second to last song of their encore that evening. Page and the Crowes would do a show at Shoreline the following August and I’m ashamed to have missed it. As much as I enjoyed that Maritime gig, I would have savored it more if I knew it would be the last time I’d see the Crowes for a decade. Yes, it wouldn’t be until 2009 when I would see them again, performing as the entertainment for the Dreamforce conference which thankfully I was working at time and was able to get in for free.
After the gig, members of the band scooted over to the Maritime’s rival venue, The Fillmore, to check out fellow jam band southerners Gov’t Mule and where guitarist Audley Freed and Chris joined the band on stage for their encore. They were flanked by none other than John Popper, the harmonica virtuoso from Blues Traveler who’d I see them perform alongside with during the H.O.R.D.E. tours in both 1994 and 1995. They did covers of “32-20 Blues” by Robert Johnson and “The Hunter” by Albert King, both masters of the blues genre and naturally, I was sorry I couldn’t witness that. Just as well, since I needed the rest and appreciated having down time at the Crowes show, a well earned respite being the fourth show in a five day run. I would have the hip hop duo of Del & Casual to finish that stretch the following night and the rest did me good.
Echo & The Bunnymen, Otherstarpeople, Maritime Hall, SF, Fri., October 22, 1999
SETLIST : Get Carter Intro, Rescue, Crocodiles, Evergreen, Loose, The Fish Hook Girl, Seven Seas, Bring On The Dancing Horses, The Back Of Love, What Are You Going To Do With Your Life?, Fools Like Us, The Killing Moon, I Want To Be There (When You Come), Altamont, The Cutter, Lips Like Sugar, Nothing Lasts Forever, Do It Clean, Roadhouse Blues, (encore), Villiers Terrace, Over The Wall (encore), Ocean Rain
I was being spoiled that week at the Hall with the array of talent I was able to record and smack dab in the middle of this five day run was none other than Echo & The Bunnymen. They had reformed two years earlier and I was lucky to catch their first gig in the bay area after their reunion at the Great American, a remarkably small venue for such a prestigious band, and later that year, after they got over their first tour jitters, when they played The Warfield. But this time, they were mine all mine. I knew it was a longshot that they’d use any of my recordings for an album and indeed they would go on to release the “Live In Liverpool” album three years later, but I was honored nonetheless to have them in my long list of unreleased credits. Like so many other bands, I understood the value of putting out a live album from their home town, honoring their history and fans.
In the years between when I saw them last, they had released another album of new material called, “What Are You Going To Do With Your Life?”, their eighth one in their illustrious career. The year before, bass player Les Pattinson had left the band for personal reasons, primarily to take care of his elderly mother, though some think it was partially because he was butting heads with frontman Ian McCulloch. This would leave the band with only Ian and guitarist Will Sergeant as the only remaining original members and the new album was completed using session musicians. It had the London Metropolitan Orchestra backing them up too as well as, strangely enough, a couple tracks featuring guests, the Fun Lovin’ Criminals. But Will hated the new album and after the group left London Records the next year, he would explore other projects on the side like his band, Glide, which opened for Echo & The Bunnymen on other legs of the tour this year and the one the following year.
Opening that night was Otherstarpeople, a new group for Jennifer Finch, who had just left L7 citing health and money issues, as well as grieving over the deaths of her father and her friend and roadie named Umber. Together with bandmate Xander Smith, they had just put out their debut album, “Diamond In The Belly OF The Dog”, two months before this show. The single “Then There’s None” was a hit and appeared on both soundtracks for “Office Space” and “Buffy The Vampire Slayer” both which came out that year too. I thought they were quite good, though I’m afraid this would be the only time I’d ever see them.
But soon enough, they fired up the fog machine and Echo & The Bunnymen casually sauntered onto stage, accompanied by the theme song to the movie “Get Carter”. Ian was his usual vampirish self and Will was wearing a black tie with white polka dots, packing an electric guitar with a Union Jack sticker in the center area of its body next to its pickups. A few songs into their set, they did a cover of “Loose” by The Stooges before playing “The Fish Hook Girl” which Ian claimed was a Rolling Stones song, though said it was a Beach Boys song after they had finished. Coincidentally, I had just seen Brian Wilson at The Warfield two days before this show. Actually, I still can’t find the original owner of that song, but the band had also released it as a B-Side to their new single, “Rust”. Ian was probably just joking and it was theirs.
A few songs later, he introduced the title track of the new album saying, “This is a new song. As usual, San Francisco is playing the hell out of it.” They immediately followed it with another new one, “Fools Like Us”, which Ian prefaced that it was a “New song. Some of you may know it. Some of you won’t.” A couple tunes later, they did “Altamont” and part of me was sorry Pete wasn’t there for it since he had been one of the monitor engineers at that doomed music festival. Ian fooled around a bit in that one, singing the line “don’t care if you do” in a ridiculous Elvis voice. Afterwards, he had a little back and forth with an audience member, made a comment about the YMCA, and even sung a little from the chorus of the Village People song before mumbling to the guy in the crowd, “That’s where you’re staying tonight, anyway.”
Like many of the best frontmen like Iggy Pop and David Yow, Ian comes off as a little stiff at first, but after a few songs in he lets himself go more and more, his little dance moves getting increasingly fluid as the set went on. He cracked a joke after “The Cutter” declaring, “You do realize, we’re from Liverpool. It’s the center of the universe.” Ian cooled off, squatting briefly in front of an electric fan that they’d put on stage in front of him before the band did a soulful acoustic version of “Nothing Lasts Forever”. Before they finished their set with a medley starting with “Do It Clean”, Ian continued his tomfoolery scatting a bit of “the leg bone is connected to the thigh bone” and so on from the novelty song “The Skeleton Dance” followed by a couple lines of the crooner classic “When I Fall In Love” made famous by Nat King Cole.
They ended the medley with “Roadhouse Blues” by The Doors, a band that they famously covered before doing “People Are Strange” for the opening song of the soundtrack for the horror film, “The Lost Boys”. During that last song, Ian tweaked the lyrics slightly, singing “San Francisco lady… Give up your vows.” In the middle of the medley, Ian belted out a couple lines from “Do The Twist” by Chubby Checker and “Get Up (I Feel Like Being A) Sex Machine” by James Brown and ended it all with a short reprise of “Do It Clean”. They strolled off stage, but they soon puffed up the fog machine and the band returned for their first encore and once again Ian hammed it up singing a little bit of “You Make Me Feel Like Dancing” by Leo Sayer before they did “Villiers Terrace” and “Over The Wall”.
When they came back on for their second encore, Ian had something wrapped up in a white napkin or paper towel and at first tried kicking it into the audience, but came up short and it landed at the front of the stage. He picked it up again and said, “This one’s faulty”, and kicked it into the audience successfully on his second attempt. They then closed the night with a serene rendition of “Ocean Rain”, their drummer using white mallets instead of sticks for that one. After they wrapped up and finally walked off, a handful of die hard fans leapt on stage and hastily snagged the setlists.
But perhaps the most distinct memory I have of that show was when I came upstairs to give Ian the tapes from the set that night. The band had been shacked up in the offices on the stage right side of the house for some reason instead of the customary one on the other side and when I entered, the florescent lights were all fired up and there was Ian all by his lonesome. I didn’t expect to find him alone which was initially off putting but I was horrified to see him under the unspeakably unflattering illumination of those lights. Seriously, I knew he was English and pale as a ghost, but there, without his traditional sunglasses, he looked like one of the Walking Dead. My friends Dina and Liz assured me that in more flattering light, he is quite handsome, but I can still see Ian’s ghostly visage from that night in my mind to this day. I had mentioned before that my friend Liz was friends with Will Sergeant and she told me that he was being cheeky with her once and insisted that she would looking fetching if she dressed up like a cat. I can’t say I entirely disagree, but Liz looks good in anything.
Public Enemy, Champtown, Blood Of Abe, Virus.Kom, Moon Rocks, Maritime Hall, SF, Thurs., October 21, 1999
Linton Kwesi Johnson, Azibo Tribe, Maritime Hall, SF, Thurs., October 21, 1999
I can’t begin to describe the elation I felt the moment when I saw that Public Enemy was coming to play the Maritime Hall. Sure, there had been no shortage of hip hop legends to pass through that venue up till then, but one would have a hard time finding a rap fan who didn’t elevate that seminal act to the highest rung of the genre. That, and it had been five long years since I’d seen PE play The Fillmore with The Goats and Midnight Voices, so I was more than ready to see them again and I was even more overjoyed that I’d be recording them personally. Before I continue, I would like to point out that this show was unique in that the Maritime was holding two completely separate shows that night, Public Enemy starting bright and early, the doors opening at 6:30 and the show starting at 7. The Hall was quickly emptied of fans when PE ended their set and then the doors opened again at 9 and the venue was filled once again for reggae poet Linton Kwesi Johnson who began at 9:30. I’d seen a handful of acts like Stereolab and The Fugees do an early and then a late show on the same night before, but this remains the only time I’d ever been at a venue that had early and late shows with entirely different acts. Incidentally, I thought this double feature was the perfect stylistic antithesis of seeing Brian Wilson from the Beach Boys at The Warfield the night before, the living personification of music for white people.
But back to the show at hand. Yes, it had been a while since Public Enemy had played in town. If they’d toured during those intervening years, clearly I missed it because I was working or just didn’t know about it. But the band and its members had been keeping busy. Chuck D had released his first solo album in 1996, called “Autobiography Of Mistachuck”. Years before, he had declared lyrically in their classic jam “Welcome To The Terrordome”, that “never be a brother like me go solo”, but one can chock that line up to a number of interpretations. Seriously, even the most die hard PE fan didn’t seriously expect such a prolific genius like Chuck to relegate his entire artistic efforts exclusively to one endeavor. That new solo album at least freed him up finally to do other things. Likewise, the year of this show, Flavor Flav had released a solo single called “Git On Down / The Hot 1” and though he made efforts to put out a full length album called “It’s About Time”, it never actually materialized. Flav was hitting one of his many rough patches in life around then, being hit up for child support and descending again into drug addiction, causing him to go in and out of rehab. By 2000, he’d sunk so low, that he was scalping baseball tickets to support himself and his bad habits.
But the year before this show, PE received critical acclaim for their first time soundtrack for the movie, Spike Lee’s “He Got Game”. Spike had originally approached PE to score “Malcolm X”, but they turned it down. I think Chuck D and the gang made the right choice there, being a period piece, it would have been a little anachronistic and would have distracted from the story in my opinion. Probably would have still been awesome anyway. In 1998, Chuck also made an appearance on “Space Ghost : Coast To Coast” where Space Ghost shared with Chuck that his favorite rapper was M.C. Escher. Then a “Rappin’ Space Goblin” came out spitting rhymes about how kids should stay in school, that they should look both ways before they cross the street, and for them to eat their vegetables. Then Zorak shot the goblin with a ray gun, destroying him.
Anyway… Speaking of rap artists being permanently taken out of the public eye, Public Enemy’s master of the one’s and two’s, Terminator X, had suffered severe leg injuries in a motorcycle accident and had been replaced just before this show by DJ Lord who remains as PE’s DJ to this day. As bad luck would have it, Flav had broken both his arms, also in a motorcycle crash in 1995 while in Milan, Italy. Clearly, motorcycles and Public Enemy don’t mix. Though his crash took Terminator X out of the DJ business, he remains alive and well and strangely enough currently owns and operates an ostrich farm in North Carolina. Yeah, most people didn’t see that one coming, myself included. 1999 was a still a productive year for Public Enemy though. Chuck D had just launched Rapstation.com, a site dedicated to the genre with a TV and radio station and free MP3 songs and ringtones to download. Of coarse, today that isn’t remarkable, but back then it was a brand new innovation, especially for a hip hop artist. Furthermore, PE just released the “There’s A Poison Goin’ On” album that July which was also released over the internet. It’s too bad that the album didn’t get as much praise or sold as well as their others since I think it is some of their best work.
They had gotten some flack over the album’s last song, “Swindler’s List”, being accused of being anti-Semitic, though upon listening to it and reading its lyrics, I don’t agree and think it was just singled out for its provocative title. In fact, there was a conspicuously Jewish rap act that opened for Public Enemy that night, Blood Of Abe. They were a hip hop duo from L.A. comprised of a couple guys called Benyad and Mazik. The recently departed Eazy-E from N.W.A., a rapper who also had been accused of anti-Semitism, had actually produced their first album in 1993. They had been on hiatus after Eazy’s death in 1995, but had just come out to perform again that year, so I was lucky to see them. I thought they were quite good actually. Champtown from Detroit was there too and Chuck and Flav had appeared in his video for his song, “Bang Bang Boogie”. But like most rap shows, the openers played quick sets and PE, having limited time themselves, kept their set to a tight hour.
That had to be one of the happiest moments of my life when the tapes were rolling and the legendary hip hop act stormed on stage. I can still close my eyes and see Flav prancing around with that hilarious, cumbersome, fur laden Viking helmet on his head and his trademark clock dangling from a gold chain around his neck. They quickly covered a lot of ground that night, checking off most of the big hits and hitting a few newer ones like the title track of the aforementioned “He Got Game”. It was a little strange that the show began with sunlight still streaming through the Hall’s windows, especially since it was a hip hop show, which often started late. Seriously, I wish it never ended, but alas, it did and they had to make way for the late show. Reggae gigs always go late at the Hall, but I was impressed how quickly and efficiently the turnover between the shows played out. I was skeptical to say the least that our people would be able to pull it off on time, but they proved me wrong for which I was grateful.
I was familiar with Linton Kwesi Johnson, like most reggae artists, because of my friend Hefe. A bone fide reggae encyclopedia, Hefe had introduced me to this virtuoso or verbosity years ago and I was impressed with his conscious and intelligent lyrics. Linton was born in Jamaica, but had relocated to Brixton when he was 11 years old and had been toasting his poetry to music since 1978. By the time of this show, he was celebrating over 20 years as a recording artist, having just released his “More Time” album. Indeed, Johnson was renown for his intellect off the stage as well, holding fellowships and honorary professorships with several universities in the U.K. He had also written for music magazines such as the New Musical Express and Melody Maker for years. In fact, the year before this show, Linton was awarded in Italy the Premio Piero Ciampi Citta di Livorno Concorso Musicale Nazionale and though I obviously don’t know exactly what that is, it sounds prestigious enough. I know enough Italian to know he got it Livorno anyway. He is also the first black poet and only the second living poet to have his poetry work published by Penguin Modern Classics with his book, “Mi Revalueshanary Fren”.
Opening for Linton that night was the Azibo Tribe, who I had recorded opening for Eek-A Mouse at the Maritime that February. As much as I hated to see Public Enemy leave, Linton was a good follow up act backed up by The Dennis Bovel Dub Band. Rest assured, he and Chuck D would appreciate each other’s talent and eloquence, but I’m sure Public Enemy was long on their way down the road by the time Linton took the stage. Clearly Linton and Chuck have intense distastes for racism and police brutality, as well as admirable efforts to promote social justice in their respective countries and the rest of the planet. Having spent all the live long day and night at the Maritime, by the time Johnson finished up, I was exhausted and limped on home, hoping to preserve my strength. It was after all only the second show in a five day stretch of gigs at the Hall and I had Echo & The Bunnymen to do the following night.
I had been so accustomed to not having my recordings at the Hall being used, especially by the more famous ones like Public Enemy, that I had to absolutely no expectation that they’d use any of my stuff. The thought had never really crossed my mind really. So, the joy upon my accidental discovery that PE had taken one of the songs I had recorded that night was only matched by my blood curdling shock. As I had done countless times before, I was browsing through records at Amoeba on upper Haight just three years later in 2002 and found myself flipping through the CDs of… you guessed it… Public Enemy. There I found their compilation album, “Revolverlution” which they had just released that year. Upon flipping it over, I read the track listings on the back of it and while scanning down the songs, saw a live version of“Myuzi Weighs A Ton”, a song from their debut album, “Yo! Bum Rush The Show”. I kept reading the fine print next to the song title to read… “Live San Francisco 10/21/99”. It took a couple seconds for the information to sink in before a light bulb flipped on in my head and I literally shouted out, “Wait a goddamn minute!!! What the hell!?!?”
Hoping that I hadn’t startled any of my fellow music shoppers with my outburst, I composed myself and reread the track listing a couple more times before realizing that it was indeed from that show and immediately purchased the CD and brought it home to listen. Yep, it was my work and I quickly phoned my partner Pete to tell him the news. Once again, like with KRS-One, our stuff was good enough to steal, it being ripped off from the DAT tape of my monitor mix which I had given them at the end of their set along with the VHS video of their set, which as you know we had done for every act that performed at the Maritime. Naturally, there wasn’t any credit for me mentioned in the album’s liner notes, not to mention not a single red cent in compensation for our work, but Pete passed along the news to Boots who shortly afterwards he got in touch with Public Enemy’s people. God knows who’s responsible on their end for the decision to clandestinely take that song and put it on their album, but I’m infinitely flattered that they felt my work was worthy enough for them. We got some money for it eventually, though I can’t recall exactly how much it was, so I can say with confidence that it wasn’t a lot. Seriously, I would have given it all back and then some to have my name on that album in black and white, but alas, not to be. But I have the solemn pride knowing that my work adorns a track on an official Public Enemy album, one of the few live tracks they’ve released in their career.
Brian Wilson, War., SF, Wed., October 20, 1999
SETLIST : The Little Girl I Once Knew, This Whole World, Don’t Worry Baby, Kiss Me Baby, In My Room, Surfer Girl, California Girls, Do It Again, I Get Around, Let’s Go Away For Awhile, Pet Sounds, South American, Surfin’ USA, Back Home, (set break), Sloop John B, Wouldn’t It Be Nice, Darlin’, Add Some Music, Lay Down Burdon, God Only Knows, Good Vibrations, Your Imagination, Help Me Rhonda, Be My Baby, (encore), Caroline No, All Summer Long, Barbara Ann, Fun Fun Fun, (encore), Love & Mercy
Supersuckers, Gaza Strippers, Hai Karate, Maritime Hall, SF, Wed., October 20, 1999
It wasn’t often when I chose a different show over a Maritime gig back then, but this was clearly a special one and was not to be missed. In a strange turn of fate, I would leave the Supersuckers to Pete to record in lieu of seeing this one and only Mr. Brian Wilson, the former singer/songwriter/bassist/keyboardist/composer of the Beach Boys, a band that Pete knew all too well. Pete had built their recording studio in Big Sur and had been their monitor guy ever since Brian suffered a nervous breakdown in 1964 all the way until they had their big comeback hit “Kokomo” in the 80’s. But Pete didn’t mind and totally understood. He had heard those old songs plenty and he had regaled me with a mountain of anecdotes about his time with the seminal surf rock band over the years we worked together. Not only would I be fortunate to catch Brian at this show at The Warfield, but he would return to the bay area afterward to play at the Bridge School Benefit at Shoreline just ten days later. If I remember correctly, I believe Neil Young was hanging in the back that night watching the show.
Brian had finally shaken free from the psychological and legal grip of his one time therapist and all around life manager, Eugene Landy, a few years before this, going so far as dropping a restraining order against him. With his new wife, Melanie, and two new adopted children in tow, Brian at last got cleaned up from the wrongly prescribed schizophrenia drugs he was on and was making new music again. He had recently completed his “Imagination” album and after finishing a small tour of a dozen shows on the east coast and Japan, the first solo tour he ever did, he was beginning another tour that fall. Brian would quickly have a falling out with the producer of that album, Joe Thomas, suing him for damages that freed him up to do future projects without Joe, though he’d work with him years later on other albums in 2012 and 2015.
It was “an evening with” show, so there was no opener, though Brian did two sets that night, so I had to usher through the first set and intermission before I got let go. They played a short documentary video before the show began and I’ll never forget when Mike Love came on the screen, everybody booed… then laughed. It’s no secret that there had been a teensy bit of tension for decades between Brian and his cousin, culminating in a lawsuit from Mike in 1992, suing for royalties and song credits. Love would get $5 million out of it in the end. Guitarist and singer Al Jardine would join Brian for later tours, but Love held onto the rights to Beach Boys’ name and continue to tour on his own. Brian once called Love in an interview “a maniac… an egomaniac.”
Thankfully, they buried the hatchet in 2012 to do a 50th anniversary reunion tour with all the surviving members of the original band. I deeply regret not seeing that tour when they played the Greek in Berkeley, but like The Misfits, who I recorded at the Hall two days before this, when I saw the ticket price to see the original line up, I took a pass. The same went for when Brian did a tour in 2016 celebrating the 50th anniversary of “Pet Sounds”. I believe I was working across the street at The Fairmont for Local 16 when he did that show at the Masonic. As I alluded to, the folks on that 2012 reunion tour were the surviving original members, and having so few left, namely Brian, Mike, and Al, I felt it wasn’t worth the cash. Still, it would have been enjoyable, especially since it was quite a comprehensive show.
By the time of this Warfield show however, Brian had just lost Carl to cancer the year before, joining Dennis, who drowned in 1983 at the young age of 39, making Brian the unlikely last surviving Wilson brother. To make matters worse, Brian had just lost his mother Audree the year before that. So, the idea that so soon after his mental, (and legal), recovery, that Brian would take the stage again made everybody a little on edge. Clearly, Brian was still a little funny in the head and had always been eccentric and suffered from manic depression, but the decades of drug and alcohol abuse, on top of all the residual side effects of his psychoactive medication, had taken its toll. Though he was greeted on stage to a thunderous standing ovation, he rather rigidly sat behind his piano, showing little if any emotion at all. I’ll never forget the sight of Brian after almost every song doing this weird clapping thing, keeping his hands about only an inch apart and clapping very quickly, sometimes while standing. Thankfully, he was flanked by an absolutely outstanding band of ringers with him, mostly from the L.A. band the Wondermints and other notable musicians like Paul Mertens, the sax and woodwind player from Poi Dog Pondering and Jeff Foskett, the touring guitarist for the Beach Boys who knew the source material backwards and forwards.
They opened with the rather obscure oldie, “The Girl I Once Knew”, a single that had been released while they were recording “Pet Sounds”, yet didn’t make the cut for that album. But we soon got into familiar territory a couple songs later, when they did an exalting rendition of “Don’t Worry Baby”. Brian was obviously singing flat all night, but the effort he added to his voice in contrast to his pitch perfect voice back in the day. He smoked cigarettes for most of those intervening years. But seriously, I think it lent an interesting urgency to the music, an almost extra earnestness to the lyrics since they were being delivered with this effort. Brian had a teleprompter too, but no one could blame him for that. It had been decades since he had last been on tour. Brian would talk though, commenting briefly about the songs, calling “Kiss Me Baby” a “cute little soft ballad” and telling the audience that he had wrote “Surfer Girl” in his car.
He declared that “California Girls” was officially the Beach Boys’ anthem, suggesting that The Beatles’ was “Let It Be”. Brian did do one funny bit before they played “Let’s Get Away For Awhile”, telling the audience that they all had to “get exercise for the day” and had them rapidly stand up and sit down a few times. He repeated this exercise later after they finished “Add Some Music”. They finished the first set with “Back Home” and when they returned, Brian introduced the band. He had everybody hold up their lighters before they performed “Wouldn’t It Be Nice” and was impressed by their vast numbers. Before they did the hit, “Good Vibrations”, Brian jokingly asked the crowd if they wanted some good vibrations or some bad vibrations. They finished the second set with an inspiring cover of The Ronettes’ “Be My Baby”, played so serenely that I was moved to tears… really. Their rendition made me appreciate that song so much after that, I used it to dance with my mother at my wedding reception 16 years later. I learned after this show that Brian was obsessed with that song to the point where he used to listen to it over and over again for days and weeks on end.
For their encore, they began with “Caroline, No” and then did “All Summer Long”, followed by “Barbara Ann”, which Brian declared to be “the greatest rock & roll song” ever and that we all were “going to flip your lid when you hear it.” I just learned in writing about this that “Barbara Ann” was actually a cover, first recorded by a band called The Regents. Finally, they finished their first encore with a rollicking version of “Fun, Fun, Fun”. The thunderous standing ovation that followed brought Brian back with the band to finish the night with the bittersweet “Love & Mercy” which he dedicated to Chuck Britz, their former recording engineer between the years of ’63-’67 who was dying of brain cancer. Chuck would ultimately lose his battle with the disease the following year. Bt thanks to Chuck and Brian, the music lives on and after that night I can still hold my head up high and say I saw a Beach Boy..
I’m also happy to say that they had a great poster for us at the end of that evening, one of the rare horizontal ones. It was a colorful painting of what looks like Brian behind a baby carriage in some kind of greasy spoon diner with his wife holding the baby in front of an elderly waiter behind the counter. Brian had just relocated to St. Charles, Illinois, ironically about as far away as a Beach Boy could get from an ocean in the continental U.S., and adopted his daughter Delanie that year, the second of five children he would adopt with his new wife Melanie. So, the poster was an appropriate one for this man starting his life over again and settling down with a new family at the age of 57. This tour also coincidentally coincided with a TV mini-series about him and the band released the year after this called “The Beach Boys : An American Family”, which though I felt was well acted and produced, it clearly was written in favor of Mike Love and consequentially, Brian hated it. Still, I learned from that show that Al Jardine had been training to become a dentist when he joined the band, an anecdote that Pete for once was unaware of.
The Misfits, Gwar, Speedealer, Maritime Hall, SF, Mon., October 18, 1999
(GWAR) : Babyraper, Ham On The Bone, Tune From Da Moon, Filthy Flow, Jiggle The Handle, The Salaminizer, Maggots, Nitro Burnin’ Funny Bong, Vlad The Impaler, Jagermonsta, Horror Of Yig, My Girly Ways, Whargoul, A Short History Of The End Of The World, Gwar Theme
(THE MISFITS) : Kong At The Gates, Forbidden Zone, Witch Hunt, Lost In Space, Crawling Eye, Static Age, TV Casualty, Last Caress, Dig Up Her Bones, I Turned Into A Martian, Crimson Ghost, Mommy Can I Go Out & Kill Tonight, Scarecrow Man, Saturday Night, Resurrection, Pumpkinhead, Death Comes Ripping, Green Hell, Halloween, Day Of The Dead, Hate The Living Love The Dead, Shining, Don’t Open Until Doomsday, We Are 138, (encore), American Psycho, The Hunger, From Hell They Came, Helena, Die Die My Darling
Nobody follows Gwar, except this time. Seriously, just visualizing a band attempting to go on after that traumatic, gruesome spectacle took some effort. Though I suppose if any band could try, one might be The Misfits. It had been four years since I saw The Misfits at The Fillmore with Anthrax, Life Of Agony, and Cannibal Corpse and over five years since I saw Gwar headline The Warfield with their alter ego band the X-Cops and R.K.L. opening. The Misfits put out their second album without Danzig, called “Famous Monsters”, just two weeks before this show. In an interesting bit of marketing, the band had action figures made that year of themselves and were filmed in a guest appearance in the George Romero horror movie, “Bruiser”.
Continuing with the line up I saw before with Jerry Only, he would remain the sole original member on bass, along with his brother Doyle, now calling himself Doyle Wolfgang Von Frankenstein, their young new singer, Michale Graves, and Dr. Chud on drums. To his credit, Doyle only missed being an original member by a couple of years, having worked for them as a roadie before joining the band in 1980 at the tender age of 16. I learned that they had approached Dave Vanian of The Damned, who coincidentally had just played The Fillmore two weeks before this, to be their singer after Danzig left but he declined their offer. It’s a pity. That would have been an interesting marriage.
Murphy’s Law had been on other legs of this “Gwarmageddon” tour, but weren’t at this one. The first band on was Speedealer from Lubbock, TX, formerly named REO Speedealer, which I still think is one of the funniest, ingenious names that I had ever heard for a band. Sadly, REO Speedwagon disagreed and threatened to sue them if they didn’t change it, citing the baffling logic that their fans would confuse the two which is fucking idiotic. Keeping the name would only serve to promote REO Speedwagon and make them more money. It would have been brilliant if they had toured together, but alas, not to be. Their bassist, Casey Orr, would be playing double duty that night also playing with Gwar.
Gwar once again pulled off their highly disturbing magic, though truncating their set a little to make time, playing on stage surrounded by an impressive fake stone temple facade. They started with a skit with a jungle explorer with a huge phallus and his female assistant accidentally summoning the band after saying their name and then opened with “Babyraper”, the first song of their most recent album, “We Kill Everything”. That song is the only one they’d ever play live from that album after this tour. Their singer Dave Brockie who plays Oderus Urungus, hated that album so passionately that if that album was even mentioned on their on line message board, the person mentioning it would be banned for life. Suffice to say, it was their least successful album.
Anyway, they continued with “Ham On The Bone” and Slymenstra Hymen took a loose stone from the set and clocked the explorer with it, triggering torrents of liquid squirting out of his head into the audience. There was some weird subplot involving their enemy, some gruesome looking ghoul with a giant scrotum for a chin called Scroda Moon, who told the band that they had to reassemble a broken tablet or it would bring about the end of the world. Oderus threatened anybody stupid enough to try to get on stage that they would promptly get their asses kicked. They then brought up a guy with a giant fake head, claiming that he had won the “date with Gwar” competition and that they were going to show him what he won. The lucky guy was then decapitated and gushers of blood sprayed into the crowd from his neck. For the song “Jiggle The Handle”, Gwar brought out a giant “inter-dimensional portal potty” puppet toilet with bulbous eyes and sharp pointy teeth lining it’s lids. The bowl would spew out clouds of fog, its lids flapping as it spoke and Slymenstra pretended to take a dump in it.
Then for “The Salaminizer”, they brought up a guy disguised as Marilyn Manson who told them they should “go back to art school”. Well, as you can imagine, they took offense and proceeded to beat and torture him, before cutting his head off. Afterwards, a fat zombie Elvis took the stage and started posing to “Also Sprach Zarthustra”. They played “Maggots” as members of the band had a karate battle with him. Elvis was winning for a while, but Slymenstra got the upper hand, landing a kick to the head and several punches before another slashed open his bloated stomach with a giant sword. Elvis stumbled around the stage as they pulled out his guts and played with them. For “Nitro Burnin’ Funny Bong”, a new song that Oderus detests today, they brought out a giant crack pipe that bellowed smoke into the front as one of them passed it around to audience members as well as band members to “take a hit” from it. Continuing with the drug theme, they brought out a giant syringe and injected heroin into the Scroda for “Vlad The Impaler”.
Afterwards, Scroda asked Oderus how he could “regain his humanity” and Oderus suggested losing the scrotum off his chin before summoning the “Jagermonsta” to get him drunk. The enormous undead buck deer took the stage and sodomized Scroda before getting him wasted and was then decapitated too. During “Horror Of Yig”, there was an opening bit with some bagpipe music playing while Slymenstra juggled torches and then spit fire.
Then she took center stage scolding the band for getting Scroda too fucked up to reassemble the tablet and then sang a tribute to the “power of pussy” with “My Girly Ways”. Oderus had the crowd give her protruding fake tits a round of applause. Near the end of their set, Slymenstra took a giant tampon out from between her legs and flushed it down the monster toilet causing “a rift in the fabric of reality” and the band then had to do battle with a giant one-eyed alien.
OK… Let me catch my breath… Like I said before, Gwar obviously was an impossible act to follow, but The Misfits did their best. The stage guys managed to deconstruct Gwar’s massive set and got The Misfit’s (almost as impressive) set erected in a remarkably short period of time. The Misfits had a huge drum riser adorned with spikes and skeletons. They took the stage adorned with their trademark “devilock” hair dos and opened with “Kong At The Gates”. That song had been used recently as the theme song for WCW wrestler, Vampiro.
In a curious collaboration, the band had been touring with that wrestling federation that year, playing at gigs and even interacting with the matches. Unfortunately, at one of these matches, Vampiro’s nemesis Berlyn performed a piledriver on Dr. Chud which may or may not had given him a concussion. It’s pro wrestling, so it’s hard to tell what is real. In a related story, there was an incident involving members of the band and legendary wrestler the “Macho Man” Randy Savage. Doyle had in fact married Savage’s ex, Stephanie Bellars, and at a wrestling event that year, he drunkenly confronted Graves, who was literally about half his size. The tense scuffle got broken up and there were no charges filed and Doyle would ultimately divorce her in 2013 anyway. But back to the show.
Their set went well and frankly, upon hearing it again on YouTube, it was better than I remembered it to be. Perhaps I was just too shellshocked by Gwar to appreciate them at the time. Another thing that jarred me was when I tried to hand off the tapes to Oderus. Dave Brockie had taken off his giant prosthetic head in their dressing room and there, covered in sweat, I tried to reassure him that the release form was just there to insure that the Hall wouldn’t use the footage without their permission. He, like so many others, was naturally suspicious and refused to sign. Those accusing, bright, intense eyes had me frozen like a Jagermonsta in the headlights for a moment and I can still see them in mind to this day. At that point I thought to myself that I’d better get while the getting’s good or I literally might get decapitated. I left the tapes with him and told Boots about it. To this day, I don’t know if the issue was ever resolved, but I had little time or stomach to deal with it.
There was one hiccup during The Misfits when Doyle’s amp blew a fuse, causing a bit of a delay after they played “Day Of The Dead”. Graves mused about Dr. Chud, asking what kind of a doctor he was, suggesting that he was indeed a gynecologist and told the crowd, “If you have any problems in that area, talk to Dr. Chud.” The delay also gave him a “chance to check out all the chicks in the crowd” and he pointed to a few saying, “There’s one, there’s one, there’s one.” Not to be totally outdone theatrically by Gwar, they did have a bit when a guy dressed as Frankenstein emerged from under a sheet on a half elevated gurney and rampaged around the stage for a song or two.
I would get to see The Misfits one more time in 2003 at the short lived Avalon Ballroom, but by then Jerry Only was doing all the singing. But I do regret not seeing the reunion of the original Misfits in 2019, especially because The Damned, Rancid, and The Cro-Mags were opening and The Misfits had Dave Lombardo from Slayer on drums, but I just thought the ticket was too expensive. Tragically, this would be the final time I’d see Gwar perform. Dave Brockie would succumb to a heroin overdose in 2014, dying at the all too young age of 50. The band has continued with a new singer, but no one can really replace that 50 billion year old sired from a supercomputer father and petri dish mother, assembled on the planet Scumdogia. Talk about a tough act to follow. I’m just glad he didn’t cut my head off that night and hoped he enjoyed the tapes.
One strange epilogue to the saga of The Misfits would be the recent activities of Graves. Now I know for better or for more likely for worse, The Misfits had always attracted a certain “white power” element in their fan base, though I can’t really understand why for sure. Yeah, they all were white boys and their songs are violent, even flirting with sexual violence, but I never thought in my limited knowledge of them that any of their songs were racist or had any particular political stance. That being said, in recent years there is no denying that Graves has become, shall we say, “pilled”. Why he did it, I don’t know, but Graves got seriously involved with the Proud Boys, so much so that he was actually scheduled to perform a private show for them the very afternoon of the deadly January 6 rally in 2021. At least he didn’t storm the capitol building… or did he?…
It makes me sad, because I thought he had a good voice and he was gracious to me, unlike the folks from Gwar, when I handed the tapes off to him at the end of the night. I remember distinctly afterwards when Kathy, Boots’ wife, came down to the recording room while I was closing up and asked who I had passed the tapes off to and when I told her, she claimed that I had given it to the wrong person and that Graves “wasn’t in the band.” Far be it for me to argue with the wife of the boss and I loved Kathy, but Graves’ hairdo and makeup certainly suggested otherwise.
Pennywise, Strung Out, Straight Faced, Maritime Hall, SF, Sat., October 16, 1999
SETLIST : Fight Till You Die, Rules Made Up By You, Unknown Road, My Own Country, Living For Today, Stand By Me, Can’t Believe It, Society, Perfect People, Pennywise, Nervous Breakdown, Greed, Give & Get, Make It Through Today?, Alien, Bro Hymn
It had been a long, exhausting five day stretch of shows, but I was bouncing off the walls to have Pennywise finish this one up. I had seen them only once live headlining at The Fillmore four years before this and I was chomping at the bit to see them again. They blew me away at that show and by this time, I was a big fan. So I was naturally hoping that they’d use our stuff for a live album, but was once again let down when they instead released the “Live At The Key Club” album the following year. Like Stuck Mojo from Atlanta, two days before, they understandably selected a venue near where they were from in West Hollywood to get a home town crowd for their live album. Still, the band liked the stuff we taped at the Maritime enough to actually request later for a second VHS of their set that night. To my memory, no other band we recorded had asked for a second copy before this.
In the intervening years, Pennywise suffered a tragic loss with the death of their bassist Jason Thirsk. Suffering from alcoholism and depression, he had left the band attempting to recover in rehab, but still he shot himself in the chest in 1996. Jason was only 28 years old. Randy Bradbury took over on bass and in honor of their fallen comrade, they changed a line in their song “Bro Hymn” to “Jason Matthew Thirsk, this one’s for you”. But by this time Pennywise was riding high again, having just released their fifth album, “Straight Ahead” four months before this and fresh off co-headlining the Warped Tour that summer. I would see them co-headline that tour at Pier 30/32 four years later. Pennywise recently just did a tour in 2020 for the 20th anniversary of that album and Strung Out opened up for them again for it.
What I didn’t hear about at this show was of an infamous incident that had occurred with members of the band that June. Guitarist Fletcher Dragge and Randy were guests on the radio show “Loveline” with Adam Corolla and Dr. Drew. They had in fact been on that love advice show back in 1995, but were temporarily banned from it after Fletcher, drunker than a poet on payday, vomited on Dr. Drew while they were on the air. Fletcher had a penchant apparently for aggressive vomiting, having regurgitated on KROQ DJ Riki Rachtman for allegedly for not playing enough of their music on the air and even routinely puking on the band’s own audiences. For a strange peace offering, when they returned to “Loveline”, Fletcher presented Dr. Drew with a trophy filled with Fletcher’s vomit. Then, it got worse from there.
They were there to simply help talk to callers and to promote their appearance at the upcoming KROQ Weenie Roast, but once again, Fletcher was wasted and progressively got more intoxicated as the show continued, repeatedly using profanity despite being told each and every time he did it to cut it out. After about an hour and a half, Fletcher got increasingly incorrigible and basically took everybody in the recording room hostage, blocking any of them from escaping with his massive, 6’5”, 300 pound body. He threatened to shit in his own hand, throw it at Corolla, then force him to eat it. To make matters worse, he claimed to have a live hand grenade and said he was going to blow them all to “poo poo city”. Thankfully, there was no hand grenade and the cops came and de-escalated the situation, so there were no charges filed. But back to the show at hand.
Pennywise had brought along Huntington Beach punks, Straight Faced. They had been going through a number of line up changes in their short history leaving them then with only two original members, Johnny Miller on vocals and Ron Moeller on guitar. Straight Faced would ultimately break up two years later. Following them, were the aforementioned Strung Out from Simi Valley. They were one of the first bands to get signed to Fat Wreck Chords. They too were going through some changes having just fired their bassist, Jim Cherry. He would die of heart failure in 2002, though people thought it was a drug overdose at first, but Jim was clean at the time. The three bands had just did a gig at the Phoenix Theater in Petaluma just the night before, a venue that Boots at the Maritime was booking for a the time. Jim Lindberg, the singer, pointed out that some of the security guys up front that night had also been at the show at the Phoenix. This also was one of those gigs at the Hall which had been co-produced by Goldenvoice.
It was a tight set as always for Pennywise, who had no trouble whipping up the entire dance floor into a circle pit and there was no shortage of crowd floaters and stage divers. They had plenty of young ladies hanging out on stage with them lingering in the back as well and their amplifiers were littered with beer and water bottles. Tory did an especially terrific job on the video that night, ably keeping up with all the action. Before they played “My Own Country”, Jim told the crowd to get out and vote or the country would be taken over by “right wing assholes” and ended that song declaring, “Fuck the government!” Of coarse, we all learned just how correct he was after the George W. Bush’s regime took over America the following year.
Jim invited a couple young women and some hyperactive guy in a Hooters shirt on stage to sing along with the band for their punk rock cover of Ben E. King’s “Stand By Me”. They couldn’t carry the tune to save their lives, but they clearly were having a good time anyway. Before they did “Perfect People”, Fletcher taunted folks like N’Sync, Brittany Spears, and the Backstreet Boys and shouted “fuck all the record companies!” Afterwards, Jim caught sight of himself on the video screens, laughing, “Look, I’m on TV!” and he gave himself the middle finger. They then did a cover of “Nervous Breakdown”, by fellow Hermosa Beach natives, Black Flag. Before they did “Make It Through Today”, some kid got on stage and Jim had asked if anybody had seen his other shoe which the kid was missing. The kid gave him the other shoe to show the crowd what it looked like and Jim sniffed it, joking, “You need to get some odor eaters, dude.”
In the middle of that song, Fletcher was involved in a little scuffle with another fan who had gotten on stage, but the guy got dragged off quick and it didn’t interrupt their playing. Somebody threw some water on Jim too and he thanked whoever did it after the song was over and assured them that they already had “plenty of water on stage.” They then did their new single, “Alien”, and Jim introduced it saying that it was “about Columbine, believe it or not.” That massacre had just happened that April. They finished up their set, bringing an army of fans on stage, filling it to absolute capacity, to sing along to “Bro Hymn”, which Jim dedicated to their fallen bassist, Jason Thirsk. Dusty and the other security guards fruitlessly tried to get overwhelming influx of kids off stage, but at least they managed to keep the band from being overrun by them. All’s well that ends well. Thankfully, I wouldn’t have to wait as long as I did before to see Pennywise perform and I’d see them again headlining the second stage at Live 105’s B.F.D. two years later.
Incognito, Diasfunk, Network:Electric, Maritime Hall, SF, Fri., October 15, 1999
It was another radical stylistic turn that week and the fourth show out of a five day stretch at the good ol’ Maritime. After some white boy reggae with the Long Beach Dub All Stars, there were a couple heavier nights with Stuck Mojo and then Type O Negative. This evening, it felt like a little time out with Incognito. They were a sophisticated acid jazz band based out of London fronted by guitarist, singer, and composer Jean-Paul “Bluey” Maunick. Originally from the island nation of Mauitius in the Indian Ocean, Bluey relocated to London when he was 9 years old. They had been making music together since 1981 and the list of their past and current members is long and impressive. Trumpet virtuoso Chris Botti was even part of this band once.
Joining them on stage with a couple other singers was the lovely and talented Imaani Saleem. She had recently become famous, at least in the old country, for getting second place at the Eurovision Song Contest the year before with the song, “Where Are You?” Incognito also had another hit seven years before this covering Stevie Wonder’s “Don’t You Worry ‘Bout A Thing”. And for all you keen-eared flaming liberals out there, they will recognize their song “Need To Know” as the theme song to the progressive political radio and TV show “Democracy Now!” This was pretty funky stuff, not your typical “quiet storm” jazz. They walk a fine line being just a little shy of being so sophisticated, that the average music fan wouldn’t be able to follow along.
Incognito had just played the Montraux Jazz Festival that July and their set had been circulating as a bootleg album and you can find it on YouTube. I do admit, their Maritime show was a bit of a whirlwind wedged in dead center of that ridiculously intense month of 23 shows in 31 days. I do remember that they were tight as hell which made mixing them a breeze, despite the size of the band. On top of all the singers, they had a horn section too. But listening to the Montraux show now, there is no doubting their originality and chops, especially the singer’s harmonies. I don’t remember Network:Electric, but the DJ, Diasfunk, was pretty talented and still makes music in the bay area today. Incognito recently celebrated their 40th anniversary of their debut album, “Jazz Funk”, re-releasing a special addition retrospective of it with a whopping 106 tracks. I suppose if anybody wanted to get to know this band better, that would do the trick.
Type O Negative, Fu Manchu, Puya, Clan Of Xymox, Maritime Hall, SF, Thurs., October 14, 1999
(CLAN OF XYMOX) : This World, Jasmine & Rose, Out Of The Rain, Muscovite Mosquito, Michelle, Going Round 97
(FU MANCHU) : King Of The Road, Hell On Wheels, Eatin’ Dust, Over The Edge, Module Overload, Hotdoggin’
I was continuing onto day three of another five day stretch of shows, so I wasn’t completely let down when Type O Negative said we couldn’t record them that night. I knew better to try to talk back to their frontman, Peter Steele. I mean, seriously, that guy’s like eight feet tall and he’s from Brooklyn. He was also going through a rough patch emotionally, suffering though bipolar disorder then and was dealing with a bit of a cocaine and alcohol habit to boot. At least I got some time to relax, though I made a point to stick around to watch their set that night. It had been five years since I had seen them open for Nine Inch Nails at The Warfield and I was impressed by Peter’s towering stage presence and his skill as a songwriter. They were a good opener for Nails back then. For some reason, Frontline Assembly, who had headlined a the Maritime just six months before this show, were listed as an opening act on the monthly poster, but they were there that night. I wish they had been there. Love that band.
Still, it was an interesting and surprisingly diverse line up of talent that night. Starting off was Clan Of Xymox, the darkwave pioneers from The Netherlands. “Xymox” incidentally was derived from “zymotic”, a scientific term meaning “causes fermentation”. Anyway, I remember my friends Liz Farrow and Dina Robinson, who always had excellent taste in the music of the genre, were excited to see them, though the Clan were brand new to me. Along with other gloomy goth rock acts like Bauhaus, The Cure, and Echo & The Bunnymen, (who coincidentally would play at the Hall a week after this), Xymox got an early start, forming way back in 1981. And with the rise of the newer dark acts like Nails and Rammstein, interest in the founders of the genre brought them back together in 1997 after a long absence. Ronny Moorings, their singer definitely fit the bill, unsmiling with a head of poofy, jet black hair. Interesting guy though. He completely taught himself music and like most Dutch people, he speaks around five languages fluently.
In a stylistic left turn, Puya followed them. They were a band from Puerto Rico and their name means “sharp point” in Spanish, though it also is the name of a well known brand of coffee where they’re from. It’s kind of hard to peg exactly what kind of music Puya is, incorporating multiple genres like salsa, rumba, bombs on one end and rock, prog metal, and rap on the other. I’d get to see them a year later when they were the first act on the Snocore 2000 show at The Warfield with System Of A Down, Incubus, and Mr. Bungle. Puya had just released their second album, “Fundamental”, their first on a major international label, RCA, and they just finished touring on the second stage with Ozzfest that year, second to last with Slipknot. They were having a good year back then and I liked their energy. Then the night took another turn with Fu Manchu. I love these guys. Their particular brand of sludge metal is always music to my ears. I got to tape those guys at the Maritime two years before this opening for Corrosion Of Conformity with Machinehead.
I did find out that probably one reason why Type O Negative didn’t want us to tape was that they already had a live DVD in the can from a set they did at the Bizarre Festival in Cologne, Germany just seven weeks before this evening. They were originally taped for a live music TV show called “WDR Rockpalast”, but Type O Negative liked it so much, they bought the footage and released it seven years later as the “Symphony For The Devil” DVD. I can’t blame them, since that was a crowd at least ten times the size of the Maritime’s, and was done with a 12 camera crew, and real quality three chip cameras at that. That show even had a crane camera rig.
Type O Negative had just put out their 5th studio album, “World Coming Down”, just three weeks before this show, so we got to hear some of the new material, though I wasn’t able to get a set list for that night. But I do know, like their set in Cologne, they opened that night with a cover of Pink Floyd’s “In The Flesh?” and they also did covers of The Beatles’ “Back In The U.S.S.R.” and an especially heavy “Day Tripper”. That much I remembered. Peter was obviously a Beatles fan, so much so that his band was playfully referred to as “The Drab Four”. I’m glad, despite my fatigue, that I stuck around to watch their set, especially since this would be the final time I’d see Type O Negative. I only found out a couple years ago when I was writing about the Nine Inch Nails show at The Warfield in 1994 that Peter Steele had died of sepsis brought on by diverticulitis in 2010. I was wondering what happened to that band and of coarse was saddened to hear the news. Poor guy was only 48 years old. After his death, keyboardist Josh Silver went on to become a paramedic with the New York City Fire Department and guitarist Kenny Hickey and drummer Johnny Kelly would tour with Danzig and also form the band Silvertomb.
Stuck Mojo, Speak No Evil, Haste, Unjust, Maritime Hall, SF, Wed., October 13, 1999
It was day two of another five show stretch and it was frankly a relief to hear some bombastic rap metal after two consecutive shows of reggae. I knew that these guys would be on stage on time and their sets comparatively short. Stuck Mojo, the rap metal pioneers from Atlanta had been to the Hall before back in ’97 opening for Testament and though that headliner wasn’t recorded, Stuck Mojo and Machinehead the other opener were that night. But despite having that one in the can as well as this gig, Stuck Mojo would release “HVY 1” coincidentally just one day before this show, a live album taped the year before at The Masquerade in their home town. I can always sympathize with a band wanting to put out an album with a home town crowd, but naturally I still was disappointed.
Speak No Evil had just played the Hall four months before opening for Zebrahead, but I didn’t remember much about them or the other openers that night. Like the Zebrahead show, the gig that evening was poorly sold, maybe 300 or 400 fans tops. I guess I can also understand why a band didn’t want to put out a live album with so few in attendance. In addition to that, it didn’t help that Stuck Mojo was falling apart from the inside as well. The guitarist, Rich “The Duke” Ward was butting heads with their singer, Bonz. Drugs and in fighting had taken its toll on them to the point where they were no longer speaking and by the following year after releasing their final album, “Declaration Of A Headhunter”, they would part ways. Stuck Mojo would have a reunion with their original members at The Masquerade fifteen years later, but they didn’t go any farther together from there, though Rich Ward did get the band together two years later with a new singer and a new album.
One thing that set Stuck Mojo apart from other such nu metal acts of the period was their rather blatant distain for Bill Clinton. I can’t say for sure why they had a bone to pick with Slick Willy, but they were known for getting their crowds to chant, “Fuck Bill Clinton!”, making them sort of a right wing alternative to Rage Against The Machine, not the Rage were exactly fans of Bill either. Stuck Mojo also had a song called “Throw The Switch” that left little doubt about their support for sending rapists and home invaders to the electric chair and in their song “Southern Pride”, they also had a line saying, “on racism we don’t dwell.” Yeah… maybe it’s time for America to dwell on that subject. Politics aside, I will say that they were a tight band, especially with Rich’s remarkable guitar skills, and they had no trouble whipping up their fans into a frenzy in the mosh pit. On a lighter note, I do remember Stuck Mojo playing an intro to them coming on stage of The Doors’ “L.A. Woman”, doing the breakdown part in the song where Jim Morrison sings, “Mr. Mojo Rising!” over and over. Since I heard this intro also on a recording of a show they did in Phoenix five days after this show on YouTube, I assume they used that intro for every show they did on that tour.
One funny epilogue to the demise of Stuck Mojo was Rich Ward’s formation of the band Fozzy. Rich had befriended the renowned WWE wrestler Chris Jericho after one of his matches in San Antonio and after hitting it off, they made an unlikely musical alliance. With Rich on guitar and Jericho on vocals, they first called themselves “Fozzy Osbourne”, an obvious comedic name combination of the Muppet and the metal godfather, but eventually abbreviated it. They did a sort of Spinal Tap persona for the band, claiming that they had been touring in Japan when their record company went broke stranding them there for 20 years while other notable metal acts like Dio, Iron Maiden, and Judas Priest would “steal” their songs for themselves, though they were obviously just playing covers. Jericho took the stage name and persona of Moongoose McQueen and stayed in character while touring on and off the stage claiming that he’d never heard of Jericho. Conversely, while Jericho was not touring with Fozzy, he’d claim he was a big fan of McQueen. I’m happy to report that Fozzy is still together over 20 years later and has released their eighth studio album, “Boombox”, just last year.
Long Beach Dub All Stars, Barrington Levy, Tippa Irae, Half Pint, Maritime Hall, SF, Tues., October 12, 1999
As I previously written, I had one day off from a five day stretch of shows and this one would christen another five day run. It didn’t help that this one would be another reggae show like the Peter Tosh Birthday Celebration two days before, since it would likewise run late and long. Though one could argue that former Sublime band members, the Long Beach All Stars, weren’t necessarily a reggae band, there could be no denying that all the openers that evening were. Every reggae fan worth their salt knows and respects Barrington Levy, the venerable singer from Jamaica. Neither Mr. Levy nor fellow Jamaican Half Pint or Tippa Irae from the UK had ever played the Hall before, but Pete had left me this show to record myself nonetheless. And though my recordings came out just fine that night, the Hall would release a DVD in 2006 of Barrington’s show he’d do at the Hall just four months later when he was there for their Bob Marley Day Festival. Another disappointment on top of the Junior Reid DVD, (who had just performed at the Hall the night before this), Boots would release from a show Reid would perform in Berkeley at Ashkenaz in 2006.
I was busy as hell, but I did catch on the news before I came over for the show that Peres Musharraf had taken over Pakistan in a coup and it was also reported that the 6th billionth human on Earth was born. Believe it or not, though that was only 24 years ago, we’re up to 8 billion now. And speaking of crowds, the Long Beach Dub All Stars were a crowd unto themselves. By this time, they numbered 10 members in total with Opie Ortiz once again singing lead. It had only been three years since that fateful night when Bradley Nowell, their original singer, had overdosed at that Ocean Beach motel I used to live by just hours before he was supposed to play at the Maritime. But in those intervening years, I had recorded the All Stars there on three separate occasions including one just eight months before this night.
Though they never would put out any of the live material I had taped there, they had managed to release their first post-Sublime album, “Right Back”, just two weeks to the day before this show. On that album, they had all of the openers from this bill contributing vocals, Barrington on two of them, Tippa Irae and Half Pint on one each. I believe some of the openers joined the All Stars on stage that night to perform some or all of those tracks, but I can’t remember for sure. It would make sense that they did. Though I haven’t seen the All Stars, Tippa Irae, or Half Pint since, I would be lucky enough to catch Mr. Levy one more time four years later opening for Steel Pulse at a “Reggae In The Park” festival in Golden Gate Park’s Sharon Meadows. With these long two days of reggae acts, I would find strange relief in the bombastic rap metal of Stuck Mojo who would headline at the Hall the day after this.
Peter Tosh Birthday Celebration : Bunny Wailer, Junior Reid, Andrew Tosh, Sister I-Live, Lasana Bandele, Dani Spencer, Prince Rastan, Kid Sister, Sister Alreca, Maritime Hall, SF, Sun., October 10, 1999
SETLIST : (BUNNY WAILER) : Benediction, Bald Head Jesus, Rasta Man, Blackheart Man, Armagadeon, Fighting Against Conviction, Dreamland, Love Fire, Crazy Baldhead, No Woman No Cry, Legalize It, Jesus Baldhead Jesus, Rockers, Rock N Groove, Dance Rock, Rootsman Skanking, Cool Runnings, Rule Dance Hall, Rock Stone, Simmer Down, Walk The Proud Land, Jailhouse, I Stand Predominate, I’m The Toughest, Hypocrite, The Specialist, Hypocrite, Keep On Moving
As I had mentioned before, I was on a five day marathon of shows and I would have only one day off after this one before beginning another five day run. To end this first run with the Peter Tosh Birthday Celebration would prove to be a doozy. Reggae shows at the Maritime were notorious for running late and long, but that is doubly true when it’s a festival line up like this one. They had done this celebration for Mr. Tosh the year before at the Hall with Bunny, Andrew, and Lasana, once again co-produced with the “Out Of Many One” people, but this time they had six other acts piled onto the bill. In fact, it was such a long show, that the doors had to open bright and early at 3 PM that day to fit them all in, though it still went until the wee hours of the morn. In fact, I had to run down to the cafeteria downstairs and grab some food to go between acts halfway through the show just to eat dinner while mixing at the console in the recording room, probably the only time I had to do that. I assume the guys working upstairs had to take turns, but I was riding solo that night.
Peter Tosh’s son Andrew had just played the Hall that July opening for Michael Rose with The Skatalites, so this would be the third time I’d be recording him, not to mention the third time recording Bunny, the second time I’d tape Lasana, Prince Rastan, and Dani Spencer, and the fourth time I’d tape Sister I-Live. It was a bit of a coincidence that we had three “Sister” acts on the bill too, Ms. I-Live as well as Kid Sister and Sister Alreca. But I was overjoyed that I’d finally get to see and tape the one and only Junior Reid that night for the first time. I had been positively addicted to his “One Blood” album since high school and though I’d seen his old band Black Uhuru as well as their other former singers, the aforementioned Michael Rose and Don Carlos, this would be my first time with Mr. Reid in person.
My encounter with him after his set was the highlight of that night for me and easily the most memorable. Since the other artists had been spread around into the various rooms and offices of the Hall, he was relegated to the office on the stage right side of the venue, opposite where most of the others were. When I entered inside after his set to hand him off the tapes, the oppressively bright florescent lights were all on and Junior Reid was alone in there, donning a towering purple turban. I did my best to keep my cool and calmly explain who I was and why I was there, but he just stared at me with those big, bulbous eyes of his. He wasn’t mean or impolite or anything, but I swear he was looking at me like I was some sort of extra-terrestrial. He simply nodded, took the tapes, and signed the release form without so much as uttering a syllable. Though he put on a stellar set as expected, I would be disappointed years later when Boots would put out a live DVD in 2007 of Junior Reid playing at Ashkenaz in Berkeley.
If it had just been Bunny Wailer alone, the show would have been three hours long. He once again performed a set list as long as my arm, but also talked all our ears off between songs. The other acts were mercifully brief in comparison. As before the previous year, there was no shortage of Peter Tosh covers, as well as golden oldies from Bunny and Peter’s alma mater, The Wailers. For those who have been living under a rock all their lives, that was a little band they had together with Bob Marley. Bunny did four of their old tunes that night alone, including two of Peter’s solo songs.
And on a side note, like when I had paired my reviews of Christian Death and The Sisters Of Mercy shows together the week before, this two show combination came out with two gigs in the same genre, making that October an even more unusual one. Incidentally, though I had a day off before this show, the Maritime did host the annual SF Comedy Competition finals as they had for the past couple years, though I must have left that one for Pete. I honestly don’t know if those Finals were taped that year. Maybe I just wanted a day off or if I had a job lined up with Local 16, but by that time, if I couldn’t make the gig, Pete could honestly care less and we’d just let that show go untaped anyway.
Pavement, Calexico, Maritime Hall, SF, Fri., October 8, 1999
(CALEXICO) : Glowing Heart Of The World, The Ride Part II, Minas De Cobre, Wash, The Black Light, Tulsa Telephone Book, Lost In Space, Stray, Jesus & Tequila, Frontera/Trigger
(PAVEMENT) : Father To A Sister Of Thought, Cream Of Gold, The Hexx, Gave Architecture, Carrot Rope, Grounded, Date With IKEA, Folk Jam, Spit On A Stranger, Carrot Rope, Give It A Day, Cut Your Hair, You Are A Light, Rattled By The Rush, Major Leagues, Debris Slide, (encore), Stop Breathin’, The Killing Moon – Green Grow The Rushes, Two States
Pavement, Calexico, Maritime Hall, SF, Sat., October 9, 1999
(CALEXICO) : Wash, The Ride Part II, Minas De Cobre, Windjammer, Sundown Sundown, Tulsa Telephone Book, The Black Light, Stray, Over Your Shoulder, Frontera/Trigger
(PAVEMENT) : Gold Soundz, You Are A Light, Billie, Conduit For Sale!, We Dance, Cream Of Gold, Stereo, Kennel District, Folk Jam, Trigger Cut, Range Life, 1979, Spit On A Stranger, Platform Blues, Unfair, (encore), Loretta’s Scars, Shady Lane, The Hexx
I would characterize these two shows that Pavement did at the Hall as the ones that (sort of) got away. During this period, as I’d written before, I was finding it increasingly difficult to reconcile my work schedule with Local 16 and the demands of recording at the Maritime. So when I was booked to work the nights of these shows for an AV gig at the Stanford Court hotel on Nob Hill, I was understandably disappointed. The good news was that my call time for those nights were late ones and I could stay around the Hall long enough to do the soundchecks and to tape Calexico’s set for both shows. So, technically I didn’t miss them, at least not entirely, but I was pissed I wouldn’t get the credit and experience of recording Pavement, a band that I had grown to enjoy and respect. I’ll never forget how they adorned their stage set those nights with a series of colorful LED rope lights that entangled amongst their mic stands.
I had seen Pavement five times in just four years before these shows at the Hall, starting with two days with the Lollapalooza ’95 tour, once at the Tibet Freedom Concert the year after that, and then two more times in 1997 at both The Warfield and The Fillmore. As you might remember, that Warfield show would be the last one I’d attend with my friend Casey who died shortly afterwards, being hit by a van on his bike on Market Street. So, Pavement is a band I can never forget and it was hard to leave them in Pete’s hands to tape, but I’m glad to say Pete actually enjoyed them. It took a lot to impress a guy like Pete and when I asked him afterwards about what he thought of them, he mentioned that he wasn’t sure at first about their sound, but by the second night he felt that he was beginning to get it. I felt the same way when I first heard them too. Pavement can be a challenging band even to their fans like me. Sometimes their playing can seem gratingly sloppy and their lyrics indecipherable.
It also didn’t help that the band was basically crumbling before our eyes at those shows either. Frontman Stephen Malkmus had always been a bit of a drunken pill, but his frustration with his bandmates was finally boiling over. They basically phoned it in recording their last album, “Terror Twilight”, opting to play Scrabble instead of making music half the time and though it had just been released five months to the day before these Maritime shows, the death knell was finally ringing for Pavement. The band would perform at Coachella the next day and that’s when Malkmus announced that it was all over of him. Pavement would play their last show at the Brixton Academy in London about a week later. Malkmus even attached a pair of handcuffs on his mic stand at that last show telling the sold out crowd of 4,200, “These symbolize what it’s like being in a band all these years.”
Malkmus would immediately go on to found his solo project, Stephen Malkmus & The Jicks, and I would see them play at The Fillmore two years later. I liked his new material and would go so far to say that the songs were actually a little more easily digestible than Pavement’s stuff. I am happy to say that in 2010, the band kissed and made up, doing some reunion shows and then doing it again another decade later. They had planned to reunite in 2020, but the pandemic put it off a couple years. Sorry to say I didn’t go to either of the reunion shows. I mean, I was a fan, but not enough of one to shell over the money they were asking for tickets, especially for the show at the Masonic last year.
Thankfully, Calexico have never stopped touring or making music and I have had the pleasure of seeing a some more times since those nights at the Hall, a couple times at The Fillmore and once with Iron & Wine at The Warfield. I had seen Calexico open for the Dirty Three at the Great American the year before and immediately recognized their talent, so I’m proud I got to tape them. And though we had plenty of good material recorded of Calexico from those shows, they ended up making a live album called “Scraping” from a show they would do at the Great American in 2002.
One final thing, I have the distinct memory of another show at the Hall, though I can’t recall who the headliner was. It might have been Guided By Voices the following month after Pavement broke up. I was confused after a band’s set that night and was trying to find one of their members to hand the tapes of the set off to and I mistook somebody backstage for one of the members this mysterious band. The fellow politely told me he wasn’t one of them and I realized later that the man I spoke with was Mark Ibold, the bass player of Pavement. Doing research for this show, I learned that Mark has since gone on to be a bartender in New York City. Though perhaps not as glamorous as being a rock star on tour, one would have to agree it’s slightly less noisy.
Better Than Ezra, Sixpence None The Richer, Jeremy Toback, Maritime Hall, Thurs., October 7, 1999
Before I continue, I should point out the sheer volume of shows I did that long month of October. In only 31 days, I managed to squeeze in 23… Sheesh, even writing about it now seems mind boggling. It should be noted that it is primarily the fault of the Maritime, booking an unusual amount of gigs, 18 in total out of the aforementioned 23. The Better Than Ezra gig here would also be day two of a five day stretch of shows, following The Sisters Of Mercy the night before at The Warfield, quite a different scene altogether. At the end of that stretch, I’d get one day off before starting another five day stretch. I can’t say if that month holds the record for most shows in a month, but I can say with some certainty that it is in the top three.
It had been four years since I’d seen Better Than Ezra when they played both the Live 105 B.F.D. festival and also headlining a show at The Fillmore. The following year, the band had a falling out with Cary Bonnecaze, their original drummer, who relentlessly pursued his former bandmates with several lawsuits. By this time they had replaced Cary with Travis McNabb on drums and had also added James Arthur Payne, Jr. on guitar. Cary claimed he was owed a million bucks “based on his role in fortifying the band’s reputation.” Dubious as that claim might have been, they settled out of court. But Cary wasn’t done and tried suing them again in 2016 when they rereleased their album “Surprise” for its 25th anniversary, claiming that they didn’t have the right to do so without his permission. Not sure how that ended. What I do know is that this would be the final time I’d see Better Than Ezra.
I made a point to bug one of the band’s tour guys and ask about the origins of their name as I had done when they played The Fillmore in ’95, but I once again was stonewalled. He was pleasant about it anyway like last time. There are currently two leading theories, the first being it derived from an Ernest Hemingway quote from his book “A Moveable Feast”. In the description of an annoying sound, Hemingway wrote that it was “no worse than other noises, certainly better than Ezra learning to play the bassoon.” The other theory is that early on in the band’s career when they hadn’t established a name yet, that they were in a local battle of the bands and that one of the other bands was called Ezra and in an impulsive moment, they simply took the title in the hope that they were indeed “Better Than” that band.
The show began with a short set from Jeremy Toback, the former bassist of Seattle rock band Brad, which also had Stone Gossard, the guitarist of Pearl Jam as one of its members. I don’t remember much about him, but one thing that absolutely stood out about this show was the second opener, Sixpence None The Richer, who were just making it big with their hit single “Kiss Me”. To those unfamiliar with this tune, it was absolutely ubiquitous back then, turning up in TV and movie soundtracks left and right. Before that song, they had been a modest Christian rock band from Nashville by way of Texas, but one fateful night the year before this show, they played that single at The Viper Room in L.A. and caught the attention of A & R executive John Kalodner. He managed to not only get it into the soundtrack to the teen comedy “She’s All That”, but it became the film’s theme song.
Suffice to say, it was and remains a catchy little ditty, possibly the girliest song ever written. It’s so syrupy sweet, I remember those uncouth ruffians from Buckcherry once joked about it saying that it sounded like the theme to a tampon commercial and that they assumed it was written by some girl who had never been royally fucked over by some guy. For the record, it actually was written by a man, Matt Slocum, the band’s guitarist while they were on tour in The Netherlands. Sweetness aside, They certainly made a name for themselves with that tune, garnering them a Grammy nomination for Best Pop Performance By A Duo Or Group With Vocals. It got them signed on Elektra and with their third and self titled album and they made a bundle, going platinum just a couple years after its release. It also has the distinction of being the first song Taylor Swift learned to play on the guitar when she was at the tender age of 12.
Unlike Better Than Ezra, the origin of Sixpence None The Richer’s name was not so secret. It was derived from a quote from C.S. Lewis’ “Mere Christianity” where he wrote of a boy giving a sixpence coin to his father and comparing it to his “belief that God had given him and us the gifts we possess and to serve him the way we should, we should do so humbly.” Christian, the band might have been, but they were discreet about it, enough that most people like myself were unaware of it entirely. It was hard not to like Sixpence and let it be said that like so many other so-called “one hit wonders”, they actually had many good songs in their repertoire including a cover of “There She Goes” by The La’s which also was a hit in its own right. It was a good bill and even though it had been promoted by Live 105 and also as the “Arizona Jeans Music Festival” strangely enough, the turnout that night was low, probably around 300 people.
But just as Sixpence’s star was rising, Elektra, the same record company that had just picked them up had just dropped Better Than Ezra. They had just finished the “How Does Your Garden Grow?” album and though they would continue to make music over these years, this would be the height of their popularity. Like I said, this would be the last time I’d see them, though I did get to see Sixpence one more time four years later at the Alice Summerthing festival in Golden Gate Park opening for Macy Gray.
One final memory from that show at the Hall was that it was the only one in my memory to have a spotlight. For some reason, they had this cumbersome thing deadlifted up to the balcony and it was so bright, that it must have been torture to the poor folks on stage lit by it. At least there was no risk of them showing up too dark for the video. I also remember that there were sound baffles around the drummers that night, another thing I don’t think I had ever witnessed at the Maritime before this. The blinding reflections from the baffles made the spotlight even more intolerable, but at least they helped the drums sound cleaner.
The Sisters Of Mercy, DJ Tube, War., SF, Wed., October 6, 1999
SETLIST : Fly & Collision Of Comas Sola (Tangerine Dream Intro), Ribbons, Train – Detonation Boulevard, Come Together, Amphetamine Logic, Giving Ground, We Are The Same Susanne, On The Wire – Teacher, Temple Of Love, Will I Dream, Flood I, Bei Mir Bist Du Schon, Dominion – Mother Russia, Summer, Romeo Down, Flood II, (encore), Fist And Last And Always, Vision Thing, (encore), Something Fast, This Corrosion
It had been over a year and a half since the Sisters were in town, then playing at the Maritime. You might recall from that outing that they steadfastly refused to allow us to record them and that their tour manager chewed out Boots the owner, loudly proclaiming him to be a “dickhead” for all to hear. That and poor Jerry Carmine getting dismissed from the stage crew after accidentally pulling over a small lighting truss to the ground. So, it came as no surprise that when the Sisters returned to the bay area, they selected a different venue.
As I mentioned when I wrote about the Maritime show, their frontman Andrew Eldritch had recently released the “Go Figure” album under the moniker of SSV, an album explicitly made to get them out of their contract with East West Records, a subsidiary of Time Warner. Andrew had been trying to end that acrimonious relationship for years and was finally able to put it to rest. Technically, the project was called SSV – NSMABAAOTWMODAACOTIATW which apparently is an acronym from, “Screw Shareholder Value – Not So Much A Band As Another Opportunity To Waste Money On Drugs And Ammunition Courtesy Of The Idiots At Time Warner”. But like before, they were just touring playing the golden oldies and to this day haven’t released any new original material since 1993. So, it was basically the same show as the year before, though they didn’t do “Anaconda”, “Some Kind Of Stranger”, or their cover of Pink Floyd’s “Comfortably Numb” this time around. However, we did get to hear “Bei Mir Bist Du Schon” and they played “Vision Thing” at the end of their set this time. Andrew recently teased that they’d put out something new in 2016 if Donald Trump won the election, claiming that he couldn’t “keep quiet if that happened.” It’s currently 2023 as I’m writing this and the Sisters are going to play at the Masonic in a couple months, their first tour in 14 years, but I’m afraid we’re still waiting for any new stuff.
In a strange coincidence, just five days before this show, ex-Sisters bassist Patricia Morrison was in town playing with The Damned at The Fillmore. As I had written before, she had left the Sisters back in 1989 complaining that Andrew owed her money. And as luck would have it, when the Sisters played the Maritime the year before, The Damned would also play there with Patricia on bass just four weeks later. Maybe one of them was stalking the other back then, maybe both. Either way, I doubt Patricia ever got the money Andrew owed her.
It was an easy show to usher that night since there was only a DJ opening, a fellow by the name of DJ Tube. Goth kids mostly stay put and aren’t pushy. Time went by fast and I was cut from my ushering duties and I was mingling and sipping my beer with the other sullen folks in black soon enough. But what I remember most distinctly from that evening was something I witnessed up in the balcony. The music was loud as hell and you can even hear me on the tape complaining that I was getting “asphyxiated” by the numerous smoke machines bellowing endless clouds into the dance floor, so I perched myself up in the balcony and watched the grim spectacle from above. It was so ridiculously loud that I had no problem getting a strong enough signal for the recording up there. That’s when it happened.
Near the end of the show, I witnessed one of the security guards behind the barricade in front of the stage snatch a disposable camera from one of the fans and smash it to bits on the top rail of the barricade. It was during a relatively quiet part of a song, so all attending could hear the piercing crack clear as a bell as the camera splintered into a half dozen pieces or so. The sight of this portly, dark haired thug’s self satisfied grin will haunt me to my grave. I can still see him folding his arms and chuckling to himself. Not that I entirely disagreed with what he did, after all, it was his duty and it certainly added a layer of unexpected drama to the festivities. But yes, it did seem excessive and downright bullyish. Still, I have to give credit to Mr. Eldritch who witnessed this incident below just a few steps in front of him. Not so much as a flinch, he just kept brooding about as nothing had happened and the show went on.
Christian Death, Mortiis, Godhead, Diet Of Worms, Maritime Hall, SF, Sun., October 3, 1999
It had seemed like an eternity ago when I had first met Pete at the Maritime and we recorded this band, my first outing with him over three years before this. I was just a babe in the woods learning the literal ins and outs of patching the inputs of the soundboard and navigating the various buttons and settings of the ADAT machines. But by this time, I’d done it on my own on so many occasions, I could practically do it in my sleep. Pete had long since given up any interest in recording at the Hall and without a doubt had even less interest if that was possible in the dark industrial stylings of Christian Death. There weren’t a lot of old hippies at this one.
On a side note, when I publish my latest entries to this blog, it almost always is in two concert reviews and the dichotomy between the two shows naturally served to accentuate the eclectic nature of the concerts I was enjoying back then. But in a strange coincidence, the following show would be The Sisters Of Mercy, a band much in the same genre. So, for my first time readers, let it be known that this doesn’t happen often and I have certainly more diverse tastes in music than that of these gloomy Gus’. And as I often did for bands like them, I made sure before the show began to look up on high and reassure the Almighty that this band didn’t necessarily represent me and asked to not be sent to Hell for recording them. Christian Death might have a bone to pick with the big guy upstairs, especially when they repeatedly yell out “I don’t want your fucking god! I don’t need your fucking god! He just wants to fuck me!” in their song “The Corruption Of Innocence”. I’d just assume stay out of it.
Another dark metallic band that was supposed to play at the Hall the week before in the lower ballroom was Mercyful Fate. Since we didn’t record any of the shows in that space of the building, we didn’t have to show up to any of the gigs there. But I made a point to try to catch that one, since I had recorded both King Diamond playing solo and also with Mercyful Fate, his original band, at the Hall the year before and was curious to see that macabre goofball again. I would ultimately be disappointed when I showed up to find that the show had been cancelled, but I wasn’t half as let down as some poor fellow I met out front. That unfortunate soul had taken a Greyhound bus all the way from L.A. for that show and I had to be the one to break the news to him. Anybody who has taken that godforsaken bus up and down I-5 knows just how interminable and unpleasant a ride that is. To this day, I still don’t know why that show was cancelled, but that’s show biz. Anyway, back to Christian Death.
In the intervening years between this show and that first historic evening I met Pete, Christian Death was going through a bit of a rough patch. Infighting, creative differences, and fatigue from years of touring had caused the band to splinter in twain about ten years before, one faction going with the original singer Rozz Williams and the other with Valor Kand, the guitarist, each struggling to retain the band name. Valor ultimately won the rights and Rozz then tragically committed suicide the year before this show. Apparently, the cabinet where Rozz hung himself is on display to this day in the L.A. Museum Of Death. (Shutter!) I’ll have to visit someday. But Valor had been busy with his version of the band, releasing that year alone a compilation album called “The Bible” as well as two other ones, “The Scriptures” and “Atrocities”.
There was a handful of notable openers at this gig, starting with the Diet Of Worms, not to be confused with legislature that sought to reform the Holy Roman Empire in 1495. It would be cool if they actually showed up. I’d be curious to see their reaction to the music that night. Following them was Godhead, an industrial act out of D.C. They would have the dubious distinction of being the first and only act to sign to Marilyn Manson’s Posthuman Records label. Though short lived, they did manage to put out one album called “2000 Years Of Human Error”. The year before, they had released on their own an album called “Power Tool Stigmata” and though I wasn’t exactly their biggest fan, I did appreciate the cleverness of that title. Last but not least was Mortiis from Norway. Fronted by former Emperor bassist Havard Ellefsen, they would endure over the decades and are actually celebrating their 30th anniversary this year. Havard makes quite an impression on stage, donning gruesome facial prosthetics making him look like some kind of goblin.
The Damned, Wench, The Doormats, Fill., SF, Fri., October 1, 1999
SETLIST : Curtain Call Intro, Wait For The Blackout, Disco Man, Plan 9 Channel 7, I Just Can’t Be Happy Today, The Shadow Of Love, Dozen Girls, Dr. Jeckyl & Mr. Hyde, Neat Neat Neat, Democracy, Curtain Call, Looking At You, drum solo, New Rose, Eloise, Love Song, Smash It Up (Pts. 1 & 2), (encore), Ignite
For those who had read about The Damned’s previous appearances at Maritime Hall and the Phoenix Theater, it should come to no surprise how thrilled I was to see them again only a year later. This time I wouldn’t be cooped up in the recording room, but face to face with the venerable punk rock pioneers. It was a long shot that they would have used any of my recordings from the Maritime for a live album considering that they had so many other live albums by then, but I was bummed to learn that they would release the “Molten Lager” live album the very month of this show, recorded from a gig they did in Mulhouse, France in 1994. Though it was billed as their “Halloween Tour”, they would in fact play that Halloween in Boston at the Paradise Rock Club. But hell, every night is Halloween with The Damned and I would see them on that ghoulish holiday a year shy of two decades later at the Regency Ballroom. Better late than never. This would be the first time I’d see them at The Fillmore and you can imagine how pissed I was when they didn’t get a poster at the end of the night. I’d have to wait two more times of them playing there until 2017 when they finally got one.
Opening that night were the rowdy punk stylings of The Doormats. They were a fun bunch of local guys, launching into their set with a breakneck paced punk cover of “The March Of The Empire” from “Star Wars”, well, “The Empire Strikes Back” technically. They also did another wild cover of Jerry Reed’s “Eastbound & Down” from the film “Smokey & The Bandit”. The Doormats, now middle aged like myself, still do gigs around the bay area to this day. Following them were a band called Wench who were an interesting pick to open for The Damned, being quite a dark, ambient, industrial band. Contrary to their melancholy sound, the lead singer was actually a really sweet young lady who thanked the audience profusely between songs. Don’t know what happened to that band, though there were a couple other bands with the same name. One was an all girl rock band that was around from ’87 to ’93 and the other was a more recent Australian prog stoner act that were around from 2007 to 2013, but broke up after their drummer tragically died of cancer.
Like I said, it had only been a year since I’d seen The Damned, but they had already been through two drummers since then. They had replaced Garrie Dreadful with Spike T. Smith that February, but by this show, they were touring with Andrew “Pinch” Pinching from the English Dogs. He’d remain in the band for an impressive 20 years, longer than any other non-founding member apart from Monty Oxymoron, until Pinch was finally replaced only last year with Will Taylor. Like the others, Pinch was exceptional and a good fit for the band. They even gave him a little time to do a solo near the end of their set in which he was accompanied by some DJ scratches and samples of breaking glass, an interesting and unexpected addition to their sound that night. Other than that, they were the same line up with Patricia Morrison again on bass and Monty on keyboards.
The Damned had a fantastic set, covering their usual hits, though we did get a couple oddballs with “Dr Jeckyl & Mr. Hyde” and “Democracy”. Captain Sensible was his irrepressible smart alecky self, donning his trademark red beret and round sunglasses. After they opened with “Wait For The Blackout”, he joked, pointing to somebody up front saying, “We love ya’ except for you. You stink of shit.” He teased somebody else up front after “Plan 9 Channel 7” asking, “You wanna pay me back that money you owe me?” When they came back for their encore he made some sort of joke about the Backstreet Boys and praised The Fillmore, giving thanks “to all the ghosts of all the greats. Jim Morrison who’s Patricia Morrison’s brother… Jimi Hendrix who was my dad.” The Captain then introduced the final song of the evening, “Ignite”, kicking it off by screaming, “My ass is on fire!”
Though it would be some time until The Damned would play The Fillmore again, I’d see them two years later when they played the Great American and two years after that at Slim’s. Seriously, I think I’ve only missed them a couple times when they’ve passed through the bay area, once I know for sure at the Burger Boogaloo festival in 2018 and another opening for The Misfits the year after at Oakland Arena. The Damned were actually just in town a few months ago opening for Blondie at the Masonic and despite the hefty price tag for that ticket, that was one double bill I couldn’t pass up. I vowed never to use Ticketmaster again after that night and I still haven’t. Captain didn’t tour with them this time which was a disappointment, but to make matters worse, it was because he refuses to get vaccinated for COVID. It’s hard when your heroes let you down, like when Johnny Lydon said he liked Trump, but I forgive him, just like I forgave Johnny. They’re only human.
Gang Starr, Nice & Smooth, Maritime Hall, SF, Thurs., September 30, 1999
We were spoiled to have Gang Starr back at the Hall again, just a mere two months after they had performed there last. To read more about the history of the iconic hip hop duo of DJ Premier and Guru, feel free to refer to that previous show in July. Following their fifth album, “Moment Of Truth”, put out that March, Gang Starr had just released their compilation, “Full Clip : A Decade Of GS ’89-’99” three months later and by August, it had already gone gold. Contrary to what the Maritime’s monthly poster said, this show was not in fact the “Lyricist Lounge” tour. That tour would however play at the Hall just two months later, headlined by the incomparable EPMD accompanied by an impressive roster of hip hop talent such as Planet Asia and the Dungeon Squad.
One thing that was different about this show from their previous appearance was that they had Nice & Smooth opening for them this time. They too were a rap duo from New York City comprising of Gregory “Greg Nice” Mays and Darryl “Smooth B” Barnes. Together, they had finished their fourth album, “Blazing Hot”, which they released only a month after this show. They had been tight with Gang Starr and had done guest vocals for their song, “DWTCK” on their “Hard To Earn” album back in 1994. I think Nice & Smooth are still together, having celebrated their 30th anniversary with a tour a few years ago in 2016. This would be the only time I’d see them, though I would have the honor of seeing Gang Starr one more time four years later at The Fillmore on a bill arranged by KMEL’s House Of Soul with Talib Kweli, Common, and Goapele. Sadly, Guru would die from blood cancer seven years after that.
They Might Be Giants, You Were Spiraling, War., SF, Wed., September 29, 1999
(YOU WERE SPIRALING) : Will You Love Me Tomorrow, (unknown), Excellent Body, Lightning Twice, This Is The Road, (unknown), Take On Me
(THEY MIGHT BE GIANTS) : Drinkin’, Spider, James K. Polk, She Thinks She’s Edith Head, Older, Twisting, Cyclops Rock, Spiraling Shape, She’s Actual Size, Man It’s So Loud In Here, Letterbox, Narrow Your Eyes, Ana Ng, The Guitar (The Lion Sleeps Tonight), No One Knows My Plan, Shoehorn With Teeth, (encore), Particle Man, The Famous Polka, New York City, Why Does The Sun Shine (The Sun Is A Mass Of Incandescent Gas), She’s An Angel, Dr. Worm, (encore), Spy, Counterfeit Faker, Birdhouse In Your Soul, (encore), Maybe I Know, Istanbul
As you might have gathered by now, I was no stranger to the works of They Might Be Giants, this being my fifth occasion seeing them perform. But this was an interesting time for the iconic, nerd-core duo of John’s Flansburgh and Linnell. Not only was their live album, simply titled “Live”, to be released about three and a half weeks after this show, but they had also just put out “Long Tall Weekend”, their 7th studio album, two months before this. The latter was the first of its kind, being the first full length album by a major label artist to be released in MP3 format over the internet. Certainly, they wouldn’t be the last, but back then, it was revolutionary and of course had it’s share of doubters amongst their critics and even their fans. I myself was still blissfully unaware of the underlying potential of the digital streaming of music and dismissed it naively as a sort of gimmick or fad.
They Might Be Giants had just left their label Elektra, though they would have the last laugh. Indeed, they would ultimately be the most downloaded band that year. But they weren’t new to being innovative. As you might recall, John Linnell had launched his “Dial-A-Song” phone service years before and just a year after this show, he’d update it for the internet, offering the songs instead to be streamed via flash doc. Furthermore, just that June, they had contributed the song “Dr. Evil” to the Mike Myers sequel, “Austin Powers : The Spy Who Shagged Me”. So between that and packing the house at the Warfield once again, it was safe to say that the Giants were doing well for themselves.
I was impressed with their opening act, You Were Spiraling, fronted by keyboardist and vocalist Tom Brislin. Tom was a classical piano prodigy from New Jersey who had been in bands since he was only 10 years old. He and a few of his music student buddies at William Paterson University formed the band and caught the interest of the Giants a few years before this. John Linnell would release some of their early stuff, including their debut self titled album, on his subscription only record company, the “Hello CD Of The Month Club”, also known as the “Hello Recording Club” or just “Hello” for short. That club was an outlet for the Giants to put out some solo work of their own along with then unknown NYC acts such as Soul Coughing. You Were Spiraling had just put out their third album, “Delusions Of Grandeur”, through the club that year, but it would be the last release they’d do there and also the last one they’d do with that band name, soon shortening it to simply Spiraling. They would put out their first album, “Transmitting”, under that new name three years afterwards.
From their first song, a cover of the Motown classic “Will You Still Love Me Tomorrow?” by The Shirelles, I could tell Mr. Brislin had classical chops. He had a strong voice and made it look easy. They did a half dozen of their own songs before finishing their set with an impressive cover of A-Ha’s hit, “Take On Me”. It was so well done, that I believe firmly it is one of the rare occasions where the cover was superior to the original. I hope the fine Norwegians from A-Ha got to hear it, or maybe not, since they’d bound to be jealous. Tom would also continue to play keys for other several notable artists such as Yes, Meatloaf, and recently Kansas.
We were introduced to some of the Giants’ newer material starting their set that night with the instrumental “Drinkin’” that went straight into “Spider”, though it should be noted that some of the new songs were just older tunes that got shelved. “Drinkin’” was written in ’93 and their cover of Leslie Gore’s “Maybe I Know”, which they played second to last that night dates back to the 80’s. Leslie incidentally was famous for singing “It’s My Party” and “You Don’t Own Me”. Before the Giants did “Cyclops Rock”, they mentioned the new downloadable album and did a little jingle for it twice, singing “They Might Be Giants on emusic.com!” Then Flansburgh said the song was “about a guy with one eye instead of two. That’s the way he is… angry and he resembles myself.” Afterwards, they thanked You Were Spiraling and dedicated appropriately the song “Spiraling Shape” to them.
It was gratifying to hear the Giants with a full band again, especially when they did a jazzy, dynamic, big band rendition of “She’s Actual Size”. After they finished “Man, It’s Loud In Here”, another new song, Linnell introduced “Letterbox” as it being a “chestnut from the vaults… That’s where we keep our chestnuts.” Then, they had a false start to “Narrow Your Eyes”. Flansburgh apologized, claiming that he just “learned the song two days before.” He joked about the area around the Warfield, that it was weird to “be on a block where there’s more people muttering to themselves than in Brooklyn”, calling the neighborhood an “open air mental institution”, and stating that “we’re scared of this place and will be leaving shortly, but not before playing this song.” They did a couple encores that night including a six song one for the first encore before finishing their second one with their hit cover of “Istanbul”. Though I’d be disappointed that there wasn’t a poster for the show that night and that I wouldn’t see them in 2000, I’d be lucky to see them twice the following year, both times at the Fillmore.
ITF USA DJ Championship, Maritime Hall, SF, Sun., September 26, 1999
This night would be the third time the International Turntabalist Federation, or ITF for short, would bring its national finals to the hallowed halls of the Maritime. Though I didn’t save the tapes of the other two, I was lucky to find this one on YouTube. They used excerpts from the competition for the first hour of it, then rough footage of their own cameras on stage for the rest. The first half was unquestionably my stuff and it was Tory’s camera work, though he had little to do that night since the DJ’s mostly stayed put. The monthly poster had billed this show as the “World Championship”, though it was in fact the “USA Championship”. The “World Championship” would take place shortly after this one in Hawaii and was being billed as the “Battle In Paradise”, hosted by Mix Master Mike.
This one was being hosted by Rasco of the Cali Agents and Planet Asia and he graced us with a set of his own once the competition concluded. He was no stranger to the Hall and would be back there only five weeks later with EPMD for the Lyricist Lounge. There was no shortage of talent that night with Excess, Fresh, and Impereal from New York City, Perseus from Rhode Island, Mike C from Sacramento, Remedy from San Jose, and Snaykeyz from Vallejo. But the night belonged to the one and only Mike Relm, our man from San Francisco and former fellow S.F. State alumni. He had been a film student while I was there and I probably saw him around, but didn’t realize it back then. Equally as impressive were the calibre of the judges that night, being Apollo, Vin Roc, Shortkut, and Cue, all masters of the 1’s and 2’s to be sure. If anyone was qualified to judge that night, it was those guys. Their ears are too good to sneak any mistakes past them.
I heard the DJs all pair off and duel each other that night in three separate rounds, but it was clear that Relm was a cut above the rest, so when he was triumphant at the end of the night, it came as little surprise. It was his first win of any major DJ competition and Mike would go on to win second place in the “World Championship”, only being edged out by A-Trak. Though scratching wasn’t new to the hip hop scene, it was definitely a young man’s sport that night. Relm was only 21 years old that year, but A-Trak was only 17! Both DJs would go on to have illustrious careers, the latter going on to be (the artist formerly known as) Kanye West’s first touring DJ and later being one half of the hip hop duo, Duck Sauce.
Now, granted this was over twenty years ago, that these were young, uncouth ruffians, and competition was high as the rafters, but the dissing that was done with their samples got downright nasty at times. Back then, it was still acceptable to call your adversary “Faggot” and get away with it. Indeed, Snaykeyz used the unlikely source of folk singer Jewel’s “Pieces Of You” to repeat the (other) F-word, undoubtably used out of the context Jewel had intended for her own song. Also, Perseus used a sample of someone blurting, “What!?! You wanna battle me!?! Get outta here, ya’ faggot!” But like I said, it was Relm how held the day and he finished off one of his battles with the unmistakable voice of Eddie Murphy imitating his drunk father during his stand-up concert movie, “Raw”, declaring, “This is my house and it you don’t like it, get the fuck out!”
Parliament Funkadelic, Say What, Maritime Hall, SF, Fri., September 24, 1999
George Clinton had played the Maritime plenty in the last three years up till then with the P-Funk All Stars racking up at least 10-12 hours of live material already in the can, so Pete let me have this one. Forget a live album, we had enough stuff to make a box set and then some. But this show was different this time, primarily because George wasn’t in this incarnation. They were billed as “The Original Parliament Funkadelic”on the Maritime’s monthly poster, but they were officially called “The Original P”. It was many of the All Stars in the band, but they were touring with all their original singers, Grady “Shady” Thomas, Clarence “Fuzzy” Haskins, Calvin Smith, and Ray “Stingray” Davis.
Let’s set the clocks back aaaaaaallll the way back to 1956. These guys were all old friends from Parliament, New Jersey which is where they got their name from, though some believe they got it from the cigarette brand. George was only 15 years old when the band formed, simply calling themselves The Parliaments and they were more of a male harmony, doo-wop ensemble back then, like the Temptations. They would relocate to Detroit where George would write songs for Motown on the side and they would ultimately release the seminal “Funkadelic” album in 1970 and then ultimately change the band name to “Parliament Funkadelic”.
Fast forward many, many years and many, many different incarnations of the band and we find ourselves in 1999. George had just played the catastrophic Woodstock ’99 festival with the All Stars, and these guys had split off to do this thing. Separately, they had just released their own album called “What Dat Shakin’” under “The Original P” name. They and their voices were in good shape for men of their age. “Fuzzy” had cleaned up his act, getting off drugs and even becoming a Christian minister. I considered it to be an honor to record these great founders of funk, especially since “Shady” is the only surviving member of that four still with us today. We just lost Calvin just last year. We were also lucky that night that they had Dawn Silva sitting in with the band, one of the original “Brides Of Funkenstein” singers. Dawn and Lynn Mabry had been back up singers for Sly & The Family Stone before George helped put that band together, which would open for P-Funk on tour, then they would perform double duty as P-Funk’s back up singers.
Also, there was Greg Thomas, no relation to “Shady” Thomas, joining them on saxophone who had joined P-Funk back in 1978 and has been with them ever since, playing woodwinds and singing as well. Greg had toured with all sorts of other bands like Cameo and The Gap Band, not to mention a list of session work a mile long, more like several miles long. Listening to a recent interview of him, he pointed out something I never really noticed before. George Clinton never played an instrument. It’s remarkable after all these decades that I never noticed that. He clearly had the ears and the talent of a conductor, a role George performed with understated modesty, despite his colorful attire and hair. And even though he wasn’t there to lead them that night, P-Funk played all the hits and clocked in a respectable couple solid hours of music. Any less and the fans would have been disappointed. Luckily, The Original P would return to the Hall in May of 2000, only 8 months later. It would be one of only ten shows that I would do there that year, filling in for Wade who had taken over the recording full time then, so I had the pleasure of recording these guys twice.
Kool Keith, DJ Spooky, Jimmy Luxury, Maritime Hall, SF, Wed., September 22, 1999
SETLIST : Fantastic Voyage, Ego Trippin, Funky, Two Brothers With Checks (San Francisco Harvey), Ease Back, Freestyle, More Bounce To The Ounce, Sex Style, Blue Flowers, Livin Astro, Poppa Large
Let’s face it, any Kool Keith show is a special show. But this one would probably turn out to be the most important of them at least for me and my friend and partner, Tory. By this time, we’d already been fans of Mr. Thornton, bordering on obsession. Though I had the honor of recording him the year before, this would be Tory’s first, which was important unto itself. What we didn’t know back then was that nine years after this night, Keith would do a show at the Mezzanine and it would be taped for a the live “Ultra-Octa-Doom” DVD and the footage from the Maritime show in its entirety would be used on that DVD for its bonus footage. I had long since gave any hope that Keith’s or any other artists footage from the Hall would be used by then. Even the stuff that was supposed to come out maybe had a fifty-fifty chance of seeing the light of day in the first place. I was at that Mezzanine show with Motion Man and saw that they were taping it, though I was understandably skeptical. It was sad but not surprising when neither Tory’s or my names ended up in the credits on the packaging. At least they were in the credits rolled in the footage at the end of our set. It’s ours and it’s for the ages which makes me infinitely proud, maybe more than any other thing the Maritime would put out. Maybe it ties with the Bad Brains album, but it’s in the top three for sure.
This fateful evening, Keith was touring with DJ Spooky and Kutmasta Kurt and riding high on the critical and commercial success of his “Black Elvis / Lost In Space” album, which had just been released only six weeks before this show. Both Tory and I had listened to it non-stop and were well versed in its jams. On the way to the show, I mused that it would be cool if Keith actually got his hands on a life-size, mechanical replica of an alligator that he could operate remotely, a reference to a line in the song, “Maxi Curls”, where he uses the phrase “Remote Control Alligators” in its chorus. I still think that album might be the best work he’s ever made, undeniably the one that made him the most money anyway.
I suppose it was for the best that “Black Elvis” was delayed in its release by four months, originally supposed to be put out alongside the “First Come, First Served” album the previous May. Keith’s stuff in my opinion is best digested slowly. There’s a lot to take in. However, Keith was understandably pissed that the new album was delayed and encouraged his fans to contact the record company, Columbia, to complain about it. The song “Test Press” that he’d put out later was about that friction. Keith had just adopted the persona of Dr. Dooom for that previous album, literally killing off his previous persona, Dr. Octagon, in the first track. Dr. Dooom would continue to flip songs detailing his penchant for things like eating human flesh, Flintstone vitamins, and pet rodents. It was another marriage made in heaven with his collaboration with both DJ Spooky and Kurt.
But the opening act, Jimmy Luxury was a bit of a departure from your run of the mill bay area hip hop act. Jimmy had coined the term “swing-hop” and as you might have gathered, it is a mash up between swing music of the 40’s and 50’s with hip hop. He was a white fellow donning a vintage suit and fedora and to his credit, he managed to pull it off. Jimmy was new then, just releasing his first album “A Night In The Arms Of…” that year. It was a refreshing take on the swing genre, which was beginning to wane in its popularity after a big spike in interest that decade. One of Jimmy’s songs, “Love Me Cha Cha” would be used in the background during the film comedy, “Me, Myself, & Irene” with Jim Carrey, though didn’t make it to its soundtrack album.
But the night belonged to Keith and he was in fine form, possibly the best set I’ve ever seen him do live. He wore a sports jersey of some kind, maybe a football or hockey one, with the number “5” on it. His hype man had one too, but with the number “31”. I can’t say what team or who those numbers belonged to and am not really even sure what color they were. They looked red, but they might have been orange, lit red by the stage lights. So I theorize that it might have been Jeff Garcia’s from the 49ers since they were in San Francisco and Garcia had just become their new quarterback that year, wearing that number “5”. Keith also wore his rubber Elvis wig all night along with a pair of wide sunglasses and I couldn’t help but wonder how he kept from sweating profusely under that thing. I suppose it helped that he had a shaved head, but I tried wearing one of those for a Wolverine costume for Halloween a few years later and I sweated like Nixon in church.
We got to hear his usual assortment of hits from his solo stuff and the Ultramagnetic MCs, but were treated at least to one of the new songs, “Livin’ Astro”. Keith would go on to play at Palookaville in Santa Cruz the next night and at Coachella three weeks later. Tory and I were walking on air after that show. Seriously, that night meant a lot to us. Keith was and remains one of my heroes. We went to OSHA Thai on Geary for our ceremonial “victory lap” feast afterwards and had one of those meals so large, that the waitress double checked with us that we were indeed just two people eating that night. But we still finished it all. Tory was one of those few friends of mine who could go toe to toe with my insatiable appetite. As I finish writing this, I can’t help but feel a tinge of loneliness. Tory has since moved on to Colorado and we really aren’t in contact anymore. But the memory of that night with Keith sustains me and I hope it remains a happy one for him as well.
Chris Cornell, Fill., SF, Mon., September 20, 1999
SETLIST : Sunshower, Can’t Change Me, Flutter Girl, Mission, Preaching The End Of The World, Seasons, When I’m Down, Pillow Of Your Bones, Moonchild, Sweet Euphoria, Like Suicide, Follow My Way, (encore), All Night Thing, Steel Rain
After three years since my last seeing Soundgarden at the Henry J. Kaiser, I hadn’t thought about Chris Cornell till he finally resurfaced to release his first solo album, “Euphoria Mourning”. That was in fact the last show I’d see at the Kaiser which still to this day remains dormant, at least as a rock venue. Chris’ new album was so new that it was the released the day after this gig and he pronounced that this Fillmore show was their first ever! Lucky me. However, I found out that it was actually the fourth show of the tour, the previous three being in Cambridge, MA, New York City, and in D.C.
It would be his only solo record before joining Audioslave a two years later, but he’d put out a few more solo records after that band parted ways in 2007. Soundgarden had been splitsville for over two and a half years by then and Chris was wrestling with some serious personal demons as well. His marriage was falling apart and he was suffering from depression which was aggravated by his drinking. After the birth of his daughter, Lillian Jean, the following year, he’d finally divorce his first wife in 2004, but would quickly remarry to his second wife that same year. Though I’m sure this new album and tour helped, as we all know, his demons would take him down in the end and he’d take his own life in 2017. At least we’d have him around for another 18 years.
Though I wasn’t initially impressed by the songs from the new album, the majority of the material he performed that night, upon hearing them again, they grew on me. People, distracted by his superhuman voice and dashing good looks, forget how talented he was as a songwriter. There was a funny bit about the album’s title which was the now and future title, “Euphoria Mourning”. But at the time, Chris and his manager debated it thinking when one pronounces the title out loud, they hear “Morning” instead, so after much deliberation, they decided to change it to that. But afterwards, Chris realized that the first one was better and joked that the second title sounded like a “potpourri scent” and changed it back when the album was rereleased in 2015. Though it wasn’t a commercial success, selling less than 400,000 copies, it won over critics and even garnered a Grammy nomination for Best Male Rock Vocal Performance for the single, “Can’t Change Me”, the second song he played that night.
It was just an “evening with” show for Mr. Cornell and since he only had that one solo album, it was a relatively short set, making it an early night for me. Early in his set, he mentioned that the closest thing he had done to a solo show before was when he was much younger, he and Matt Cameron opened for Jonathan Richman, playing 12-string guitars, but couldn’t recall where that happened. Though like I said, most of the material was from “Euphoria Mourning”, we were treated to “All Night Thing”, a song from the Temple Of The Dog band, for the first song of his encore. Also, earlier he did “Mission” and “Seasons”, songs that he wrote for the “Mission Impossible 2” and “Singles” soundtracks respectively, and gave us one Soundgarden tune, “Like Suicide”. Technically, “Flutter Girl” was a Soundgarden song too, being an outtake from “Superunknown”.
He thanked the people of The Fillmore saying that it was only the second or third time he’d played there, but that “they treat you like a human being which is very rare.” Though I never saw Soundgarden play there or know exactly when they did, I do know they played The Warfield once in 1992 since I’d seen the poster from that night. After the show ended, Chris and his band immediately went to L.A. to play back to back shows at the Henry Fonda Theater and from there, to tour Europe for a month before returning to the States to continue playing gigs until the following March. I’m happy to report that there was a poster given away at my show that night and it was a good one. That helped make up for The Fillmore denying one to the Dance Hall Crashers for their second time headlining there two nights before this.
Dance Hall Crashers, No Use For A Name, Limp, Fill., SF, Sat., September 18, 1999
SETLIST : Go, Make Her Purr, Mr. Blue, Buried Alive, Shelley, The Real You, Next To You, Beverly Kills, My Problem, Triple Track, Enough, Cat Fight, Sticky, Everything To Lose, Good For Nothin’, Queen For A Day, Just Like That, Lost Again, (encore). Cricket, Elvis & Me, He Wants Me Back, DHC
It had actually been three long years since I heard my brother’s alma matter, the Dance Hall Crashers at Live 105’s B.F.D. at Shoreline. They were back at The Fillmore, headlining there again for the second time in their illustrious career with No Use For A Name opening for them there also for a second time. Reggae veterans Israel Vibration played the Maritime the night before, but as usual, Pete and I didn’t record them since they’d already put out a live album with our stuff, so I had that night off. This time around, DHC had Limp on the bill, who were also bay area natives. The lead singer, Phil Ensor, celebrated that fact when they took the stage and praised The Fillmore, declaring that although it was their first time performing at the venue, he had been “coming there for many, many, many, many years.” Despite their undeniable talent and that they had just released their second album, “Guitarded” that February, Limp had the unfortunate timing around then that Limp Bizkit would be at the height of their popularity. Limp was often being confused for those dingbats, though their music was radically different.
Limp had actually employed guitarist Scott Goodell to be their first drummer, one of DHC’s many former members like my brother Alex. I had seen them once opening for The Offspring at Maritime Hall the year before, but since that bill was touring with their own monitor board, we didn’t get a hook up for the multi track recording, so I took the night off and just watched that show instead. I was impressed with Limp and their frenzied energy as I was at this show. They did a rather respectful cover of Boston’s “More Than A Feeling”, although Phil did joke before playing it that they would be playing a “guessing game” with the crowd and that they were “probably not old enough” to recognize it. One cover they did, which they had also played at the Hall which certainly everybody recognized and was a crowd pleaser was “Holiday Road” by Lindsey Buckingham of Fleetwood Mac, which they saved for the end of their set. Of course, everybody on Earth knows that tune as the theme song to the seminal film comedy, “National Lampoon’s Vacation”. Limp brilliantly flew through it at first, then brought it down to a hush in the middle, getting the audience to sing the “Whoa-oh-oh-a-oh-oh” between lines, before bringing it back to a faster and faster pace, climaxing at the end. It was a brilliant cover and I certainly hope that Mr. Buckingham and all those involved with the movie have heard it at least once.
Next up was No Use For A Name, who played admirably as always, they being one of the most reliable opening acts I’d ever see. The singer, Tony Sly, recognized one of his fans up front during his set, saying he “saw you before at other shows, the Tahoe one” and he offered him a towel. Karina from DHC came up on stage and sang back up vocals on one of their songs that night as well. They also did a fun punk cover, doing Depeche Mode’s “Enjoy The Silence”, probably the best cover I’d ever heard of that moody anthem, clearly the most cheerful version of it anyway. Also, the did a breakneck paced punk cover of Bob Marley’s “Redemption Song” which I appreciated since that song is so overplayed and held with such sanctimonious regard, that it is a relief to hear it performed with such humor and upbeat optimism.
No Use For A Name was in a bit of transitional period that year. I believe this was the first show I’d see them without their lead guitarist, Chris Shiflett, who left them to join the Foo Fighters. No one can really blame him for trading up, even on the eve of No Use For A Name’s release of their new album, “More Betterness!” which came out just 17 days after this show. The Foo Fighters were huge, even back then. Thankfully, they found a replacement for Chris almost immediately with guitarist Dave Nassie, formerly of the 22 Jacks. DHC had some new songs from “Purr” album they released that year on Pink & Black Records, an off shoot of Fat Wreck Chords, owned by Fat Mike of NOFX. Years later in 2015, Karina would join NOFX as their keyboardist and back up singer. We were treated to six of their new tunes amongst their extended catalogue of hits.
Like before in 1995, it was gratifying to see them headline there in the native bay area and be surrounded by friends, family, and their long term devoted fans. Elyse asked them if they got the new album and how many folks out there owned turntables. Before they played “Shelley”, Karina asked the crowd how many of them were there at the 1995 show reminding us that No Use For A Name played with them that night too. Like them, DHC was tight, especially the Hammon brothers, Jason on guitar and Gavin on drums. Seriously, they always made it look more than easy. They make it look fun. Everybody looked like they were having the time of their lives on stage. They even played “Triple Track”, which was only 30 seconds long, that they had added to the compilation album “Short Music For Short People”. All the songs on it were around the same length, totaling 101 songs, yet still altogether being less than 50 minutes long. That has to be some kind of record, no pun intended. No Use For A Name and Limp also contributed tracks to that album. They finished their main set with “Lost Again”, though it didn’t take them long to come back on stage, brought back with the audience chanting, “DHC! DHC! DHC!” Karina joked, “That’s our name, don’t wear it out!”
But I have to admit the strongest memory of this show was the feeling of profound embarrassment I felt during their encore. They were egging on the crowd asking for requests and as usual, I screamed out “Street Sweeper!”, one of their earliest songs which they never played live anymore. But before wrapping up the night with the customary “DHC” theme song, they dusted off their golden oldie, “He Wants Me Back”. As you might recall from my previous writings about them, yours truly was brought in at the last minute to play their trumpet player in a music video of it made for a SF State film student recorded out on Ocean Beach. Karina and Elyse had invited the crowd up to sing along on stage with their impeccable voices and you can imagine the utter mortification I felt when I froze up and for the life of me and couldn’t remember the lyrics! Karina even made a point telling the crowd not to come up if they didn’t know the words. I must had heard that song a couple dozen times that day we shot the video, but that was seven years before this and I was caught by surprise to say the least.
To my defense, I was bootlegging that night as always and feared that I would get caught if I had joined them on stage under all those lights. But still, I was disappointed in missing out, especially since most people on stage with them simply danced or just sang during the song’s chorus. Naturally, the song’s lyrics came back to me as clear as crystal while they sang it. I at least enjoyed the experience vicariously through the joy of those who did manage to join them on stage and listening to the whole show while writing this fills me with mirth and gratitude that I got to see them as often as I did, even after my brother was no longer performing with them. Other than my inaction during that encore, the only regret from that show was for a second time The Fillmore shamefully didn’t give them a poster.
Crash Worship, The Master Musicians Of Jajouka, Subarachnoid Space, Maritime Hall, SF, Thurs., September 9, 1999
I couldn’t wait to see this one, especially since Pete gave the show for me to record. He had done the first time they played the Hall, strangely enough on April Fool’s Day the year before and to say that this freakish collection of pagan artists made an impression would be an understatement. They had the reputation of performing at a venue once… ONCE… then never invited back again, so having them do their thing at the Hall for a second time was fortunate. Between all the fire and various liquids splashed about all night, they make a bit of a mess. I know they left a decent sized burn mark on the dance floor from at least one of the two shows they did at the Maritime. I’m glad I caught it for several reasons, yes, but the main reason wouldn’t be revealed until the show was long over. This would be not only one of just four shows they would do that autumn, but indeed the last shows they would ever do. I know one of the four shows was at the Aztlan Theater in L.A., but the final performance of this bizarre spectacle known as Crash Worship would take place six weeks after my night in San Diego. Many members would scatter to parts unknown, but a few of their locations are not so secret. Simon Cheffins, their percussionist and effects specialist, went on to form the Extra Action Marching Band. Markus Wolff relocated to Portland, Oregon and Adam Nodelman unfortunately relocated to the afterlife, passing away in 2008 at the young age of 43, the cause of death still a mystery.
But one attraction of the show that night that most probably will never die was the opening act, The Master Musicians Of Jajouka. For over a thousand years, these guys have been carrying on the traditional music of the Jbala Sufi people of the Riff Mountains of northern Morocco, passing down their skills and knowledge of pipes and drums from father to son. At the very least, I appreciated that the Hall had booked a line up with such an eclectic roster, something that most venues woefully neglect. If the name of the these Masters sounds remotely familiar, you might be a fan of beat poetry or at least of the early works of the Rolling Stones. Let’s set the clock back a handful of decades and continue.
Once upon a time, in the 1950’s a fellow named Mohamed Hamri took it upon himself to get these guys together to play and promote them. It was blind luck that during that time, the venerable beat poet William S. Burroughs had taken residence in the area, still dealing with the fallout after accidentally slaying his wife in an urban legendary incident, performing his “William Tell act”. It was that time, he would compose the writings that would ultimately become “Naked Lunch”. But while he was in the area, he and his fellow expatriates, Brion Gysin and Paul Bowles, would encounter these musicians, Brion first hearing them at a music festival in Sidi-Karem. It is disputed who amongst the three coined their “Master Musicians” name, but it was one of them. Burroughs would cite them and the piper god Pan,“god of panic” on more than one occasion.
From there, one of the Stones’ sound people got word of them and passed it on to guitarist Brian James who immediately took a fancy, perhaps while under the influence of some of Morocco’s popular mind altering substances. Mr. Jones to his credit made a live recording of their work and published an album titled “Brian Jones Presents The Pipes Of Pan At Jajouka” which would be released in 1971, three years after Brian’s untimely “death by misadventure”. In the intervening years, the band changed hands and members, splitting the band between Bachir and Ahmed Attar and the aforementioned album would be rereleased in 1995, undoubtably reigniting interest in them. So, fast forward to 1999 and I would be lucky enough to be on the receiving end of their talent.
But before I continue, I must share a ridiculous anecdote that stuck in my head for that entire evening. Years before this show, my friend Hefe’s father had visited Morocco for some reason and had an interesting encounter on the street while there. I know this sounds like a stupid joke, but my lifelong friend swore that this is what happened. A young man approached Hefe’s dad in the street in broad daylight and asked him in a warm, friendly voice if he knew how a Moroccan pickpocket picked pockets. He said no and the young man went on to demonstrate. He said, “First he takes out his hand”, and then he showed him his hand, then said, “Then he puts it in your pocket”, then he put it in Hefe’s dad’s pocket. Then he said, “Then he takes out your wallet”, which he did and then he grinned and announced, “Then he runs away!” Well, that young man took off with Hefe’s dad’s wallet down the street and despite the pursuit Hefe’s dad made, he got away. He must have been fast since Hefe’s dad was skinny as a rail, like his son, and certainly wouldn’t have given up easily. I have to give credit to Hefe’s dad for having the humor and humility to share that story and though it might be embarrassing to him and the good people of Morocco, it makes for a funny story and worth sharing.
But as usual, I digress and must get back to the show. These Moroccans weren’t the first on stage that though, being preceded by Subarachnoid Space. They were a psychedelic improvisational group, adding to the eclectic bill that evening, and were led by a fellow named Mason Jones, no relation to Brian Jones. Let’s just say this wasn’t he kind of music one would dance to and leave it at that. What I did remember strangely enough about this act was Mason’s head. He was a stout fellow with a thick black beard and with some strikingly, abnormally pronounced wrinkles on his forehead. Even after all these years, I never forgot that. He would go on to found Charnel Records, a label specializing in experimental music such as his. Incidentally, their name is derived from a space formed by an opening in the brain that is filled with cerebrospinal fluid. Though I’m sure my father, God rest his soul, who was a neurobiologist and my father in law who is a neuropathologist would appreciate the name, I highly doubt they would be into their music.
But they were only on for about a half hour and the Jajouka boys were up next. Their sound beguiled me. I mean, I don’t want to lump them into the so-called world music thing. I always thought that phrase was sort of a cop out, but suffice to say, I hadn’t heard anything remotely like that before that night. They came out dressed in their causal, earth toned, soft clothes and traditional instruments and just started jamming. Almost immediately, their instrumental music put me in a trance, so much so, that I had to sort of snap out of it from time to time to focus on mixing them. Thankfully, the crowd shut up enough, that I could pick up what they were playing and keep them balanced. What I didn’t expect was that after their set was done, their leader, which I assume was Bachir Attar, said they were going to take a break and “have a smoke” and then return for a second set which they did. It wasn’t on the schedule for the night, but I wasn’t complaining.
As crazy and memorable as the spectacle of Crash Worship as it was, I found myself more captivated by these guys, so much so that when Pete was at the Hall again, I made him a point to play him the tape of their performance from that night, something I’d never done before with him. I thought since Pete was of that Beat generation, he’d be interested, but after five or ten minutes of it, he simply folded his arms and casually said in his gruff voice that he’d had heard enough. Still, I was honored that I had the opportunity to record them, perhaps even more than that of Crash Worship, even if that was their last show in the bay area. I was just relieved at the end of the night that they hadn’t burned the place down.
Billy Bragg & The Blokes, Freedy Johnson, Fill., SF, Sat., September 4, 1999
SETLIST : Accident Waiting To Happen, Milkman Of Human Kindness, I Guess I Planted, Eisler On The Go, Glad & Sorry, All You Fascists, Sulk, Shirley, A New England, (encore), The World Turned Upside Down, Jeane, Upfield, I Don’t Need This Pressure Ron, (encore), Walk Away Renee, Debris, Rule Nor Reason
It had only been since the previous December since I’d recorded Billy at the Maritime when he was in town doing a benefit for local dock workers, so I knew more or less what I was in for that night. He and the Blokes were playing The Fillmore this time, though they were playing the following night at Palookaville in Santa Cruz, which was booked by the folks at the Maritime then. Billy was in between volumes of the “Mermaid Avenue” albums, the Woody Guthrie revival project that he had done with Wilco, but was still singing tunes from the first album. Feel free to go back and read about it from the Maritime show. It was a big hit and I’ll leave it at that.
Billy had an interesting year in ’99 having just moved to Dorset and appearing to speak at the House Of Lords. There he sought reform for UK’s general elections, hoping to rearrange the Upper House in a manner that would more accurately reflect the result of the election, calling it the “Bragg Method”. Hopefully, people didn’t confuse it with the other Bragg Method which is a technique in which a beam of X-rays is directed against a crystal, the atoms which because of their lattice arrangement, reflect the ray in the same way as a series of plane surfaces… As luck would have it, the SPIE optics show was just in town and I usually work it every year. Makes me wonder if Billy has heard of this other method. Also that year, he had a social housing development named after him in Barking, UK called “Bragg Close”. Billy attended the opening of it, musing about his family’s history in the area and how proud he was.
Anyway, back to the show. Opening that night was songwriter Freedy Johnston. I managed to tape only one song from his set, but it was one of his hits, “Bad Reputation”. Freedy was originally from Kinsley, Kansas, but had relocated to New York City where he accumulated a respectable catalogue of songs, some finding themselves on movie soundtracks like “Things To Do In Denver When You’re Dead”, “Kingpin”, “Heavy”, and “Kicking & Screaming”. He had just released his fifth album, “Blue Days Black Nights” just six weeks before this evening.
Billy mentioned early in his set between songs, that there was a hotel workers strike going on down near Union Square and he voiced his support for them and their pursuit of a living wage before playing “I Guess I Planted”. He had veteran musician Ian McLagan from The Small Faces on keyboards that night and before they played Ian’s song, “Glad & Sorry”, Billy told a story about how fans of The Faces and The Small Faces would butt heads about which band was better, though Billy reassured both camps that Ian had been in both bands. Ian had done session work with everybody from the Stones, to Bob Dylan, Frank Black, and John Mayer just to name a few. I was lucky to have stumbled into a pub in Camden Town when I was a student in London in ’92 and catch him and his band doing a show there. I was glad to see him again, but I believe this would be this last time since he passed away in 2014.
Before he played “All You Fascists”, which Woody had written all the way back in 1941, Billy said he had been inspired to do the “Mermaid Avenue” album by The Clash whose members would write anti-fascist slogans on their instruments. But he noted that Woody was the first to do it, even before electric guitars, famously scrawling “This Machine Kills Fascists” on his acoustic and Billy joked that Woody was a Clash fan. He also gave a shout out to imprisoned activist Mumia Abu-Jamal and mentioned a rally for him at Dolores Park the following weekend with Michael Franti. The aforementioned song didn’t make it to the first “Mermaid Avenue” album, but made it to second volume and Billy always played it.
Afterwards, he took a moment to just speak to the ladies in the house to give a shout out the U.S. Women’s Soccer Team who had just won the World Cup which was met with a rousing round of applause. He joked that the guys “can go on with your silly runny runny, catchy catchy game”, but he and the ladies can go to any country and “strip off to our bra and penalty shoot out” with anybody and they didn’t have to “dress up with big pretend muscley things and tight ass trousers” or with a “crash helmet with a visor”. He then praised soccer as a game for all nations and an “extension of the socialist ideal” adding that “the World Series is not the World Cup”, before playing “Sulk”. He encouraged the men in the audience to “stop playing hackey sack” and “go for the goal!”
After the first song of the first encore, Billy mentioned that the WTO were meeting in Seattle at the end of November and as you may or may not remember, it didn’t go so well. The protesters rioted and made a mess of the place, though most came to just make their voices heard. Up until that point, I had actually been registered to vote as “anarchist”, but after that scene, I decided that my little inside joke might be a red flag to certain domestic intelligence agencies. I then changed my registration to become a member of the “Bachelor Party”, though after over seven years of matrimony, I finally got around to change it again and am now a member of the “After Party”. But if confrontational politics isn’t your thing, you might want to skip a Billy Bragg show. I remember seeing him on a double bill with Robyn Hitchcock who talks as nearly as much as Billy does between songs, though his banter is a teensy bit more scatological. But Billy isn’t an unreasonable man, he spoke of the upcoming election and of George W. Bush and would put the question to him and his people if they were compassionate and if they were, that they were welcome at his show.
But Billy wasn’t all fire and brimstone politics. He did a funny spoken word piece called “Walk Away Renee” at the beginning of his second encore and did a sentimental acoustic number, “Rule Nor Reason”, to finish the night. Though there wasn’t a poster to commemorate the gig, Billy returned to play the Fillmore the following year and he got one then. In one final note, upon hearing Billy sing again in this recording, I couldn’t help but think about just how pronounced his accent is. I mean, there are many English people who sound American and vice versa, but when you hear him, he leaves absolutely no room for doubt. It’s as almost as if he’s EXTRA English, but hey, it’s the way the good lord made him I suppose. One thing I will give him credit for, despite his heavy East London accent, Billy has excellent diction which made figuring out his set list a breeze.
Fear Factory, Static X, Dope, Maritime Hall, SF, Thurs., September 2, 1999
(STATIC X) : Stem, Sweat Of The Bud, Otsegolation, The Trance Is The Motion, I’m With Stupid, Love Dump, Push It
(FEAR FACTORY) : Shock, New Breed, Flashpoint, Zero Signal, Self Bias Resistor, Edgecrusher (with Stephen Carpenter), Scumgrief, Descent, Pisschrist, Resurrection, Demanufacture, Martyr, Scapegoat, Cars (with Koichi Fukuda), Angel Of Death (with Tom Araya), Dead Embryonic Cells / Roots Bloody Roots, Replica
It had only been eight months since Fear Factory had played the Hall with Static X opening for them, so I knew what I was in for. I would invite y’all to revisit my writings about that January show if you’re curious about more of their biographical stuff, but I’ll skip it mostly this time as not to repeat myself. This time, these two nu metal acts were touring with their own monitor board, so I wasn’t able to get a multi-track recording of them this time, but I was still able to get a stereo mix of the night. Though I didn’t save it for myself, you can find a comparable set of Static X on YouTube from a show they had played in Detroit the week before this show. Both bands had just finished a stint on the Ozzfest tour that summer. Fear Factory had been brought in to headline the second stage, replacing Judas Priest, and they were still promoting their album, “Obsolete”, from the year before, their only album to go gold.
Static X had been ridiculously busy even for rock band standards, playing over 300 shows that year alone. This time, they had the band Dope with them, the first to play that night. Dope were still pretty new, having formed in ’97 in New York City. They were appropriately named as they were shall we say amateur pharmaceutical salesmen, a side gig to help support themselves and their efforts to make music. Their frontman Edsel Dope and his brother, keyboardist Simon Dope, were friends with Marilyn Manson and his band and they would go on to release their first album, “Felons & Revolutionaries” only 12 days after this show. One of their hits from that one was an industrial metal cover of N.W.A.’s seminal hip hop classic, “Fuck Tha Police” which naturally they performed that night. They also did a cover of Dead Or Alive’s “You Spin Me Round (Like A Record)”, which would be bonus track on their album in a later pressing. Dope’s guitarist, Tripp Eisen, fed up with not getting paid royalties, would leave the band to join Static X in 2000, replacing Koichi Fukuda.
As I had mentioned in the show they did the previous January, I would see Static X and their frontman, Wayne Static, one more time three years later when they played the Warfield with Soulfly and then Wayne would succumb to a drug overdose in 2014 and die in his sleep. What I didn’t know until recently was that his wife, adult film star Tera Wray, would die just a year afterwards, tragically taking her own life. Static X however did reform in 2019 and toured celebrating the 20th anniversary of their album, “Wisconsin Death Trip” with an unidentified vocalist wearing a gruesome “Michael Myers” style mask that looked suspiciously like Wayne calling himself “Xer0”. Some people have speculated that it was Edsel Dope who was the masked singer, despite Edsel denying it to this day. Dope would go on to have several line up changes over the years, including 7 different drummers, though I believe this was the only time I ever saw them.
There were several guests of note appearing on stage with Fear Factory that night starting with Stephen Carpenter, the guitarist of the Deftones, who joined them for the song “Edgecrusher”. Then, the aforementioned Koichi Fukuda joined them for their cover of Gary Numan’s “Cars”. But the big surprise came later when none other than Tom Araya, the bassist and vocalist of Slayer, took the stage with them to do Slayer’s unforgettable metal classic “Angel Of Death”. Rest assured, the pit went bananas for that one. Coincidentally, I had just seen Slayer’s drummer, Dave Lombardo, perform with Testament at The Fillmore only five days before this show. Fear Factory also did a cover of “Dead Embryonic Cells / Roots Bloody Roots” by Sepultura, the second to last song of their set. I’d see Fear Factory play one more time five years later at The Warfield with Lamb Of God and Children Of Bodom, but that would be for the last time for me.
GZA, Dr. Israel, The Deadbeats, Ginseng Root, Maroon Descendants, Maritime Hall, SF, Sun., August 29, 1999
SETLIST : Reunited, Publicity, 4th Chamber, Duel Of Da Iron Mic, Bring The Ruckus, Clan In Da Front, Dreddy Krueger (Freestyle), Prodigal Son (Freestyle), Labels, Liquid Swords, Living In The World 2Day, Cold World, Beneath The Surface, Mic Trippin, String Play, Hip Hop Fury, Crash Your Crew, Breaker Breaker, Triumph, Older Godz, GZ (Freestyle), Gold, Killah Hills 10304, Breaker Breaker (Remix) Outro
This was one of those rare and bittersweet occasions where all these years down the road, I find another album. Yes, once again, in doing research for this show, I found that our stuff was good enough to steal. Now, to be clear, this was an unofficial release, a bootleg with no label of any kind, so I won’t be pointing fingers at any suspected guilty people. I found it on Discogs and Mixunit and am currently awaiting the CD of it in the mail, but I can say with almost absolute certainty that my name won’t be listed in the credits, if there are any, which I sincerely doubt. But Mixunit at least allowed me to sample snippets of each song and clearly it’s my stuff. There’s no way this was somebody in the balcony with a portable set. The vocal and audience mics are way too clear for that. And yes, this is MY stuff. Pete had never had any interest in rap acts and left them all to me ever since Run DMC played at the Hall over two years before this. But if he knew of GZA’s talent and reputation he might have reconsidered leaving this one to me.
This would be the first time I’d see the one and only Mr. Gary Eldridge Grice. I had the honor of recording fellow Wu Tang Clan alumni, Ol’ Dirty Bastard and Method Man, on separate occasions the year before at the Maritime, but I wouldn’t see the Wu Tang Clan altogether until three years later at The Fillmore. GZA mentioned during the show that people were always asking him when they’d get together again and he assured them that it would be soon. I would soon discover that “The Genius” was a name well earned by this artist. To this day, I still struggle to conjure up any names in hip hop that are on the level of GZA’s lyrical mastery. But as usual, I knew jack shit about him at the time. Shortly after this night, I mentioned the show to my friend Drew and he kicked me down a copy of his platinum selling “Liquid Swords” album, which I loved immediately. That one came out in ’95 and continues to be a seminal masterpiece of the genre.
Along with his cousin RZA and ODB, GZA formed the Clan initially as a three man trio in 1992. He had dropped out of school in the 10th grade and worked briefly as a bike messenger before Wu Tang took off. His lack of formal education obviously didn’t hinder his vocabulary, not to mention his renowned ability to play chess. The last time I saw him, a few years ago at The Independent, a fan in the front row even brought a portable chess set and played a game with GZA while he performed, though they didn’t have enough time to finish the game when the encore came to an end. Maybe they finished it backstage later. Anyway, by the time of this show, GZA’s third solo album, “Beneath The Surface”, the title a reference to his “underground” roots among other things I’m sure, had been out for only a couple months. Not as critically and commercially successful as “Liquid Swords”, it nonetheless quickly went gold. It was a pretty packed house that night and there were plenty of chants of “Wu Tang!” before GZA took the stage as well as after his set ended. I don’t remember much from the openers, but Maroon Descendants had just played the Hall that June opening up for Rahzel.
GZA was accompanied by a trio of rappers, Allah Mathematics, Dreddy Kruger, and Prodigal Sunn. Mathematics had been one of the founding member of Wu Tang and had taken to producing by then, including the aforementioned “Beneath The Surface” album. Prodigal Sunn did a little acting on the side, even appearing in an episode of “Sex & The City”. Near the end of their set, they teased the audience, “If y’all want us to go home, be quiet!” Naturally, everybody made noise and they continued. At the end of the show, the soundman played “Steppin’ Out” by Steel Pulse over the speakers as the crowd dispersed. Earlier in the set between songs, GZA warned people not to trust record labels and as much as I feel a little burned by the bootleg album coming out, I’m just glad it came out at all, label or not. Seriously, when I found about it, I felt a great swell of pride, something I hadn’t felt since I discovered Public Enemy used one of my songs. I can go anywhere on this planet, hold my head up high, and boast about this album in a loud, steady voice. There isn’t a hip hop fan on Earth worth their salt that hasn’t heard of Wu Tang.
Testament, The Haunted, Fill., SF, Sat., August 28, 1999
SETLIST : D.N.R. (Do Not Resuscitate), Down For Life, Demonic Refusal, Low, Burnt Offerings, Into The Pit, 3 Days Of Darkness, Eyes Of Wrath, Legions Of The Dead, Riding The Snake, True Believer, Over The Wall, (encore), Dog Faced Gods, Disciples Of The Watch
It always feels good to hear some genuine bone fide bay area thrash metal music in its home, or at least home region since they were originally from Berkeley. Needless to say, there were plenty and familiar faces in the crowd for these guys. It had been a transitional period for Testament having just parted ways with both their bass and lead guitarists, Derrick Ramirez and Glen Alvelais, as well as Jon Dette on drums. Their old guitarist James Murphy rejoined the band, along with Death bassist Steve Di Giorgio and Slayer drummer Dave Lombardo for their new album, “The Gathering”, though the last two were switched out for the touring band by Steve Smyth and Steve Jacobs. Dave was on drums that night though, which was fortunate. Probably the only show they did with him back then here, at least the only San Francisco show anyway. I guess Jacobs joined the band later. Finally, Jon Allen would take over for Jacobs the following year. Suffice to say, they’ve had more ex-members than Menudo. This new album would be the only one Lombardo would do with Testament, though he just rejoined the band just last year since Slayer called it quits in 2019 (allegedly, I’ll believe that when they’re all in their cold, cold graves and even then maybe). Word is Testament’s working on a new one, so I might get another shot.
Singer Chuck Billy would be diagnosed with a very rare form of cancer shortly after this tour and would undergo chemo that thankfully cured him of it and I’m happy to say that he’s alive and well today. Nothing can take down that hairy hulk of a man, tougher than Chewbacca. On a much less perilous bit of bad news, the Maritime had put on the “Thrash Of The Titans” show to help pay for his medical bills in 2001, but I didn’t get to record that one since it was after Pete and I got the heave ho from there. Wade, the main recording guy clearly wanted that one and I can’t say I blame him. That was a who’s who of bay area metal that night. In another terrible turn of events, James Murphy was diagnosed with a brain tumor around then too, but likewise was able to get it treated early and made a full recovery. But I digress.
I had seen Testament at The Fillmore before back in 1995. That was a profound honor since I would discover that night because the show was being recorded for the “Live At The Fillmore” album. But this being just a normal gig for them this time, still to me, is always an honor to see them or any metal show at The Fillmore. The venue elevates the genre and its graceful ambience makes a curious juxtaposition to the bombastic music and crowd. Rough as they are, the fans don’t make a mess of the place, at least no worse than fans of any other genre of music. Incidentally, I’ve always admired Testament’s hair. There’s a forest of well kept locks up there with them and it being August must get pretty hot. Makes sense that most of them wear shorts on stage. Dave’s hair was short then, but then again he was only only in the band briefly.
Pissing Razors was originally supposed to open for Testament that night, but they were replaced by The Haunted from Gothenburg, Sweden for some reason. They were still pretty new back then, having just released their debut, self titled album the year before this. Like Testament, The Haunted were as loud as fuck, so the recording came out nice and clear. Damn, their singer, Peter Dolving, could yell. Makes my throat sore just listening to him. I was lucky to see him then though since he’d quit the band shortly after this gig along with their drummer Adrian Erlandsson. Though Peter would return back to the band in 2004, he’d leave again in 2012. The other band members had been in At The Gates and they played one of their songs that night.
All night, Chuck sang into his mic, still attached to the top half of his mic stand, like Freddie Mercury. He’d carry the thing about like a riding crop and frequently would pantomime guitar playing on it. After they finished “Into The Pit”, Chuck praised their new album saying it was some of the best stuff they’d ever done and then brought up a handful of heshers who had won some kind of contest. He let these young headbangers sing along to “3 Days Of Darkness” commanding them to sing louder than all us motherfuckers. Testament were tight that show, heavy as it gets. They gave Dave a drum solo near the end of their set and he was impressive, one of the best metal drummers ever in my opinion.
The crowd repeatedly chanted “Testament!” during the encore break until they came out again and Chuck introduced the band. He praised northern California for the quality of our weed, lamenting how awful it was everywhere else, then finished the night with “Dog Faced Gods” and “Disciples Of The Watch”. I’m sad to say that this was the last time I’d seen Testament, but like I said they’re still around and I hope I get another chance. Maybe if they do The Fillmore again, they’ll finally get a poster. Third time’s a charm I hope.
Steve Earle & The Bluegrass Dukes, Fill., SF, Wed., August 25, 1999
Steve was yet another one of those artists that I knew I should have known by then, but shamefully hadn’t seen, so I was eager to catch this show. He’d been making music since the 1970’s and I was impressed by “Copperhead Road” when I heard him play a live version of it on TV once, though the show it was on escapes me. We were still in the midst of the “Alt-Country” scene, where older veterans like Johnny Cash, Willie Nelson, and Merle Haggard were getting accolades from young fans and young musicians alike. It wasn’t the over-polished Nashville scene, though Steve had done plenty of work there. He and the other vets had gone on to influence guys like Wilco, Uncle Tupelo, and The Jayhawks. However, Steve hit a rough patch a few years before this show, falling into addiction to cocaine and heroin, leading to him getting busted and going to jail for a couple months. But he went into treatment and is thankfully clean to this day.
Steve had just released his 8th studio album that February, “The Mountain”, his first album entirely dedicated to bluegrass music. He had been backed by Del McCoury and his sons, Ronnie and Robbie, for that album, but I don’t think they were in his road band that night. Dedicated to mandolin virtuoso Bill Monroe, who had just passed away three years before this, the new album brought him critical success, garnering him a Grammy nomination for Best Bluegrass album. Tim O’Brien who had contributed backing vocals on that album was with Steve on stage that night. Tim had been in a band called Hot Rize for years before this and his fellow bandmate, Charles Sawtelle, just passed away that March. Tim had also just started his own record label that year called Howdy Skies Records. Venerable hippie legend Peter Rowan had also joined the band that night on stage.
He looked good that night, in shape. Steve was only 44 years old when I’d see him here. Though professionally things were looking up for him, it was a solemn time for Steve as well, since he had just witnessed the execution of Jonathan Nobles the year before, a death row inmate that he had befriended. He would go on to write “Over Yonder (Jonathan’s Song)” during this time, but it wouldn’t be released until the following year on the “Transcendental Blues” album. He remains a vocal opponent to the death penalty to this day as well as various other liberal causes. Steve would go on to play at Farm-Aid less than three weeks after this show.
Bluegrass music was a good fit for Steve clearly and his new interest in the genre would pay off in the long run. He would soon become chums with billionaire Warren Hellman who would be the founder of the annual Hardly Strictly Bluegrass festival in Golden Gate Park in 2001, though Steve wouldn’t begin playing at it until 2002. But rest assured, Steve would be there with bells on for every year afterwards, playing on the main Banjo stage at the end of one of the days all those weekends. God knows how many times I would see him there, though apart from an in-store performance he would do at Amoeba Records ten years later, this is the only time I’d see him indoors at one of his own shows. Still, it was a good one and I’m glad it was loud enough so the usual bluegrass fans’ jibber jabber didn’t distract me too much. Sadly, there was no poster that night.
Ministry, L7, War., SF, Sun., August 22, 1999
SETLIST : Reload, Crumbs, Psalm 69, Filth Pig, Eureka Pile, So What, Bad Blood, Just One Fix, N.W.O., Deity, Hero, Thieves, (encore), Supermatic Soul, Jesus Built My Hotrod, Lava, Supernaut
It’s no secret that I was into practically any of the bands that were on the Lollapalooza tours back in those days and this show had two of their hallowed alumni, Ministry who played on that bill in 1992 and L7 two years after them. I had heard a rumor that L7 was favored to be on the ’92 tour, but got sidelined for some reason. I remember distinctly hearing their album, “Bricks Are Heavy” being played during set changes that year at Shoreline. But like I said, they were finally brought in for the 1994 tour, which like the ’92 tour, had an excellent lineup, one of the best I’d ever witness. So, then five years after that, these two titan headbanging acts would team up making it a show I simply couldn’t allow myself to miss.
Little did I know that both bands would be hitting such a rough patch around this time. Al Jourgensen had grown depressed after the release of the “Filth Pig” album three years before and was helplessly sinking further into drug addiction. Their touring guitarist, William Tucker, just killed himself earlier that year, eating a bunch of pills before cutting his own throat and Ministry dedicated their latest album to him. Just released two months before this show, Al the and the band were touring in support of their hilariously named “Dark Side Of The Spoon” album, which despite getting a Grammy nomination for its single “Bad Blood” for Best Metal Performance which also made it on the soundtrack for the blockbuster film, “The Matrix”, that year, was given a less than enthusiastic review from the critics and fans. To make matters worse, Kmart pulled the album over its cover which was the back view of a naked fat lady sitting in front of a blackboard with “I will be god” written repeatedly on it. I’m not half as surprised that Kmart pulled it as much as the idea that one would find a Ministry album in that store in the first place. Ministry would be dropped from Warner the following year and poor Al even had to have a toe amputated when it got infected after he accidentally stepped on a discarded hypodermic needle. Then, they were dropped off the lineup for Ozzfest, being replaced by Soulfly. If that wasn’t bad enough, Al nearly lost his arm the year after that when he got bitten by a poisonous spider. Yeah, there are folks with problems, then there are folks with Al Jourgensen problems.
L7 was having a tough time as well then, though not nearly as life threatening. They had just replaced their bassist, Jennifer Finch, a couple years prior to this with Greta Brinkman very briefly, then to be quickly replaced by Gail Greenwood from Belly. Then they would replace Gail for this tour with Janice Tanaka from Stone Fox. Like Ministry, L7 also were dropped from their major label, Reprise, and their new album, “Slap-Happy” also wasn’t fairing well critically or commercially. In a miracle of coincidence, rapper KRS-One, who had just become the vice president of A & R at Reprise that year, I had just help record at the Maritime the night before this show. Good thing I didn’t know about L7 getting dropped then. I might have had mentioned it to KRS-One and caused some friction, well, more friction than there was already between him and the Hall.
One fun fact though, the photography for their new album was done by none other than actor Viggo Mortensen, yes Aragorn himself. I swear, that guy always keeps you guessing. The month before this show, the band played a prank at the Lilith Fair in Pasadena, which they shamefully weren’t invited to, and flew a plane over the show sporting a banner that read, “Bored? Tired? Try L7” and the following day they flew another plane over the Warped Tour in Asbury Park, New Jersey, with a banner saying, “Warped needs more beaver… love, L7”. One could call those cries for help, but I would argue that the band wasn’t getting the recognition they deserved. Seriously, both festivals would have been lucky to have them.
All this ultimately would lead to L7 to go on hiatus in 2001 and wouldn’t reunite for another fourteen long years. In fact, this show would be the last time I’d see them until they played at the Folsom Street Fair a full twenty years after I saw them at this one. It actually shocked me to learn it had been that long since I’d seen them play when I looked them up again in my archive list. However, I did catch Jennifer Finch with her band Otherstarpeople open for Echo & The Bunnymen at the Maritime that October and saw Donita Sparks with her solo band, The Stellar Moments, open for The Donnas at the Great American Music Hall in 2007. L7 drummer, Demetra Plakas was touring with Donita in that band as well. Another fun fact, the year after this show, guitarist Suzi Gardner would become the first woman to have her breasts plaster-casted by none other than Cynthia Plaster-Caster, the artist renown for casting plaster impressions of rock’s most famous… shall we say… members.
And I’m glad to say Al pulled himself out of his rut eventually and by the inexplicable grace of Cthulhu is somehow still with us to this very day. I think he was partially motivated, like so many of us then, to come back to life in order to help resist against George W. Bush and his regime. God, Al hated that man. Thankfully, I would go on to see Ministry several times since, including just before the pandemic when they were on the bill for Slayer’s final tour. But despite all the problems both bands were enduring then, it was still a fun filled show. It’s a foregone conclusion that it was loud as hell and it was equally a safe bet that the mosh pit up front was nuts. Pity there was no poster that night to commemorate this momentous pairing of bands.
KRS-One, Various Artists (Truck Turner, I-Born, Thor-El), Frisco Crew & B.A.A.C., Maritime Hall, SF, Sat., August 21, 1999
There had been enough water under the bridge for KRS-One to return to the Hall after the legal stuff was settled over his, (e-hem), unauthorized usage of our recordings in his previous album, “I Got Next”. Seeing that he liked our recordings enough to steal them, Pete stuck around to record this one, perhaps hoping Mr. Lawrence “Kris” Parker would use our stuff again. But it didn’t happen. At least it was nice to have Pete around to take the helm at the end of the night after letting me record the openers. Like I said from the show the night before, this would be the last weekend Pete would come in to record anything at the Hall apart from the Pavement shows the following October. And as leery as we were to have the offending Mr. Parker back at the Maritime, it was at least a welcome antidote to all the hippie music we heard the night before with the David Nelson Band. But the one thing KRS-One had in common with Mr. Nelson was that this show was also announced late and wasn’t listed on the Hall’s monthly poster.
It was just two days after KRS-One’s 33rd birthday. I learned researching this show that his stage name isn’t just a play on his nickname, Kris, but also an acronym for “Knowledge Reigns Supreme Over Nearly Everyone”, a fun fact I didn’t catch before. The acronym does beg the question on who are the ones that knowledge’s reign misses. Maybe I’ll ask him that if I ever get another chance to meet him in the future. It was kind of a weird time for KRS-One. On top of his extensive performing and recording, he took it upon himself to also pick up the moniker of vice president of A & R at Reprise Records. He’d end his relationship with Jive Records the following year, shelving the release of his “Maximum Strength” album for nearly a decade, and ultimately also leaving his position at Reprise the year after that. He did manage to get one song, “5 Boroughs”, on the soundtrack for the film, “The Corruptor”, an action flick starring Chow Yun-Fat and Mark Wahlberg.
Speaking of movies, one of the openers, Truck Turner, took his name from a movie, a 1974 blaxploitation film starring Isaac Hayes and Yaphet Kotto. I’ll have to check that one out someday, the poster from it looked pretty bad ass. Though I have seen “The Corruptor”, I thought it was disappointing. Chow Yun-Fat was trying to break through to American audiences after “Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon” and never quite pulled it off. Anyway, I don’t remember much from the other openers. I’d see KRS-One one more time live three years later playing with Michael Franti at his “9/11 Power To The Peaceful” gig in Golden Gate Park, but this would be the last time he’d be recorded at the Hall. The following night, I would once again be making a musically stylistic drastic left turn and catch Ministry with L7 at The Warfield. Coincidentally, L7 had just been dropped that year from Reprise which makes me can’t help but wonder if KRS-One had anything to do with it.
The David Nelson Band, Legion Of Mary, Maritime Hall, Fri., August 20, 1999
This hippie bill got my partner Pete out of the woodwork to record once again. As I had written many times before, he’d grown disillusioned with the Hall and the shenanigans of its cruel owner, Boots, but he reluctantly showed up for this show and KRS-One the following night. I remember he wanted to at least attempt that he was making a bit of an effort and still cared. Third Eye Blind played the night before at the Hall with the Afghan Whigs opening, but we didn’t record that, though I can’t rightly recall why. Either I was working elsewhere or the band simply didn’t want the show taped. Whatever the case was, I’m eternally grateful I didn’t have to endure that awful band led by that insufferable, pompous dickweed Stephen Jenkins, but I did like the Whigs though. This hippie show was announced late, so it didn’t appear on the monthly poster.
A very different scene at the Hall from that show though from the night before. These were old school hippies, starting with the Legion Of Mary, the former side band of Jerry Garcia and Merl Saunders which played originally between the years of 1971 and 1975. Though neither of them were in that band anymore, they had the ever-present Martin Fiero from Zero on saxophone. Seriously, there was no escaping that guy back in those days. I’d rather not try to count how many times I’d seen Zero up till then. The Legion Of Mary had already played the Hall only two months before at the Hall opening for Buddy Guy and also for Little Feat there the previous October. Coincidentally, I had also seen David Nelson open for Little Feat at the Fillmore back in 1995 as well as had once previously help record him with Pete opening for Merl Saunders & His Rainforest Band back in 1997.
So, yes, the music was familiar that night. David had been a founding member of the hippie band, The New Riders Of The Purple Sage, who would pen one of the most renowned hippie anthems, “Panama Red”, and naturally they dusted that one off for that show, near the end I think. This would be the last time I’d see David play a whole set, though I think I caught him once or twice at Hardly Strictly Bluegrass after I stopped bootlegging. David often showed up to those. He is as of today alive and well at the age of 79, though Martin and Pete have since passed. After that weekend, Pete would only come in to run the recording room for the Pavement shows the following October and that was only because he had to since I had work with the union later those nights. I still regret to this day not getting to record that band, though I was able to stick around long enough those gigs to record their opener, Calexico, who I really admire. Still, it was good for Pete to hear some newer music, even if it was to be the last ones for him and Pavement won him over in the end, but I’ll get to those shows later when I get to October.
The Brian Setzer Orchestra, BR5-49, War., SF, Wed., August 18, 1999
SETLIST : Hawaii Five-O, Hoodoo Voodoo Doll, This Cat’s On A Hot Tin Roof, Let The Good Times Roll, Guitar Rag, Let’s Live It Up, Gloria, The Dirty Boogie, Drive Like Lightning (Crash Like Thunder), Sleep Walk, Stray Cat Strut, Jump Jive & Wail, ’49 Mercury Blues, (Every Time I Hear) That Mellow Saxophone, Rumble In Brighton, (encore), Rock This Town, (encore), Die Moritat Von Mackie Messer (Mack The Knife), Jumpin’ East Of Java, Malaguena, Brand New Cadillac
This show was a long time coming for me. As little as I knew growing up about music, I at least recognized the contribution of one Mr. Brian Robert Setzer and his old band, The Stray Cats. With their smash hit, “Rock This Town”, that song would haunt me for years and still does. I’m ashamed to say it always would pop into my head every single time I’d see war footage on TV of America blowing up stuff. I know I’ll have to answer for that in the afterlife and who knows, maybe Setzer will too. For some reason, perhaps it was his signature Teddy Boy look, but I always thought he was English. He was actually a New Yorker from Long Island and would often perform at the Christmas tree lighting ceremony at Rockefeller Center.
Brian was back on top with his latest hit, “Jump, Jive, & Wail” from the third album, “The Dirty Boogie”, which had come out the year before this. I know I’d said before that the whole swing music fad was in its decline around this time, but upon re-examining this show, I will recant and proclaim that Brian was the an astronomically huge exception. In fact, that hit remains the biggest song to ever come out of that brief movement, so ubiquitous that I’d be subjected to it constantly during the corporate events I’d work for years. Santana’s “Smooth” would dethrone it as the mainstay company anthem eventually and the Black Eyed Peas’ “Let’s Get It Started” would take that mantle shortly afterwards. Little did I, nor I think most people would know that Brian’s big hit was actually a cover from Louis Prima, one of swing’s most talented founders. That cover of his would earn Brian a Grammy for Best Pop Performance By A Duo Or Group With Vocals and another song on that album, “Sleep Walk” would win the Grammy for Best Pop Instrumental Performance.
It was Brian’s time to shine and he was at the height of his game. This show was the first of two days he had at The Warfield and the house was filled with all sorts of folks in vintage clothing doing their fancy swinging dance moves, the women all dolled up in liberty curls. It was a nostalgia crowd to be sure and though this would be the only time I’d see Brian perform, I’d never forget around that time seeing him on some thing on MTV and being taunted by Johnny Lydon from the Sex Pistols. Johnny gave him a calendar for a present to “remind him what year it was”. Typical Johnny, that smart ass. One should at least give Brian credit for cashing in big time on songs in public domain. But like many notable acts I’d see that year, Brian made the unfortunate decision to play at Woodstock ’99 only a little more than three weeks before this gig and like everyone else involved in that catastrophe, I’m sure he was eager to put that memory behind him.
Opening that night was BR5-49, a genuine, old timey, honkytonk band from Nashville. They would return to town the following year, being one of the only acts I’d record at the Maritime after my partner Pete’s unceremonious sacking in November. There, I’d learn that their name was derived from the phone number used by a used car dealer in a recurring sketch on “Hee Haw”. Founding member, Chris Scruggs, is actually the grandson of Earl Scruggs, the banjo virtuoso who did the legendary theme song for “The Beverly Hillbillies”. Though I’d record them the following year at the Hall, they didn’t use any of my stuff since they’d release a live album called “Coast To Coast” that year from a variety of dates from touring. These guys had talent, not just with their instruments, but with their three part harmonies. That’s not easy to do and I remember they were nice gents as well.
Regardless of what people think about swing music, Mr. Setzer’s operation is an impressive one. I mean, that’s a 15 piece band he wrangles up there, 5 of which are saxophone players. I don’t think people give Brian enough credit for his well honed chops on guitar too. He strolled out in his suede creepers with 2 inch soles to begin the show, wearing a dark purple suit adorned with silver dollar sized 5 point stars, though he’d eventually strip down to his wife beater shirt by the end of the main set, exposing his tattoo laden arms. Brian was packing a shiny, matching, dark purple Gretsch guitar and his horn players donned pink dinner jackets, black pants, and black bowling shirts with Brian’s logo stitched on them. Their music stands had little lamps hidden and shining inside little plastic skulls. Before they began, they played a recording of the old 1950’s TV jingle for Chevrolet, “See The USA In Your Chevrolet” sung by Dinah Shore, then he orchestra opened with the classic TV instrumental theme song to “Hawaii 5-0”. As luck would have it, I’d just help record The Ventures, the original authors of that theme, at the Maritime only five months before this night.
We were actually lucky the Warfield shows happened at all since Brian had been suffering vocal cord problems then, causing him to cancel a few shows earlier on the tour. Thankfully, that wasn’t the case that night and he sounded fine, allowing him to play a satisfying set, naturally revisiting a couple of The Stray Cats big hits like “Stray Cat Strut” and the aforementioned “Rock This Town” which they played for their first encore. They also did a cover of Henry Mancini’s seminal instrumental theme to “The Pink Panther”, followed by the inevitable “Jump, Jive, & Wail”. Brian did give a nod to the locals during “Rumble In Brighton”, replacing the lyric with “Rumble in San Francisco” and “Rumble on the bay tonight”. For his second encore, Setzer came out wearing a glittery pink shirt and regaled the crowd with lively paced rendition of the Kurt Weill tune, “Mack The Knife”, from his “Three Penny Opera”. Sadly, most folks were familiar with that song around that time from the haunting 1988 McDonald’s commercial with that piano player with the giant moon head. I still shutter when I think about it. That commercial is infinitely more disturbing than that song’s macabre lyrics. Anyway, he finished the night with a rousing swing cover of The Clash’s “Brand New Cadillac”, but sadly there was no poster at the end of the gig.
Luciano, Ivory Coast Stars, Mishka, Maritime Hall, SF, Sat., August 14, 1999
It had been only five months since Mr. Jepther Washington McClymont, AKA Luciano, graced the Hall with his melodious voice and Pete decided to let me have the reins of the recording room this time around. I guess the show was just added at the last minute since it wasn’t listed on the monthly poster. Luciano was bringing once again his brand of pious rastafarianism to the pot filled, smoky cavern of the Maritime. I had written about him before, but I learned this time around that he got his stage name from his friends comparing him to Luciano Pavarotti, the world famous Italian opera singer. He was a little pudgy too, but nowhere near Pavarotti’s well known rotundness. I also learned that before he became a professional singer, he worked for a time as an upholsterer.
Luciano had just parted ways with his longtime producer, Philip “Fatis” Burrell that year. In a completely unrelated and frankly bit out of left field thing, Luciano also received the “Key To Kansas City” that year as well. Seriously, one doesn’t particularly associate reggae with that town, especially serious roots reggae like his, but hey, whatever. It’s encouraging nonetheless. I remember the opening act, Mishka, was pretty good. He was from Bermuda by way of Nova Scotia where he was born and where is mom was from. Interesting guy. His uncle was actually the puppeteer who created Miss Piggy from “The Muppets” and Mishka was also an accomplished champion windsurfer. Though this would be the last time I’d see him or the Ivory Coast Stars, I’d get to see Luciano again three years later playing at the Warfield for the Bob Marley Day show with Mikey General who he had played with at the Hall the aforementioned show at the Maritime the previous March. He’d return to play the Warfield again only three months later in 2002 for the One Love Festival with Dean Fraser who had also been at that show in March.
Hothouse Flowers, Donal Lunny’s Coolfin, Maritime Hall, SF, Thurs., August 12, 1999
I had been mostly unaware of San Francisco’s extensive Irish community by then, but had since grown familiar with some of them when I relocated to the Outer Sunset. Suffice to say, there’s a lot of them out there and many of those from the Emerald Isle and their kin found their way to the Maritime that night to catch a couple of venerable acts. Kool Keith was supposed to play the night before this with DJ Spooky at the Hall, but that show got postponed until the following September. Anyway, I had heard the name of the Hothouse Flowers before, mostly because I’d seen their name on a rather striking, bright red, cartoonish poster at the Fillmore from a show they headlined back in 1989 before the big quake shut it down. The Indigo Girls opened for them on that one, those women being fairly new back then.
The Flowers were new back then as well, but got big fast. Bono from U2 discovered the two leads in that band busking on the streets in Dublin back in ’88 and quickly signed them to his label, Mother Records, which led to a deal with London Records. From there, their first album, “People”, would become the most successful debut album in Irish history. Their newfound stardom would ultimately burn them out, causing them to disband in 1994, but they reformed the year before this show and left London Records when their contract expired the following year. Not that I would have known it, but these guys were huge in Ireland, stadium big. In fact, they had just released a live album recorded at their National Stadium in Dublin, so the chances they would use anything I recorded that night were hopelessly slim. Still, they had a pretty full house at the Hall that evening.
Though the show had been originally billed on the monthly poster as “An Evening With” the Hothouse Flowers, there was in fact an opening band that night, Donal Lunny’s Coolfin. Mr. Lunny was a veteran musician, having been performing since the late 60’s. He was 52 years old when he played the Hall that night. Mainly playing traditional Irish instrumental music, Donal would strum left handed on a Irish bouzouki, similar to the original ones from Greece. Coolfin was one of many musical collaborations he had assembled in his long career and the musicians he brought along with him were excellent. He had a drummer, keyboardist, fiddle player, and fellow named John McSherry playing the Uilleann Pipes, a sort of Irish bagpipe contraption he’d monkey with while sitting.
John would also play a whistle for a couple songs as well and he would lend his talents to the album Donal put together under the Coolfin banner. Also playing on that album and joining them on stage that night would be Sharon Shannon, though she had left the tour briefly to do some shows in London before this. Sharon would also sit on stage that night, she playing fiddle and also accordion and a whistle occasionally. I thought Sharon was pretty cute actually and I caught her grinning when she caught sight of her image on the giant screens. I didn’t catch all the song titles they played, but I do know that did “The Green Fields Of Glentown”, “The Swedish Jig”, “Spanish Point”, “Blackbird”, “Kickdancer”, and “Costa De Glacia”. As a couple of those names imply, Donal and the gang would tinge their Irish style with accents of other lands, like Spain, Sweden, but also Moldavia, “Moldavian Tripych”, on one of the songs he did on the album, though he didn’t play it that night. He needed Marta Sebestyen to be there to sing it and she wasn’t on the tour with them.
What made this show particularly memorable, at least for me, was that Donal and his people would join the Flowers on stage at the end of the night to play alongside them. I mean all of them were up there, both band’s instruments at once, making it the largest band I even had to mix together, save perhaps for James Brown and his vast army of musicians. There had to be at least 45 inputs to wrangle leaving me scrambling to put figure out how to cram them all into 24 tracks, 16 being dedicated to single instruments and two of those were for audience mics. Somehow I pulled it off and my mix wasn’t a complete disaster.
This would be the only time I’d see either bands, but I’m sad to say that Donal was in the news this year for something unthinkably tragic. He had been romantically involved with Sinead O’Connor a few years after this show and they sired a son together, who they named Shane. The relationship between Donal and Sinead however soured causing them not only to break up, but for Sinead to lose custody of Shane in 2013. The poor kid would go on to suffer from depression and ultimately take his own life last January at the young age of 17. The blow hurt Sinead so badly, that she would be hospitalized when she too would threaten to take her own life. Thankfully, she didn’t do it, but it goes without saying that she hasn’t been the same since and surely Donal hasn’t been either.
Moby, Boom Boom Satellites, Maritime Hall, SF, Tues., August 10, 1999
Every once and I while, I get to see a show of great importance, and my appreciation of these shows doesn’t always emerge right away. Moby had been around for years and was a regular in the electronic dance music scene. I would go so far to proclaim him one of its pioneering founders, but I never really swung with that crowd. Moby also was no stranger to SF, having lived there briefly when he was a boy, as well as being part of the aforementioned rave scene which would clandestinely invade warehouses all over the bay area late at night to do their thing. I was never in the know about these things back then and frankly was too preoccupied with other shows that didn’t go on so late into the wee hours. I may have been young back then, but I still had to work in the morning.
The worm was finally turning for Mr. Richard Melville Hall. Though prolific and hard working, at 33 years of age, he was growing weary of not breaking through with his music but that would all change upon the release of his fifth album, “Play”. He had even considered giving up music entirely if it wasn’t a hit and would go back to school to study architecture. To make matters worse, his mother died of lung cancer just before he started recording it. Not to say that “Play” took off right away, it didn’t. Sales were sluggish in the beginning and it didn’t help that the first gig he would do promoting it would be to a mere 40 people in the basement of Virgin Megastore in New York. And if that wasn’t bad enough, the first official show of the tour would be at the catastrophic Woodstock 99’ Festival. That disaster had only taken place three weeks before this night.
The good news was as the tour went on and more and more people were exposed to his new material, word caught on. Before everyone knew it, practically every song on that album started turning up in all manner of mainstream film soundtracks, TV shows, and commercials. When the smoke cleared, Moby had sold over 12 million copies of that album and garnered himself a Grammy nomination. Of coarse, there were no shortage of detractors from his rave community that accused him of selling out and I’m sure there are still plenty of those folks still harboring that grudge to this day. But “Play” was in a category unto itself. Moby had plenty of diverse musical influences from punk to country to soul, you name it. He even once sang vocals for Flipper for a couple gigs. Perhaps he took a page from Beck, mixing up hip hop with these various styles, but what the hell, it worked. Seriously, listening through it now, it’s hard to deny its genius.
Part of his success with this new album came with the new stage show that he assembled. Such music desperately needed live musicians and real instruments and he knew it, so it was good that he at the very least had a real drummer backing him up as well as a back up singer, a bassist, a turntablist, and percussionist. Moby kept the crowd engaged, orbiting from one instrument to another between songs, from electric to acoustic guitars, hitting the congas and keyboards too. In addition, there we a few extra pairs of intelligent strobe lights spaced out around his set.
Moby had brought along the Japanese electronic music duo, Boom Boom Satellites, with him for this tour. They were brand new, having just put out their first album, “Out Loud” the year before, but I thought they were pretty cool. Like Moby, they too had brought along a live drummer to back them up on tour. Sadly, this would be the only time I’d see them perform as their guitarist and vocalist, Michiyuki Kawashima, would succumb to complications from a brain tumor in 2016. Poor guy was only 47 years old. I’m glad their talent was rewarded nine years later when their songs “Scatterin’ Monkey” and “4 A Moment Of Silence” would be in the soundtrack for the blockbuster superhero epic “The Dark Knight”.
Though I didn’t get the setlist from that night, I was able to get a pretty comprehensive account of the songs that were played from a review in SF Gate. He opened with the meditative intro “My Weakness”, then went into “Find My Baby”, “If Things Were Perfect”, “Porcelain”, and “Why Does My Heart Feel So Bad?”. He busted out some percussion for “Machete”, then switched to acoustic guitar for “Everloving”. Moby took a rather radical stylistic turn picking up an electric guitar to play a few bars of “Paranoid” by Black Sabbath. He would do this at most of his shows playing covers that ranged from “Ring Of Fire” by Johnny Cash to “Stairway To Heaven” by Led Zeppelin. One would think he was making an all too unsubtle point of his eclectic tastes and musical talent, even showing off a little, but what the hell, it was his stage and he used every second he could to impress. Moby stepped up to a keyboard then for “Honey”, but when I soloed him down in the recording room, he basically was just playing one note, though his frantic thrashing about on stage suggested that he was doing a little more, but that again was all part of the show. His breakneck pace commanded attention.
Similarly, he was only playing one chord on his acoustic guitar when he did the “James Bond Theme” that he had composed for the movie “Tomorrow Never Dies”. I was mortified to discover too late that I had it turned all the way down accidentally in my monitor mix, but was at least relieved that it made it loud and clear to the multi-track recording. Seriously, he was hitting that chord with all his might and I was baffled why I couldn’t hear it all until it was almost over. I thought he was going to break a string or two. From there, they played “Natural Blues”, “Bodyrock” claiming before that song that “if it was humanly possible, I’d like to have sex with each and every one of you… But I’m old and invalid, so I’ll sing you a sexy song instead.” Moby made another little joke before playing “Feeling So Real” saying “in all modesty” that it was “the greatest disco song ever written”. I noticed between songs, he often mutters, “Thank you, thank you, thank you, thank you”.
For the last song of the night he did “Thousand” which I believe still holds the Guinness Book Of World’s Record for being the fastest song ever written. It is in fact played at 1,015 beats per minute and is understandably a big finish for his musical marathon. Like I said before, I had no idea the importance of this show, especially as a BIG feather in my recording career list of artists, but the rest for Moby as they say, is history. He just got bigger and bigger after that and the venues I’d see him in the future would reflect that. Next stop for him performing in the bay area would be playing the main stage at B.F.D. the following year, then back to back sold out shows at The Warfield, followed by headlining his own Area One and Area Two Festivals at Shoreline.
When I gave him the tapes at the end of his set that night, he was drenched with sweat, but all smiles and very polite. I joked with him that I loved him on “Space Ghost : Coast To Coast” and he giggled a little about it. The year before when he had been a guest on that cartoon interview show, Space Ghost had been sprayed with a gas that made him crave human flesh and he ate Moby’s brain before he could finish the interview. The irony that such a publicly vocal vegetarian would die in that manner surely wasn’t lost on him.
King’s X, Protein, Swarm, Ultraglide, Maritime Hall, SF, Sun., August 1, 1999
King’s X was one of those bands that I knew that I should know more about, but didn’t. Despite not knowing song one from them, I knew they were respected amongst the peers and though were lumped into the prog-metal scene, that their eclectic tastes ran through a spectrum of styles. Jeff Ament, the bassist of Pearl Jam, even proclaimed that “King’s X invented grunge”. Yes, they’d already been around for twenty years by the time they came to play the Hall. It can be said that only a place as square as Springfield, Missouri could spawn such a unique band. Hard rock bands with black singers like Doug Pinnick aren’t particularly unique, but they’re aren’t many that break through into the mainstream, especially ones from Missouri. But they and others such as Love, Bad Brains, and Living Colour just to name a few are spectacular. I still think the Bad Brains album I recorded at the Maritime is the one I’m most proud of to this day.
But another distinction that set this band apart was their relationship with the big guy upstairs, their name, a not too subtle reference to the crucifix. Obviously, they were Christians and their lyrics often reflected that. King’s X made little effort to cater to the so-called Christian rock scene, but the followers of Jesus bought their albums anyway, which I’m sure they didn’t discourage either. But as luck would have it, I’d be recording them just as their relationship with the bible thumpers was going sour. Pinnick had the courage to finally come out as a gay man publicly just shy of his 49th birthday and to turn a biblical phrase, those thumpers weren’t going to turn the other cheek and subsequently washed their hands of him and his band. It’s a pity. Doug had sung gospel in his church growing up. But Christian book stores that used to carry their music cut them off as well as the Diamante Music Group who used to distribute their albums.
My father went though a similar divorce from his faith when he finally came out, more or less around the same age as Doug actually, though he had been Russian Orthodox. Doug has since turned agnostic and the other members of the band have politely disassociated themselves from the church and especially from the Christian rock business entirely. I suppose King’s X would get the last laugh when I saw them open for Dio at The Fillmore three years later. Holy Diver indeed. The band also had a change in record labels the year before, leaving Atlantic for Metal Blade and were then touring with their most recent and seventh studio album, “Tape Head”.
I was glad to see Protein was on the bill, having seen them also at The Fillmore, but back in ’97. They were an impressive band, but short lived, having just put out their second and final album, “Songs About Cowgirls” that year, so I was fortunate to not only see them twice, but get to record them as well. Members from that band went on to form The Mother Truckers whose vulgarity is only matched by their sheer brilliance. Likewise, King’s X are still touring to this day and each member has an impressive resume of other solo work and collaborations to boot. These guys are always working it seems. Hard to believe that Doug’s 72 years old now. I just wish that the show had been more well sold, probably just a couple hundred people made it that night. I was happy that the monthly poster for August was a good one though, one of my favorites the Maritime put out, a collage of swinging 60’s stuff. The sight of James Colburn in a tuxedo from “Our Man Flynt” sitting in a backwards chair, holding a martini, with his big toothy grin always puts a smile on my face.
Toots & The Maytals, Wailing Souls, B-Side Players, Maritime Hall, SF, Fri., July 30, 1999
It had been a fairly busy month, ending on this gem to make a Baker’s dozen. The one and only Toots Hibbert had brought the house down at the Maritime on three separate occasions by then, including the previous two New Year’s Eve’s. But this would be the first and only time yours truly would get to record him all by my lonesome. It was quite an honor and an unexpected one at that, but as I had written umpteen times before, Pete was slowly growing alienated from the Hall and was leaving more and more shows to do, including reggae stars like Toots who had been firmly in his wheelhouse. That, coupled with getting to record the Wailing Souls on my own for the first time, would quite firmly plant a mighty feather in my career cap. When it comes to reggae, those names cut glass.
But I was very familiar with the first act, the B-Side Players, who I had recorded twice that year, first opening for Indigo Swing on Valentine’s Day, then at the 420 Hemp Festival, being the second to last act just behind Vince Welnick & The Missing Man Formation. Indigo Swing incidentally had just played the Hall again only three weeks to the day before this show. Once again, the B-Side Players brought their unique blend of funky, latino tinged rock music to warm up the crowd, an ideal opener for practically any act seeing that their eclectic tastes pleased so many. I had always hoped they’d use some of our stuff for an album, but alas they never did. Like the Mystik Journeymen who played the Hall the night before, the Wailing Souls would go out to release a live album from a show they did a year later. I mean, it’s deflating enough having them not use my stuff, but Pete’s mixes of their sets in ’96 and ’98 were stellar as all his mixes were. But having used stuff recorded after our unceremonious sacking allowed Boots to not pay anybody royalties. Go figure, but enough sour grapes.
I’ve said it before, but it bears repeating that Toots is one of those rare performers that one can ALWAYS rely upon to do an excellent show and I mean each and every time. Few acts such as Tool, Los Lobos, and Stereolab, in my humble opinion, can share this distinction and this show was no exception. It was pure joy from start to finish, leaving everyone within earshot with a big grin on their face that would last for days. He was 57 years old when I taped him that night, but I assure you, if I had attempted to give the performance he gave, even at my then young age, I’d would have been taken away in an ambulance gasping for air probably before I even made the halfway point. The man had stamina, that’s for sure.
But I dare say, there was one particular moment from that evening that would be seared into my memory for all time and it happened long after Toots had left the stage. As always, I had gathered up the VHS and DAT tape to hand off to the artist and made my way to his dressing room upstairs. Pete had given the tapes on the other occasions, but I had naturally assumed to hand them off to Toots himself. When in doubt with any act at the Hall, I always went for the lead singer, partially because they were the one I would be most likely to recognize. But this was my first and would be the only time I’d get to come face to face with the one and only Sweet & Dandy man himself and I was looking forward to it as you might imagine.
So, I made it to the dressing room door with the tapes, but Toots was still inside and one of his people told me to wait a bit as he was cooling off, making himself presentable, and so forth. There I waited… and waited. It seemed to go on forever and it being a reggae show, had predictably gone on until the wee hours of the morn, especially since it was the weekend. Well, my patience finally wore out and I decided it had been long enough and I sheepishly made my way into the dressing room. And lo & behold, there was the man standing up tall in all his glory… dressed only in his tidy whiteys. Needless to say, I was stunned and wasn’t at first sure what to do. I found myself jabbering a bit trying to explain who I was and why I was there.
Still, I’m happy to report that Mr. Hibbert wasn’t upset in the slightest by my intrusion, giving me a rather puzzled look instead. I averted my eyes and quickly backed away, leaving him to finish getting dressed. A short while later, he did emerge at last and greeted me. The thing was, he had no idea about the recordings not only from that night, but from the three other times he played the Hall. Apparently, the tapes had been handed off to his manager instead and for some inexplicable reason, Toots never knew about them. I could tell this irked him a little and after I finally left the tapes with Toots, I noticed he was already having words with his manager about just that.
This would be the final time I’d see the reggae legend at the Hall, though I would be blessed to see him four times more, twice at The Warfield in 2002 and 2007, once at The Fillmore in 2009, and at his final bay area appearance at Stern Grove in 2019. Yes, Toots has passed on, succumbing to COVID at the age of 77, but I will always have those many joyous moments to sustain me in dark times… as well as the visage of him in his Y-Fronts.
Mystik Journeymen, Living Legends, Aceyalone, Planet Asia, Maritime Hall, SF, Thurs., July 29, 1999
Forgive me, gentle readers, for I have sinned. It has been (gulp) nearly six months since my last entry and I feel I owe y’all an explanation before I continue. My wife and I had back all those months ago received the jarring news that our building was being bought by new owners and they were intent on moving in and giving us the heave ho. The details of the move out are of little consequence, so I’ll just skip ahead to the happy news that we’ve found a new home across the bay in Alameda and are gradually setting up shop. Having been about ten days in, the computer desk, the internet, and more importantly my mojo to write again is up and running.
Few people I imagine enjoy moving, but I’m certainly not one of them. My wife and I had been at Ocean Beach in SF just a few weeks shy of ten years. I’m a guy who likes to stay put. So, this move dislodged me from my usual mindset which allowed me to do this little musical history project, but I am now ready to wade my way into the shallow end of this pool at least. I’m flexing old muscles here, so I appreciate your patience and understanding that I may not be entirely on my A game for a while, but I’ll do the best I can. Jolly good. OK, now that this nervous disclaimer has been established, I will return to the task at hand.
I suppose starting once again with the Mystik Journeymen is strangely appropriate, being a hip hop act by the summer of 99’ I’d be familiar with. I am now on the east side of the bay where they hail from as well, they just being just next door to me in Oakland. The Journeymen had already regaled the Hall with their skilled brand of DYI rap three times, once opening for Busta Rhymes and again for Ol’ Dirty Bastard the year before and headlining the Hall for the first time merely four months prior to this one. They were there headlining again, ably backed up by the Living Legends crew which they shared members with, as well as with Aceyalone and Planet Asia. And as before, they all were at home in the bay area and surrounded by familiar faces, everyone enthusiastic, hands in the air, immersed in thick clouds of herb smoke.
What is mysterious about this show was the fact that the Journeymen, despite having played the Maritime all those occasions chose not to have us multi-track record them that night, yet they still allowed us to record their video. I certainly hope it wasn’t because the poor quality of my mixes, though I hadn’t heard a peep about it before then or since. It was probably more likely that they were suspicious of Boots and his shenanigans or something, but they would eventually overcome their trepidation a year later when they would use the following recording for a live album. Though I naturally was happy for my future replacement, Wade, to have that album credit under his belt, you can imagine my disappointment that they didn’t use any of the four shows I had taped for them up until then for anything. Yes, I’m afraid this would be the final time I’d get to tape the Journeymen at the Hall, but I would at least get to see both them and the Living Legends crew perform four years later at The Fillmore.
M.A.B.D.: The Flaming Lips, Robyn Hitchcock, Sebadoh, Sonic Boom E.A.R., IQU, Fill., SF, Wed., July 28, 1999
(ROBYN HITCHCOCK) : (unknown), My Wife & My Dead Wife, Kirago Street, Beautiful Queen, Insanely Jealous
(THE FLAMING LIPS) : The Spiderbite Song, Race For The Prize, Feeling Yourself Disintegrate, She Don’t Use Jelly, Slow Nerve Action, Waiting For A Superman, What Is The Light?, The Observer, When You Smile, Suddenly Everything Has Changed, The Gash, The Spark That Bled
This was a real unique show for several reasons, but first and foremost it was due to a prolonged blackout that happened at the beginning of it and the unusual steps that were taken dealing with it, but I will get into that later. This was the second of a two night stint called the “The First International M.A.B.D. Tour”, short for Music Against Brain Degeneration. It had been four long years since I had seen its headliner, The Flaming Lips. I was a big fan and was looking forward to hearing their new material from “The Soft Bulletin” which had only just been released the month before this show. By this time, the band had parted ways with their guitarist Ronald Jones, who some claimed was suffering from acute agoraphobia and/or paranoia, though he was also fed up with the heroin and alcohol habits of their drummer, Steven Drozd. Steven’s habit had gotten so bad that he almost had to have his arm amputated from an abscess that had festered dangerously from his injections, just like Jared Leto in “Requiem For A Dream”. Thankfully, Steven recovered and took up the guitar as well as backing vocals. Their first song of the evening was called “The Spiderbite Song”, written about his ordeal, parodying the fact that they initially told the public that his abscess was due to such a wound.
The Lips’ line up in part was the second thing that was weird about this gig. They were just a three piece here, being Steven, singer Wayne Coyne, and bassist Michael Ivins. They had pre-recorded Steven doing the drum parts on video and were playing them while projecting the video of it behind the band on a large screen, along with random footage such as atomic bomb blasts, aerobic videos, and Leonard Bernstein directing his orchestra. The next weird thing was that they had set up a transmitter that would pipe the stereo mix from the show into headphones that people could check out at the back of the venue. Wayne instructed the crowd to tune their receivers to 96.9. They were trying to promote brain health and awareness of hearing loss and thought that somehow this headphone thing would help, but to be honest, very few people wore them that night, which would explain why nobody has done this since. You can get hearing assist headphones at stage theater shows, but I’ve yet to see one again at any music venue. Seriously, The Lips are such a notoriously loud band that for the headphones to be effective at all, one would have to be listening to them outside on the street or at least in the poster room.
Anyway, let’s go back to the top. The show had just kicked off when lo and behold, the place went dark. The Fillmore’s emergency lights kicked in and all the security folks busted out their flashlights. We’d assumed that this was just another one of PG & E’s fuck ups and the power would go back on shortly. This was the time when Enron was screwing with California and there were frequent “brown outs”. But the juice had been knocked out of the whole block and everybody was soon accepting that it wasn’t coming back right away. Then something magical happened. They were able to scare up a bullhorn with a CB on curly wire attached to it and Wayne from The Lips took the stage and addressed the crowd. Every flashlight in the house was used to light him up and he and Lou Barlow from Sebadoh proceeded to take turns serenading the crowd in the meantime. One of the security guy held up the bullhorn for the acoustic guitar and the CB was used for the vocals.
It was hilarious, frankly. We all knew we were experiencing something special and just went with it. Even Lou, being the sour puss that he is, did a funny, overly sensitive acoustic cover of “Cold As Ice” by Foreigner, followed by a straight up one of “Wichita Lineman” by Glen Campbell. It had been over an hour before the lights went back on, but they finished this weird hootenanny with Wayne singing a truncated version of “Waterbugs”. Wayne served as a sort of emcee for the rest of the night saying, “We’re doing our best to entertain while we were stuck in the dark. We’re trying to keep the show moving along cus’ I still think people want to get home before four o’clock in the morning. Well, some people don’t, some people do and we respect that.” So, they did the changeovers as fast as they could and the sets of the openers were pretty short starting with IQU, pronounced “ee-koo”, from Olympia, Washington followed by Sonic Boom E.A.R., an experimental music group fronted by Peter Member, formerly of Spaceman 3. Jason Pierce had split off from Spaceman 3 to form Spiritualized, the first band I ever ushered for at The Warfield when they opened for The Jesus & Mary Chain in 1992. Cornelius was supposed to be on this leg of the tour, but they didn’t make it for some reason.
One of the big draws of this show for me was that Robyn Hitchcock was there, always a favorite. It had actually been a while since I’d seen him, three years in fact, when he co-headlined The Warfield with Billy Bragg. He was playing solo again, though he did bring up Tim Keegan, a man who had toured with him for years, to accompany him on guitar for “Beautiful Queen”. Wayne introduced Robyn before his set, mentioning that he had broke a string last night but was a trooper and kept on playing anyway and thanked the people who were trying out the headphones. There was a strange recording before Robyn got on stage of a man going on about conscience, appearance, and reality, but it was sort of hard to follow. Robyn was his usual brilliant self, going off on his stream of consciousness verbal tangents between songs. He had just released “Jewels For Sophia”, his 12th studio album that year, but he didn’t play any new stuff that night.
Robyn also had starred in a sort of quasi-documentary called “Storefront Hitchcock” the year before, directed by Jonathan Demme. It was basically just him playing in an abandoned clothing store in New York City and I’m sorry to say that I still haven’t seen it yet. It’s definitely on my list, especially since I just watched Demme’s “Silence Of The Lambs” last night. Next up was Sebadoh and this being the fourth time seeing them in four years, the third time at The Fillmore, I was actually getting a little tired of Lou Barlow’s whiney schtick. Lou did however get a little grin out of me when he sang the chorus of The Lips’ “Turn It On” between songs, one of my favorite tunes from the band that sadly I haven’t heard them play live since 1995. Sebadoh still were OK and they were an easy band to usher for, though the show was going on late from the delay from the blackout earlier. In hindsight it was a good thing I caught them then because the band went on hiatus for 14 years shortly after this show, though I still haven’t seen them since. I thought it was amusing that they played a recording of “If I Only Had A Brain” from “The Wizard Of Oz” between sets.
So, at long last The Flaming Lips took the stage. They played a rather monotone voice recording of a man checking the headphone system before they started, repeatedly droning, “Left… Left center… Center… Center right… Right…” It went on for a few minutes, then the band performed “The Spiderbite Song” briefly to test it out. Then Wayne joked that they were going to step off into the wings for a second and then “burst onto the stage” and everybody was to just pretend that it was them coming out for the first time. We all obliged him and had giggle about it. They then went straight into the first song of the new album, “Race For The Prize”, a tune they would open most of their shows with from then on. I was impressed by the beauty and brilliance of their new material and we were lucky to hear a whopping nine new songs out of their twelve song set. I regret that my tape ran out during “When You Smile”, making me lose the last three songs, but I was able to find a good recording of the night on YouTube, though it was missing the final song, “The Spark That Bled”. It was almost the same set as the night before, but the Tuesday show got “Riding To Work In The Year 2025” and “Thirty-Five Thousand Feet Of Despair”, while we got “What Is The Light?”, “The Observer”, and “Suddenly Everything Has Changed”.
Wayne introduced the song “Waitin’ For A Superman” warning how sad it was to people with “a heavy heart” and “we don’t always play happy, escapist” tunes. He thought this one was “the saddest song that we do”, though went on to claim that sad songs can also make you feel happy, but if this one didn’t to “try to bear with us”. And he was true to his word. It was and remains one of the saddest songs I would ever hear. In fact, listening to it again while writing this, I not ashamed to say that I broke down into tears again, still processing the horror of the school shootings in Uvalde, Texas from last week. Indeed, this song served as a sort of unofficial theme song for the tragedy of 9/11 which happened two years after this show. At the end of this hauntingly beautiful tune, somebody in the crowd shouted out, “I feel sad!” and Wayne apologized, “I’m sorry. We’ll do our best to try to lift you up” and then they played “What Is The Light?”
The Lips did however go on to play one of the happiest songs I know, “When You Smile” a little later. That song is so sweet and sentimental that I included it in a compilation disc my wife and I made for our wedding in 2015. That one brings me tears of joy instead of sorrow and for all those out there currently with the blues, I recommend listening to it right away. It’s good therapy. Wayne did a sort of slow ending to that song, singing out the words gradually slower until finishing and joked, “See! I promised you I’d get you out of that slump.” Yes, it was a long, but memorable evening and I would be lucky to record The Lips a year later at Maritime Hall with the same set up, playing many of these same songs. Still, despite all the times I saw them back in the day, it just occurred to me that next year, it will have been twenty years since I saw them last when they played The Warfield with Liz Phair. Shame on me, especially since I missed the tour where they were playing their brilliant remake of Pink Floyd’s “Dark Side Of The Moon”. I should check them out again next time I get a chance.
Social Chaos Tour : TSOL, The Business, UK Subs, DOA, DH Pelligro, The Vibrators, Sloppy Seconds, Maritime Hall, SF, Sun., July 25, 1999
(UK SUBS) : Emotional Blackmail, C.I.D., Stranglehold, Party In Paris, I Live In A Car
(THE BUSINESS) : Suburban Rebels, The Truth The Whole Truth & Nothing But The Truth, Spirit Of The Street, Do They Owe Us A living?, Saturday’s Heroes, Justice Not Politics, Out In The Cold, Loud Proud & Punk, Real Enemy, Smash The Discos, Harry May, (encore), Drinking & Driving
This was an impressive lineup from start to finish. I had long heard of TSOL, or True Sounds Of Liberty, predictably through my brother Alex who had been my ear to the ground for quality punk music all my life. I knew they were important, being one of the pioneers in the L.A. punk scene since 1978. They were headlining this so-called “Social Chaos Tour”, co-sponsored by Goldenvoice, and were preceded by other veterans of the genre, English, American, and DOA from Canada. I know that Murphy’s Law, D.R.I., and Vice Squad were on the bill, but they were playing downstairs on a stage in the hiring hall so I didn’t get a chance to see any of them. Strangely enough, one of the distinct, if not the most distinct memory from this show was the opening act, Sloppy Seconds. Though the youngest band on the bill, they had been playing music for 15 years already by then. The singer, simply known as B.A., was a big guy, probably around 300 pounds and his skinny as a rail guitarist, Ace “Spice” Hardwhere had a guitar that had the body of a Fruit Loops cereal box. Anyway, I still can never forget B.A.’s flushed, crimson face loudly braying their song, “Why Don’t Lesbians Love Me?” and finishing with one called, “I Don’t Want To Be A Homosexual”. They being the first act had maybe a handful of people to hear their gritty sound echo in the cavernous walls of the Maritime. Poor guys had to start after the doors opened at 5:30 in the afternoon. They were from Indianapolis of all places, but I haven’t seen them since.
Next up were The Vibrators, they and the UK Subs making punk rock since 1976. DH Pelligro, the former drummer of the Dead Kennedys, followed and I looked around to see if Jello Biafra was in the crowd or backstage that night, but he was nowhere to be seen. Jello usually shows up to all these punk shows, but it was no secret that there was bad blood between him and the the other former members. Maybe he was just out of town at the time. They would reform DK years later with a new singer, but Jello never sang with them and most likely never will. It was good to see DOA play the Hall again, having graced the venue the year before, though it was shamefully undersold. UK Subs put on quite a set, even if was only about twenty minutes long, as most of the openers sets were. During the song “Stranglehold”, their shirtless guitarist Nicky Garratt rolled one of his Marshall stacks over to the center of the stage and lay down on it for a bit while he was playing. The crowd was getting bigger by the time they came on and the mosh pit was growing accordingly.
So, everybody was nice and warmed up by the time The Business took the stage. This rowdy bunch of Cockney blokes from South London had been around since ’79, but I’m afraid this show was the first time I’d heard of them. I thought it was funny that in one of the reviews I saw for the show the frontman Micky Fitz and one of the others were in suits, most definitely worn ironically. Micky came out in a wife beater shirt and immediately announced that our city was the “best crowd in America” and that “We’re the Spice Girls and we’re from fuckin’ London!” before ripping into “Suburban Rebels”. A couple songs later he asked “Where’s the punk rockers?!?”, followed by the punks applauding, and he then said, “Skins, wait your turn. There’s plenty for you!” and then “Do They Owe Us A Living?” Then after, he obliged them saying, “Punks, you had your turn. Where’s the skinheads?!?” and did “Saturday’s Heroes”.
Micky dedicated “Justice Not Politics” to Lars Frederiksen from Rancid who produced The Business’ last album and his wife Megan. Lars had married her the year before this show, but they’ve since divorced. After that song, Micky gazed up at one of our video screens and joked, “I just looked up there and I thought ‘Fuck, he looks like me’. Then I realized it was!” Just before they played “Harry May” at the end of their set, Micky took a moment to thank all the bands, the staff, and even the “redcoat” security guard in front of him. He put his hand on top of the tall, young black man’s backwards baseball cap saying, “Some guys think he’s an asshole, but he’s working class and he’s doing this for his family!” The guard remained surprisingly stoic and still, not even looking at him, and simply nodded in agreement when Micky took his hand off him. They brought up some kid with a shaved head like Micky’s and he sang along to the song, shouting “What’s his name?!?! Harry May!!!” Micky goaded the crowd on prodding them, “That wasn’t loud enough, eh?” The kid shook his head no and they did it again. That was cute. The kid couldn’t have been more than nine or ten.
The other shining memory of this night was their encore, “Drinking & Driving”. I can scarcely think of any song ever written which was more punk than this. Never had such flagrantly reckless and irresponsible behavior be more celebrated. Naturally, the pit was bananas by then and there was no shortage of folks floating, stage diving, and dancing on stage with the band singing along to the chorus, “Knock it back! Have another one! Drinking & driving is so much fun!” They were a hard act to follow. Incidentally, it just occurred to me that there were a bunch of “initials” on this tour, being TSOL, UK Subs, DOA, and DH Pelligro. Hmm… Sadly, I learned that Micky passed away from lymph cancer back in 2016, so this would be the one and only time I’d see The Business, but I’m very glad I did.
Finally, TSOL wrapped up the evening with a tight set clocking in a hair under and hour. They had just reunited that year after settling a long standing dispute with their former guitarist Joe Wood over the rights of the band’s name. I had actually had seen both the singer “Gentleman Jack” Grisham and guitarist Ron Emory in their side project, The Joykiller, which opened for Pennywise at The Fillmore in 1995, though I didn’t make the connection back then. I do remember liking them as I did TSOL on this gig. Like The Business, they got a bunch of fans onstage and I read one account of the show saying that the frustrated security guys were chasing down those patrons later, threatening to beat them up. Yeah, the “redcoats” were pretty rough guys. But TSOL were a fun bunch all the same and I’ll never forget their last song of the night, “Code Blue”, a sort of a playful ode to necrophilia. Ewww… Such vulgarity didn’t stop Jack from getting 2,200 votes when he ran for Governor during the infamous recall election of 2003 that ushered Arnold Schwarzenegger to power. Ironically, 2,200 is roughly the capacity of the Maritime. As much as I love Arnold, it’s a safe bet Jack would have been a more competent Governor. There had been a listing on Discogs that said the band did an unofficial VHS release of the video from that night, but I haven’t been able to find it. I am glad to say that UK Subs did post the songs from their short set on YouTube though.
Foxy Brown, Suga-T, Colorfolks, Gabba, Maritime Hall, SF, Fri., July 23, 1999
Though I had never heard the one Miss Inga DeCarlo Fung Marchand AKA Foxy Brown, I and all the the house that night were given quite an earful as well as quite an eyeful. She left her long handle behind and derived her stage name from the seminal 1974 action movie of the same name and she is proud to call Pam Grier, who immortalized the role, a friend, mentor, and even a “second mother”. This fresh faced young woman hailing from Trinidadian and Chinese decent had in very little time made a name for herself in hip hop circles starting at the tender age of only 15. At this show, she was just about six weeks shy of her 21st birthday. Foxy signed to DefJam in 1996 and with her debut album, “Ill Na Na”, she went quickly went multi-platinum and earned her legions of fans and respect from her peers. She helped prove that a lady especially one that young could go toe to toe with the East Coast big boys and hold her own, even becoming a member of the rap supergroup The Firm along with Nas, AZ, and Cormega, who was later replaced by Nature.
But this was a turbulent and transitional time for her, having just released her follow up album, “Chyna Doll” seven months before this show. As expected, it didn’t match the commercial success of her debut album, a tough one to follow, though it did have the distinction of debuting number one on the Billboard 200 when it was released, making her only the second female rap artist at that time to achieve that other than Lauryn Hill. She had also recently broke off her engagement to fellow rapper Kurupt, but Foxy had the additional misfortune to agree to join the “Get Up On A Room” tour with R. Kelly earlier that year, a name which has recently been mired with infamy. That doomed tour quickly fell apart from cancelled dates due to low ticket sales, a disastrous melee at their Miami show which left 8 people suffering from stab wounds, to having Busta Rhymes leave the tour shortly afterwards. Foxy would see the writing on the wall and leave the tour that June, but would begin her own tour a month after this show, so their loss would ultimately be our gain. And despite all that, she at least had the good fortune not to take part in the catastrophic Woodstock ’99 festival which happened to be the weekend of this gig.
I remember enjoying the final opening act that night, Suga-T. A local act hailing from Vallejo, she too was a young woman fresh to the hip hop scene with a great deal of talent. Like Foxy, she also would be a member of a rap supergroup, The Click, which included such notable bay area artists as E-40, D-Shot, and B-Legit. Though I haven’t seen her since, I read that she now goes by her non-stage name, Tenina Stevens, and teaches music as well as accumulated an impressive amount of academic degrees including an AA in Business, a BA in Psychology, and an MA in Organizational Management. Like I had mentioned before, we got an eyeful of Foxy Brown. She came out dressed in a loose, gold chain mail top and let’s just say not much else beneath it. She was indeed foxy and she knew that, but she was unashamed, unapologetic, and supremely confident. It didn’t take long for my throbbing loins to cool off enough so I could stop watching her bouncing curves and appreciate her raw talent as a performer. There are few women in hip hop who can match her flow even to this day, joining such fierce, respected East Coast female acts as Queen Latifah, Salt N’ Pepa, and MC Lyte.
Unfortunately, Foxy hit a rough patch starting the year after this show, first suffering from a bout of depression, followed by treatment for an addiction to opioids. Then she got into hot water in 2004 after a fight she had with a couple of manicurists in New York City. The year after, she suffered serious hearing loss which required surgery to restore it. Then, she violated her probation from the aforementioned fight and was put in jail for an entire year. If that wasn’t bad enough, Foxy got into a fight with a fellow inmate while inside and was put in solitary for a whopping 76 days. Though she was released in 2007, she got into trouble yet again three years later after she swore and even mooned her neighbor who had previously put a restraining on her. Foxy threw her BlackBerry at the neighbor as well, but the charges were ultimately dropped the following year. This show would be the only time I’d see Foxy perform, but I’m glad to say she has since stayed out of trouble and has taken to touring again in recent years, even collaborating with new hip hop acts like Nicki Minaj.
Michael Rose, Andrew Tosh, The Skatalites, Maritime Hall, SF, Fri., July 16, 1999
SELIST : Overture, Short Temper, Party In Session, Sensemillia, Ganja Bonanza, Cookie Jar, Guess Who’s Coming To Dinner, Mondays, How You Fi Do That?, Right On, Gone A New York, Shine Eye Gal, Plastic Smile, I Love King Sallasie, General Penetentiary, Black Maria, Happiness, Youths Of Eglington, Abortion, Dance Wicked, Sponji Reggae, Solidarity
It was an interesting day to put it mildly. Being the day after my birthday, I decided to revisit one of my old birthday traditions and spend the day at the water slides. My friend Liz Farrow joined me on the ride down to Raging Waters in San Jose when the big news of the day came over the radio. Poor JFK, Jr. crashed his plane and died along with his wife Carolyn and her sister Lauren. We didn’t see that one coming. And despite recent lunatic fringe conspiracy theories that he is somehow still alive, we have yet to hear from him which is a pity since who knows what he might have accomplished if he had lived to this day. Yes, John-John was gone, but we did our best to enjoy our time at the slides. After a long time visiting every fun filled attraction Raging Waters had to offer, Liz and I took a breather to lie down in the sun and I distinctly remember laying on my left side, using my right hand to massage her back. I had done it for so long, that I ended up getting the mother of all sunburns on the entire upper right half of my body. Combined with the stinging chlorine from the water, my poor skin on that side was in excruciating pain for several days, feeling like weeks. In time, the dead skin from the burn eventually peeled off and I was well again, though for a while the right half of my body was conspicuously tanner that the other half.
Another thing that had happened on the ride down, though totally out of left field, I think deserves mentioning. On the way, we were passing by Bay Meadows Race Track in San Mateo and I don’t know if it was the power of suggestion or something, but for a split second I could have swore I saw a brown horse being flung high into the air, as if it was being launched by a catapult, its legs flailing wildly. On closer inspection, I saw that it was simply a brown, single engine plane rising into the sky above the tree line, but it did cause me to glance twice. It was so convincing and made such an impression, that I had mentioned that vision in the beginning of my first novel, it being a dream waking the main character. But I’ve digressed way too far here and must go back to the show at hand.
The pain of my fresh sunburn was just starting to kick in as we had returned to the city and Liz dropped me off at the Maritime to work the show of the evening, a reggae cavalcade of stars. Pete came out for this one, the only one to my memory that he did that month. Michael Rose was a big one. The former Black Uhuru frontman had played the Hall twice already, once in April of ’98 opening for The Wailers and again just six months before this show, that time headlining. I had been confused before and thought that January show was the one that was used for the live album the Hall put out, but I can say with certainty now that this was the show that was used. For starters, I have the original recording of the whole show and it matches as well as what Michael was wearing that night corresponds to the photo on the album’s back cover. This is the one and it’s a great one at that. I think it is possibly the best sounding of all the albums the Hall put out primarily because Pete mixed this one down in the studio and not Boots this time. One needs only hear a handful of bars from any of the songs and you can hear Pete’s sound, especially in the drums. Pete knew how to mix reggae, big time. He was the best and it showed.
He did however allow me to record the opening acts as usual and I was especially honored since the first one were true ska pioneers and heroes of mine, The Skatalites. I have already written about their illustrious history, having seen them twice before, once in the line up of the Skavoovee tour at The Warfield with the Special Beat in 1993, then again on the second day of the Tibetan Freedom Concert in Golden Gate Park in 1996. Uplifting as the experience was for me this time, it was rounded by a tinge of sadness since the band had lost two of its original members the year prior, tenor saxophonist and flute player Tommy McCook and then fellow tenor saxophonist Roland Alphonso just six months after him. They were mentioned with solemn pride between songs and despite their losses, the band carried on and got the crowd skanking. It was also an honor to record the second opening act that night, Andrew Tosh, the son of Peter Tosh and Shirley Livingston, the sister of Bunny Wailer. Andrew had played the Hall opening for his esteemed Uncle Bunny the previous October and to my pleasant surprise, Pete had left that night entirely for me to do, so this would be the second time I’d get to record Andrew. I’m happy to say he remembered me when I approached him later to give him the tapes of his set and he was friendly and gracious as before. Fully Fullwood and his band who were backing up Michael that night also used to back up Andrew’s dad amongst many others.
Michael took to the stage dressed in his shiny, black leather pants and matching jacket, his dreads tied immaculately into a massive turban shape on his head. It took a while, but he eventually took off the jacket near the end of his set. From Jamaica he might be, but even performing on a stage in San Francisco in the middle of summer would test anyones tolerance of heat. Joyous as the occasion was, Michael too was affected by the loss of someone, a mentor particularly close to him, Dennis Brown. He even called for a moment of silence between songs for “the crown prince of reggae” as he called him. Dennis had died a little over two weeks before this show from pneumonia brought on by years of respiratory problems aggravated by prolonged cocaine abuse at the young age of 42. In fact, his funeral was held in Kingston just the day after this show and if Michael wasn’t already obliged to complete his tour and was home, rest assured he would have attended and performed at it. Michael went on to say Dennis “was a loving & good human being” and that he “was his godfather in this biz”.
Michael honored Dennis’ memory well that night by playing a hell of a show, covering a lot of material in two long hours. It was so long, in fact that several songs had to be left out of the live album in order to make it a single disc including “Party In Session”, “Ganja Bonanza”, “Right On”, “Happiness”, “I Love King Selassie” “Youths Of Eglington”, and “Gone A New York”. Michael was in top form as well as his band and with Pete on the recording console, it was an ideal performance to turn into an album. But this would be the final time I’d record any of these acts at the Hall, though I’m happy to say I got to see Mr. Rose perform one more time three years later at Slim’s with Mutabaruka. That was quite a show as well, an excellent musical pairing.
The Cult, New American Shame, Bif Naked, War., SF, Thur., July 15, 1999
SETLIST : Lil’ Devil, Sun King, Rain, In The Clouds, Edie (Ciao Baby), Fire Woman, The With, Peace Dog, New York City, Revolution, Sweet Soul Sister, Wild Flower, She Sells Sanctuary, (encore), American Horse, Love Removal Machine
It’s a very rare occurrence that I see a concert on my birthday, though it being in the middle of summer, one would think there’d be shows lined up on that day all the time. But really, there haven’t been that many at all. It is even a rarer occurrence that I would work on my birthday, having done it only once for a union call, which I did for a favor for one of our business agents and instantly regretted. But to my memory this Cult show was the only time I actually ushered on my birthday and though I was hesitant to do it, especially since I would have to work through two opening acts and it was sold out, it went off fairly smoothly and I was in a good mood all night. I turned 27 years old that evening, the notorious “rock star death” age AKA “The 27 Club”, taking down such notable ones recent ones like Kurt Cobain and Amy Winehouse, as well as veterans like Jimi Hendrix, Janis Joplin, Brian Jones, Robert Johnson, Pigpen from The Dead, and Jim Morrison. So, young and dumb as I was, I had the wisdom at least to take it upon myself to be a touch cautious that year and I’m happy to report I’m still around all these years later. So far, so good… knock on wood.
It had been over four years since I had last seen The Cult and it was a good thing I saw them back then when I did. Shortly after that previous Warfield show, the band fell to pieces and didn’t get back together until this one. Singer Ian Astbury had spent time in those interim years with a side project called the Holy Barbarians as well as releasing a solo record. But he reformed The Cult with original guitarist Billy Duffy and had recruited Matt Sorum on drums as well as ex-Porno For Pyros bassist Martyn Lenoble. It’s easy to spot Martyn, being skinny as a rail, smiling with his mouth of crooked teeth. They all were brand spanking new on tour having played the first time back together only a month prior at the Tibetan Freedom Concert in L.A.
First to open that night was Bif Naked, a Canadian singer/songwriter, originally born in New Delhi and covered in tattoos. Her third album, “I Bifics”, would be released in the states only twelve days after this show and though I only recorded one of her songs that night, it was a new one called “The Peacock Song”, the first in her set. She said that although they were from Vancouver, she was a San Jose Sharks fan, a brave thing to say for a Canadian hockey enthusiast. I also only got a couple songs of the following opening act, New American Shame from Seattle. I know the first one was called “Broken Bones”, but can’t name the second. They were a pretty solid rock & roll band and a worthy opener for The Cult, but their career was short lived, so I’m glad I caught them when I did. They had put out just one self titled album on Atlantic four months before this show and quickly disbanded less than two years later. The Cult would have a falling out with Atlantic Records too in a couple years, causing them to split from the label and each other in 2002, though they would reform again four years later.
But like I said, I had a good time that evening and the fellow ushers knowing it was my birthday, were congratulatory and kind to me. I remember being gifted quite a few drink tickets as the show went on and I enjoyed those beers immensely. The Cult is actually a good show to get drunk at. Most of the other patrons were, so I was in good company. The Cult took the stage to the recording of “Duel Of The Fates”, the intense score by John Williams for “Star Wars Episode I : The Phantom Menace” which had just come out in theaters two months before this. You know, it was the music playing near the end for the light saber fight with Darth Maul, one of the only good parts of that movie, frankly. Ian once again served well as the frontman that night at The Warfield. Before they played “Rain”, he entreated the crowd to “please feel free to exercise the right to do anything you wish.” For me, that was permission to drink more, which I happily did.
Thankfully, Pete would take the helm in the recording room the following night at the Maritime for Michael Rose, allowing me time to recover from my predictable hangover. The only other concert I would see on my birthday after this one would be Os Mutantes, a band huge in Brazil, playing at Stern Grove in 2007, though I was tempted to see the Kronos Quartet on another birthday, but didn’t follow through with it. I’d see The Cult two years later perform third to last at Live 105’s B.F.D at Shoreline, the final time I’d see them, but I did catch Ian singing for the Riders Of The Storm band in 2005 at The Fillmore, basically filling in for Jim Morrison, backed by fellow Doors alumni, Ray Manzarek and Robbie Krieger. Yes, like I mentioned, Jim had died at 27, but Ian did a good job channeling his mojo.
Gang Starr, Bored Stiff, Foreign Legion, Jay-Biz, Maritime Hall, SF, Sun., July 11, 1999
Though I knew very little about Gang Starr before this show, I was aware of their reputation as one of the finest east coast rap acts around. The simple fact that my friend Tory manning the video switcher that night was excited to see them was a reliable endorsement enough. Tory had much keener taste in hip hop at the time and I’m sure he still does to this day. Gang Starr was riding high in their career, one could argue the peak of their popularity. They had just released their fifth album, “The Moment Of Truth”, in March of ’98 and it only took two months for it to go gold. It would be their most commercially successful album as well as receiving heaps of praise upon it critically. Additionally, they went on tour later that year supporting Rage Against The Machine when they too were at the height of their game. Gang Starr was primarily headed up by their frontman Guru, which stands for Gifted Unlimited Rhymes Universal, and DJ/Producer, DJ Premier. Together they put on seriously entertaining set, I mean these guys were tight. Guru has a powerful, yet precise and clear vocal technique that I’ve only heard matched by a couple of other east coast contemporaries such as Chuck D and Rakim.
I also enjoyed the support acts that night, especially Foreign Legion, a trio from the bay area, fronted by Prozach, a skinny white shrimp of a man, and Mar Stretch, a black fellow at least a foot taller than him and twice his mass. They made an eccentric pair and I guess it shouldn’t be that weird that they would have met working in a strip club. Stretch was a DJ there and Prozach had kept the bar maintained and stocked the place with cleaning supplies, which rest assured most such places needed desperately. Anyway, with their clever and formidable rap skills as well as DJ Design on the ones and twos, they got the crowd warmed up nicely, followed by Western Addition and Fillmore locals, Bored Stiff. I’m glad Gang Starr came back to play the Hall only four months later, for I would never see them again. Poor Guru would succumb to myeloma in 2010 at the all too young age of 48. Such a pity to lose such talent so young, especially with all the lousy rap acts out there that get to live.
Beenie Man, Tanto Metro & Devonte, Hurricane Gilbert & Majestic, Maritime Hall, SF, Sat., July 10, 1999
It was a stretch that week, doing 5 shows in 6 days and this was number 4 and a late one at that. Pete, as previously mentioned a few times, had grown estranged from the scene at the Hall, leaving me to do this reggae show, a genre that he usually covered universally. In fact, Pete didn’t record any of the shows at the Maritime that month, not that I was complaining. These were all acts of high quality and I was proud to be at the helm for each and every one of them. This was real, bone fide Jamaican dancehall music too. There are few reggae fans around the world who don’t instantly recognize the name of Beenie Man and I caught him there just as he was at the cusp of the height of his stardom. The year after this show, he would release “Art & Life” which would earn him a Grammy for Best Reggae Album. The bad news is that after Pete ultimately left the Hall and I followed him, only substituting for our replacement, Wade, on a handful of shows, Beenie Man would play the Hall again nine months after this and the recording of that show would be used to make a CD. That hurt. I’m happy for Wade, for the few releases he got, but I would have liked to have this one under my belt. Regardless, I still have the experience of taping Beenie Man and hearing his music. I also enjoyed the openers, fellow Jamaican dancehall mainstays, Tanto Metro & Devonte and Hurricane Gilbert & Majestic, both talented acts. Incidentally, Hurricane Gilbert is named after the 1988 storm which really messed up Jamaica, seriously damaging 80% of the nation’s housing, leaving a quarter of the island’s 2 million citizens homeless, and killing over two hundred people. Incidentally, Boots did one of his usual fuck ups on the monthly poster and listed Tanto Metro & Devonte as separate acts.
Still, I can’t say I completely enjoyed Beenie Man live. It’s not that I don’t like his sound, it’s just after ten or twenty minutes of it, I start to lose my mind a little. Beenie Man, even by his own admission, has such a thick patois that most of the stuff he toasts is practically incomprehensible. When I hear him, I can’t help of thinking of the scene in the “Star Wars” parody, “Hardware Wars”, when in mocking frustration, Princess Anne Droid berates the indecipherable Darph Nader, “I don’t understand what you’re saying… Are you talking to me?” And like I said before, this was a late one, I mean really late, even for a reggae show. It was already a Saturday night, meaning it started at 9 instead of 8 and the openers went on late and long as well. I don’t think it ended until at least 2 am. After a couple hours of Beenie Man’s relentless barrage of tunes, abruptly halting mid-song and starting up again, then flowing into the next over and over, I was exhausted by the end of it all. After doing Gang Starr’s show the following evening, it was nice to finally get a good night’s sleep.
I haven’t seen him since that night, but I do remember hearing that Beenie Man got into a little hot water with the LGBTQ community a few years later. Some of his songs were, shall we say, less than complimentary to homosexuals, one even suggesting violence towards them, though he later refuted that interpretation. Under pressure from protests, Beenie Man was even removed from the 2004 MTV Music Awards. But he soon saw the light, never played those tunes ever again, publicly apologized, and even signed an agreement with other artists called the Reggae Compassionate Act in 2007, vowing to never perform any anti-gay material. I remember my friend Terri, a devout reggae fan and lesbian, was particularly upset with him at the time around this show. I lost contact with Terri over these long years, so I can’t say if she ever forgave him. He understandably wants to put the whole matter behind him forever, especially these days when such lyrics would be utterly unthinkable, at least in San Francisco.
Indigo Swing, 008, Maritime Hall, SF, Fri., July 9, 1999
Swing music had its moment in the sun for a few of those years, but the tide of its popularity was near the end of its gradual ebb. San Francisco’s own Indigo Swing was one of the better bands that had been frequenting venues back then and I enjoyed them the last time they played the Hall five months before on Valentine’s Day with the B-Side Players. That was a classy show, but like that one, this night was sparsely attended, even though it was being billed as their CD release party for their new album, “Red Light!”. Their frontman John Boydston, AKA Johnny Boyd, would soon depart the band shortly after this show for good. He would be replaced by a young lady named Nicole Vigil and the band would shorten its name to simply Indigo, but they would eventually call it quits in 2001, having not found a record label to pick them up and that was that, gone but not forgotten. I still believe that swing music will never really die, being an integral part of the history of popular music and who knows? Maybe I’ll live someday to see another revival of this venerable genre.
Another band that came and went after this show was the opening act, 008. I had seen them once before opening for The Funky Meters at The Fillmore and thought they were pretty good. Their drummer, Morgan, was actually one of the house managers at The Fillmore at the time and I had known him previously from being a roommate of my friend Kenny, who was a fellow SF State student who studied a semester abroad with me in London. Kenny had lived in the ground floor of our building in West Kensington, affectionately known as “The Dungeon” and I and my flatmates lived on the top floor, known as “The Tower”. Anyway, Morgan dropped by the recording room before his set and I showed him some of our previous work, though I can’t recall which show we watched. I never forgot that he said our stuff looked like “German television”. Funny, because it was true, especially since we were still taping in the 4 X 3 format. Morgan was a gentle giant and I admired him, but he soon left The Fillmore and I can’t say where he ended up, but I wish him the best.
The Go-Go’s, Berlin, The Lunachicks, Maritime Hall, SF, Wed., July 7, 1999
(BERLIN) : Masquerade, Touch, (unknown), No More Words, Steps, You Don’t Know, The Metro, Take My Breath Away, Sex (I’m A…)
(THE GO-GO’S) : Surfing, Head Over Heels, How Much More, Tonight, Vacation, He’s So Strange, Automatic, Lust To Love, Turn To You, This Town, Get Up & Go, I’m The Only One, Fun With Ropes, Cool Jerk, Beatnik Beach, We Got The BEat, Skidmarks, Our Lips Are Sealed, (encore), can’t Stop The World, Has The Whole World Lost It’s Head?, (encore), My Heart Will Go On, Johnny Are You Queer?
I had to wait five long years since I got to see The Go-Go’s for the first time when they reunited at The Warfield, but this night they were playing the Maritime and I was getting the honor to record them, or so I thought. Sadly, they had brought their own monitor board, and like all bands that bring theirs, we were unable to get to hook up our stuff to multi track record them, though we were able to tape the openers, The Lunachicks and Berlin, that night for which I’m eternally thankful. We were however able to figure out a way to pipe down a stereo feed from the front of house, giving us at least the board feed of what was feeding the show, and that coupled with our audience mics gave us at least a half decent stereo recording. I was lucky to get a copy of their set as well as Berlin’s and I can tell you, it was a hell of night.
There had been a bit of tension with The Go-Go’s that year because their drummer, Gina Schock, had sued the band to recoup royalties that was owed to her. But they had resolved the case that year and Gina was touring with them and by the looks of it, they were not only getting along, but having the time of their lives that show. Belinda was doing well for herself up till then with a successful solo career, singing such smash hits as “Heaven Is A Place On Earth”, “Mad About You”, And “I Get Weak”, and even released a greatest hits album from her solo work that year.
The first band on that night were The Lunachicks from New York City. They were talented as they were hilarious, the singer claiming that the band was there to “bring the turd back to Sa-turd-ay”. I remember they did a rowdy punk cover of “Just What I Needed” by The Cars. They had just released their final album, “Luxury Problem”, the month before and would disband a year after this show. Sadly, they wouldn’t use any of the live stuff I taped that night since they had already released a live album the year before called “Drop Dead Live”, recorded back in their home town at Coney Island High.
Next up was Berlin, who I had seen for the first time three years before playing The Fillmore. Like fellow LA rockers, The Go-Go’s, Berlin had recently reformed and were also having their share of legal wrangling. Singer Terri Nunn had wrestled the rights to use the band’s name from the other original members and was touring with a new band of ringers. I was happy to say Terri was very sweet to me that night and even addressed me by my first name. It is an astronomically rare occasion when any person of note calls me by my name, much less remembers it and she did once again when I set up Berlin’s gear at the Black & White Ball four years later. But like The Lunachicks, Berlin also had released a live album recorded elsewhere, theirs a year after this show taped at the Coach House in San Juan Capistrano called “Live : Sacred & Profane”. I can’t blame them or The Lunachicks. Most bands like to record their live albums on their own turf.
Though I was able to multi track record Berlin, they were tough to mix since it was excruciatingly loud on stage. I mean, they were up there with Motorhead, the noise bleeding into all the mics. I remember my dear departed friend Tumbleweed was alive and well working their monitors that night and said that they had him basically push all the faders up full blast. God bless that man for indulging them, especially since I believe Boots the owner gave him grief for it. A couple songs in, Terri pumped up the crowd asking, “Hello! How you like girl’s night so far? I’m loving this!” She went on saying that her back up singer had never worked alongside so many girls before and that the other guys were “ecstatic” and that they were “finally a minority”. A couple songs later, she introduced the song “Steps” saying “This is about my divorce!”
Afterwards she asked the crowd, “You having fun? So are we! We’re sweating our ass off too, are you? So, this next song you probably heard before and I want to dedicate it tonight to my God-daughter who’s in the audience. She’s just entering womanhood now and like all women that age she doesn’t know how beautiful she is yet. Well, you are. This is for you, Tera. It’s called ‘Take My Breath Away’.” Yes, they naturally played their big Oscar winning hit single from the blockbuster film, “Top Gun”. I had mentioned before that my wife loathes that song when I wrote about their 1996 Fillmore show, so I won’t go into that again. Speaking, of blockbuster films, I found out researching this show that Terri actually auditioned for the role of Princess Leia in “Star Wars”, but of course lost out to it to Carrie Fisher. Incidentally, I also learned writing this that Jane Wiedlin played Joan Of Arc in “Bill & Ted’s Excellent Adventure”. I’m not entirely surprised to have missed that since she was disguised with her bowl haircut and never uttered a word throughout the entire movie.
Anyway, like many people playing the Hall for the first time, Terri was wowed by the giant projection screens on the sides of the walls saying, “It’s really weird looking up and seeing your face 17 feet tall!” At the end of their set, Terri mentioned that they were going to come back soon to play with a bunch of bands at the Bay Meadows race track, but I didn’t catch that show. They wrapped it up with their racy hit song, “Sex (I’m A…)”. Between sets, I caught a glimpse of The Go-Go’s who had been using Grant’s office next door to the recording room as their dressing room and Gina and Jane smiled at me, though I was too bashful to talk to them.
The place was packed as The Go-Go’s took the stage to the sound of “Thank Heaven For Little Girls” from the film “Gigi” playing over the speakers. I even spotted a group of folks in the crowd dressed in bathrobes with facial masks and towels on their head like The Go-Go’s adorned on the cover of their first album, “Beauty & The Beat”. Like Terri, guitarist Jane Wiedlin and bassist Kathy Valentine were also impressed with the projection screens, pointing and smiling at them. Jane turned around and playfully bent over, displaying her butt a bit. The band opened with the instrumental song, “Surfing” and then their singer Belinda Carlisle sprang onto stage to sing, “Head Over Heels”. When the song was over, somebody handed Jane a white flower with a long stem and she attached it to her mic stand. They then did “How Much More” and then Belinda thanked the crowd shouting, “Bartender! A round for everyone!”, obviously a joke. She did go on asking for someone to bring her a glass of red wine before introducing “Tonight” saying it was from the aforementioned “Beauty & The Beat” album “recorded about 200 years ago.” They followed that with “Vacation”, a song to this day which gives me goosebumps, one of the best songs ever written in my opinion.
A few songs later, Belinda joked that “the next song is my punishment for being late to rehearsal. So, I get to look like an asshole for about 40 seconds.” She then started “Turn To You” doing a sort of silly, jazz scat intro to it. Meanwhile, Jane took off her shirt leaving her just with her black bra on for the rest of the night. It was understandable being the middle of summer and was sweltering in there, the show totally sold out. They then did “This Town” and afterwards Jane laughed, “I smell marijuana in here! You all are in big trouble!” A few songs later Belinda turned to her and said, “This next one is the oldest song in the set. Jane wrote it when she was about 3. Didn’t make it to the first album and we really regret it”, and then they performed the hilarious “Fun With Ropes”.
The band did a funny bit on the next song, a cover of “Cool Jerk” by The Capitols. Belinda ordered the band to “bring it down, listen up!” Jane smiled gleefully and obeyed, going so far as getting down on her knees as she strummed along, doing a bit of a limbo. Belinda continued, “Now I know some of you people are wondering why the hell are The Go-Go’s back again? Well, let me let you in on a little secret, my friends.” She then started rhyming to the beat, “As you can see, we’re still foxy, but time has took its toll. So we need some bucks for some nips and tucks before we get too old.” She then strolled over to the drum kit and went on, “Now, Gina Schock, she really rocks. You know she’s got the beat. So pitch in for a facelift, so she’ll look twice as sweet.” Gina laughed and did a little drum solo.
Belinda then sauntered over to her bass player and rhymed, “Now, Kathy here’s a sexy babe, as smart as she is pretty. But she’s dreaming of a C-Cup bra, cus’ she wants bigger titties.” Kathy grinned, then squeezed her breasts together and shimmied a little. The band continued the song shouting out instead of “Cool Jerk”, shouting “Implants!… Lipo!… Eye-job!… Botox!” and Belinda sang, “Gimme some collagen!” They then got everybody dancing to “Beatnik Beach” before immediately going into their big hit, “We Got The Beat”. During the first few bars of it, we all knew what we were hearing and the entire audience bounced up and down to to beat in unison. They went into “Skidmarks” which went seamlessly into the final song of their set, another big hit, “Our Lips Are Sealed”. Incidentally, Tom Hanks was recently given “The Colbert Questionnaire” on the late night talk show host’s program and when asked what his favorite song was, he declared that it was that one, even reciting its first verse.
When the band came back for their second encore, Belinda took a moment to introduce the band saying that she needed a break to “catch my breath”. She looked over at Jane and said, “To my far left, the girl in the bra, she has no shit on. She’s trying to get attention. Any takers? Miss Jane Wiedlin”. Jane took a bow. Belinda then stood by Kathy and joked, “On my immediate left, the girl who wants bigger titties. Actually, I like her titties just the way they are.” Jane blurted out, “Don’t mess with Texas!”, a homage to Kathy’s home town of Austin, and Belinda said her name and Kathy also took a bow. Belinda strolled over to Charlotte on guitar and slyly purred, “On my right, she’s strong, she’s smart, she’s sexy. She’s a mother, a proud mother… motherfucka’…Miss Charlotte Caffey!” She took a bow too. Charlotte had just given birth to her only daughter Astrid in 1995 and her husband is none other than Jeff MacDonald from Redd Kross.
Finally, Belinda went back to the drum kit and asked, “Hey babe, can I have a cigarette? I always bum cigarettes off of Gina. Anyway, I know it’s not politically correct to smoke up here, so don’t follow my example. On drums, from Baltimore, Miss Gina Schock!” Gina stood from her drum stool, took a bow, handed Belinda a smoke from a pack she had, and they both lit one up. Then Jane took her mic and said, “Last but not least, the person who makes me laugh more than anyone else in the world, the incomparable, the beautiful, the eternally voluptuous, Belinda Carlisle!” Then they surprised me a bit, doing a rocking cover of Celine Dion’s “My Heart Will Go On”, a tune made famous by the blockbuster film “Titanic” which had come out a couple years prior to this show. Like Berlin’s hit, “Take My Breath Away”, that song too won an Oscar for Best Song, not to mention a Golden Globe as well as sweeping the Grammies too. Come to think of it, this was probably the only show where I saw two different acts play an Oscar winning song each. Anyway, that tune morphed into “Johnny Are You Queer”, another song made famous in a film, that being “Valley Girl” with Nicolas Cage. Coincidentally, “Con Air” with Mr. Cage is playing on the TV right now as I write this.
Anyway, the show finally ended and I have to say that it was one of the best and most memorable I ever witnessed at the Maritime, or in my whole life for that matter. Like I said before, I got to set up Berlin’s gear four years later, but I heard of a embarrassing incident involving them just recently. They had the poor judgement of playing on New Year’s Eve at Mar-A-Lago immediately after Trump lost the election in 2020. If that wasn’t bad enough, they played alongside Vanilla Ice. Terri publicly apologized for showing up there afterwards and I guess I’d understand if she really, REALLY needed the money or if they were holding some her loved one’s hostage or something, but the damage is done. I felt bad for Vanilla Ice too, who I had recorded at the Maritime five months before this show and found him to be a very nice person.
It wouldn’t be long until I had the pleasure of seeing The Go-Go’s again for they would play a year later in Golden Gate Park at Sharon Meadows at the Alice’s Now & Zen Festival with Beck, Travis, and Tonic. I would however have to wait another eleven years until I would get a chance to catch them again, when they played The Fillmore, but sadly, I haven’t seen them since. They recently performed at the Masonic, but I had to miss it. I was able to catch their jukebox stage musical “Head Over Heels” a few years ago, scored entirely with songs from The Go-Go’s at the Curran theater before it moved on to Broadway. To add to the band’s accomplishments, I’m happy to say they were just inducted into the Rock & Roll Hall Of Fame last year as well. So, as you might imagine, having this show under my belt remains one of the proudest moments of my career.
Joe Strummer & The Mescaleros, MXPX, Fill., SF, Tues., July 6, 1999
SETLIST : Digging The New, London Calling, X-Ray Style, White Man In Hammersmith Palais, Tony Adams, Straight To Hell, Rock The Casbah, Yallo Yallo, Brand New Cadillac, I Fought The Law, (encore), Techno D-Day On Omaha Beach, Tommy Gun, (encore), Down The Road, Forbidden City, Bankrobber
I missed my opportunity to see one and only Joe Strummer at The Warfield back in 1991 when he was filling in as the singer for The Pogues, the one time I could have seen him perform before this. I was however lucky enough to see Joe’s fellow Clash bandmate Mick Jones when he did a Warfield show that very same year with his band, Big Audio Dynamite II, though I can’t say I was a big fan of their music. The Pogues had temporarily lost their singer Shane MacGowan in 1991, leaving the band under the weight of his alcohol addiction and his attempt to have a solo career and was replaced by the band’s lead guitarist Philip Chevron. But then they had to have Joe pinch hit for Philip when he became ill. That Warfield show was over a year before I started ushering and frankly, I didn’t even hear about it happening until it was already over. I had grown up listening to The Clash, but had resigned myself to the fact that I’d never see them since they had disbanded in 1985. Joe had kept himself busy in the intervening years, writing music and even playing roles in Alex Cox’s movies such as “Sid & Nancy”, “Walker”, and “Straight To Hell”, a movie clearly named after his song which he also played at The Fillmore that night. Joe also had a bit part in Jim Jarmusch’s “Mystery Train”, playing a drunk who was pissed that everybody was calling him Elvis. But this time away from making records and touring, what he described as his “wilderness years”, would eventually come to a close with his new project, playing with The Mescaleros.
Joe had been struggling for years to get out of his contract with Epic Records and finally shook himself free of it in 1989 and immediately put out his first solo record, “Earthquake Weather” on Sony Records fronting a band he called the Latino Rockabilly War. But the album was such a commercial flop that he was quickly dropped by the label and then ten long years had passed before he was picked up again by Mercury, which he recorded the first Mescaleros album, “Rock Art & The X-Ray Style”, which would ultimately be released that October. So, we were all hearing his new material for the first time and were fortunate to hear five of his new tunes that night amongst his golden oldies. Opening that night were MXPX, a punk band from up north in Washington and like any young punk band, they were ecstatic to be opening for this pioneer of their genre. It’s not often most folks get to meet their heroes, much less collaborate with them professionally.
Speaking of meeting one’s heroes, I have to mention a cute story that happened with this show. By this time, my friend Liz Farrow, who would occasionally assist me recording at the Maritime, was working as a production assistant for BGP, and I had given her my old beat up Toyota Camry which she was using to run errands for them. As luck would have it, two days before this show on Independence Day, Liz was tasked to run down to the airport and retrieve Joe’s luggage which had been delayed and bring the luggage to his hotel room in Japantown, just up the hill from The Fillmore. I believe he was staying at the Kabuki. Anyway, Liz gets to his hotel room and Joe opens the door, taking the luggage with great relief from her and thanked Liz profusely. Apparently, he was so desperate to get them back since they contained his daughter’s Beanie Babies. They were all the rage back then.
Anyway, back to the show. MXPX played a spirited, though short set. The singer mentioned that we wouldn’t be seeing them for a while since they were about to record a new album which he claimed would probably be out in October. The album would be “The Ever Pressing Moment”, but wouldn’t actually come out until the following May. They did however release a live album exactly three weeks after this night called “At The Show”, recorded the year before at the 9:30 Club in D.C. I would see MXPX again five years later opening for Simple Plan at The Warfield. But the night belonged to Joe and his band and after eagerly awaiting him for what literally was my whole life up until then, the lights went down and he took the stage.
He opened with the appropriately titled, “Digging The New”, one fresh off the presses, but it didn’t take long for him to dust off “London Calling” immediately afterward. A couple songs later, they did “White Man In Hammersmith Palais” and Joe got a little miffed at the air conditioner blasting him on stage. It being the middle of summer, The Fillmore would crank it up then, but he wasn’t having it, shouting “Turn The AC off!” in the beginning of the song, then again “AC off!” between singing lines a little later. I assume they finally did since he didn’t complain about it after that. Afterwards, Joe introduced his band, describing his Scottish bass player Scott Shields as coming “from north of the border”. He then talked about the song “Tony Adams”, saying he wanted to “talk to the ladies if you don’t mind”. He went on explaining that back in the 1930’s, women’s soccer was so popular in England that their matches would command crowds of up to to 30 to 40 thousand fans, but “men got jealous” and “cancelled the whole show”, but was reassured that women’s soccer had a “modern lineage” and was thriving once again. Tony Adams, not to be confused with the Sinn Fein politician, was actually a ball player for Arsenal, but Joe said that the song wasn’t actually about him, claiming “it’s a song about going to a festival, losing your friends and losing your mind, and kind of enjoying it.”
Later, he riffed a bit between songs saying, “I’ve been hiding under a rock for 15 years. A lot of moss under there, ya? Anyway, I got some of the moss. I’ll have a look at the moss. Watch the way it slowly crept out of the edges of my cave, down onto the meadow, then it took over the meadow, and then it hit the hedge, then it hit the fence, then it hit the bridge, then it hit the ice rink. Then it took over the entire town and city beyond that, and then the country, then it took over the whole of Italy & Greece and all that shit. This moss is going places, so I decided to take this moss, get these honchos together, and get my ass on the road here!” The crowd roared with approval and then they began the instantly recognizable “Straight To Hell”. In the middle of the song, he got the audience to cheer again, shouting “Hey! We’re fuckin’ alive, ain’t we?!?”
A couple songs later, Joe dedicated his big hit, “Rock The Casbah” to Topper Headon, the drummer of The Clash. Following that, he did another new song, “Yallo Yallo”, and then introduced his cover of “Brand New Cadillac”, saying, “There’s only two British rock & roll songs. One is “Shakin’ All Over” by Johnny Kidd & The Pirates, OK? This is the other one by Vincent Taylor & The Playboys”. He finished the set with “I Fought The Law”, but soon came back for the first of two encores. The first song he did when he came back was a new one, “Techno D-Day”, which he was calling “Techno D-Day On Omaha Beach” then. Joe said that it was festival season in the UK and he was on one recently near a beach and he had brought his “incredible large calypso record collection” with him and when the cops came round to give the festival the third degree with their decibel meters, he would play them Harry Belafonte until they went away. Then they would blast their techno stuff with impunity. He finished the first encore with “Tommy Gun” but warned the crowd to “just be careful with the ladies up front here, mosh-heads.”
For the second and final encore, they did a couple more new ones, “Down The Road” and “Forbidden City”, before finishing with the classic, “Bankrobber”. I’m happy to say that The Fillmore made a cool poster for the occasion, featuring a bright red cartoon slot machine, adorned with flames and a devil’s head with a martini beside it. Damn good thing they had a poster too, since when Joe returned to play The Fillmore two years later, there wasn’t one. I’m so glad I also caught that show in 2001, since Joe would die of a heart attack a year afterward just a couple months after his 50th birthday. I almost didn’t make it to that last show too. Though my brother did take me to the Big Audio Dynamite II show back in ’91, he missed Joe when he played with the Pogues and both Fillmore shows, which I know he regrets. We all thought Joe would be around forever, but we all found out about his congenital heart defect when it was all too late.
Jamiroquai, Union Square, SF, Sun., July 4, 1999
SETLIST : High Times, Alright, Space Cowboy, Soul Education, Virtual Insanity, Planet Home, Supersonic, Miss You, Getting Down, Too Young To Die, Black Capricorn Day, Light Years, Deeper Underground, (encore), Canned Heat
It is a very rare occasion when a show takes place on Independence Day, partially I think that venue employees would likely get holiday pay. But this was one of those rare shows where it did. To make it even rarer it was one of those free shows put on in Union Square and I’m afraid the last of such shows put on there, or at least the last one I would see. Union Square got renovated shortly after this and though they would host occasional music, dance, and whatnot, it never was any bands of note, none that would remotely draw a crowd like this one. I think the only other free Union Square show I saw was Lush back in 1992. And like that glorious show, Jamiroquai also packed the place front to back. I would say around 8,000 people would be a fair estimate. It had been two years since I’d see Mr. Jason Kay play at The Warfield. Though his big hit, “Virtual Insanity” had been out for a while, he clearly was still a big draw. Researching this, I discovered that there even was an official Jamiroquai wall calendar made that year.
So, the crowd went nuts as he took the stage in one of his trademark big hats. I believe this time it was a big. black furry one. He had quite a few musicians with him, changing in and out for solos, at least eleven of them. After a few songs, he joked about it being the 4th of July saying, “Well, my my, it’s a good job that over 200 years ago you got away from us or else you’d have police with big tits on their head carrying truncheons. Then you’d be eating sandwiches and talking like me and drinking cups of tea, doing all that thing.” He went on, “started off this morning and there were three people right up front.” Someone in the crowd obviously got his attention and he laughed, “Hey! That’s a nice ass but can you put it away till later? Please, put that ass away!” Unfortunately, this was one of those cases where my batteries started running out in the middle of the show, so the recording speeds up gradually until I finally replaced them in time for the encore. Still, even sped up, Jamiroquai’s diction is so excellent, that I had no trouble deciphering his lyrics and getting all the song titles.
After the first four songs, he did his aforementioned big hit and then he pointed to the large building on his right and joked, “Oh my God! There’s somebody robbing the underpants from Macy’s!” A couple songs later, he did a rather respectable cover of “Miss You” by The Rolling Stones, obviously a big influence on his work. During “Get Down”, Jamiroquai had someone join him on stage to do a jazzy flute solo. For “Deeper Underground”, the last song of the set, he introduced it by asking, “Did anybody see ‘Godzilla’?” The guy to my right immediately blurted out, “Yeah. I didn’t like it.” Yes, the Matthew Broderick movie put out the previous summer was a critical failure and barely made the money back to pay for its bloated production. Jamiroquai quipped, “I only heard it for about three seconds in a bar scene. Oh my God! That’s huge! Look out behind you!” Just as well, I suppose. That movie is best forgotten. Anyway, it was an upbeat song and it was unique that he brought out a didgeridoo player for that one.
Jamiroquai came back for one more song for his encore, saying, “I would like to take this opportunity to thank our sponsors for the last five to six years, Levi Strauss.” Incidentally, Levi’s was founded in San Francisco if you didn’t know. He continued, “This tune, hopefully we can remember. There’s like five different versions of it. We do know what we’re doing, don’t we?” They then tore into “Canned Heat”, a brilliant disco tune, even getting the crowd to do a few high pitched “Woo Woo” chants for a bit. Everybody was dancing joyfully and clapping as he pumped us up shouting, “Party people, do you feel alright?!? Put your hands together!” They got a rousing round of applause and calls for more songs at the end, but that was it. He waved goodbye and said, “San Diego, next stop! We’ll see you sometime later on!” Sadly though, this would be the last time I’d see him play. Jamiroquai made the ill fated decision to join the bill at the catastrophic Woodstock ’99 less than three weeks after this show. He understandably took a break from music for a while after that, but has since returned to touring and writing new material. Maybe I’ll get another chance someday.
Sunny Day Real Estate, Mike Watt & The Black Gang, Sunset Valley, Maritime Hall, SF, Sat., July 3, 1999
It had been only eight months since I taped Sunny Day at the Hall for the first time, but I was happy to see them again. I enjoyed their unique, sophisticated music and I remember that our front of house engineer, James Shaw, was a fan as well. James was a talented guy and a bit of a smart alec, and though I’m sure he thought very little of my skills as a sound man, probably and rightfully so, I still admired him. But it is always a ringing endorsement when a sound guy likes your stuff. Anyway, Sunny Day were still touring supporting their last album, “How It Feels To Be Something On”, so it basically was the same show as before. It would be the last time I’d see them live since they would break up two years later, though they would have a brief reunion in 2009 which I missed. And as I think I mentioned last time, they wouldn’t use any of my recordings for an album, particularly since they already had one in the can from their show that May at The Breakroom in Seattle, their home town.
One good thing about this gig was that I got to tape master bass player and songwriter extraordinaire Mike Watt. From Firehose, to playing with Porno For Pyros, to his solo work and beyond, Mike was a tireless musical workhorse. I mean, the list of his collaborations even by then all those years ago was impressive. This time he was touring with a band he called The Black Gang. And like his demeanor on stage, Mike was genuinely nice to me when I handed him his tapes at the end of set. The man is like a ray of sunshine. Anybody who doesn’t like Mr. Watt is not worth knowing. So, it was sad to hear a year later that he came down with a nasty infection in his perineum. For those who don’t know what that is, well… there’s no way to put this delicately. It was his taint. There, I said it. It put him out of commission for a while, but I’m happy to report that he recovered and went on to continue making music. I would get to see him again three years later opening for Mission Of Burma at The Fillmore. Then, he was touring with a new band he called The Secondmen, an obvious parody of his first band, The Minutemen.
Lost At Last, DJ Adam & Gamma Ray, Gabe Real / Miss E, Maritime Hall, SF, Sat., June 26, 1999
It had been only six months since hippie fusion rock band Lost At Last played the Hall, that time backing beat poet Terence McKenna. They were the opening act then for Jai Uttal, but they were back this time as the headliner and since I already went through their backstory before, I’ll just get on with it. The show was being listed as a benefit for the Climate Theater, but the tickets were still pretty cheap, being only $15. This was clearly a crusty crowd, all steam-punk, (mostly) young hippies gearing up for Burning Man. Indeed, the MC of the evening spoke of it which I’ll get into later. Among the drummers standing in the crowd beating their harnessed toms and snares, fellow revelers had erected a cloth banner in the form of a hornless, devilish face between two poles and held aloft. The mouth of the face was agape and large enough for several people to fit through and served as sort of a portal to and from their strange hippie realm. One of the drummers had a black furry hat with horns on it, reminiscent of Fred Flintstone when he attended his Loyal Order Of Water Buffalos gatherings.
The MC emerged eventually from the mouth of the giant face and addressed the crowd, his wireless handheld mic at first not working, but eventually turned on and brought up to a decent volume. He was quite a theatrical young man, clad in a tall burgundy top hat and matching waistcoat, definitely looking like he just stepped out of the Edwardian era. He spoke boldly saying, “Welcome!” a bunch of times, his voice growing louder each time until he was yelling. He went on, “Ladies & gentlemen, boys & girls, welcome to white heat, white lights! A techno tribal ritual and celebration” then saying under his breath, “Whatever the hell that is.”
He continued, “We tonight are a celebration, a family of diverse communities that have come together to give you a taste of our revels in the desert. But on the night of September 4th, 1999, just a few short months away from…” then his voice delved into deep drone, “the millennium!”, his voice then returning to normal, “an estimated twenty to twenty five thousand people will gather in the Black Rock Desert of Nevada.” Somebody cheered, “Rock City!” and the MC confirmed, ”Yes, Rock City! You said it right and our city’s so big! It’s a city, is it not? It has to be a city. It’s so large our celebration this year is going to take the form of a clock and at the center of our clock, there will stand a lone figure, a lone figure that waits this moment each year, attended by everyone, his consumption by glorious flame! Let me hear you say Amen!”
The crowd cheered and he kept preaching, “Oh yeah, Amen! And brothers and sisters, let me hear you say Amen when I say that heroes die to be reborn! Ladies & gentlemen, boys & girls, brothers & sisters, I have good new for you. Tonight, we are that hero!” His voice then immediately dropped and muttered quickly, “slash heroine”, then returning to normal, “And together in the circle we shall be initiated, together in that circle”, then dropping to a whisper, “we shall be reborn.” His voice shot up, “We are the circle! We are the tellers and tell-E’s! We are the story! If it’s a story, what kind of story is it?” He scanned the crowd listening as they shouted out random answers and pointed about until fixing on one person, “Yes, anybody? What is that? Ding! Ding! Ding! You won the prize. Dark Angel, please?”
A slender, dark haired goth lady emerged on stage and presented the one in the crowd who guessed “Love Story” a stuffed polka dotted elephant. The MC smiled and said, “We aim to please at the Resurrection show. Oh, you win this lovely prize. But wait, there’s more! You get an autographed picture of me! Oh yeah, check out those pants. So friends, if it’s a love story, don’t we need a couple of lovers? Do we have any lovers here?” He pointed to a pretty, young girls on stage in a cloth, white dress and said, “Why you, yes indeed. I believe you fit the bill quite perfectly.” A couple ladies on stage sat on stools and started singing a high pitched “Hoooooo” in harmony while one of them played an acoustic guitar and was eventually joined in by another fellow with them also on guitar.
The young woman in white was joined in the center of the dance floor by a young shirtless man wearing matching white, cloth trousers and together they did a sort of “love dance”, undulating and embracing each other. But their semi-erotic gyrations were soon interrupted when they found themselves surround by some black clad dancers bearing torches and others with long sticks protruding from their fingers and aflame on their ends. They encircled the lovers clearly now in distress and all the while the MC kept ranting on. The male dancer finally made his way to the mouth of the face banner and crept towards it, at first blocked by a couple guys with crossed swords in his way. The dancer eventually got past them and then the MC invited everybody in the audience to “follow into the underworld”. Shuffling through a few people at a time, the crowd passed though the mouth and then there was more drumming and people dancing with torches. Seriously, if the Fire Marshall was there and I can’t say if he was, he would have a conniption seeing all this fire lunacy going on. As far as I know, there were no injuries. Coincidentally, Rammstein had just performed at the Hall with their usual impressive arsenal of pyrotechnics six days before this, but we couldn’t record them because they had brought their own monitor board again and we couldn’t get the hook up to tape.
Anyway, back to the show. A single smart light fixture had been set out in the middle of the dance floor and was lit up, projecting a swirling cone of white upwards to the ceiling through the thick cloud from the fog machines, burning sage, and marijuana smoke. As the MC droned on asking stuff like, “Would you die for love?”, the speakers started blasting this long, ambient keyboard intro that I’d hear Moby use for opening his sets after that year. Two performers on stilts emerged from the mouth of the face banner, dressed in a futuristic armored looking outfit, lined with pulsating, colorful, thin, bendable light snakes. On their heads were similarly lined, long bike helmets, reminiscent of the heads of H.R. Giger’s Aliens. They stomped and danced about looking like extras from “Tron”, thankfully given enough room from the revelers as they not get knocked over.
After they lumbered away, a bunch of young men and women in white togas emerged, who I like to call The Lone Tree Worshippers, an obscure in joke with some old friends that I won’t delve into. They were true commune types, doing their sort of dance around the maypole thing with the light on the floor and one by one the band started taking the stage. It started out real slow with them, the band accompanied by a young, female dancer in a white veil swaying like a hypnotized cobra to the drone of the band. Finally, their singer, Jaya Lakshmi, came out with her cropped, blonde hair, white tank top, and painted colored dots on her face and midriff that glowed under black lights shining on stage. The others in the band were similarly adorned as they were the last time I saw them play at the Hall. The songs eventually picked up the pace and more fire dancers came out on the floor, this time with a couple shirtless guys spinning around short staffs with fire on the end like Darth Maul. The face banner had been disassembled by then and a couple white cloth, conical tee pees were erected on the dance floor, each lit up from inside. The shirtless fire dancers spinning their staffs were joined by another one, a bald fellow in a black body suit with white striped sleeves.
Seriously, I liked these guys. It wasn’t just this strange, bacchanalian scene. Lost At Last could play and was easy to dance to. It wasn’t often you’d see a harmonium in a live band either. That instrument makes any song sound like a gypsy tune. They also had a shirtless guy on stage who dinged a triangle and the drummer had glowing drumsticks. But I believe this was the last time I’d see Lost At Last perform. Jaya still sings and plays harmonium to this day, doing music and yoga with a fellow named Ananda Yogiji, performing at new age music & art festivals and hippie yoga retreats all over the west and Hawaii. Guitarist Deva Priyo still plays with a band called Gypsy Moon as well. The show was a sight to see that night and like Crash Worship, is one of those things I’d like to show unassuming folks from parts elsewhere if they’re curious to see an example of a typical night’s entertainment in the city by the bay.
Rahzel, Phife Dawg, Bukue One, Maroon Descendants, Maritime Hall, SF, Fri., June 25, 1999
I had been no stranger to the talents of beat box master Rahzel, having recorded him four times already at the Hall with The Roots, but this would be the first time he’d play there as a solo act. Little did I know that some of his vocal handiwork that night would be used in his debut solo album, “MTM 2000”, the following year, MTM standing for “make the music”. Yes, Rahzel took six whole snippets from the show that night and used them as interludes between studio tracks, consisting of tracks 1, 3, 6, 8,11, and 13 on the album, the tracks titled, “The Human Beat Box”, Super Dee Jay”, “Just The Beginning”, “For The Ladies”, “Wu Tang Live”, and “If Your Mother Only Knew” respectively. Unfortunately, my name was left out of the credits, simply stating that each track was written and produced by Rahzel M. Brown for Rahzel Enterprises Inc. and recorded at Maritime Hall, San Francisco. At least we got the venue and city. But I’ll talk about those tracks later. I would get to record Rahzel one final time five months later with The Roots at the Hall, but that would be the last time, indeed the final show that I would record at the Hall with Pete as my partner. I’ll get into that one when I reach November as well, a whole other story to be sure.
A couple more more incidental tidbits before moving on, good ol’ Rammstein had played the Hall with Soulfly five days before this, but once again they brought their monitor board and we could get a hook up to tape, so I skipped it. In hindsight, I should have at least watched the show, but I’d seen them both twice in the last two years, recording Soulfly both times they played the Hall, and decided to get my beauty sleep that night. Also Echo & The Bunnymen were originally listed on the monthly poster to play that night, but for some reason didn’t make it, though they would play the Maritime four months later and I was overjoyed to record that one.
On a sad note, this would be the final time I’d see Phife Dawg from Tribe Called Quest when he was alive. He had his well documented falling out with Q-Tip the year before bringing Tribe Called Quest to an acrimonious end for the time being and he was on his own, doing solo work as well as Rahzel. He would also release his debut album the following year, titled “Ventilation : Da LP”, but he would use no tracks I recorded on this gig. Poor Phife was already dealing with the debilitating symptoms of diabetes and he would require a kidney transplant in 2008 which coincidentally he had performed at UCSF just up the street from where I’m writing this now. That transplant would ultimately fail requiring him to get another in 2012, but he would ultimately succumb to his condition and pass away four years later.
The good news is that he and Q-Tip made amends and even toured again briefly in an effort to help pay for his medical bills, but their collaboration wouldn’t last, deteriorating personally once again all too quickly. It’s a pity. Phife was a talented rapper and knew how to please a crowd. Also opening that night and I’m glad to say is still alive and well was Bukue One AKA Tion Torrence. He was billed simply as Bukue as Phife Dawg was simply listed as Phife that show, most likely once again another all too common mistake Boots made in the ad listing. The show was added too late to make it to the monthly poster in time. Bukue One was brand new then as well, releasing his debut album “Lastarfighta” the year before. Hailing from the nebulous region between Berkeley and Oakland, his father was also a musician, once singing back up in Marvin Gaye’s touring band.
Though it was a pretty decent sized crowd, I don’t believe it was sold out. Like I said before, Rahzel did some funny interludes throughout the night between songs including an homage to the Wu Tang Clan called “Wu Tang Live” on the album. Rahzel has the uncanny talent to do beat box or rap and hum a melody of a song simultaneously and he did so there, covering “Wu Tang Clan Ain’t Nuthin’ To F’ Wit”. He also did some video game noises from “Mortal Kombat”, finishing with, “Scorpion wins! Fatality!” But the big hit, which would end up as the last song on the album and ultimately his signature song was “If Your Mother Only Knew”. There he would do the beat and the chorus at the same time, but pause in the middle to challenge the crowd, asking them “Ya all think I ain’t doin’ that shit? You don’t think I’m doin’ that shit? You think there’s some other shit goin’ on? I’m gonna slow it down a bit. I’m gonna slow it down a little bit so you can hear the pronunciation on everything I’m saying.” He then started back up, this time doing the song slower, rasping out the sexy line of the song title, inexplicably and seamlessly between his beats. The crowd was amazed and I was too. On the album, there is a pause afterwards on that last track leaving a couple minutes of silence before revealing a hidden track at the end where Rahzel teams up with Kenny Muhammed The Human Orchestra to do a beat box battle with DJ Skribble & DJ Slinky. It was a funny bit, also filled with kung fu fighting sound bites. Seriously, there are very few people in the world who can do what Rahzel does, which makes me all the more proud that my stuff ended up on his album, especially it being his first album. Like I said, Rahzel would return one more time to the Maritime with The Roots that November, but he would soon leave the band for good and fellow beat box expert Scratch would go too in 2003.
Zebrahead, The Pilfers, Speak No Evil, Papa Roach, Maritime Hall, SF, Sat., June 12, 1999
SETLIST (PAPA ROACH) : Snakes, Walking Through Barbed Wire, Infest, Revenge, July, Broken Home, Legacy, Thrown Away
Pete had surprised me the night before showing up for Meat Beat Manifesto, being neither hippie nor reggae music and thus having little interest to him, but I knew I had the Zebrahead show to myself. Come to think of it, I don’t think he ever recorded any of the punk or punkish shows at the Hall. Zebrahead had been at the Maritime before opening for Far the previous July and I got that one too. They were good then as they were on this occasion, but neither show sold well, the balcony closed off and the floor less than half full. It was the best and worst of times for that band in 1999. They were at the height of their popularity, but were dealt the heartbreaking news of one of their singers, Ali Tabatabaee’s diagnosis of Hodgkin’s Disease right in the middle of the Warped Tour which they had joined shortly after this show. The good news is that after enduring chemo and radiation, Ali recovered and even continued writing music throughout this ordeal. The new songs would come out the following year with their new album, “Playmate Of The Year”. I would see Zebrahead one more time seven years later opening for Reel Big Fish at The Warfield, but this would be the last time I’d record them at the Hall.
This would also be the last time I’d record a band I’d grown infinitely familiar with at the Maritime, Papa Roach. Believe it or not, this would be the FIFTH time I’d tape those guys, easily making them the band I taped the most there. Well, Zero comes in a close second at four, but Pete was at the helm for three of those, though we could have done more of Zero’s shows if we didn’t get so sick of them. But that’s another story which I’ve already been over. In fact, I saw Papa Roach the last four times they opened for bands at the Hall in merely eight months. And yes, as I also mentioned before about them, they were just on the cusp of becoming big with their triple platinum, major label debut with Dreamworks, “Infest”, which had the hit single, “Last Resort”. But I would have one more time to hear them do their thing, the first of four bands playing to the handful of their buddies from up north in Vacaville up in front and an otherwise nearly empty Hall.
They didn’t phone it in and they never did. Whatever you might feel about them and their music, I am proud of Papa Roach. They got big, but they worked for it and I like to think that their frequent appearances at the Hall helped play a small part in their success. We were lucky to hear them perform four of the new songs that night, half their set, almost a year before their new album would be released. I’m glad I kept the recording for this last show, especially since it is the only one I have. Their singer, Jacoby Shaddix, came out in a matching earth toned, short sleeved, collared shirt and slacks, making him look a little like a UPS employee. But he sang his ass off as always, committed to his performance. Just before singing “July”, he joked, “Don’t be afraid to look like a dipshit since I’m on stage doing it.”
After that song, Jacoby leapt into the crowd at the beginning of “Broken Home”, but his arm accidentally clotheslined a young woman up front as he descended. He hugged her and apologized at the end of the tune saying, “I’m so sorry! I just pummeled this lady. I guess you should expect some flamboyancy and abuse when you come to a Papa Roach show.” He went on laughing, “You don’t know if I’m going to kick you or give you a hug. Maybe I’ll kick you AND I’ll give you a hug!… I think you’re all just jealous cus’ the voices are just talking to me inside my head.” He mentioned that they were playing in their home town of Vacaville at an all day festival with eight other bands soon and then strangely undid his belt, tucked in his shirt, refastened the belt and pulled it up to chest like an old man. Jacoby then bellowed, “This song is dedicated to every last motherfucker who wants to flip the fuck out with me and if you don’t, I’m gonna rip your fuckin’ hair out!” They finished with what would be the last song on their next album, “Thrown Away”, and after a short, but fun filled 37 minutes, they were gone and on their way. I would see Papa Roach a couple more times at Shoreline in 2001 as one of the opening acts at Ozzfest and a year later there headlining Live 105’s BFD. Yep, that’s how fast they got big.
They would be followed by the L.A. metal band called Speak No Evil, brand new having just released their first self titled album that year. This would be the only time I’d see them since sadly their guitarist Lee Rios died in a bike accident fifteen years later in Miami. Sadly, this would be the only time I’d see the following band, The Pilfers, a band that really impressed me. They were also new with a self titled album, led by former Toasters singer, Coolie Ranx. The “raggacore” band were just about to release their major label debut on Mojo Records, “Chawalaleng”, and as I hoped for every band I recorded at the Maritime, prayed that they would use some of my stuff for a CD or DVD. They didn’t, though they had tried to put together a live album from a show they did at CBGB’s which was never released and they split up in 2001, briefly reforming again seven years later.
Meat Beat Manifesto, Dub Pistols, DJ Hive, Maritime Hall, SF, Fri., June 11, 1999
It was a great disappointment to me that we couldn’t record Buddy Guy the night before this show. Though a completely different scene stylistically, coming in this night to do Meat Beat Manifesto helped soothe the loss of that one. Granted, Buddy had plenty of live material under his belt, but to have that legend amongst our list of talent recorded at the Hall would have been special, particularly since it was a safe bet that his buddy Carlos Santana would have likely shown up to jam with him. I can’t say whether he showed or not, though I have seen him play with Buddy before this. Opener Angela Strehli has quite an impressive singing voice and at least we had recorded Legion Of Mary previously. I believe this was around the time my future friend Frank Gallagher was touring as Buddy’s soundman, but I would become acquainted with the venerable Scotchman until a few years later.
I myself had recorded Meat Beat Manifesto only six months before they returned once again to the Maritime when they were part of the Electronica Hanukkuh, an all night festival which they were one of the middle acts. They had gotten a fair amount of time on stage that night, but this time, they were headlining and got a proper set. I was a little surprised that Pete would show up to this one to record since he had little to no interest in the genre. Things were looking good for MBM around that time. They had just won a Bammie for Outstanding Electronic Album that March and had their song “Prime Audio Soup” in the soundtrack for “The Matrix” which also came out that month. One of the openers, DJ Hive, a drum and bass artist from L.A. also had his song, “Ultrasonic Sound” in that soundtrack too. He just goes by the name Hive now, perhaps to not be confused with another DJ Hive who lives in Honduras. After watching the recent reboot of the film series with “The Matrix : Resurrections” that came out this year, I was reminded of the impact that movie and its soundtrack lent credibility to the genre to both the film and music history.
Another opener on the bill that night were the Dub Pistols, a group from jolly old England. They were still pretty new then, having just released their first album the year before, but they too would have a song put on the soundtrack of a major motion picture that year, the song “Keep On Movin’” in the film “Mystery Men” which came out that August. Like the show the night before, there would be another future friend in the house that night, Mark Pistel, who had replaced Jon Wilson in MBM and was touring regularly with the band. I wouldn’t become friends with Mark until around fifteen years later when he started doing work for IATSE with me, but when we did meet, he remembered that night as well as the Electronica Hanukkah. Brilliant man, Mark. He and the band were still touring, playing songs from their most recent album, “Actual Sounds & Voices” which came out the previous June, so the mostly played the same stuff I had heard the last time they were there. Pete as always made the mix stellar and there was plenty of strobe lights and fog machine action upstairs from us. Those guys made great music, impossible not to dance to. People forget with the almost universal presence of electronic music these days around the world that there were early pioneers such as Meat Beat Manifesto and they deserve credit.
Guinness Fleadh ’99: Van Morrison, Elvis Costello, Ben Harper & The Innocent Criminals, John Lee Hooker, Golden Gate Park Polo Fields, SF, Sat., June 5, 1999
(BEN HARPER & THE INNOCENT CRIMINALS) : Gold To Me – Fight For Your Mind, Burn One Down, The Will To Live, Faded, Roses From My Friends, Ground On Down, Voodoo Child (Slight Return)
(ELVIS COSTELLO) : Accidents Will Happen, The Angels Wanna Wear My Red Shoes, Talking In The Dark, Toledo, (I Don’t Want To Go To) Chelsea, New Amsterdam – You’ve Got To Hide Your Love Away, Any King’s Shilling, Oliver’s Army, Everyday I Write The Book, I Still Have That Other Girl, Veronica, God’s Comic, Alison, Long Journey Home, (What’s So Funny ‘Bout) Peace Love & Understanding, (encore), Pump It Up
(VAN MORRISON) : Moondance, Days Like This, Cleaning Windows, Vanlose Stairway – Trans-Euro Train, Help Me, Philosopher’s Stone, Naked In The Jungle, In The Afternoon – Joe Turner sings – Don’t You Make Me High – Sex Machine, Jackie Wilson Said (I’m In Heaven When You Smile), Georgia (On My Mind), Precious Time, See Me Through – Burning Ground, Gloria – Pretty Thing
Shows at the Golden Gate Park Polo fields came and went, usually no more than one a year, but this was a compelling one. It was being labeled as the “Guinness Fleadh”, the first word there obviously the festival’s sponsor, the second, the Gaelic word for “Festival”. This would be the first of four Fleadhs put on in America that year, the next three put on in Chicago, Boston, and New York City with a variety of acts taking turns on each bill. Luckily, we were spared having to endure Hootie & The Blowfish at this one. I had taken a particular fancy to attending since the headliner was Van Morrison, a musician revered globally and practically worshipped in the whole of Ireland, north and south. His reputation for having a quick temper and frankly being a bit of a prick proceeded him, but when taken in account with his undeniable talent, one can easily forgive him for his lack of social graces. Having never met him much less see him perform before, I cannot confirm or deny these allegations and as the years pass, I tend to lend such rumors less and less credence anyway. The other draw to this bill would be the penultimate act, Elvis Costello, whom I was already a big fan and had seen live before. Though his father was of Irish decent and his birth name was Declan Patrick MacManus, Elvis was actually born in London and spent his childhood and teenage years growing up in jolly old England.
Then again, there was virtually nothing Irish about Ben Harper and John Lee Hooker who preceded them both on the bill that day. I like to think if one ingests enough Guinness, they’d turn a bit Irish, at least temporarily. One act who was supposed to play that day was Shane MacGowan, arguably a man that was TOO Irish, if there could be such a thing. Sadly, Shane couldn’t make it being stranded somewhere with visa problems. He did make it to the Fleadh in Chicago 12 days later, but I wouldn’t have been able to see him anyway since he would have headlined the side stage and I was too dug in up at the main stage to catch Van Morrison. I’d already seen Shane at The Fillmore in 1995 and would see him play there twice more in 2000 and the following year with his band, The Popes, so no terrible loss, though I do appreciate that toothless git. Van Morrison’s daughter, Shana, who had been living in Marin county for years already, was also there on the second stage, but I believe she joined her dad later at his set to sing back up vocals for a bit.
Though I had received comp tickets for the show, it was still unlike me to arrive late, especially a festival with so much talent, but I was that day for reasons I don’t remember, missing both Moxy Fruvous and The Cardigans. I’d at least seen the latter twice before at The Warfield, but I was mortified that I only caught the last song of John Lee Hooker. Despite the fact that this would be the fourth time I’d see him play, I knew at his advanced age, at least 80 by then, though the actual year of his birth is disputable, that his days were numbered. My fears would be realized when he would pass away two years later, confirming this as the last time I’d see him alive. Brief as it was, I’m glad I caught a glimpse of him one final time. He would be ably followed by Ben Harper & The Innocent Criminals, an act that I’d gotten to know well, seeing him once every single year since I’d first see him open for Luscious Jackson in 1994. He always delivers and did again that day, sporting a yellow Toots & The Maytals shirt. Ben shredding on his pedal steel guitar is an ideal act for the middle of a festival like he did at the Mountain Aire festival the year before and I have yet to meet anybody who didn’t like his music. He did a smoking cover of Hendrix’s “Voodoo Chile (Slight Return)” that afternoon.
It had been three years since I saw Elvis Costello at The Fillmore, but he was still touring with just him and Steve Nieve, the piano player from his old band The Attractions. He had been going through a bit of a transitional period, having just left his old label, Warner Brothers, and moving on to Polygram. Also, his marriage to Cait O’Riordan was dissolving, their divorce finalized two years later. The good news was that he was in the mood to branch out to new things, beginning with a new collaboration with celebrated singer/songwriter Burt Bacharach. Elvis and Burt even performed “I’ll Never Fall In Love Again” together in the film comedy “Austin Powers : The Spy Who Shagged Me” that year. Elvis would also appear in the comedy “200 Cigarettes” that year as well. Pity Burt wasn’t with him that day. That would have been a hoot. At least he played “Toledo” a few songs into his set from the “Painted From Memory” album he did with Burt, a song Elvis described as being “about a man who betrayed his lover and he’ll do anything, anything known to man, only to man, to delay his confession.” He also did “I Still Have That Other Girl” from that album, introducing it as “a song about a guy who wants to give in to temptation. Have any of you given into temptation?… I know you’re very pure out there. This guy wants to give into temptation, but he still has something on his mind.” I got the feeling that this last album he did with Burt was more than just a little venting about the breakup of his marriage.
Also that year, Elvis contributed a song with Paddy Moloney from The Chieftains called “Long Journey Home” to the Grammy winning soundtrack for the PBS miniseries, “The Irish In America : Long Journey Home”, and he played that song near the end of his set. Lastly, if that wasn’t enough, Elvis appeared on the 25th anniversary special of “Saturday Night Live” that year, parodying his infamous abrupt switch of songs he did on that show in 1977, causing him to be banned from the show for another twelve years. Rumor has it show producer Lorne Michaels gave him the finger all the way through his performance. But this time, twenty two years later, he interrupted the Beastie Boys singing “Sabotage” and then they backed him up as he once again played “Radio Radio”. He didn’t play that song at the Fleadh, though he did dust off a satisfying number of golden oldies after being first introduced by some DJ from KFOG starting with “Accidents Will Happen” and then “Angels Want To Wear My Red Shoes”. He surprised us a little when he passionately covered the Beatles’ “You’ve Got To Hide Your Love Away” in the middle of performing “New Amsterdam”.
Elvis also did a funny little breakdown in the middle of “God’s Comic”, saying “I have to tell you this song came to me in a dream! I dreamed I saw the almighty being and he was bestride a giant (what sounded like) Bertram water van full of tropical fish, a glass of Tang in one hand and (something unintelligible) in the other, looking for the lost episode of ‘Buffy The Vampire Slayer”. Looking down at everything we’ve done with creation and boy is he pissed off, particularly in the field of popular entertainment. And the almighty held himself up by his mighty elbows and he said, ‘Elvis?’ and I said, ‘Uh-huh.’, ‘cus he’s a little behind in the times. He says ‘there’s a fellow up in heaven called Elvis and he sings all the time. It’s so sad that he died so young. Just think if he had lived a little bit longer, all of the wonderful songs he could have recorded.” Then he paused, kept riffing a little with Steve before singing, “Her name is Rio and she dances in the sand!” That got chuckle and somebody out in the crowd shouted up to him that they loved him in which he replied, “I love you too… The almighty says you’re OK”. He finished up his set with “(What’s So Funny) ‘Bout Peace, Love, & Understanding”, trading in his acoustic guitar for an electric for that one and brought it back for an encore, doing “Pump It Up”.
It was better late than never that I finally got to see Van Morrison. Hard to believe that by the time I set eyes on him, he had already put out his 27th studio album, “Back On Top” and this was almost 23 years ago. He’s done fifteen more studio albums since then. I was actually kind of struck on how Van looked, almost an amorphous everyman, partially because he hid a little behind his dark sunglasses, charcoal hat, and coat. It almost felt like he was incognito, like he was in the witness protection program or something, trying to blend in with his large band, horn section and all. Furthermore, he wasn’t much for chatting between songs, apart from the occasional “Thank You”. Strictly business for Van. But he opened his set with a song everybody on Earth was familiar with, “Moondance”, quickly reminding us all that we knew this guy’s work at least. And there was no hiding or a hint of reluctance in his voice, intensely soulful and strong.
I was relieved that he had the good taste not to play the ubiquitous “Brown Eyed Girl”, a song that is downright compulsory in weddings and karaoke nights alike. Van did however bust out the oldie “Jackie Wilson Said (I’m In Heaven When You Smile)”, a song I originally knew from Dexy’s Midnight Runners’ cover they performed on the UK comedy series, “The Young Ones”. In my usual youthful ignorance, I thought that was Dexy’s song up until just before then. He also played a rather unexpected bit of James Brown’s “Sex Machine” in the middle of “Don’t You Make Me High” as well as a respectful cover of Ray Charles’ “Georgia (On My Mind)”. One tune that was unmistakably his alone was “Gloria” which they ended their set with and Van introduced it saying that it was “a song ripped off from ‘You Pretty Thing’ by Bo Diddley”. Coincidentally, I had just seen Bo only three months before this opening for Tom Petty at The Fillmore and as luck would have it, Tom ended his show with “Gloria” as well. This unfortunately would be the only Guinness Fleadh I’d see, though I would get to see Van Morrison one more time at The Warfield a year and half later. I strolled through the thick fog out of the park at the end hearing the recording of “What A Wonderful World” sung by Louis Armstrong over the speakers.