1987

Public Image, Ltd., The Lime Spiders, Warfield, San Francisco, December 2, 1987

The time finally came for me to see my first show. Alex had a car and the folks trusted him enough to get me there and back in one piece. At the age of 15, I was relatively old in my opinion to be attending a concert for the first time, but before that I really showed no interest. I had heard of Johnny Rotten and the Sex Pistols before and even knew a few of their songs such as “God Save The Queen” and “Anarchy In The UK”, but I knew nothing of PiL. I’d learn years later that the Sex Pistols played their last show at the Winterland just over the hill, a venue that Bill Graham would eventually replace with the Warfield, though it was smaller. It seemed like an appropriate place to see Johnny. I was curious about concerts, and like most boys that age, eager to get out of the house, away from the parents, and be a grown up.

This would be the first and only show I would see at the Warfield before the floor level was remodeled. Back in 1987, the theater still had rows of seats on the floor all the way to the stage before they were taken out and replaced with dance floors and tables. Our seats that night were on the floor about twenty odd rows back. Everybody sat for the opening act, the Lime Spiders, though I distinctly remember one weird woman dancing in the isle up front. Nobody seemed to care. Like so many opening acts I’d see over the years, I never heard their music again nor seen any of their albums around since, but I should give them credit for technically being the first band I ever saw.

Time came for PiL to take the stage and people finally did stand up, or at least most of them. After a couple songs in, I noticed a couple Asian fellows sitting in the row in front of us started smoking marijuana from a small metal pipe. Completely inexperienced to going to concerts, I started panicking, thinking that any second, security, police, the military, and God knows who else would soon swarm our seating section and take us all to prison. A few minutes passed and I glanced around, puzzled that nobody but me was paying attention to them at all.

My attention was eventually diverted to the young couple two rows behind us who were making out rather vigorously. I remember the girl was a buxom blonde with a dress that went below her knee. How I remember this, you ask? Well, the young man sat her up on the unoccupied chair in front of them, having her face him, her back to the stage. That dress then provided sort of a tent, draped over his and her legs, obscuring my and anyone else’s view to the goings on down below there. Despite their nonchalance, it was apparent that they were at the very least dry humping. I tried to be discrete, catching glimpses of their congress from the corner of my eye.

Obviously distracted, I tried to take in what was going on with the band on stage. They had erected a rather impressive set of rectangular, sectional pillars that were lit from the inside, illuminating gold colored paneling. Johnny Lydon was prancing around the stage, wailing in that signature voice of his with a head of bright red spiked hair. Apparently, the dye job on his hair must have been a little too fresh because halfway through the set it started to mingle with his sweat and run off onto his face. He would wipe off his brow and eyes every few minutes, but it just kept on coming and it was very creepy looking, having an uncanny resemblance to blood. 

Near the end of the show, some lady spat on Johnny, which he didn’t appreciate at all. He stormed off the stage, shouting, “Nobody gobs on Johnny Rotten!” Apparently, spitting or “gobbing” was a trend during the early punk years, a trend that thankfully died out. That would be the first and last time I’d see that happen. After a wait that seemed liked forever and a great deal of applause and stomping of feet, he returned to the stage, watching the crowd suspiciously as he finished the show.

Needless to say, that night made an impression on me. Honestly, I didn’t know what to think. The next day, I told Anyika, a pretty girl at school who I had a ridiculous crush on about the show, and it turned out that she was a fan of PiL and asked if they played “Rise”. I didn’t know a single song title at the time, but she sang a couple bars from the chorus, (I could be wrong, I could be right. I could be black, I could be white.), and I recognized it immediately. This gave me the idea to ask her out to what would be the second concert I would ever see.

Red Hot Chili Peppers, Faith No More, The Surf MCs, The Fillmore, San Francisco, December 28, 1987

So, with one show under my belt, I mustered the courage to ask Anyika out to this show. Like so many boys that age, I was playful, stupid, and incredibly immature. She had rebuffed all previous attempts to go out with me, but it being Christmas time, I sent her a card with a ticket to the show in it in a last ditch effort to win her over. She reluctantly accepted.

This would be the first and only time I’d visit the historic Fillmore Auditorium before the Loma Prieta earthquake in 1989 would shut it down for five years. Alex was already a fan of the Chilis, who were still relatively new back then, but were quickly making a name for themselves with their original sound and provocative, yet amusing stage antics.

Anyika and I hitched a ride with Alex and his friend Norman that night and I was brimming with optimism. We meandered about during the Surf MCs, but made sure to get a good spot up front for Faith No More. This was back when they had their original singer, Chuck. Something happens when a boy takes his date into a crowd. It’s the impulse to protect her, getting behind her and spreading out a little as to prevent her from being physically harassed by anyone in the immediate vicinity. It’s just as much animal instinct as courtesy. But being 15 and in such proximity to a warm, beautiful young lady’s body, nature took its course and I think she felt my romantic intentions somewhere on her hip. Embarrassed, I tried to play it cool.

But by the time the Chilis got on stage, she apparently had enough fun for the evening and asked to sit up in the balcony area. Now anybody who’s ever been to the Fillmore knows that if you go up to watch the show from the balcony and you don’t have a seat in one of the tables overlooking the dance floor, well you’re shit out of luck. Unless you’re over 6 feet tall, you have to stand on your tip toes to see anything. Not that doing that would have helped Anyika, being just a hair over 5 feet tall. I would of gladly hoisted her up on my shoulders and let her watch all night, but she chose to sit frumpily at one of the tables in the back. Oblivious to her displeasure, I attempted to continue to be the good date and keep her company, occasionally pooping over to the balcony and a catch a glimpse of revelry.

Clearly everybody else in the building was having the time of their lives, watching the Chilis tear the place up in their tidy whiteys. I do remember them playing “Fight Like A Brave”, the song me and my friends used for the theme song for “Enter The Dragon” when we dubbed it over. But Anyika sat, arms folded, like a beautiful bump on a log through the whole set. I tried to make small talk, but I was so inexperienced with girls back then, I imagine most of it was cringe worthy to her. I even asked her if she’d seen any Arnold Schwarzenegger movies lately.

The show eventually ended and we met up again with Alex and Norman, who having spent the set rocking out in the mosh pit, were soaked in sweat and giddy with excitement. Anyika and I sat in the back seat of Alex’s car for the ride home and I guess I ran out of things to say to her. I stared out the window until we dropped her off at her place. To make matters worse, it was the one show the Chilis would play at the Fillmore that didn’t get a poster at the end of the night.

My infatuation with her almost completely evaporated. We’d see each other in German class at school after that and remained friends, but I never asked her out again. Hers was first of many a hard earned lesson about how to treat women.

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