1994

1994

The Simone White Quartet, Elbo Room, SF, Sun.,  January 9, 1994

It was my brother’s birthday, but I don’t think he was at this one with me. It was the first show of the new year, but little did I realize what a year in music it would be for me. As I look at the list before me I am to write about, I brace myself. By this time, I was a full fledged show junky and I was taping everything I could.

Thankfully, the acid jazz scene was still going strong and shows of this calibre were still cheap and plentiful. Simone White was a good way to start the new year, cool and informal. It’s a pity you don’t hear people rap to jazz music anymore, or hardly ever. 

Incidentally, from now on, I’ll be listing the show’s setlist, at least when I have a list that’s 90% or more complete. Maybe I’ll go back sometime to fill in the blanks before this, but I’ve already posted them on the blog and I’m a lazy, lazy man. Anyway, there was no list for Simone White… moving on.

Jerry Garcia & David Grisman, War., SF, Wed., January 12, 1994

Jerry Garcia & David Grisman, War., SF, Thur., January 13, 1994

SETLISTS

Jan. 12 show : (Set 1) Teddy Bears’ Picnic, Jack-A-Roe, Dark As A Dungeon, Bow Wow, Two Soldiers, Friend Of The Devil, Louis Collins, (Set 2) Stealin’, Jenny Jenkins, Walkin’ Boss, When First Unto This Country, Milestones, Sitting In Limbo, Russian Lullaby, I Ain’t Never, Bag’s Groove, Ripple

Jan. 13 show : (Set 1) Shady Grove, Long Black Veil, Rosalie McFall, Dawg’s Waltz, Freight Train, Hot Corn, Cold Corn, Red Rocking Chair, Grateful Dawg, (Set 2), Trouble In Mind, The Ballad Of Casey Jones, There Ain’t No Bugs On Me, So What, Rockin’ Chair, Stealin’, Little Glass Of Wine, Drink Up And Go Home, Arabia

To most of out you out there, this little writing project of mine must seem like a poorly masked vessel that I can relate my romantic exploits, but I assure you that is only partially true. Believe me, eventually these stories will dry up soon, especially after I finished college. That being said, this was the only show I managed to not only pick up a young lady, but managed to get her home and seal the deal. Let me set the scene.

I’d seen Jerry and the Dead a number of times, but this was the first and only shows that I would see him play with David Grisman. They were a magical combination, a real marriage made in heaven. Luckily, the hippies were polite enough to shut up and listen for most of these shows, so the tapes came out not half bad. They even dusted off a couple Dead songs on the first day, like “Friend Of The Devil” and “Ripple”, two of my favorite songs by the Dead.

Dancing in my aisle the first night, was an adorable redheaded granola girl named Rebecca. My buddy Eric was my plus one that night and was absolutely inept with talking to girls, but I managed to get enough alone time with the lovely miss Rebecca to enjoy the evening and gallantly offer her a ride to the place she was staying at with her friend, Sharon, that night. It paid off.

When we met at the second show, I took her home back to my place in the Mission and she stayed the night. I liked her. We hit it off well enough, it wasn’t just a physical thing to me, but we both knew it was just a temporary thing since her and Sharon were going to relocate to Humboldt shortly thereafter. I took it upon myself to offer them a ride up there with Hefe, who was my flatmate in the Mission at the time and they gladly accepted.

This also afforded us an opportunity to stop at my folk’s ranch in Ukiah on the way and stay at the new house that had just been built there. The ladies enjoyed the scenery and riding around on the ATVs we had. That night, Rebecca and I stayed in the bedroom next to my stepdad’s. Mom wasn’t there that weekend and thank God. I think Rebecca and I really rocked the casbah that night, which I still blush from embarrassment when I think that we could be heard quite clearly by not only my pop, but Hefe and Sharon downstairs. The good news is I think it got Hefe and Sharon motivated and they sealed the deal too.

What this all has to do with Garcia and Grisman is flimsy, but their music did help illustrate to both Hefe and I how no matter how sweet the days of wine and roses are, something always comes up and in this case it was in the form of musical taste. For starters, while driving up to Humboldt the following day, the girls kept singing the chorus to Garcia and Grisman’s cover of the children’s song, “Ain’t No Bugs On Me”. Cute and catchy as most children’s songs are, the song also became annoying after a while. To make matters worse, when I offered the girls to play one of their cassettes in my car stereo, they chose Joni Mitchell, which I still find to this day to be very boring music. They sang along devoutly too. 

Hefe and I got revenge though. As soon as their tape ended, I quickly put in Ice Cube’s, “The Predator” album and gleefully rapped along to his gangsta shit. The look on the girls faces was obvious as ours were when we had to endure Joni Mitchell. Musical tastes aside, I still liked Rebecca and Sharon and felt the tinge of their loss when we parted ways up in Humboldt. Hefe and I stayed with friends up there over the weekend and ran into Sharon in town later and said hi briefly, but I never saw Rebecca again.

The Last Poets, 4 Corners with Simone White, Brass DJs, Kennel Klub, Fri., January 28, 1994

The Last Poets had performed at the student union at San Francisco State a couple times while I was there, but I’d missed them for one reason or another. Although I was young and dumb, I was smart enough to realize the importance of seeing veteran artists while they were still around, the real pioneers of music. The Poets were definitely in that category. Anyone who knows anything about the history of rap recognizes, “The Revolution Will Not Be Televised” as one of the first rap songs to become popular in the mainstream, if not one of the first rap songs ever. It was good to see Simone White again, just a couple weeks after I’d see him play at the Elbo Room. Seemed appropriate to have one of the acid jazz guys in town open up, showing repeat to their elders. 

Before the song, “Crime”, one of the Poets asked if anyone in the crowd knew somebody who was incarcerated. When only a couple hands went up, he said that was a lot less than he was used to seeing at one of their shows and joked about the crowd all being in college, using a mocking erudite voice. Somebody in the crowd responded, “We’re lucky!” True. These were the glorious days of prosperity under Bill Clinton and even the Poets had allowed Nike to use “The Revolution Will Not Be Televised” in one of their commercials on TV. Like Rage Against The Machine, their message seemed out of place for the times. He went on to criticize New York City’s new mayor, Rudi Guliani who wanted to “put a cop in every classroom and a prison in every neighborhood.”

Pato Banton & The Reggae Revolution, Slim’s, SF, Fri., February 4, 1994

I’d seen Pato only one time before when the Dance Hall Crashers opened for them at the Catalyst in Santa Cruz. I remember that Shelley, the then-girlfriend and future wife of Jason, the Dance Hall Crasher’s guitarist, attempted to do a two person mosh pit on the dance floor that night during the Crasher’s set. Didn’t really work. There was only a handful of people on the dance floor and we looked like idiots.

To be fair, I had no idea what Pato’s music was like, and although it was easy to dance to, it wasn’t joshing material. I didn’t stick around that night to see his set, since I was helping the Crasher’s load up their gear and roll back to the bay area, but what I did hear on the way out, I liked, so I made a point to catch him and the Reggae Revolution when they came back to town and played Slim’s.

Pato Banton is one of those rare artists that will always put a smile on my face each and every time I’d see him. The man just shines on stage, radiating pure joy and positivity. I’d go on to see him many times after this show and he never let me down, not once. His love letter to marijuana, “Don’t Sniff Coke”, I believe not only discouraged thousands if not millions to not use cocaine, but also helped more than any other song in history bring about the legalization and popular acceptance of herb. He covered a few Marley songs that night, “War”, “No More Trouble”, and “Get Up, Stand Up” as well.

Onyx, Mystik Journeymen, DNA Lounge, SF, Mon., February 7, 1994

Contrary to what you might think, I don’t really enjoy being in packed crowds, even less now that I’m older. Every once and a while, I get to see a good show that not only unexpectedly not crowded, but is downright sparse. The Onyx show was one of them. Shows like this feels more like a private party than a show. I emphasize private and not in the sense of a company party, but more like one you have in your basement with a bunch of friends. Mind you, such shows suck for the band and the venue, but are a treat for fans like me.

Onyx had been getting attention from their album, “Bacdafuckup”, especially their single, “Slam”. That song was a collaboration with metal band and fellow New Yorkers, Biohazard, that was not only a commercial hit, but was also featured in the film soundtrack for “Judgment Night”. This was also the first time I’d been to the DNA Lounge, so knowing Onyx was hot as well, I was sure to show up early.

My fear was unfounded as I alluded to previously, the venue being practically deserted when I got there. The Mystik Journeymen were brand new back then and this was my first time seeing them, though I would go on to see them many more times in years to come as the Journeymen, as well as many other incarnations of their members, alone and with the Living Legends crew. I was impressed and they did well with what little crowd they had. Artists who are just getting started are much more comfortable with sparse crowds, being grateful with just having a gig at all.

Onyx, on the other hand, seemed determined to squeeze a sold out crowd sum of energy from the handfuls that were there that night. They were the kind of rappers that screamed their rap at you. I mean, they get an A for effort, but bands that tell the crowd over and over to get crazy for them, gets tiring. We paid our money, make us get crazy.

Rush, Cow Palace, SF, Fri., February 11, 1994

SETLIST : Dreamline, The Spirit Of Radio, The Analog Kid, Cold Fire, Time Stand Still, Nobody’s Hero, Roll The Bones, Animate, Stick It Out, Double Agent, Limelight, Mystic Rhythms, Closer To The Heart, Show Don’t Tell, Leave That Thing Alone, (drum solo), The Trees, Xanadu, Cygnus X-1 Book II : Hemespheres Part I : Prelude, Tom Sawyer, Force Ten, YYZ

The “Counterparts” tour would be the last time I’d see Rush. It wasn’t that I didn’t like them anymore, I did. But for one lame reason or another, I’d just miss them every other time they came to town. They claimed the tour they did last year, that is 2015 a year ago from when I’m writing this, would be their very last, but I was out of town for that last gig they did in the bay area down at the Shark Tank in San Jose. I regret missing it, and though I have a feeling Rush really means it that it was the last tour, where most bands welch on it, and come back in five to seven years.

I was either late getting in to see the Melvins opening the show, but more likely refused to record them. Like them opening for Primus the year before, their live show angered and confused the Rush fans. Though they would go on to not only improve their live performances, but become one of the best live bands eventually in my opinion, their set ended with a thunderous chorus of boos. Poor guys. Such rejection must really have hurt, but maybe that inspired them to one, not stop between their songs, and two, increase the dynamics in their sound, so all their songs didn’t feel like lead weights, slowly dragging their listeners down.

Rush did a great job as always. One can’t help but be impressed with a trio that can make such musically dense songs that are still accessible to the average joe. They played a few new tunes, but pleased the fans with a few hits like “The Trees” and “Tom Sawyer” which were practically compulsory for them to play every night.

Charlie Hunter Trio, Elbo Room, SF, Wed., February 16, 1994

Did an intro to this one. My flatmate Phil was there along with two girls named Elizabeth. Don’t remember the girls. I miss Phil. I liked him. We lived at that flat in the Mission for two years. He convinced me to change my major at college from Psychology to Broadcasting. Though I had no interest in pursuing a career in either TV or radio, I at least got some training and contacts through their audio production department. Phil went on intern at the local Fox affiliate KTVU, then produce stuff for CBS, some with Dan Rather. 

He was a brave one, hitting all the hot spots around the world, seemingly determined to get as close to mortal danger as possible, places like Kosovo, Palestine, and Iraq. Years later, I saw footage of Phil briefly in the documentary, “Fahrenheit 9/11” in which he was the reporter on the ground detailing the death of Lila Lipscomb’s son.

I guess that this makes this show special, because I didn’t see many shows with Phil and I was pleasantly surprised to hear his voice on the tape. But I digress, it’s Charlie’s show after all. He shredded as always, the whole band too. Jay Lane did a great solo too. Charlie was starting to get more popular though and I believe this was the last time I saw him with the original Trio playing on his usual Wednesday night. All good things must come to an end. 

The Ramones, Frank Black, War., SF, Thur., March 8, 1994

SETLIST : Durango 95, Teenage Lobotomy, Psycho Therapy, Blitzkrieg Bop, Do You Remember Rock N’ Roll Radio?, I Believe In Miracles, Gimme Gimme Shock Treatment, Rock N’ Roll High School, I Wanna Be Sedated, Substitute, I Wanna Live, My Brain Is Hanging Upside Down (Bonzo Goes To Bitburg), Commando, Sheena Is A Punk Rocker, Rockaway Beach, Pet Sematary, Strength To Endure, Journey To The Center Of The Mind, Take It As It Comes, Somebody Put Something In My Drink, 7 And 7 Is, Wart Hog, Cretin Hop, Judy Is A Punk, Today Your Love, Tomorrow The World, Pinhead, My Back Pages, Poison Heart, We’re A Happy Family, The Shape Of Things To Come, Chinese Rocks, Beat On The Brat

Another rare companion on shows is my sister, Erica. Always fun to see a show with her, but they are few and far between, maybe once every three or four years. So you can imagine my relief knowing that one of those rare shows was the Ramones, especially since this was the first time seeing them for the both of us, and only a couple day’s after her birthday. Rumors were going around at the time that the Ramones were getting fed up with young upstarts like Green Day and The Offspring getting so much money and attention, that they were threatening to break up. But with their new album, interest in them in the mainstream relit and they were starting to draw larger crowds again. 

It was Erica’s first time ushering and since she wasn’t my plus and her last name is Wilson, Tina didn’t make the connection that we were together and she got posted up in the balcony. Thank God it was easy to usher Frank Black opening. It was a general admission show that night, so I was worried that everybody would try to cram in downstairs like they’d done before for Porno For Pyros or Nirvana. But Frank was playing solo and frankly, (no pun intended), he was a bit of a snoozer. Funny how some artists in a band can write brilliant music with others like Frank and the Pixies, but when they’re on their own, they suck and can’t draw a crowd a tenth of the size of what they would with their band. Most of the crowd meandered about his set and we had it easy. Erica had some hassle with a geek upstairs, but she managed to avoid bumping into him when she got cut and joined me downstairs on the dance floor.

Erica and I got into the pit for the Ramones and moshed with everybody. Back then, I had a black leather jacket that I got in London, the label literally called London and I wore it all the time. There’s no concert more appropriate to see in a black leather jacket than the Ramones, even more so if under your jacket, you’re sweating your ass off. I’m sure at the end of the night, I smelled of high heaven. Somehow I managed not to spill my beer in the pit or go deaf from some girl screaming in my ear over and over again.

The Ramones were notorious for playing at breakneck speed, each song rarely going longer than two minutes. The good news is that they always play a lot of songs. They can squeeze in 25 to 30 songs in an average set and that was good considering their impressive catalog of tunes. They announced that night that it was their 2002nd show and dedicated “Pet Sematery” to Frank Black. I was lucky to see the Ramones a couple more times in the 90’s before the untimely deaths of Joey, Johnny, and Marky.

Jerry Garcia Band, War., SF, Fri., March 9, 1994

SETLIST : (Set 1) How Sweet It Is (To Be Loved By You), Stop That Train, Forever Young, Let It Rock, Wonderful World, My Sisters And Brothers, Lay Down Sally, (Set 2), Shining Star, The Maker, Tore Up Over You, The Harder They Come, Don’t Let Go, The Night They Drove Old Dixie Down, Midnight Moonlight

It was another fine evening with Jerry and his band. Readers please forgive me that understandably the Jerry shows blur into each other more than most. For starters, they all happened at the Warfield. To make matters worse, he plays a lot of same songs from one show to the next and by the second set, I’m usually high as kite on herb and beer. No complaints. It was they way I liked it.

I know from what I’d written before that my friend Eric was with me that night as my plus ushering. I was becoming increasingly annoyed with Eric, just standing like a tree in the aisle, not working at all, unless somebody stood directly in front of him. He’d move them then, only because they were blocking his view. It made my job harder and made me look bad to the other ushers. Like Eric, one sure fire way to get a hippie’s attention at a Jerry show was to physically get between them and Jerry.

Trouble with the Jerry crowd that I neglected to mention before were the “squatters”. These people upon entering the show would immediately spread out on the floor like it was the goddamn lawn at Shoreline, taking up five times as much space as those who would be standing. This ate up floor space very quickly and made ushering on the dance floor that much harder. At least when the music started, they’d standing up and make more room for others, but yeah, it was just one more thing that made the Jerry crowd the hardest to manage.

Incidentally, I remember that I used to think “My Sisters & Brothers” was called “Promised Land”, which is a completely different song the Dead played. I was corrected by my buddy Jeff Pollard when he asked me what songs Jerry had played afterwards. I knew a lot of the songs the Dead played were covers back then, but I didn’t know practically every song Jerry played with his band was one.

Robyn Hitchcock, The Jazz Café, London, UK, Mon., March 14, 1994

SETLIST : Balloon Man, Serpent At The Gates Of Wisdom, The Devil’s Coachman, Man With A Woman’s Shadow, (unknown), My Wife & My Dead Wife, Beautiful Girl, You Forgot My Heart – Something, Vera Lynn (The Yip Song), Caroline, (unknown),  Listening To The Higsons, Beautiful Queen, Only The Stones Remain, (encore), I Got A Message For You

This was one of those very, VERY rare shows that I saw out of the country. In fact, apart from my very first bootleg, the Jesus & Mary Chain in Amsterdam back in 1992, I think this is the only one. I was in London visiting my sister, Erica, while she was enjoying a semester abroad as my brother Alex and I had done before her. I brought along the recorder, obviously hoping to tape at least one show while I was there.

I was lucky enough to find out that Robyn Hitchcock was playing a solo gig at a small club in Camden Town, simply known as the Jazz Cafe. I don’t remember if Alex came that night, but I know for sure that my sister did. This was one of my “redemption shows”, since I couldn’t get in to Robyn’s show when I was doing my semester there two years earlier, the show at the University Of London being sold out. Mr. Hitchcock did the first ten songs on acoustic guitar, then played the rest of the set on a sky blue colored electric guitar. It’s not often you hear somebody play solo and sing with an electric guitar. I’ve only seen a couple artists do this, Liz Phair I know being one of them.

Unforgettable as Robyn’s show was, it was the show I didn’t go to that lingers in my memory, the one that got away. My father, living in Amsterdam, took the opportunity to jump the Channel and visit London while my brother and I were there. We all met up on the 17th, St. Patrick’s Day, and none other than Shane McGowan himself was playing in town that night. I begged and pleaded, but Nooooooo. Guess where we ended up that night… My dear old dad took my brother and I instead to a play double feature of Satre’s “No Exit” and Genet’s “The Maids”. Talk about a bummer. If that wasn’t bad enough, the maids were played by two middle aged bald men and by the time we got out, we only had time for I round of Guinness at the pubs before they shut down at eleven.

The Pogues, Shoulders, War., SF, Mon., March 28, 1994

This show occurred during an awkward period in the Pogues history. Shane McGowan had been sacked from the band a few years before and I missed the tour they did using Joe Strummer as his replacement.  Spider Stacy took over on vocal duties, but band members were coming and going for various reasons. In a way, this made this show unique, being the only one with this particular line up. Having never seen them, I didn’t know the difference anyway. I’d finally get to see Shane McGowan at the Fillmore in 1995, but I wouldn’t see him singing with the with the Pogues again until 2007.

Some openers, I will never forget, even if I didn’t record their entire set. Such was the case of Shoulders. They sounded like an Irish band, but they actually were from Texas. I only recorded their last song about their “Uncle Angus” and the chorus sang, “Uncle Angus was mad at the world, for what I do not know, but when he breathed on the flowers, they would grow, grow, grow.” Even though that was the only song of theirs I recorded, I remember they sang the old torch song, “Those Were The Days”.

The Cocteau Twins, Luna, War., SF, Fri., April 1, 1994

SETLIST : Pur, Heaven Or Las Vegas, Pitch The Baby, Road, River, and Rail, Lorelei, For Phoebe Still A Baby, Evangeline, Whales Tails, Carolyn’s Fingers, Know Who You Are At Every Age, Bluebeard, Summerhead, Iceblink Luck, Blue Bell Knoll, (encore #1), Cico Buff, Aikea-Guinea, (encore #2), Ella Megalast Burls Forever, Sugar Hiccup

I didn’t know the Cocteau Twins music from Adam, but I knew their guitarist Robin Guthrie had produced Lush’s most recent album, “Spooky”, which was a favorite of mind. Clearly, he’s a fan of 12 string guitars with lots of effects dumped on them. Hey, I am too. Like many of their English shoe gazer contemporaries, their music was played deafeningly loud.

Luna opened up and I was familiar with their music. My old roommate, Mike, was a fan of Dean Wareham’s old band, Galaxie 500, and I owned Luna’s new album, “Bewitched”, so I knew a few of their songs going into the show. What I didn’t know at the time was that the Warfield’s booking agent, Michael Bailey, was a big fan of their music. It’s easy to forget that the big wigs in the music industry are people too and actually enjoy the music they are involved with from time to time. I even remember Mr. Bailey introducing Luna at one of their shows at the Fillmore years later.

Likewise, it’s easy to forget that some famous musicians also appreciate other people’s music, especially when the people they like have radically different styles than theirs. So, imagine my surprise when none other than Kirk Hammet from Metallica showed up to see the Twins that night. Yeah, I discovered that Kirk liked shoe gazing music and I would see him at other shows like Slowdive, Radiohead, and Sigur Ros.

I heard Metallica was responsible for getting the Twins on the bill during their tour with Lollapalooza in 1996, but even though Kirk came out to introduce them, their music wasn’t well received on that punk-metal heavily laden tour. Years later, I would learn from my close friend, Liz Farrow, who was an acquaintance of Robin Guthrie, that he was battling a long addiction to drugs and alcohol during the 90s. Furthermore, I learned that Robin had a long term relationship with the singer, Liz Fraser, that they had sired a daughter together, and were constantly fighting each other, which would ultimately lead to their personal and professional break up in 1997.

Hot Tuna, New Riders Of The Purple Sage, Solar Circus, War., SF, Fri., April 8, 1994

Weird to be writing about a reunion show almost 22 years after the fact. Hot Tuna was celebrating their 25th anniversary at this show and now they’re nearly at their 50th. Better late than never, I suppose. As a young San Franciscan, I was being very slowly educated on my fair city’s hippie history and there was plenty to go around. That night was living history, literally, a couple thousand real hippies in attendance, the ones who were there. 

Who else could introduce such a show other than Wavy Gravy. This was my first time in the presence of the clown prince of hippiedom, though I would see him many times to come. Can’t rightly remember exactly what he did, but my previous writing on this show stated that it involved a fingernail, a sterling silver drill, and the act of a headstand. Let your imagination run wild.

Solar Circus was good noodling band and did a funny song about, “Stems & Seeds”. The New Riders were very good, doing the Grateful Dead songs, “Ripple” and “Friend Of The Devil”, and their big hit, “Panama Red”.

Fishbone, MIRV, Sweaty Nipples, Slim’s, SF, Sat., April 9, 1994

Fishbone was going through a rough patch around this time. They were having band members jump ship and there contract would ultimately dropped from Sony. You wouldn’t have guessed it because they played superbly that night as they always had and would continue to do so. But playing the Warfield that night would be the last time I’d see them headlining a show of a venue that size. Off the subject, the irony that a band named Fishbone was playing the day after Hot Tuna at the Warfield wasn’t lost on me.

Hefe had brought his friend Sule, who had driven down from Arcata for a visit,  to that show and I taped a couple minutes of them jamming on their djembe drums beforehand at our place in the Mission out on the fire escape/balcony. I was ushering that night but they had tickets. MIRV was a perfect opener for Fishbone, as they are for any band. MIRV was one of those few bands that really felt right as an opener, which is really a rare quality. No matter who I saw them open for, it felt congruous. I liked the opener, Sweaty Nipples, a sunk metal band from Portland, and appreciated that they came out on stage with the theme of “Star Wars” playing in the background. Their career was a short one though, breaking up after just two albums. 

Lots of yelling and mosh pit action that night. Les Claypool himself came out on stage for “Bonin’ In The Boneyard”. He went up to Norwood Fisher while he was playing bass and took over doing the fingering on his frets while Norwood did the plucking. I don’t think I’d ever seen anyone attempt that before and I don’t believe I have seen it since. I left the show before the encore to follow Hefe and Sule home, being tired out, but I wished we’d stayed until the very end as always.

Slowdive, The Rosemarys, Slim’s, SF, Wed., April 13, 1994

SETLIST : Machine Gun, Souvaki Space Station, Slowdive, Catch The Breeze, 40 Days, Avalyn, Melon Yellow, When The Sun Hits, Morningrise, Alison, Losing Today

Although I’d been following the shoegazer musical movement for a few years, this would be the first time I’d see Slowdive. Their first album, “Just For A Day” was not only one of my favorites, but I discovered that it was the best CD to play for getting it on. Yes, that album was truly “Gettin’ Busy Music”. Hands down, I scored with that album playing more than any other, you young people out there looking for advice for a soundtrack to a night of hot sex, look no further.

Anyway, I made it to Slim’s, distracted momentarily by the noise of what at least sounded like Crash Worship playing at the Transmission Theater down the street. I was there with a fellow usher named Miriam, who I was unsuccessfully trying to make my girlfriend and coincidentally was friends with the singer/guitarist of the Rosemarys, the opening act that night. They were a good band, but painfully short-lived like many of that genre. Kirk Hammett from Metallica was in the crowd and I tried not to stare. Shoegazer fans by and large are a polite crowd.

Though I’d been accustomed to listening to Slowdive at a reasonable volume, they played that night so loud that I thought my head would explode. Thank God I had earplugs. In fact, it was hard to differentiate between the songs, all of us, trapped in that red brick box known as Slim’s. Even if they had turned the house speakers off, we were still being mercilessly beaten down by the band’s stage amps. Perhaps the real reason the drummer left the band the next year was that he went deaf. Is it any wonder the band turned into the Mojave 3, one of the most quiet, soothing bands I’d ever hear. Sound waves of that power probably messes with your internal organs too.

Sepultura, Fear Factory, Clutch, War., SF, Fri., April 15, 1994

SETLIST : Refuse/Resist, Territory, Troops Of Doom, Slave New World, Propaganda, Beneath The Remains – Escape The Void, Amen – Inner Self, Manifest, Nomad, We Who Are Not As Others, Desperate Cry, Kaiowas, Symptom Of The Universe, Clenched Fist, Biotech Is Godzilla, (encore #1), Dead Embryonic Cells, Arise, (encore #2), Hear Nothing, See Nothing, Say Nothing, Policia

Up till this show, I’d trained in a few forms of martial arts, starting with karate in junior high and high school, then taking aikido and praying mantis style kung fu in college. I’d never had to really use it before I saw Sepultura at the Warfield. Granted, before I started training, I endured my fair share of bullying, but learning to defend myself grated me the confidence to stand up for myself and I never had to put my training into practice. Not that what happened the night of this show was some epic display of hand to hand combat, but lets just say it was a little tense. I must say it was ironic that this all happened during the song, “War For Territory”.

It all began when Sepultura just took the stage and I was only minutes away from being cut from my ushering duties. A stocky Latino dude was standing in my aisle and I tried to get him to move into the crowd or direct him down to the dance floor. He ignored me. I tapped him on the shoulder again, pointing out the border lines taped to the ground, but he simply stared at me with an icy resentful stare for a moment, then turned back to continue watching the show.

On the the third attempt, he shoved me back with both hands forcefully and shouted in a loud, steady voice, “DO YOU WANT TO FIGHT!?!?!” Somehow, I maintained my composure, feeling more puzzled than scared and simply said, “Uhhh… No.” That didn’t satisfy him apparently because he then began to grapple with me, grabbing the front of my shirt and something in me just triggered and I knew I had to counter him physically. I took him by one arm and the back of his neck, pivoted 90 degrees, shifted my weight, and threw him to the ground, a move probably owed to my aikido training, but not nearly as elegant. I knew to throw him down the aisle through a clearing of the people, so he wouldn’t collide with anybody. and I must say that I was impressed that he went down pretty fay away from me, I’d say about 6 to 8 feet.

By the time my assailant was able to get to his feet, Tony, the chief of security grabbed him by his cuff and threw him to a group of his men who dragged him kicking and screaming up the main aisle to be ejected. To this day, I can still see the man pointing his finger at me as he was being dragged away and with contorted, furious face screaming, “I’LL GET YOU, MOTHERFUCKER!!!!” Thankfully, I never saw him again, but couldn’t help but think he resembled the singer of the Brownies, a punk/ska band I once saw open for Skankin’ Pickle. That guy was cool though. I’m sure it wasn’t him.

Anyway, Tony approached me, very concerned, put his hand on my shoulder staring me straight in the eye and asked, “Are you OK?”. I said I was fine, feeling strangely unaroused by the whole incident. Tony repeated his question at least three or four more times, but I was fine, really. If anything, I was a little disturbed that I wasn’t shook up in the slightest. Maybe it was my training, maybe I’m just plain psycho deep down, but every scuffle or physically tense situation I’d been in since then, my reaction was the same, a sort of calm sense of clarity.

Unfortunately, I heard later that a fellow usher that night had not been so lucky. She had been in the pit, minding her own business, when some evil soul sucker punched her right in the eye. She had a rather gruesome shiner for a couple weeks. I knew Brazilians were known for their machismo, but this was clearly too much. Not that I’d know. When I first saw Sepultura open for Ministry back in ’92, I thought they were Scandinavian. 

The Braun Fellinis, Elbo Room, SF, Mon., April 18, 1994

Pink Floyd, Oakland Stadium, Oakland, Wed., April 20, 1994

Pink Floyd, Oakland Stadium, Oakland, Fri., April 22, 1994

SETLIST : (Set 1), Astornomy Domine, Learning To Fly, What Do You Want From Me, On The Turning Away, Poles Apart, Sorrow, Take It Back, Keep Talking, One Of These Days, (Set 2), Shine On You Crazy Diamond, Breathe, Time, Breathe (reprise), High Hopes, Wish You Were Here, Another Brink In The Wall Part 2, The Great Gig In The Sky, Us and Them, Money, Comfortably Numb, (encore), Hey You, Run Like Hell

April 21 show the same except “A Great Day For Freedom” instead of “Poles Apart”

At long last, I was getting to see Pink Floyd. Though most people accepted that they would never truly be Floyd without Roger Waters, I thought beggars can’t be choosers. I’ll take it. Back then, folks had to wait in line at ticket outlets on Sundays to get tickets and thankfully Slim’s was one of them, a fact that most people didn’t know, so the lines there were never that long. It was just me and a couple of scuzzy looking scalpers. I was able to bag a 20th row seat on the first day of the show and got seats on the upper deck for me and my friend Eric for the third day. I was pissed that the tickets cost $60 each plus what I liked to call the “inconvenience fee” which was outrageous at the time, but would be par for the course today, even adjusted for inflation.

On the first day, I was seated with a few middle aged ladies and waited patiently for the show to begin. I was early as usual. One perk from the show was that they gave every audience member an official Pink Floyd seat cushion on every chair with the dual head design from their new album, “The Division Bell” and I’m proud to say that I still have that cushion. I sat on it for years on my chair at my computer desk, writing my first two books there.

The first set was mostly new songs, which were OK, but nowhere near the quality of the original Pink Floyd stuff. David Gilmour’s new wife, Polly Sampson co-wrote a lot of those songs. It’s always a bad move to put your wife in the band, with very few exceptions. I mean, if she was in the band to begin with, then you get married, fine. But those marriages usually break up eventually anyway, but I digress. Luckily, the first set ended with “One Of These Days” and Gilmour tore it up on a steel petal guitar for that one, easily one of the best songs of the night.

The second set was all golden oldies, except for “High Hopes”. One of the ladies next to me asked what the title of the song we were listening to immediately after the lyric, “Wish You Were Here”, so I guess she was a first timer. It was freezing outside by the time they got to the encore, but hearing “Hey You” would have given me goosebumps regardless.

The sets were the same on the third day with the exception noted above. Eric and I scored some mushrooms for the show for which I’m grateful. There isn’t a band on Earth more apropos to see on psychedelic substances than Pink Floyd. It reminded me of a story my friend Bill Garby, a veteran from the first years of the Fillmore, told me. He and his brother Dave had dropped acid to see them at the Fillmore and halfway though the show, his brother turned to him and asked, “How we gonna get back, man?”. Bill asked, “Back from where?” Dave replied, “We’re in outer space now! How are we gonna get back to Earth?” Good question.

Yes, the mushrooms were strong, but we knew were in good hands. Up on upper deck of the stadium, we had a great view of the entire scene as well as a panoramic view of practically the entire bay area. After that show, I’ve come to prefer being as high up as I can get at a stadium show. The sound is just as good and it feels less claustrophobic up there.

Nine Inch Nails, Type O Negative, War., SF, Sun., April 24, 1994

SETLIST : Terrible Lie, Sin, March Of The Pigs, Something I Can Never Have, Closer, Reptile, Wish, Suck, The Only Time, Get Down, Make Love, Down In It, Big Man With A Gun, Head Like A Hole, (encore), Dead Souls, Help Me I’m In Hell, Happiness In Slavery

Nine Inch Nails had made it to the big leagues with their second album, “The Downward Spiral” and this was the first tour playing the new songs. Everybody wanted to usher this show and despite the scramble to get on the list, I made it. Kurt Cobain had just committed suicide a couple weeks before this show, and everybody who loved his music was still in a little shock. He was the first rock star to pass away that I not only enjoyed, but actually got to see a few times. 

I bring him up because that night, Peter Steele, the lead singer of Type O Negative, the opening act, praised Cobain’s courage to kill himself yelling, “Anybody who has the guts to take his own life is cool with me!” Yeah, that didn’t get a very warm response and neither did that band either. As luck would have it, Mr. Steele would die before his time in 2010 from an aneurysm, which is ironically the title of a Nirvana song.

The crowd that night was easy to manage even with all the anticipation. Goth people are civilized and utterly focused on the music they love. They get their spots on the floor early and they stay put. The pit did get a little rowdy when they got to their second song, “Sin”, but that’s one of their only fast numbers. Nine Inch Nails music is not really made for dancing. They did “Dead Souls” for their last song of the encore that night which incidentally would go on to be a big hit for them for being the flagship song in the soundtrack for the movie, “The Crow”, which would be released in theaters that May. I didn’t know it was a Joy Division cover until a couple years later.

Primus, Porch, Polkacide, Fill., SF, Thur., April 28, 1994

It had been seven years since I’d set foot in the Fillmore Auditorium. After the Loma Prieta earthquake in 1989, it had been shut down to be repaired and retrofitted. Then, Bill Graham died in ’91 and Bill Graham Presents was sort of lost in the wilderness for a while, trying to regain its direction, though they never really could return to their glory days. The live music industry was already becoming too big for Bill to handle all by his lonesome before his death, but the rebirth of the Fillmore was still an exciting event.

I’d bought a ticket to this one. I remember wanting my first show back to that of a patron and not an usher. I’d skipped the actual opening night with Smashing Pumpkins the night before because I knew it would be too difficult to get a ticket and I didn’t want to finagle my way onto the usher list. Like I said, I wanted my first time to be as a patron. Just as well, this show was technically the first official show of the Fillmore, if you count opening night as a unique event, an exhibition show, prototype, or what you will.

Not ushering and unsure of the thoroughness of the security there, I opted to not try to bring in my recorder that night. As militant as I was back then to tape as much as possible, I knew deep down that there were some shows that weren’t meant to be recorded. It allowed me to focus on the show and enjoy being a civilian for a change. I loved what the did with the Fillmore. It did more than rekindle my enthusiasm for live music. The Fillmore lit it up like a fucking atom bomb. There were many shows lined up to play there and I was determined to see as many of them as possible.

But like I said, I wasn’t taping that night, so there’s not much I can say about it. Primus was still between albums, so they did at lot of stuff of “Pork Soda” which was fine, but I’d heard those songs plenty seeing them play some on New Years ’92-’93, once at the Greek, and twice at Lollapalooza. Polkacide always puts on a rowdy set, especially doing their cover of “The Chicken Dance”. I appreciated Porch opening up too, fronted by Todd Huth, Primus’ original guitarist.

I had picked up my share of concert T-shirts before this night, but I believe this was the first time I’d receive my first concert poster and a free one at that. It would be the first, but sure as hell wouldn’t be the last. Say what you want about Bill Graham and his concert machine, but giving free posters out at the end of the night was perhaps one of his best ideas. It endeared the patrons to the Fillmore, gave a venue and medium to scores of artists, created a whole new art commodity, not to mention served as a historical document to the event itself.

Pantera, War., SF, Fri. April 29, 1994

SETLIST : Use My Third Arm, A New Level, Walk, Strength Beyond Strength, Slaughtered, Domination, I’m Broken, Becoming, 5 Minutes Alone, Fucking Hostile, This Love, Good Friends And A Bottle Of Pills, Mouth For War, Primal Concrete Sledge, (encore), Cowboys From Hell

Oh yeah, this one. It was appropriate that I’d be seeing this on the second anniversary of the L.A. riots. The Primus pit the night before looked like an ice cream social compared to this one. This was the second of two nights and the stress toll from the night before was evident on all the other ushers faces. They looked like they had shell shock. I braced for the impact.

The ushers were outnumbered and hopelessly outgunned and Tina tried to get me to be a sticker usher and work all night on the main aisle. I respectfully declined. Crowbar opened the show and played a solid set. Their music was slow enough that the pit didn’t get too frantic. Butthead was right about Kirk Windstein, the singer. He does look like he’s taking a dump when he sings. They did a great cover of “No Quarter” that night too. Needless to say, it was loud as fuck that night for both bands. They had the subwoofers cranked up so much, every kick drum beat felt like a punch to the chest.

When Pantera took the stage, the place went totally apeshit. This was the one and only time I saw every level of the dance floor turn into a mosh pit, I’m talking all the way back to the VIP booths in the back. There were no aisles to defend left. About thirty seconds into the first song, my focus was trying to keep the surging pit from knocking over the bar on the left aisle where I was posted. Funny, it wasn’t until that show that I even realized that the long, black bars themselves were portable, on wheels, that is, because the crowd pushed hard enough to move them. The looks on the bartenders faces were priceless. They looked like they were going to die.

By “Walk”, the third song, I finally got cut from working and went upstairs to turn in my badge. That was the longest three songs of my life, but I made it. Ushers who were there will never forget that mess, especially the poor souls who had to work all night. Thankfully, I got to get my drink tickets, chug down my beers, and watched the carnage from a safe distance up in the balcony. Pantera ripped it up, big time. Sad to say that this would be the only time I’d see them. After this show, let’s just say they weren’t exactly welcome to play any of BGP’s venues again, at least not in San Francisco. They’d play in San Jose and elsewhere from then on out.

Funny though, Phil Anselmo, the singer took a break between songs in the middle to rant a bit about how they’re a real metal band and not a bunch of pussies. I was disappointed that he said they’d never play a festival like Lollapalooza. Sure, I wouldn’t expect them to play at some soft ass radio station festival, but Lollapalooza needed an act as heavy as they were. Then again, Phil encouraged the crowd to take speed and have sex without a condom that night too. He’d get into trouble later in June for punching out a security guard at a show for stopping fans from getting on stage and he developed a heroin addiction shortly thereafter.

Walking out after the encore that night, I’ll never forget the sight of a sweaty, shirtless skinhead guy walking out next to me, rubbing his temples, realizing just how badly his hearing was damaged. The smart ass that I am, I showed him my ear plugs and smirked. He said I was a fucking pussy. I wasn’t offended. Compared to him, I was.

Gwar, RKL, The Ex-Cops, War., SF, Sat. May 14, 1994

The brutal spectacle that is Gwar might be the hardest show I could ever describe, but I’ll give it a go. Suffice to say, they’re reputation preceded them. The stories I heard and what little video footage I’d seen left the impression that they left any venue they played in a state of chaos and an utter mess. The Warfield was ready for them that night, draping the front of the first level past the dance floor with black plastic.

What I didn’t know was that the opening act, The Ex-Cops, were actually the members of Gwar themselves. Without their grotesque Gwar costumes, to guess which member was which was futile. They were all dressed as police and they claimed they were too mean and corrupt to be cops, so they were fired and they formed this band instead. Their music was more punk than Gwar and they even dared Gwar to come up on stage with them so they could kick their asses and threatened the audience that GWar wouldn’t come on stage if they didn’t applaud for them. My favorite bit was when they brought up “innocent bystanders” on stage to abuse. One of the victims grabbed the mic and protested, “That was real mean what you did to my little brother like that! You are supposed to be police officers! What gives you the right!?!”. Then one of the cops punched the kid out accompanied by a punch sound effect declaring, “You want to see my right!?! Here’s my right!”

This would be the one and only time I’d get to see Rich Kids on LSD, otherwise known as R.K.L., but they weren’t on stage for very long. Rumor had it that they were late because their drummer had disappeared for a while to go smoke a joint with some friends, leaving them only twenty minutes to play. They’d just gotten back together after breaking up for a couple years and were working on a new record for Epitaph records, but they would soon be broken up again and their rambunctious partying habits certainly was one of the reasons. Even Jason Sears, the lead singer vomited on stage that night. Take that, Gwar. No fake vomit for them.

And then came Gwar… Their grotesque monster mask and spiked armor get ups were only outmatched by their stage sets. For starters, they opened the show by having a competition to find the biggest nerd in “San Fran-sissy-co”, lining them up to be judged by the crowd one at a time. Once the biggest nerd was selected, he was fed to the “World Maggot”. As the name suggested, it was a Gwar member dressed in a huge maggot costume and its victim was slowly fed into it’s spiked pincer laden sphincter mouth until devoured and taken off stage. I wasn’t a big fan of Gwar’s music, but lets face it, we were there for spectacles such as this and seeing Michael Jackson have his penis cut off. Jackson’s child molestation charges were still fairly new back then. Yes, by the end of the night, everybody who dared to venture onto the dance floor was drenched in sweat, fake blood, semen, green slime, and God knows what else.

They Might Be Giants, Frente, Fill., SF, Wed., May 18, 1994

SETLIST : I Palindrome I, Your Racist Friend, The Sun, Snail Shell, She’s Actual Size, Sleeping In The Flowers, Whistling In The Dark, Why Must I Be Sad?, The Statue Got Me High, Unrelated Thing, Purple Toupee, 1987 Jam For Bill, Extra Savoir-Faire, Istanbul, Don’t Let Start, Twisting, Frankenstein with drum solo, No One Knows My Plan, Birdhouse In Your Soul, Dig My Brain, The Guitar (The Lion Sleeps Tonight, Spy

This was an important show in the history of my bootlegging career because it was the first Fillmore show I taped. I was a huge fan of They Might Be Giants and had all their albums. They made me proud to be a nerd and their music was so infectious, even their sad songs were uplifting to me. As far as I was concerned, they were giants. I’m sure they that a lot.

Being that all the ushers were new to the Fillmore, there wasn’t a pecking order yet on who got to work where. I would go on the work the “horseshoe” primarily, the aisle around the front of house soundboard, but that night I was assigned to the front door. It wasn’t too hard, not like the Warfield, being less than half it’s size, but whenever I did have to accompany a patron to the coat check, I did have to run up a flight of stairs. Thankfully, the They Might Be Giants crowd was very civilized and I hardly had to do a thing. In fact, I saw monologuist Josh Kornbluth in the front of the line and said hello, shook his hand, and complimented his most recent show.

I missed Brian Dewan, the first opening act completely, being stuck up at the door, but I did get a break during Frente, and was able to catch a few of their songs. The were Australian and very, very cute. My sister Erica liked them, especially their single, “No Time”, which I caught a snippet. I missed the first couple songs of They Might Be Giants because I was stuck up at the front door, but I was soon let go and got on the dance floor in time for their third song, “I Palindrome I”.

John Flansburgh and John Linnell had a band accompanying them, a bassist, drummer, and guitarist, the first time I’d see them with one, which helped fill out their sound. They did do a couple songs on their own like “The Sun”. Funny, one of the fans did a stage dive during that song and John Linnell commentated afterwards that it was probably the least appropriate song to dive to, but hey, we’re nerds. We think different. Talk about nerdy, during “Don’t Let Start”, people in the crowd were spelling out “D-O-N-T” like it was “YMCA” by the Village People. We all got a poster that night. In fact, every show at the Fillmore would get a poster for a while, celebrating it’s re-opening.

The Allman Brothers Band, War., SF, Sat., May 20, 1994

The Allman Brothers Band, War., SF, Sun., May 21, 1994

SETLIST (May 20) : Sailin’ ‘Cross The Devil’s Sea, Statesboro Blues, Blue Sky, What’s Done Is Done, The Same Thing, Soulshine, Seven Turns, Midnight Rider, Southbound, Jessica, Mountain Jam, Jessica, No One To Run With, You Don’t Love Me, Temptation Is A Gun, Back Where It All Begins, In Memory Of Elizabeth Reed, One Way Out, (encore), Dreams, Whipping Post

The Bros were doing a five night stretch at the Warfield, the longest that any band I’d ever seen had done up till then. I caught the second and third shows on that run. They played a generous set both nights, leaving the staff of the Warfield limp by the night five. These guys could really noodle and it was easy to have a good time. They made you feel like one of them, like family.

I’m glad I got to see them while Dickey Betts was still in the band, their guitarist and author of many of their biggest hits. Little did I know that behind the scenes, Dickey was wrestling with a drug and alcohol habit which would ultimately lead to him getting kicked out of the band. Lawsuits then ensued and there were some hurt feelings to be sure. Mr. Betts was in fine form at these shows though and a photo of him was taken during this show run that was blown up to fill a huge frame and hung in the lobby of the Warfield for years to come.

Sausage, MIRV, Slim’s, SF, Wed., May 25, 1994

It is appropriate, but misleading that Primus means “the first of many”. For Sausage, despite being the first of many musical projects that Les Claypool would helm after Primus, they were ironically that which came before Primus. Yes, Todd Huth and Jay Lane were in the original inception of the band, first called Primate, before going their separate ways. Ler and Herb would join shortly after and Primus began its meteoric rise into rock n’ roll history. Todd and Jay would continue to collaborate with Les in future projects like the Frog Brigade and Jay would rejoin Primus in 2010 to tour and do the “Green Naugahyde” album with them. He’d leave again in 2013 to rejoin Ratdog. Busy man, Jay. Sausage was a name they considered when they were forming the band, but it’s one of those names I’m surprised that nobody had chosen before them. 

The mighty MIRV opened, the sight of them around Les becoming so frequent, it was starting to feel like they belonged together. Kehoe showed off his pipes, doing an operatic “O Solo Mio” that brought the house down. They also did a cover of the “Cantina” song from “Star Wars”.

It was nice to see Claypool in a smaller venue like Slim’s again and refreshing to hear a different sound than Primus. Hard to describe the subtle differences between Primus and Sausage. Sausage seemed a little more low-fi, less psychedelic, almost with an industrial kind of feel. Words fail me a little here. Like so many bands around this time, I failed to consider that this line up would only be together a short time. Glad I saw them there and at the Fillmore that year, because they never played as Sausage again.

Hemp Expo ’94: Fishbone, Total Devastation, El Magnifico, Golden Gate Park Bandshell, SF, Sat., June 4, 1994

SETLIST : Bonin’ In The Boneyard, Nutt Meglomaniac, Lemon Meringue, They All Have Abandoned Their Hopes, Unyielding Conditioning, Pray To The Junkiemaker, Behavior Control Technician, The Warmth Of Your Breath

The long road to marijuana legalization in America still stretched far off into the horizon back in 1994, but step by step, everybody was feeling that it was inevitable and we might just live to see it happen in our lifetimes. Herb was not just for hippies and rastas anymore. Willie Nelson brought it to the country crowd, Pantera to the metal people, and Cypress Hill to the lovers of rap. And that day Fishbone joined their ranks.

First off, I want to say that I was suffering a truly nasty case of chronic bronchitis that day. So, ironically, the chronic was the one thing I couldn’t touch that day. You can hear on the tape the occasional coughing fit and it didn’t help either that the weather was cool, breezy, and foggy. The show was in Golden Gate Park, one of the only shows I ever saw at the bandshell stage in the Music Concourse between the De Young Museum and the California Academy Of Sciences. Both those structures would ultimately be torn down and replaced. The De Young had damage from the quake in 1989.

This was a rare show too because it was free. Free shows would gradually become less and less frequent as years went on. And this was an even rarer show, that it was during the day and I was to see another show right after, Soundgarden at the Greek. So, the pressure of making it on time to that one, only compounded the physical stress I was enduring. But the good news is because of these clear distinctions, I remember that day pretty well.

I had trouble parking that day. Parking in Golden Gate park on a Saturday afternoon is difficult enough without a free show happening. The Marginal Prophets were there opening, but I just made it to hear them finish their last song. They were a good band and I was sorry to miss them that day, though Total Destruction and El Magnifico were good. The show was lined with arts and crafts people selling the usual stuff you find at the Grateful Dead parking lot, mostly the same people, colorful characters all. Lots of pot smoking was happening that day to be sure and I was relieved that the police wisely kept arms distance from this one. S.F. cops, more than any law enforcement then, understood that the writing was on the wall, and the less they interfered the better.

As soon as Fishbone took the stage and started with “Bonin’ In The Boneyard”, the mosh pit erupted, sending a cloud of dust in the air that made my coughing even worse. I had to retreat to the back of the crowd eventually. I saw a white guy with dreads get on stage and free style a few lines during, “They All Have Abandoned Their Hopes”. I’m glad that Angelo played “Pray To The Junkiemaker” too, pointing out that ganja isn’t even on the same playing field as hard drugs. It was a pretty short set, but I had to jam out of there anyway to get to Berkeley on time. Thankfully traffic wasn’t to burly getting out of the park.

Soundgarden, Tad, Greek, Berkeley, Sat., June 4, 1994

SETLIST : Jesus Christ Pose, Spoonman, Let Me Drown, Mailman, the Day I Tried To Live, My Wave, Room A Thousand Years Wide, Black Hole Sun, Searching With My Good Eye Closed, Superunknown, Rusty Cage, Half, Mind Riot, Fell On Black Days, Slaves & Bulldozers, Kickstand, Face Pollution, Like Suicide, (encore), Somewhere, Head Down, Limo Wreck 

In case you didn’t read my last entry, I was sick as a dog that day, suffering from a nasty bout of chronic bronchitis. I can hear the phlemy cough even worse on the tape of this show than from the Fishbone show I saw in the park that afternoon. I was running late for the show, having to drive from San Francisco to Berkeley, and parking around the Greek Theater is always a nightmare, especially on a Saturday.

I missed all of Tad’s set, except for their last song. The band Eleven was next, but I thought they were so boring, I didn’t bother to record them. I glad Jack Irons decided to play drums for Pearl Jam that year, his talents being wasted on that band. I mean, like many bands I didn’t like, I’m sure they were all nice people and hell, I was in a terrible state by then, hacking violently with cold sweat and horrific chills.

Soundgarden couldn’t come to the stage fast enough. They opened with “Jesus Christ Pose”, a strong opener they used often back then. When they finished the song, Chris yelled out, “That’s why the fed Christians to the lions!” Chris Cornell had just cut his hair short which was a big shock to his fans if you could believe that. He looked good, though. Handsome man, Mr. Cornell. Maybe his shearing inspired Metallica to do the same two years later in 1996 when Soundgarden was touring with them in Lollapalooza.

They went on to do new songs like “Spoonman”, “Superunknown”, and “Let Me Drown”. Funny, some lady threw up her panties on stage at Chris like at a Tom Jones concert, but he rebuked her saying he didn’t want her “dirty drawers”. The new album was a big hit and I was impressed with Chris’ guitar playing chops. Like Nirvana, adding the second guitar changed the sound of the band, but it still was good. Chris played the song “Mind Riot” all by his lonesome and her nailed it. My friend Mike was with me that day and saw Soundgarden’s show at the San Jose Event Center the day prior. The band had just finished filming the video to “Black Hole Sun” and were still wearing the same clothes they’d worn in the video.

Like I said, I was in sour shape, but I stuck it out until I heard “Rusty Cage”. I wanted to hear that one. Back then, I liked to go skydiving and after every dive,  I’d put on the album “Badmotorfinger” driving home and that was the opening song. Oh yeah, that song will get you pumped. I managed to last until the end of set, closing with “Fell On Black Days”, but I apologized to Mike and said I had to surrender and bail. He told me later I missed “Kickstand”, “Face Pollution”, “Like Suicide”, “Somewhere”, “Head Down”, and “Limo Wreck” for the encore, quite a long encore stretch indeed. Sorry I had to miss it.

I was, however, able to find a bootleg video of that show. It was a crude, VHS copy I picked up which had a nice printed cover. I think I found it at WonderCon, but I honestly can’t remember. Very rarely had I been able to find video footage of any shows I’d seen back in those days, but with the Internet and sites like YouTube, I’ve been able to be reintroduced to many of them. It’s like meeting a long, lost friend.

Live 105’s BFD: Rollins Band, Boingo, Toad The Wet Sprocket, The Pretenders, James, Frente, Violent Femmes, Green Day, Beck, Shoreline, Mountain View, Fri., June 10, 1994

SETLISTS

BECK : Fuckin’ With My Head, Pay No Mind, One Foot In The Grave, Loser, Fume, Beercan

GREEN DAY : Welcome To Paradise, Chump, Longview, Basket Case, 2000 Light Years Away, When I Come Around, Paper Lanterns

TOAD THE WET SPROCKET : Walk On The Ocean, Fly From Heaven, All I Want, Woodburning, Hold Her Down, Fall Down

Our local modern rock radio station, Live 105 decided to put on a festival that year called the B.F.D. which probably stands for what you think it stands for. Thankfully, though this was the first B.F.D. it certainly hasn’t been the last. To this day, it’s been going on every year for the last 22 years. They broadcast the whole show over the radio, their DJs doing commentary and commercials between sets. The weather was beautiful and I was there with my brother and a couple friends.

Granted, the sound people had some quick and complicated changes between bands that day, but they were fucking up left and right. Beck opened up and us folks on the lawn could barely hear him. Shoreline is notorious for leaving the delay tower speakers off until it gets crowded, I assume in a miserly way of saving a few bucks on electricity. This would be my first time seeing Beck. “Loser” had become a big hit on the radio, and I cynically assumed him to be a one hit wonder. His live show was a touch sloppy back then, but upon hearing some of his other material, I soon began to appreciate that this guy was something a little more than a single song. Little did I predict, the genius that would flow from him years to come.

I suppose the same could be said for Green Day that followed Beck. They were already too big for their britches and I think their success encouraged their punkish behavior. Clearly, they played a few songs longer than they were supposed to that day and they continued to do that at other festivals I’d see them at in the future. Frankly, it was beginning to feel a little tense and I decided to go for a walk around the grounds at Shoreline.

I made sure to come back to catch the Violent Femmes. The opened with “Blister In The Sun”, but the song turned out to be an instrumental for most of it, since the sound man couldn’t get Gordon Gano’s mic to work. It was embarrassing to Live 105, since they played that song frequently, practically the station’s anthem. I caught a couple songs from Frente, but wandered around mostly during their set since I’d just seen them open up for They Might Be Giants at the Fillmore. I was glad to catch James’ set, since I missed them the year before, playing the second stage at the WOMAD festival. James is one of those rare bands that is well fit for playing in the middle of a sunny day at a festival.

The Pretenders really did steal the show that day. Maybe it was because I’d never seen them before and I knew so many of their songs, but they were really tight and the crowd loved them. They had just reformed with a new lineup and had a big hit with “I’ll Stand By You”. By the time they finished, I already wished that their set was longer and/or they were slotted to play later in that festival, especially since they were followed by Toad The Wet Sprocket. Granted, the Pretenders would be a tough act to follow, but I thought they were boring and felt like wandering around again.

I came back to see Boingo, the stripped down hornless version of Oingo Boingo. Little did I know that this would be the last time I’d see Danny Elfman and his crew ever play. He’d cancel the shows Boingo were supposed to play at the Warfield the following year before breaking up the band completely. Boingo’s set was woefully short that day too, probably because Green Day took so long. Without the horns and with the extra guitar, Boingo had a louder, rougher sound to them. But their sound was no match for the heaviness of Mr. Rollins who followed.

Once again, those dips hits running sound couldn’t get Henry’s mic to work during his first song. By that time the sun had gone down and Shoreline had turned on it’s video screens and there he was, Henry, twenty feet tall, hunched over, veins in his tree trunk sized neck throbbing, screaming at the top of his lungs into the mic and we heard zippo. They got it back up in the middle of “Disconnect”, their second song. Halfway through their set I came upon the depressing realization that Melvin Gibbs, Rollins’ new bassist was the only black person on the entire bill that day. That’s commercial radio for you. Henry gave a shout out to the late Bill Graham who he said he only met once at the first Lollapalooza at Shoreline.

The night ended not with a bang, but with a whimper. Yes, some dingbat thought that the Knack should go on last and after Rollins brought the house down, Shoreline evacuated, myself and my people included. A DJ on stage pleaded with the crowd not to leave, likening it to calling somebody’s answering machine and not leaving a message. It didn’t help. I heard by the time the Knack got on, there was only 200 people left at Shoreline which hold over 22,000. Thankfully, Live 105 learned their lesson and the following year, closed the show with Duran Duran which held at least half the crowd. I think the organizers thought that since “My Sharona” was getting some play again from the “Reality Bites” soundtrack, that people would have stuck around. Knowing now that Doug Fieger, their lead singer, would succumb to lung and brain cancer in 2010, I’d have stuck around too. I’d never get to see the Knack again.

Grateful Dead, Cracker, Autzen Stadium, Eugene, OR, Fri, June 17, 1994

Grateful Dead, Cracker, Autzen Stadium, Eugene, OR, Sat., June 18, 1994

Grateful Dead, Cracker, Autzen Stadium, Eugene, OR, Sun., June 19, 1994

SETLIST

(Fri., June 17)

CRACKER: Dr. Bernice, Mr. Wrong, Teen Angst, Sweethearts, Low, I Ride My Bike, Loser, Movie Star

GRATEFUL DEAD: (Set 1), Bertha, Greatest Story Ever Told, Lazy River Road, Wang Dang Doodle, Ramble On Rose, Black-Throated Wind, Just Like Tom Thumb’s Blues, Deal, (Set 2), Rain, Eyes Of The World, Samba In The Rain, Saint Of Circumstance, (drums – space), The Wheel, Attics Of My Life, Throwing Stones, Not Fade Away, (encore), U.S. Blues

(Sat. June 18)

CRACKER : Staying At Home With The Girls In The Morning, Low, Lonesome Johnny Blues, Before I Met You, Take Me Down To The Infirmary, I See The Light, Get Off This, Beunos Noches From A Lonely Room, Euro-Trash Girl

GRATEFUL DEAD : (Set 1), Jack Straw, Sugaree, It’s All Over Now, Tennessee Jed, Me And My Uncle, Maggie’s Farm, Candyman, Easy Answers, (Set 2), China Cat Sunflower, I Know You Rider, Man Smart, Women Smarter, Crazy Fingers, Corrina, (drums – space), The Last Time, The Days Between, One More Saturday Night, (encore), I Fought The Law

(Sun. June 19)

CRACKER : Sweet Potato, Teen Angst, Mr. Wrong, Staying At Home With The Girls In The Morning, Lonesome Johnny Blues, Low, Let’s Go For A Ride, Before I Met You, Loser, (encore), Take Me Down To The Infirmary

GRATEFUL DEAD : (Set 1), Touch Of Grey, Walkin’ Blues, Brown-Eyed Women, El Paso, If The Shoe Fits, Bird Song, (Set 2), Scarlet Begonias – Fire On The Mountain, Samson & Delilah, Way To Go Home, Playing In The Band, Uncle John’s Band, (drums – space), The Other One, Wharf Rat, Good Lovin’, (encore), Knockin’ On Heaven’s Door

The Grateful Dead is the only band I’ve ever driven out of state to see. It isn’t impressive when one considers the thousands of others who have followed them everywhere even before I was born. I and my friends had been spoiled in the Bay Area, being able to see them so often, but when my buddies decided to put together a convoy to see them in Eugene, I was game. Unlike Vegas, the parking lot in Eugene allowed people to camp overnight and among my friends, we had plenty of supplies.

On the way up I-5, we decided to make a pit stop in Weed to get supplies and I insisted on stopping at the local hardware store to get my car key copied, so my companions would all have one. It took a little longer than expected and I got some complaints from the others, but lo and behold, just after we got to Eugene, one of the other cars had the keys locked inside accidentally and they had to call a locksmith. Nick got the last laugh. Trouble hit my friend Mike’s car just past Ashland, as the steep mountain grade was just too much for his car’s water pump and it broke down. He and his buddy Owen got towed into town and they decided to buy bicycles and ride around town until their car got fixed.

We arrived to set camp in the parking lot in time to hear the Dead sound checking. It was loud enough that all the Heads could hear them clear as a bell. We were all tired from the long drive up and in dire need of showering, but the good lord did provide ironically. As soon as we got in, it started raining. Like I said, we needed it and there was no use complaining. The Dead got in on the joke and decided to play “Rain” by the Beatles and “Samba In The Rain” as well.

A funny, yet terrifying thing happened to me on my way into that first show. Going to see the Dead as usual, I and my companions were armed with an assortment of illicit substances, but on this occasion, I had quite a lot on me, anticipating the long weekend and thereafter. I had crammed about 50 hits of “Jesus Christ Superstar” LSD tabs, of which I had already dropped a couple prior, and a handful of hash chunks into a prescription medicine container. Stupidly, I decided to wear shorts on this cool, rainy day and on my way into the show, I had to hide the container from security, so I tucked it into my underwear.

Well, I made it through security, but a couple steps inside the stadium, the container slipped out of my shorts and rolled on the pavement right in front of a handful of local policemen. Honestly, I just instantly reacted and picked up the container as fast as lightning and kept walking. I even overheard on of the cops saying something like, “You got that OK?”. My friends and I found seats up in the bleachers before the show had started and my brain, cooling off from the adrenaline and still functional before the acid kicked in came to the horrifying realization that if I was busted, my trip to see the Dead would have ended rather tragically to put it mildly. The paper weight alone of the doses would have put me away for a minimum ten years. I like to think the good lord was watching pout for me that day and I thank my lucky stars for my reflexes and calm demeanor as well.

Meanwhile that day, about 850 miles south of us, another person was having not so much luck evading law enforcement. Yes, we all remember where we were when we heard the news about O.J. Simpson, but I would have never guessed it would come from some random Deadhead in the middle of the show. I and my friends were dancing, high as kites, and having a grand old time, when a fellah ran up the stairs of the bleachers and announced in a loud steady voice, “Hey! O.J. is making a run for it! He’s in a slow speed chase in the white Bronco on the freeway with the cops right now!” 

My friends and I looked at this guy rather incredulously and he continued up the steps telling people about it. I thought it was just a sick joke and wondered briefly if I had just hallucinated the whole thing altogether. Of coarse, when we got out of the show, we heard the news, and realized it was for real. Suffice to say, the truth is stranger than fiction. I did lead me to wonder if that was why the Dead played “I Fought The Law” the next day for their encore.

But back to the show, this was one of a few occasions when I’d actually see a band open for the Dead. Usually, it’s just them doing two sets and an encore at the end, but this time we had Cracker. Cracker was still a fairly new band back then. David Lowry of Camper Van Beethoven just formed it only a couple years prior and they had a hit with the song, “Low”, though I’m sure they’d gotten the attention of the Dead with their cover of “Loser”, the Jerry Garcia song, not the Beck song, obviously. They played the cover the first and last show of the weekend and I must say it was done tastefully. The Dead crowd is a tough crowd to please, but Cracker did respectfully and they were appreciated enough to be allowed to do an encore on the last day, an honor rarely granted to any opening band, much less one opening for the Dead.

The Dead were in fine form that weekend, playing lot my favorites. There was plenty of food and drink to go around and though I never have been a fan of camping and I was eating a lot of acid that weekend, I managed to sleep OK. My friend Eric, unfortunately, was beginning his long downward spiral into mental illness. Being young and dumb, I and my friends mostly dismissed his increasingly bizarre behavior the the copious amounts of substances he was taking. But Eric disappeared briefly Friday night and we were started to worry. Going to the cops was not a pleasing option and trying to explain his disappearance to his folks was even less. Thankfully, he turned up and we tried not to think about it again. Funny though, he fell asleep with his sunglasses on during the day and got a pretty bad sunburn, leaving the area around his eyes unburnt.

This would be the only time I’d ever see the Dead in Oregon, or any band in Oregon for that matter. My friends and I naively assumed the band would just keep touring forever and ever and we’d do the Eugene thing again sometime. They did play in Portland in 1995, but they never played Eugene again, not with Jerry anyway. My buddy Jeff was dropped off in Arcata on our way back home and he enrolled in Humboldt State University the next day.

Lush, Bottom Of The Hill, SF, Tues., June 21, 1994

SETLIST : Blackout, Starlust, For Love, Lit Up, The Childcatcher, Kiss Chase, Downer, Lovelife, De-Luxe, Sweetness & Light, Baby Talk, (encore), Hypocrite, Desire Lines, Leaves Me Cold

It was a rare pleasure to see Lush, one of my all time favorite bands, in such a small venue, especially since they hadn’t played in town for two years, since Lollapalooza. I’d heard a rumor from friends that they’d be doing a small show there and the sunday it went on sale, I staked out Bottom Of The Hill hoping to get a ticket. I was waiting patiently out front of the venue with one other chap until finally somebody from the venue showed up, but to our horror, he told us all the tickets were actually being sold at Rough Trade Records on Haight Street the day prior. The guy said he’d check the office and miraculously, there were exactly two tickets there and we were set. I was floating on air.

The day of the show came around and I was still a little worn out from my adventure in Eugene to see the Dead. But I was so excited to see Lush and filled with fond memories of the time I saw them on LSD in London, that I ate four tabs of the “Jesus Christ Superstar” acid before I went into the venue. Well, I underestimated the time I’d have to kill at Bottom Of The Hill before Lush took the stage and there I was, the venue nearly empty for a time that felt like eternity, especially when the acid started kicking in.

I was cool though, but had little to do but nurse a beer and play the Baby Pac-Man table top game in the lounge in the back, but then who comes out to hang than Miki Berenyi, the lead singer who was the inducer of many a boner for me. So there I was, pupils dilated, with a stupid perma-grin, peaking, and obviously staring at her from across the room. I caught a glimpse of her looking back at me and I thought she gave me a look like, “What the fuck are you looking at?”. I did have the good fortune to talk to Miki briefly a couple years later at the Fillmore and told her the story, but to my relief, she politely said she didn’t remember my freakish behavior and remembered the show there fondly.

Lush’s third album, “Split” had been released the year before and I was eager to hear the new songs live for the first time and they played them excellently, especially “Lovelife”, still one of my favorite songs. They did a song called “The Childcatcher” which wouldn’t be released until their next album, so I didn’t know its title until them which vexed me, being a fan knowing the titles of every single other song that night.

As luck would have it, the World Cup was being played just down the peninsula at Stanford that time, though I really didn’t care. There was one drunk bloke who was shouting, “Ireland!!!”, between songs and he and Miki had a little banter about it, though I couldn’t make out what they were saying. It wasn’t just the acid, Lush played a great set that night and the tape came out sparkling. This was one of the few bootlegs I had that I actually listened to regularly and I adorned its tape case with extra details as well, highlighting the labels with extra colors and such.

The Verve, Super 31, Slim’s, SF, Thur., June 30, 1994

SETLIST : Slide Away, Stormy Clouds, This Is Music, A Man Called Sun, Blue, Mover, Already There, The Rolling People, Let The Damage Begin, Then Sun, The Sea, Feel, Gravity Grave, Echo Bass

“A Storm In Heaven” was one of my favorite albums and I listened to it religiously. So, you can imagine my excitement upon finally seeing The Verve. They had just recently changed their name from Verve to THE Verve, settling a lawsuit with Verve Records. I hate it when bands have to change their names. They never seem quite the same afterwards, but since I’d never seen these guys before, it didn’t really matter. I actually missed them the year before playing at Slim’s, though I caught Curve there the night before. I thought it was cute they had Curve and Verve playing back to back.

Still eating a steady diet of “Jesus Christ Superstar” LSD tabs, I ate a couple as did my friend Casey who joined me that evening. I’d been accustomed to tripping at shows by then, so the experience wasn’t as awkward as previous shows. Casey never heard The Verve before and I like introducing bands that I like to people sight unseen, vicariously experiencing their pleasant surprise like trying Indian food for the first time or something. 

We weren’t that interested in Super 31, the opener, so we hung out, had a beer, and stared at the brick walls of Slim’s undulating in our eyes. We went up front for The Verve and like most Britpop acts, it was extremely loud. They were between albums and were trying out a few new songs, though they had different titles then. “This Is Music” was called “I’ve Been On The Shelf Too Long”, “The Rolling People” was “Electric Boogaloo”, and “Let The Damage Begin” was “Cold Chicken”.

Richard Ashcroft has the honor of being the skinniest Britpop singer in the world. I mean, he had some tough competition from guys like Thom Yorke, Brett Anderson, Damon Albarn, and the like, but Ashcroft looked downright famine stricken. As they say in the Midwest, that boy needs to put some cornpone on him. The effort he puts into singing, all the sweat, makes him looks like he’s constantly on the brink of collapse. He actually did collapse on stage that year playing the second stage at Lollapalooza. He had a little too much to drink the night before apparently.

Speaking of having difficulties handling their punch, during “The Sun, The Sea”, the last song of the set, Casey was feeling a little overheated and short of breath, so we took a break and went out front of Slim’s to cool off. I was taping, yes, but making sure he was OK was more important and I felt like taking a breather too. It was a good call and it was nice night out. It was so loud inside, that we no problem hearing the music out front. They did “Feel”, “Gravity Grave”, and “Echo Bass” for the encore. After that show, I was totally hooked on The Verve and got any album, single, or EP I could find.

Youssou N’Dour, Pangea, Fill., SF, Fri., July 1, 1994

I first heard of Youssou N’Dour from my sister Erica and was impressed with his collaboration with Peter Gabriel and Amnesty International. African music rarely gets into to town and even more rarely at the Fillmore, so I made sure to catch this one and broaden my horizons. It wasn’t very well sold, but that allowed the crowd to relax a bit and there was plenty of room to dance. And dance we did. Though I didn’t know any of the songs, the joy and skill of N’Dour and his band made moving to the beat irresistible. The colors of their clothes were so vibrant, it made me look like a total square though. Always a treat to see folks from far away places, playing a venue as small as the Fillmore. N’Dour could fill stadiums in Senegal.

David Byrne, The Mermen, War., SF, Sat., July 2, 1994

Being a full fledged music junkie, I felt it was my moral obligation to see the great David Byrne. I was late getting into the Talking Heads and regret to this day that I will never see them play together. Though they managed to bury the hatchet enough to do a few songs together at their induction to the Rock N’ Roll Hall Of Fame, there’s too much bad blood between them. My friend Frank, who was their sound man for years, said David sent his lawyer to tell the band he’s leaving, not having the courage to do it himself. I missed the last time David came through and played the Warfield which he brought a large uniformed band with him, but this time he had a smaller, intimate group.

This was my first time seeing the bay area surf rock veterans, the Mermen. They were a great opening band and I never tire of seeing them. Their set is always instrumental and hypnotizes the crowd to the point where ushering becomes a breeze. I didn’t know David’s solo work, but my buddy Jeff was there and clued me on a few titles of some of the songs he played. I did know the Talking Heads songs he did, like “Psycho Killer”, “Once In A Lifetime”, as well as “And She Was”, which he introduced saying it was about the apartment in Baltimore which he lived in with a dozen other people.

This was a special show too since it was the first time I got a free poster at the Warfield. The owners got the hint from the Fillmore that free posters at the end of the show was a good idea and they followed suit. I promptly put it up in my bathroom when I got home from the show. Strange though that David had long hair at the show and short hair on the poster.

Midnight Oil, The Wild Colonials, Kevin Cates & Alicia Recklis, Fill., Sun., July 10, 1994

SETLIST : King Of The Mountain, Short Memory, Sell My Soul, Now Or Never Land, Don’t Wanna be The One, Jimmy Sharman’s Boxers, Best Of Both Worlds, The Dead Heart, Whoah, Power And The Passion, Beds Are Burning

Midnight Oil was supposed to play at the WOMAD festival, scheduled to go on at Shoreline that summer with Primus, Arrested Development, and Live, but it got cancelled for some reason. I was consoled knowing I’d see them at the Fillmore, clearly at more up close distance. My roommate Mike was with me and he was a big fan, though I confess I didn’t know any of their songs other than their hit, “Beds Are Burning”, which they played last.

I was impressed with the Wild Colonials, though I’d never see them again. Midnight Oil blew me away. They were tight and the sheer energy exuding from their singer, Peter Garrett, was awe inspiring. A picture of him singing still hangs backstage in one of the band waiting rooms to this day and it’s a big one too.

The bad news about that show wasn’t the show itself, but the poster. I put it up in my bathroom where it stayed for some time, but when the time came to take it down when I was moving, the steam from the shower had made it stick to the wall. I very painstakingly removed it with a razor blade and managed to salvage it about 90%. I never put up a poster in my bathroom again that wasn’t in a frame.

Spearhead, Slim’s, SF, Wed., July 20, 1994

SETLIST : Piece Of Peace, Red Beans, Crime, Of Coarse You Can, Positive, Forward Ever, People In Tha Middle, Hole In Tha Bucket, Dream Team, Run Fe Ya Life, Love Is The Shit

This was the first time Spearhead played EVER, so it goes without saying it was the first time I’d ever seen them. Their first album, “Home”, wouldn’t even be released until September. It was a fresh new sound for Michael Franti, mixing a full soul band with his hip hop style. The man could sing.  A reggae band opened up that night, but I still don’t know who they were. While bands like Arrested Development and P.M. Dawn would fall quickly by the wayside, little could I have predicted that Franti would continue with Spearhead for so many years to come and so many line up changes.

Stone Temple Pilots, Bud E. Luv, Whiskey Biscuit, Fill., SF, Fri., July 22, 1994

The Pilots had been around for a couple years and I’d naively dismissed them as yet another Seattle band tacked onto the so called grunge movement, but their second album proved me wrong. These guys had talent and I was lucky to get into the Fillmore show, since they were so big by then, they were playing a show the next day across the bay in Oakland at the Henry J. Kaiser Auditorium, a venue six times larger.I was lucky enough to run into Scott Weiland as we passed each other on the stairs at the Fillmore. He was wearing a light blue summer dress and I shook his hand and told him to “break a leg”. He seemed a little dazed, maybe on the nod, but he smiled and thanked me.

The opening act, Whiskey Biscuit, were enjoyable, though I’d never see them again. They did the title song on the Henry Mancini tribute album, “A Shot In The Dark”, which is one of my favorites. There is some debate whether there is an “H” in the first part of their name, “Whiskey”, but since they’re no longer around, it makes little difference. The real treat that night followed with the fabulous Bud E. Luv. Like the karaoke master, Richard McGee who opened for the Smashing Pumpkins, the folks at the Fillmore thought he’d be an ironic opener for such a popular rock n’ roll act like the Pilots. Bud had a forty five minute set to fill and though I loved every minute of it, I could tell after about twenty minutes or so, the crowd was starting to lose interest.  I loved his covers of “Y.M.C.A.” and “Kung Fu Fighting”. I was working by the handicapped bar up near the stage right and I saw Bud as he walked off stage. He was visibly relieved and even wiped a couple beads of sweat off his brow with a resounding “Whew!”

The Pilots opened with “Vasoline”, the big hit off the new album and the crowd went nuts. The pit was intense for the first half of the set, but chilled out a little when the band did a few acoustic numbers. Back then MTV was doing all those Unplugged albums and the Pilots had done one as well. I appreciated that they did a cover of David Bowie’s “Andy Warhol”. Just before the band played “Dead & Bloated”, somebody in the crowd threw an apple at Scott. He was a little pissed about it, but kept going, calling whoever threw it “a little punk”. Thereafter, the Fillmore became more selective of when they put out the free apple pail in the lobby. From then on, whenever I came to the Fillmore and noticed it was a “no-apple show”, I’d know I should proceed with caution.

H.O.R.D.E. ’94: The Allman Brothers Band, The Black Crowes, Blues Traveler, Big Head Todd & The Monsters, Ugly Americans, John Popper’s Workshop Jam, Cytomotogoat, Shoreline, Mountain View, Sun., July 31, 1994

SETLISTS

THE BLACK CROWES : Sting Me, Thorn’s Progress Jam – Thorn In My Pride, Gone, Sometime’s Salvation, Wiser Time, Sister Luck, High Head Blues, A Conspiracy, Jealous Again, Remedy

THE ALLMAN BROTHERS BAND : (Set 1), Slain’ ‘Cross The Devil’s Sea, Statesboro Blues, Blue Sky, The Same Thing, Southbound, Soulshine, Seven Turns, Midnight Rider, Jessica, Mountain Jam, Jessica, (Set 2), No One To Run With, Back Where It All Begins, In Memory Of Elizabeth Reed, One Way Out, Whipping Post

We were late that day getting in, missing Sheryl Crow, who was still new on the scene as a solo artist. The H.O.R.D.E. festival was the jam band Lollapalooza, conceived by Blues Traveler’s John Popper. For some reason, Shoreline was allowing folks from the lawn area down into the seats until the seat’s rightful owner showed up. If I was more determined, I might have been able to stay down there for the show, but I would have been trapped there, unable to get food, drink, or be able to go to the bathroom. Besides, I was with my friends, Mike, Rodney, and Owen, and I didn’t want to leave them either. Also, there were some talented people on the second stage that day, like The Ugly Americans and the Screamin’ Cheetah Wheelies.

It was a toss up between seeing this show and the Helmet, Rollins Band, and Sausage show at the Greek that day, tough call. My flatmate, Kevin, went and said it was a great one as expected. Big Head Todd was good, but the venue was still pretty empty when they were on. The big attraction that day was Blues Traveler and I could see why my friend Mike was so impressed by them. Nobody can play the harmonica like John Popper. The things he can do are simply mind boggling. They did a great cover of “Low Rider” that day and Warren Haynes joined them on stage for the last song of their set as well.

But the main reason I was there was to see the Black Crowes. They had just come out with their third album, “Amorica”, and I liked the new stuff and looked forward to hearing it live for the first time. They were tight that day and I liked that they added a percussionist to the band, giving them a fuller sound. I caught a song from Cytomotogoat before checking out John Popper doing a sort of musical workshop on another small stage. Sheryl Crow was one of the musicians there, so technically, I guess I did see her that day. It was nice to see Popper up close after seeing him from such a distance during Blues Traveler’s set.

He did a strange thing at that workshop which I’ll never forget. He was talking to the crowd how silence is part of a song and illustrated this by doing a little jam session and stopping in the middle of it to sort of groove with the silence. He stopped and simply closed his eyes and nodded along where the beat was. Some folks instinctually clapped along, but he told them to cut it out and really focus on the silence. After a few bars of it, he resumed the band playing and the jam continued.

The Allmans were just as good as I remembered them playing at the Warfield the month prior and I was pretty burned out from listening to music all day, so I chilled up on the lawn with my friends till the show was over. It was a warm, pleasant evening with lots of stars and the occasional fly over from a plane taking off from nearby Moffett Field.

Lush, Weezer, The Dambuilders, Fill., SF, Sun. August 7, 1994

SETLIST : Blackout, Starlust, Lit Up, For Love, The Childcatcher, Kiss Chase, Light From A Dead Star, Lovelife, Hypocrite, Undertow, De-Luxe, Downer, Baby Talk, (encore) Desire Lines, Sweetness & Light, (encore), Thoughtforms, Leaves Me Cold

Already a huge fan of Lush, I was delighted when I heard that this show was announced and made sure to be there. It was Lush’s first time playing the Fillmore and they seemed to fit the place like a glove, like they were always meant to play there. Unfortunately, I was stuck working in the office that night, so I missed most of the opening acts. Weezer was brand new back then and they were getting some radio play from “The Sweater Song”, though the video for “Buddy Holly” wasn’t out then, which would become the smash hit that they’d always be known for. I did make it out of the office on a break to at least catch that song.

It was good to hear the new songs from Lush again that night, having heard them only a few months before at Bottom Of The Hill. The first half of the set was mostly stuff from “Split”. They played “The Childcatcher” as they had when I saw them last and I was frustrated again that it was the only song of the set which I didn’t know the title at the time, since it would be released on their fourth album, “Lovelife”, in 1996. Like most Britpop bands, their set was only an hour long, though they indulged the crowd with two encores. It was nice to hear them play “Thoughtforms” live. I’d never heard them do that one before and it was one of my favorite songs of theirs. Lush would go on to play the Fillmore two more times before they broke up in 1996, but they never got a poster, of which I’m still bitter. They certainly deserved one.

Jerry Garcia Band, War., SF, Sun., August 14, 1994

SETLIST : (Set 1) How Sweet It Is (To Be Loved By You), Waiting For A Miracle, You Never Can Tell, Mississippi Moon, Lay Down Sally, My Sisters & Brothers, Everybody Needs Somebody To Love,  (Set 2) Shining Star, Struggling Man, And It Stoned Me, Tore Up Over You, The Maker, Gomorrah, Tangled Up In Blue

I don’t have the tape on this one since something went south in my recording that night, bad mic I think. There were times I had to replace the mic and/or the recorder. I probably went through a recorder once every three to four years or so. Usually, the motors just start giving out. But superstitious as I am, perhaps something was telling me that this one wasn’t meant to be taped.

My poor friend Eric succumbed to a nervous breakdown and had to be put away for treatment at Alta Bates in Berkeley. He’d often accompanied me as my plus one ushering the Jerry shows. He wasn’t a good usher, standing there like a tree most of the time, while I did most of the work, but he was good company and a good friend. I remember that I always had to tie his necktie for him. Eric eventually got a well enough to be released, but he never really was the same and suffers from mental illness to this day. I feel guilty for heedlessly enabling him to take so much acid and stuff, as well as not recognizing the warning signs of his impending meltdown.

My friend and flatmate Casey was there ushering with me that night. This was truly a rare show. He had no real interest in Jerry or the Dead, mostly listening to Emo bands like Depeche Mode and Erasure back then. Casey was a good sport and did his best dealing with the Jerry crowd with the usual set of their issues, staking out territory on the floor with their blankets, spinners, absent minded stoners, etc. Security always had trouble keeping folks with balcony tickets from infiltrating the floor, making the numbers added down there another burden.

It took me years to realize that EVERY song Jerry was playing in his band was a cover song. There were a few obvious ones I knew like “Everybody Needs Somebody To Love”, the Solomon Burke cover made famous by the film, “The Blues Brothers”. But it wasn’t until the release of the movie, “Pulp Fiction” that it occurred to me that “You Never Can Tell” was a cover also. It shows just how much I still had to learn about music back then, despite my heavy diet of concerts and large music collection.

It took a while, or at least it felt like a long while for Jerry to come back to us after the first set. Lord knows what really held him up, but heroin rumors were still abound. Casey and I were pretty exhausted and decided to bail about halfway through the second set, finishing our beers and at least enjoying the band play, “And It Stoned Me”.

Santana, Shoreline, Mountain View, Sat., August 20, 1994

SETLIST : Angels Around Us, (Da Le) Yaleo / Hannibal, Transmutation, Industrial, Thoughts, Peace On Earth… Mother Earth… Third Stone From The Sun, Luz, Amor Y Vida, Guajira, Savor, Make Somebody Happy / Get It In Your Soul, Wings Of Grace, Angel Love (Come For Me), En Aranjuez Con Tu Amor, Black Magic Woman / Gypsy Queen, Oye Como Va, Soul Sacrifice, Europa (Earth’s Cry, Heaven’s Smile), Toussaint L’Ouverture, Earthbeat, Bacalao Con Pan, Jin-go-lo-ba

I totally forgot about this one. If I hadn’t had jotted down a paragraph years ago, this one would have slipped by completely. I’m ashamed of myself, because this show was a gift from my sister, Erica, for my 22nd birthday. So rare she went to shows with me. I think I left my tape deck that day out of respect for my sister, choosing to focus on my experience with her and the show without distractions. 

However, it’s not totally surprising that I forgot this show. Like the Dead, Primus, and Metallica, the bay area is blessed with Carlos being local and we get to see him all the time. He shows up and jams at other peoples gigs regularly and I saw him so often back then, that it is no wonder one or two slipped past.

This was the first time I would be seeing Carlos headline his own show though, having seen him only open for the Dead in Vegas back in 1992, the occasions when he’d jam with them at their shows, and the Good Road benefit at Shoreline, also back in ’92. So it was just Carlos this time. We were up on the lawn and the weather was good. I enjoyed the drum solos and Carlos’ singer, Alex Ligertwood from Scotland. I thought he was new to the band, but he had toured with Santana many times before, though this tour would be his last one singing for him.

Nick Cave & The Bad Seeds, Congo Norvell, The Geraldine Fibbers, Fill., SF, Fri. August 26, 1994

SETLIST : Do You Love Me?, Papa Won’t Leave You, Henry, The Good Son, Red Right Hand, City Of Refuge, Nobody’s Baby Now, Loverman, Brother, My Cup Is Empty, The Ship Song, Deanna, Jack The Ripper, The Mercy Seat, (encore) Your Funeral… My Trial, Loom Of The Land, From Her To Eternity, I Let Love In, Tupelo

I can’t find the tapes for this one either. Maybe I was between recorders, maybe I lost the tapes, but it’s not like me to miss two shows in a row. Regardless this show was my introduction to Nick Cave, who I’d go on to see twice more that weekend at Lollapalooza down at Shoreline. George Clinton who was also on the tour would do a show at the Fillmore the next day, but I didn’t go to that one. I’d seen Carla Bozulich in Ethyl Meatplow during their disastrous set opening for Front 242 the year before, but her new band the Geraldine Fibbers were subdued by comparison. I can’t say I remember much about Congo Norvell.

What I’ll never forget is bumping into Kelly Deal from the Breeders at the show. I stupidly asked her first is she was Kim Deal, but she corrected me and was nice about it. Being identical twins, I’m sure that happens on a daily basis for her. I told her I was looking forward to seeing her and the Breeders that weekend. She thanked me and sweetly asked, “Do you have any downers?” A little stunned, I took a pause, then politely told her, “No, sorry.” She was sweet about it.

Nick Cave’s music was new to me, so I wasn’t familiar with the songs back then, but I got to know them, getting to hear many of them three days in row, though the Fillmore set was considerably longer. The Deal sisters and a couple girls from L7 got on stage and sang along with the chorus of “Deanna” that night.

Lollapalooza ’94: Smashing Pumpkins, Beastie Boys, George Clinton & The P-Funk All Stars, The Breeders, Tribe Called Quest, Nick Cave & The Bad Seeds, L7, Green Day, Shutter To Think, The Pharcyde, Shonen Knife, Stereolab, Shoreline, Mountain View, Sat., August 27, 1994

SETLISTS

GREEN DAY : Welcome To Paradise, Chump, Longview, Basket Case, When I Come Around, Burnout, F.O.D. (Fuck Off & Die), Knowledge, Paper Lanterns

L7 : Death Wish, Everglade, Questioning My Sanity, Stuck Here Again, Shove, Shitlist, Let It Slide, Diet Pill, Andres, Pretend We’re Dead, Fast & Frightening

THE BREEDERS : Divine Hammer, Free Pig, No Aloha, Head To Toe, Shocker In Boomtown, Hellbound, I Just Wanna Get Along, Safari, New Year, Cannonball, Saints

GEORGE CLINTON & THE P-FUNK ALL STARS : Get Off Your Ass & Jam, Flashlight, We Want The Funk, Daddy’s Little Angel, Old MacUncle C.I.A.I.O, Living Without You, Atomic Dog

BEASTIE BOYS : The Biz VS The Nuge, Sure Shot, Shake Your Rump, Pass The Mic, Egg Man, In 3’s, Rhymin’ & Stealin’, Time For Livin’, Tough Guy. Sabrosa, The Maestro, So You Wanna Be An MC, Root Down, Shadrach, Stand Together, Flute Loop, Paul Revere, Rickey’s Theme, Elbow Room, Heart Attack Man, Gratitude, Slo & Lo, So Whatcha Want, Sabotage

Dear God, where to begin? As you know, I was a fan of the Lollapalooza tours and the bands that played them and I’m sure to many others like me, it was tough to say which was their favorite. To me, I can’t really choose since they all were different and I enjoyed them for different reasons, but one can argue that the 1994 tour was special for a number of reasons. First, the tour was clearly at the height of its popularity. The tour would continue for another three years, but it didn’t quite feel the same and we all knew it was losing steam, despite the talented acts it continued to draw. 

The second thing that made this tour unique from the others was strangely the act that wasn’t performing. Yes, Nirvana was picked to be the headliner on this tour before Kurt Cobain’s death and although the Smashing Pumpkins was a wise choice to replace them, everybody knew that Nirvana would have been perfect. But that being said, each and every act on the main stage and the side stage were all favorites of mine, or would become favorites in time.

Back then, ushers could put in requests for “comp” tickets and I got them for both days, the first day, Saturday, for me as well as for my siblings, Alex and Erica. Well, I should have read the fine print, for when we got in line to get into the show, I was mortified that I’d accidentally brought the tickets to the Sunday show with us. So, we played it cool and just went to the ticket takers with them and they let us in anyway without looking twice at our stubs. I did the same thing the next day without incident. These were still the days when they just had paper tickets, before the scanned them electronically. The Sunday tickets were for the seats up front, so we hung out there for the first few acts before retreating to the lawn, knowing that the seat’s rightful owners would eventually come down to claim them.

Before I continue, I just want you all to know that I only wrote down the set lists from these shows that were complete. Though I knew most of the songs from all the bands, there were gaps here and there, so I left the others out. I’ll only give you guys complete lists. Anyway, the first band we heard that day was the Pharcyde playing on the second stage. We heard them as we were walking in even before we made it past the gate. Shoreline had put out the second stage farther out this year, fencing off a section of the parking lot closest to the venue. I guess they did that to sell more tickets and it did help the bands stepping on each other’s sound when both stages were going at the same time. I was glad the Pharcyde was there, a good way to start the day. They were hot back then one of the best hip hop acts I’d ever hear.

Green Day opened the main stage and they were their rambunctious selves as expected. They had just played at the Woodstock show a couple weeks prior where Mike Dirnt got into a scrape with the festival’s security. I heard he lost some teeth on that one, though it’s probably just a tall tale. Billie Joe kept on pile driving his vocal mic stand on the stage in a brutish attempt to lower it, lamenting, “I’m too short for this shit!”. Clearly, he knew how to lower it, but was just being a punk. Alex decided to roam the grounds during their set, but we stuck it out. There were a couple girls sitting in front of Erica and I who were obviously pissed off at Green Day, acting frumpy, and making angry criticisms of their overtly male behavior.

The crowd up on the lawn were loving it however. The pit up there was at least a hundred feet wide, about the distance between the middle two spotlight towers. Billie Joe ran up and down the aisles of the seated section during a song and when he passed by the base of the lawn, the crowd playfully threw all sorts of crud at him. Billie chastised us folks down in the seats for being boring and ripped on BGP, calling them “Bill Graham Prevents”, a hit on the organizations lackluster support for punk bands. It was a fun set all the same. They did a medley, playing bits from “Eye Of The Tiger” by Survivor and “Mental Health (Bang Your Head)” by Quiet Riot. A couple of the ladies from L7 bum rushed the stage during their set as well holding signs saying , “Punk For Sale”.

Between Green Day and L7, I checked out the poetry tent where I listened to a guy going off on the mic about how it was alright that he lived at home with his parents and didn’t have a job and for the crowd to collectively suck his dick. My guess is that they were out of real poets and just were doing an open mic thing. L7 had a “cool” set with fake snowmen on stage and their amps we covered with fake snow too, a strange concept for playing a festival in the middle of August. The frumpy girls in front of us magically became happy hearing the first few bars of their first song, “Death Wish”. L7 was supposed to play Lollapalooza before, but couldn’t do it for one reason or another, but I remember hearing their second album, “Bricks Are Heavy”, often between sets of the bands at the festival back in ’92. Like Green Day, they mocked us folks in the seats telling us to get off our “corndog asses” and praising the “cute kids” up on the lawn in the mosh pit. They introduced the single, “Andres”, off their new album as the theme song to the feel good movie of the summer, probably lampooning the kids film, “Andre”, about a girl and her pet seal. They also dedicated “Pretend We’re Dead” to Paul Hill, a anti-abortion lunatic who recently murdered a doctor in Georgia. Ending their set with the rollicking “Fast & Frightening”, they finished the song singing a couple lines of “Punk For Sale”, parodying Cole Porter’s “Love For Sale” and they asked the crowd to be nice to Nick Cave & The Bad Seeds that were following them since they were friends of theirs. I caught a couple songs from Shutter To Think between sets, but I didn’t stay long. I’d seen them at the Warfield opening for the Smashing Pumpkins and I wasn’t into them.

Erica and I kicked it on the lawn for Nick Cave and his set really wasn’t well received. The third band slot of the day is a tricky one. It’s hot out and everybody needed a break from moshing. It didn’t help the band theta the girl in front of us on the lawn had the words, “Nick Cave Sucks Shit” written in black marker on the back of her hands, which she frequently flipped the band the bird. I don’t know. Like the Jesus & Mary Chain, Nick’s music is best heard at night. Dark music, his. Doesn’t get much darker than the apt named Mr. Cave. There was, however, one guy down in the seats who was dancing up a storm, especially for “The Mercy Seat” at the end of his set. I can still see him now, obese, dark hair, sweating like hell. He was probably on something, but there he was, the only person on his feet down there, clearly enjoying himself. Good for him. Unfortunately, my tape recorded kept starting and stopping on it’s own. I think I had triggered it’s voice activation button, shutting down the recording whenever it was quiet enough, but I really can’t remember how I fixed it for the rest of the show. I remember tapping on on the built in mic to see if that what was doing it and you can hear the tapping on the tape. So I missed most of Nick’s set, but I somehow got it woking properly again afterwards.

There’s always a tough choice or two to be made when attending any music festival with multiple stages, choosing between bands to see. I liked Tribe Called Quest and it was my first time seeing them. Technically, I only heard them when they played the Student Union at SF State. I was working at the coffee stand around the corner, but I could hear them clear as a bell. There was a rumor that the Beastie Boys said they wouldn’t be on the tour if Tribe wasn’t on it, but it was probably untrue. They definitely were worthy, but I was totally head over heels for Stereolab by then and they were playing on the second stage.

I was pleased to see that people were starting to get into this band. Their latest album, “Mars Audiac Quintet”, was just released the week before and I picked up the last copy Streetlight Records in the Castro had. I was already in love with it. I still think all and all it’s their best album. This was my first time seeing them play outdoors and their music seemed strangely fitting for a breezy summer day. You know you have a good group on the second stage like Stereolab when during their set, they get more and more people coming over all the way to the last song.

The Breeders were next on the main stage, adorned with a giant glittering banner. Everybody loves the Deal sisters. They remind me of Peppermint Patty. It still fascinates me, their voices in harmony giving me goosebumps, that they can some that many cigarettes and still sound that beautiful.  They did a couple covers that day, “Free Pig” by Sebadoh and “Shocker In Boomtown” by fellow Ohioans, Guided By Voices. The mosh pit on the lawn woke up again when they played their new hit, “Cannonball”. Love that song. They finished up their set with the sweet, melodic “Drivin’ On 9” and we were lucky that they brought up Carrie Bradley to play violin on it as she did on the album, “Last Splash”.

Shonen Knife was on the second stage between sets and I caught a few songs of theirs. I heard Nirvana was into them, but I hadn’t heard them before that day. They were so damn cute, it made you sick. They were wearing groovy, go go dancer outfits that were designed by the drummer. Next on the main stage was George Clinton & The P-Funk All Stars. Legendary for their ridiculously long sets, they managed to squeeze in six or seven songs into their 45 minute set. I once heard them play a version of “Atomic Dog” that was that long on its own. I was impressed that the stage crew got them up and running as fast as they did as well. That band probably has around 40 inputs, full horn section and all. They were good as a third to last act. The sun was going down and it’s usually around the time in a festival when people are the most wasted.

The Beasties were on fire that night. They always had a respectable career, but I think this was the height of their long history. Clearly, they were more popular than the Pumpkins on that tour, but they were on the second to last slot of the day, but whatever, they tore it up. The mosh pit was huge up on the lawn, almost taking up all of it. I think maybe Ministry in 1992 was slightly larger, but it was close. There was break in the set where they put down their mics and played instruments, Mike D on drums, Ad-Rock on guitar, and MCA on bass, doing punk songs like “Time For Livin’” and “Tough Guy” then mellowing out to play smooth instrumental songs, like “Sabrosa” and “Rickey’s Theme”. They let DJ Hurricane get on a mic to rap, “Elbow Room”. Like all second to last acts at Lollapalooza, they were allowed to do an encore and they did “So Whatcha Want?” and “Sabotage”, ending the song with a big pyrotechnic bang.

Strangely enough, the Smashing Pumpkins were already playing a set on the second stage by the time the Beasties ended. They were playing quiet, mellow songs and I made it to their stage in time to hear D’Arcy singing “Daydream”, before they got off and headed to set up on the main stage. When they got on again, they dimmed the lights and projected a star field in motion on the screens, then they opened with “Rocket”.  This would be the last time I’d see Billy Corgan with hair. He’s been shaven bald since. It was short this time, gelled down almost looking like Josephine Baker’s hair, but red. When I saw him in 1992 in London, he looked like Raggedy Andy. He had a psychedelic silvery shirt on that night and I noticed that he always wore long sleeve shirts all buttoned up. I heard a rumor later that he had tattoos all over and was self conscious about them.

Anyway, enough about Mr. Corgan’s appearance. They played a good set bringing the mosh pit back to life even after the Beasties, a very tough act to follow. Billy declared “Today” to be the theme song of the tour and they finished the set with a 15 minute long, “Silverfuck”. We were beat by then and decided to bail before their encore to beat the traffic. It was an awesome day with my siblings and I couldn’t wait to come back the next day.

Lollapalooza ’94: Smashing Pumpkins, Beastie Boys, George Clinton & The P-Funk All Stars, The Breeders, Tribe Called Quest, Nick Cave & The Bad Seeds, L7, Green Day, Stereolab, Shoreline, Mountain View, Sun., August 28, 1994

SETLISTS

L7 : Death Wish, Everglade, Questioning My Sanity, Stuck Here Again, Shove, Shitlist, Let It Slide, Diet Pill, Andres, Pretend We’re Dead, Fast & Frightening

THE BREEDERS : Divine Hammer, No Aloha, Head To Toe, Shocker In Boomtown, Free Pig, I Just Wanna Get Along, Hag, Safari, New Year, Cannonball, Saints, Driving On 9

Oh boy, this one. Brace yourself. It started well enough, going to the festival this day with my friends Casey, Kevin, and Kevin’s hippie friend, Mike from Charleston, SC, who was in town visiting. Along with us as well was and usher from the Warfield named Berlin, short, stout, blonde, and very Goth. Berlin’s real name was Erica, but she said she hated that name, which I felt bad about since it’s my sisters name who went with me to the show the day before and I thought and still think it’s a pretty name. 

 Anyway, Kevin was gracious enough to drive us all down there in his gigantic Chevy Blazer. How he ever parked that thing when we lived in the Mission is beyond me. I had the Sunday ticket stubs I accidentally brought to the Saturday show, so we were down in the seats proper this time. We met our buddy Tory there, he had driven in his own car, sporting a freshly dyed head of bright pink hair. Tory dyed his hair every color in the book back then, but I’ll never forget that shade of cotton candy. We had a great view of the stage and I knew the sound on the tape would come out stellar. 

Casey and I ate the last of the Jesus Christ Superstar LSD tabs as we went into the show. I took four of those babies, Casey took three. I know Casey got a little overheated when he had some at the Verve show at Slim’s before, but I thought he could handle it and did I. I think we took a little too much, compounded by all the herb, beer, and sunshine too, but we weren’t peaking until George Clinton got on. Green Day, L7, Nick Cave, and the Breeders played pretty much the same sets.

It was kicking in by the time Stereolab was on the second stage. I sacrificed seeing Tribe Called Quest that day so I could see their entire set.  I was starting to get paranoid, because there weren’t that many people up front where I was and I was starting to think they could see me recording. I was so scared that I missed a golden opportunity to request a song, when Laetita asked if anybody had any between songs. There were so many songs of theirs I loved, but I decided to play it safe. 

By the time I got back to see George Clinton, like I said, we were peaking. It was hot down in the 100 sections, the sunshine radiating off the plastic seats. We had plenty of water to drink, but we were sweating profusely by then. Casey was rambling about vibrations of life and how they possessed our bodies. We tried unsuccessfully to smoke a pipe load of ganja. We were tripping so hard, we couldn’t quite figure out what went where and how to operate the lighter. I was starting to panic a little. Casey went on on how we needed to change our lives and at one point, he spoke to the patron next to us in the seats, but I hallucinated that he was getting security to tell them that I was taping. I broke away suddenly and ran up to be alone on the lawn. I needed some space to breathe and cool down, but I felt intensely guilty for leaving Casey in the state we were in. I went back to the seats when the Beastie Boys got on, but Casey and Tory had left by then. I hoped Tory stayed with him and kept him out of trouble.

The Beasties ripped it up that night as they did they night before and played mostly the same stuff, though they did “Something’s Gotta Give”, Mike D using Peter Framptonesque vocal effects. A guy managed to get on stage past security and tried to do some break dancing, but was carried off and Ad-Rock declared ,”That guy’s got no skills”. They ended with “Sabotage” again at their encore and I looked for Tory and Casey between sets to no avail. They played the gunfight scene at the opening of John Woo’s “Hard Boiled” on the screens before the Pumpkins got on stage, followed by the car chase scene from “Bullitt” with Steve McQueen. 

The Pumpkins opened with “Quiet” just as the bad guy crashed his car and exploded. The crowd cheered. I stuck around their set to hear them play “Spaceboy” and the then unreleased, “Prelude To Nothing”, both of which they didn’t play the day before, but my curiosity about Casey was starting to get to me.  Billy Corgan was having a tizzy fit about a couple hecklers up near the front and he chastised them back, retorting that he had “rock power, motherfucker!”

I could hear them playing their encore as I was leaving and I hoped to find Casey back in the parking lot. I found him waiting by Kevin’s Blazer and we hugged and apologized to each other. I was relieved he was OK and the acid was starting to level off and the night cooled us down. Casey took off after the Beasties got on and chilled out in the parking lot till we all got out, pretty much what he did at the Verve show. Kevin and Mike, who had lawn tickets that day said they blew a king’s ransom on overpriced Pina Colada’s at the show. We piled into the Blazer and rolled home. I remember we listen to my recording of George Clinton that night and it came out perfect. I can still picture Kevin behind the wheel of the Blazer, grooving out to the beat. 

We stopped by El Faro on 24th and Mission to get some late night burritos before we went home. Mike was fumbling around with his wallet counting a stack of cash in his hand while we parked and I told him at that time of night he might as well have pinned a sign on himself saying, “Jack Me”. The Mission was dangerous back then. Well fed, sunburned, and still high from the last of that acid, I tried to get some sleep. Berlin was staying over that night, crashing in the living room with Mike, but she came into my room in the middle of the night. She asked if she could crash on the floor in my room, claiming that Mike was snoring too loud. I got the impression she was there hoping to have sex with me, but I didn’t take the bait. Horny as I was back then, I thought she was a bit of a Debbie Downer.

All and all, it was a great show and a great weekend, seeing the festival the night before and Nick Cave that Friday. That LSD freakout still haunts me to this day, especially since Casey died three years later on the very same day of the year, August 28th. I’d see and hang out with Casey and Kevin when they moved to their place up on upper Haight the next year and we got to see a few more shows together before Casey’s accident. I’ll never forget this show and I don’t ever want to forget, despite the bad trip.

But I don’t want to leave you all on a maudlin note. The tapes from these shows came out great and I listened to them a lot for years. I meticulously labeled each one too. Once, while crossing the street near Balboa BART station, I dropped one in oncoming traffic and risked life and limb to save it. These shows were important, really up there in my collection.

Spin Doctors, Vinx, Fill., SF, Wed. August 31, 1994

SETLIST  : Hambone, At This Hour, Hungry Hamed’s, Uranium Century, Scotch And Water Blues, Yo Baby, Bags Of Dirt, Cleopatra’s Cat, Lady Kerosene, Hard To Exist, Turn It Upside Down, Yo Mama’s A Pajama, Someday All This Will Be Road, Sister Sisyphus, Sweet Widow, Mary Jane, Biscuit Head, House, Back Door Man, Indifference, You Let Your Heart Go Too Fast, Freeway To The Plains, (encore), Prey To Bears, Off My Line, Checking Up On My Baby

It wasn’t long before the Spin Doctors became the band you love to hate, the band that mockingly typified 90’s so-called alternative music. Their album “Pocket Full Of Kryptonite” put them on the map for good, but their second album, “Turn It Upside Down” didn’t sell as well. I was still happy to see them and liked them all the same. 

Being an usher at the Fillmore, I was always there about an hour before the doors opened to the public and was able to see many of the artists walking around and hanging out up the poster room.  Being the celebrity stalker that I am, I took it upon myself to approach one or two of them and this night, I ran into Chris Barron, the singer near the main steps and hovered about while he talked to an attractive blonde woman. I waited for a moment to but in briefly and told him how much I enjoyed their show at the Greek the year before, how much I appreciated their music, and how glad I was he was playing at the Fillmore that night. I think he was a little miffed that I was blocking his game with the woman and retorted snidely that he was “glad WE were playing there” that night. Oops. Touchy touchy. I know. I earned it. It took me a long time to learn precisely when it is appropriate to approach artists like him.

Anyway, they played a long set that night, over two hours and since I was starting a new semester at college early the next morning, I took off after “Back Door Man”. I noticed they conspicuously didn’t play their big hits, “Little Miss Can’t Be Wrong” and “Two Princes” from the first album. Perhaps they were trying to shake them since they were being played incessantly on the radio and TV or maybe they were just more keen on playing the new material live. Who knows. I did appreciate the poster that night, very colorful and psychedelic, a throwback to the ones the Fillmore made in the 60’s.

Stereolab, Truman’s Water, GAMH, SF, Sat., September 3, 1994

SETLIST : Changer, French Disco, Super-Electric, Ping Pong, Crest (Stacatto Susan), Monday, Jenny Ondioline (Pts. 1 & 2), Three Longers Later (Universe), The Seeming & The Meaning, Contact, Sweet Jesus, (encore), Lo Boob Oscillator, John Cage Bubblegum

I was naturally overjoyed to hear that Stereolab was playing only a week after they played the second stage at Lollapalooza, and at the Great American Music Hall to boot, one of my favorite venues. I begged my flatemate Mike to come along, but he declined, so I ended up going alone. Truman’s Water were a good opener, one of the few bands I’d ever see that had two guitars instead of a guitar and bass.

Something about Laetita Sadier’s accent when she speaks really tickles me. I like the way she introduced the song, “Peeng Pong”. I staked out a spot up in front of the stage, right under her. Damn, I was so horny for her. Their music live, especially when it’s them headlining their own show, becomes hypnotic. Songs like “Jenny Ondioline” and “Lo Boob Oscillator” would extend on into eternity, jamming through walls of droning keyboards. The end of “John Cage Bubblegum”, the last song of the encore went on until they finally turned all the lights on and the sound man cut it himself. It was avery satisfying show and I took the 49 bus back to the Mission and cooled my body off in the summer evening breeze.

Consolidated, Horsey, Headlock, Slim’s, SF, Mon., September 12, 1994

I’d heard about Consolidated from an ex-girlfriend, Dianne, who was married briefly when she was young to Consolidated’s Mark Pistel. Dianne and I both had significant others when we were studying together in London back in 1992 and though we were clearly attracted to each other, we couldn’t seal the deal. As cruel luck would have it, both our significant others dropped us like hot stones the moment we both got back to the states. We ended up hooking up shortly after and though it was friendly, we never really committed to each other, dating on again off again.

Not that Dianne was the only reason I’d heard of Consolidated. They had a respectable reputation around the Bay Area music circles and would often support left wing causes and this show was one of them, a pro-choice benefit. I’m glad I caught them when I did, because by the following year, the original line up would go their separate ways. Near the end of their set, they passed around a mic to the audience and folks got to speak their minds about the abortion issue and rallied each other to take a stand and get involved. I appreciated Consolidated intelligence and maturity and their music reflected that as well, especially the song, “Butyric Acid”. They were a band that deserved to be bigger, especially since industrial electronic bands like Nine Inch Nails and Front 242 were at the height of their popularity.

Recently, I got to work with Mark Pistel and we had lots to talk about, though I politely omitted that I once dated his ex-wife. Turns out, he toured with Meat Beat Manifesto and was with them when they played the Maritime Hall, a show I recorded, four years after the Slim’s gig. We made wise cracks about Boots, Maritime’s psychotic owner and he told me stories about stuff he’d produced and his experiences working with Michael Franti. Mark’s a nice guy and an expert sound man. I happy to consider him a friend.

Robyn Hitchcock, Alex Chilton, GAMH, Slim’s, SF, Wed., September 20, 1994

My brother Alex bought me a ticket for my birthday back in July and he brought along his then-girlfriend Tiffany. I’d just seen Robyn in London visiting my sister that summer and he was still touring as a solo act.  Alex had his new album, but I hadn’t heard anything off it then, but I was glad to hear him play at the Great American, a venue that seems fitting to a solo performer, very civilized, very classy.

Most kids my age never heard of Big Star or Alex Chilton, but I’m glad I at least saw him when I did. At least that band and Mr. Chilton got some attention doing the theme song for “That 70’s Show”, before he died in 2010. After a few beers, Robyn made it to the stage and opened with a couple of the new songs. People give him credit for his songwriting, but few people appreciate what a beautiful voice he has and he sounded sweet that night. Like the gig in London, he came out for the encore and did a few solo songs with an electric guitar instead of the acoustic.

The Fall, Magnapop, Tarnation, Fill., SF, Sat., September 24, 1994

I’d heard about the Fall before and was curious. My brother Alex came along to this show with me as well as an usher. We’d just narrowly missed them playing in London at the Odeon when we were visiting my sister last summer, so we were set out to redeem ourselves. We were stationed at the front of house soundboard, called the horseshoe, us having to keep the u-shaped three sides of it clear of patrons. From then on out, I was pretty much stationed there for every Fillmore show I ushered.

I was familiar with Tarnation because their album was in rotation at the radio station at S.F. State. It was in the “required” bin to play, but I didn’t mind. They were pretty good. I’d seen Magnapop before, I think opening for Sugar and I liked them too. I thought their singer, Linda Hopper, was a cutie. The Fall was something else altogether. They had already gone through a bunch of line up changes, so by this time there were only a couple members left who had been with the band since ’79. Their music was hypnotizing, kind of like Stereolab’s, repetitive, but not boring. 

The singer, Mark E. Smith would sing in this sort of rapping style while periodically shoving his vocal mic into band member’s amplifiers. I can only imagine the distress this would cause the monitor engineer. Years later, I would see the Fall play at the Independent and after the show, I approached the monitor engineer there and thanked him for his stoicism. That guy said three people had already come up to him and said the same thing and that had never happened to him before, not even once. Mark had a bit of reputation for being a mad genius and a bit of drunk, but I loved his music and still do. However, that show at the Fillmore had the dubious distinction of being the first show I saw there that didn’t have a free poster at the end of the night. That was the first time that happened since it reopened and unfortunately would not be the last, not by a long shot.

Blur, Pulp, Valerie Stadler, Fill., SF, Sun., September 25, 1994

So, I finally got to see Blur. Like the Fall the night before, my brother Alex was with me ushering at the horseshoe and I think he was more excited than I was. Clearly he was the bigger Britpop fan and he’d never seen Pulp before either. Like the Fall as well, I narrowly missed seeing Blur in London when I was there in 1992, when they were on the Rollercoaster tour with The Jesus & Mary Chain.

Valerie Stadler opened that night, but nobody paid much attention to her. It was still pretty early. Little did I know that Pulp would get huge after their album, “Different Class” came out. That album wouldn’t even be released until October of 1995, over a year later, but we were lucky to hear a few new songs that night including, “Common People”, their big (future) hit. I’d been a huge fan after seeing them high as a kite on acid opening for Lush in London and made every effort to get my hands on any album of theirs I could find that they had put out to that point.

Blur was on their way up, though they were already getting immediate attention with their latest album, “Parklife”, that had been released that April. Alex loved that album and it continues to be one of his favorites. They weren’t obscure in the Britpop scene by any means, but the new album really put them up front and got them headlining sold out shows, going head to head with bands like Suede and their arch-nemesis, Oasis. They new how to rock the house and had a lot of energy night. “Girls & Boys” especially got the crowd dancing near the end of the set. Unlike the Fall show the night before, we got a poster this time and it was a good one too.

Johnny Cash, Ted Hawkins, Pajama Party Orchestra, Fill., SF, Mon., September 26, 1994

SETLIST : Folsom Prison Blues, Get Rhythm, Sunday Mornin’ Comin’ Down, Riders In The Sky, Bury Me Not On The Lone Prairie, Drive On, Ring Of Fire, Long Black Veil, I Walk The Line, I Still Miss Someone, Orange Blossom Special, Delia’s Gone, The Beast In Me, Tennessee Stud, Bird On A Wire, Down The By The Train, The Man Who Couldn’t Cry, Redemption, (with June Carter Cash), Jackson, If I Were A Carpenter, It Ain’t Me, Babe, Will The Circle Be Unbroken, Big River, Don’t Take Your Guns To Town, The Ballad Of Ira Hayes, The Next Time I’m In Town, A Boy Named Sue, Wanted Man

Very few shows in my life stand out quite like this one. First of all, let me get the last thing first this time, the poster. The Johnny Cash poster from this show is arguably the flagship of all Fillmore posters given out since it reopened and that’s not just my opinion. Granted, at the time it was at least a battleship in the fleet, Eric Clapton’s being the most revered beforehand. But after Johnny’s death, it was elevated to an iconic status. Maybe if it was Clapton who had died, it might of been the other way around. But I knew it was important when I heard that it was the only poster Tina, the head usher, ever framed. I was stupid back then and poked thumbtack holes in the poster’s corners putting it up, a practice I soon gave up. But I think of it as just a subconscious insurance policy against my ever selling it.

Prior to this night, I had a very limited appreciation for Country music or it’s history. I knew my dad’s side of the family worshiped Dolly Parton as the living God and I knew a handful of country hits from popular culture, radio, movies, TV, etc. I was still young back then and had much more to learn. The good news for me and people my age then was the so-called “outlaw country” stars of the 60’s and 70’s were making a resurgence in popularity, guys like Cash, Willie Nelson, Waylon Jennings, and Merle Haggard. Riding the crest of the wave, perfectly timed, Johnny released “American Recordings” in April. With the indy credentials of Rick Rubin producing, this album introduced many people my age and re-introduced Cash to the general public. Didn’t hurt that the video for “Delia’s Gone” got on “Beavis & Butthead” either.

OK, enough, on to the show. We were given a curveball that night with the opening act. Billed as the “Pajama Party Orchestra”, the show opened with none other than the Reverend Horton Heat! Surprise, surprise, surprise! I was already a big fan of his music, but I didn’t guess the first time I’d see him play would be at such an auspicious show and so unexpectedly. They tore it up, bringing the house down at the end of their set with “The Devil’s Chasing Me”. Pity they only had a half hour to play, but I’d go on see the good Reverend plenty of times after that.

Next up was Ted Hawkins. Ted had been a respected singer/songwriter who had been unable to get much commercial success until his most recent album, “The Next Hundred Years” came out. Good that he got some payback a little, since he died three months later on New Year’s Day at the age of 58. He had a sweet voice and benevolent presence. I especially appreciated his cover of “Sitting On The Dock Of The Bay”. He had guts, as all solo acoustic performers do opening for a legend, and I was peeved that so many people talked through his set. But I was pleased that the allowed him to come back out when his set was over to do an encore, a privilege very, very rarely given to an opening act at the Fillmore, or anywhere for that matter.

Johnny wasted no time coming out on stage, opening right away with “Folsom Prison Blues” and going right into “Get Rhythm” right after. About halfway through the show, I realized I had to get my backpack out of coat check, not wanting to get stuck at the end of the show by the rush of the crowd. That and I had to hit the head too. Reluctantly, I handed off my recorder to my flatmate Mike during “Delia’s Gone”. Well, Mike fumbled the headphone a lot, but I don’t blame him. It took me a while to get the hang of holding it myself in the beginning. There was a very nasty coat check girl back then who positively hated ushers. I’m glad I can’t remember her name, but I’ll never forget her face, her plump figure, and her icy, cruel demeanor. I made a point of never checking anything if I could, not only to avoid her, but to stay focused on the show at hand. Eventually, to the relief of the ushers and everybody on Earth, she was fired for being such a pill by the highers up. Don’t know the exact circumstances, but hell, good riddance.

Anyway, back to the show. There was a drunk guy behind me who shouted out “Ira Hayes” a couple times between songs, but otherwise the crowd was respectful. Cash did a few covers from the new album, like “Bird On A Wire” by Leonard Cohen and “Down There By The Train” by Tom Waits, between old hits. One original song from his new album, “Redemption”, haunts me to this day. Very few songs fill me with such deep spirituality as that one, makes me misty every time.

We were lucky on this tour, that Johnny brought along his wife, June Carter Cash, with him. She came out to sing, “Jackson”, “If I Were A Carpenter”, “It Ain’t Me, Babe”, and “Will The Circle Be Unbroken”. June didn’t have the greatest voice in the world and she talked a little too much between songs about her family connections, but she was charismatic and Johnny clearly worshiped her. I thought Reese Witherspoon had a better voice in the “Walk The Line” biopic, but June made it up with emotional content. Besides, she was 65 years old then and a bonfire country legend. What have I done that’s so great?

Speaking of my incompetence, turned out that I ran out of tape before Cash’s set ended and missed the last six songs. After that, I always brought enough tapes for a show… 99% of the time. Disappointed as I was, I focused on the show and enjoyed oldies like “Big River” and “Boy Named Sue”. That drunk in the crowd finally got to hear “The Ballad Of Ira Hayes”. Ironic, since it was a song about the tragic downfall of a famous drunk. Mike and I went home to the Mission that night, posters in hand, blissfully unaware that Johnny would only play once more at the Fillmore before he was gone forever. We were lucky. I still hear regrets from friends who didn’t get to see him.

Sarah McLachlan, Single Gun Theory, War., SF, Thur., September 29, 1994

I heard of Sarah through my sister Erica, but I didn’t know her music. I remember being pissed off at the Single Gun Theory opening up and didn’t like them. Maybe I was in a bad mood. I’m sure they were nice people, but their set seemed to go on forever. 

The Warfield had set up tables an chairs all the way up to the dance floor and working in the left bar aisle when they do that makes me irritable too. I got to stand in the far corner as to not block anybody’s view and the house guys always cram in too many seats for the tables, five on each side. Inevitably, some one would space out the chairs so far that they’d be in the aisle, or they’d flat out fold a chair and stash it to make the side four chairs instead of five, as it should have been anyway. It annoys the patron when I have to fix it and annoyed me even more. I made a habit of cheating out a little space between chairs to try to reach a happy medium. My friend, Jordan, a fellow usher, was always very militant about it, and would tuck the chairs back in if he was there. I’d just space them back out again.

Enough of the fine points of ushering, back to the show. Sarah had a voice that just made me melt. Very few voices can do that to me, save a few like Sade or Goldfrapp. It didn’t hurt that she was gorgeous too and I’ve always been a sucker for redheads. She made the crowd chuckle when she defended herself from allegations that she was a “man-basher”, saying that she “still liked penises”. Good for her.

Bridge School Benefit ’94: Neil Young & Crazy Horse, Pearl Jam, Tom Petty & The Heartbreakers, Indigo Girls, Ministry, Mazzy Star, Pete Droge, Neil Young, Shoreline, Mountain View, Sat., October 1, 1994

SETLISTS

MAZZY STAR: Ride It On, Flowers In December, Into Dust, Let That Be, Fade Into You

MINISTRY : Lay Lady Lay, Paisley, Here They Come, Friend Of The Devil, Midnight Cowboy

TOM PETTY & THE HEARTBREAKERS : Kings Highway, I Won’t Back Down, Girl On LSD, Mary Jane’s Last Dance, Learning To Fly, Free Fallin’, Time To Move On, You Don’t Know How It Feels, Runnin’ Down A Dream

PEARL JAM : Walking The Cow, Elderly Woman Behind The Counter In A Small Town, Corduroy, Daughter, Black, Footsteps, Yellow Ledbetter, (encore), Let Me Sleep

NEIL YOUNG & CRAZY HORSE : Comes A Time, Transformer Man, My Heart, Prime Of Life, Driveby, Sleeps With Angels, Hey Hey, My My (Into The Black), Train Of Love, Change Your Mind, (encore), Piece Of Crap

Bridge School Benefit ‘ 94: Neil Young & Crazy Horse, Pearl Jam, Tom Petty & The Heartbreakers, Indigo Girls, Ministry, Mazzy Star, Pete Droge, Neil Young, Shoreline, Mountain View, Sun., October 2, 1994

SETLISTS

MAZZY STAR : Halah, Ride It On, Flowers In December, Leaving On A Train, Fade Into You

MINISTRY : (same as October 1)

INDIGO GIRLS : Galileo, Welcome Me, Least Complicated, Chickenman, Kid Fears, American Tune, Closer To Fine

TOM PETTY & THE HEARTBREAKERS : 13 Days, I Won’t Back Down, Girl On LSD, Kings Highway, Mary Jane’s Last Dance, Learning To Fly, You Don’t Know How It Feels, Time To Move On, Runnin’ Down A Dream, Free Fallin’

PEARL JAM : Wash, Not For You, Immortality, Elderly Woman Behind The Counter Of A Small Town, Daughter, Black, (encore), Bee Girl

NEIL YOUNG & CRAZY HORSE : All Along The Watchtower, The Needle And The Damage Done, My Heart, Prime Of Life, Driveby, Sleeps With Angels, Hey Hey, My My (Into The Black), Train Of Love, Change Your Mind, (encore), Piece Of Crap

All Bridge School shows are special, but this one stood out in particular for me, probably of the fact that Ministry was on the bill. Granted, they were just a duo act, being billed as Al Jourgensen & Paul Barker, but everybody was just calling them Ministry and they were listed as such when the Bridge School put out a compilation album years later, using their cover of “Friend Of The Devil”. Not that any of the other acts were chopped liver, but they all were folks you’d expect to hear acoustic. This was also the only other time I’d see them play with their Lollapalooza alumni, Pearl Jam, on the same bill. I’d have to wait until 21 years later to see Pearl Jam play with alumni Soundgarden again at Bridge School too.

I went with the Pollard brothers and Owen on the first day, my sister Erica on the second day. Pete Droge opened the show after Neil came out and did a couple solo songs as he always did. Pete was pleasant singer songwriter type and I remember his single, “If You Don’t Love Me (I’ll Kill Myself)” was in the “Dumb & Dumber” soundtrack. I liked his wide brimmed hat as I recall, but Pete didn’t really wow the crowd. It was early and he was up there all by his lonesome. Mazzy Star, though a full band, had an equally difficult time getting the crowd aroused, but their music was super mellow, what I like to call “heroin country”. They woke up a little when they finished their set with their hit, “Fade Into You”.

Finally, the wait was over and Ministry took the stage. Al cheated a little, playing an electric guitar for the first song, Bob Dylan’s “Lay Lady Lay”. Though if any act should get a pass for it, give it to them. Al messed up a bit on the first day doing “Friend Of The Devil”, but joked about it on the second day, and nailed it then. Glad that it made it to the album. It really was a respectful cover of it, nothing weird. They finished with the theme song from “Midnight Cowboy”, truly an inspired selection to play.

By this time, I’d seen the Indigo Girls plenty, and though I appreciated their music and was thankful that they were helping out the Bridge School, I was over them. I knew their music too well and they came off boring after following Ministry. Tom Petty is always a crowd pleaser. He’s one of those artists that you’d be hard put to find somebody who didn’t like him. I’d only seen him once before in London and his music fit seamlessly into acoustic versions. Apart from hits like “Free Fallin” and “King’s Highway”, he did a couple unfamiliar ones like “13 Days” and the hilarious “Girl On LSD”.

Pearl Jam had just released their second album, “Vs”, the year before and this Bridge School show was populated by hordes of young people who clearly were just there to see them. It’s understandable, especially with the youngest, and there’s a good bet that many of them walked away from the show that night having been impressed by the other acts. Lord knows, the Pollard boys were excited. Mike was pounding on the seats for them.

I did appreciate their sound playing acoustic, truly different from their electric sound. They opened the first day with a gentle cover of Daniel Johnston’s “Walking The Cow”, a song I’d heard Mike Watt play before then. I liked that Eddie Vedder threw in a couple lines from other songs when they played “Daughter” both nights, a little “American Pie” on the first day and a little “Tonight’s The Night” on the second. Good news was that they played a few songs that would be released on their third album, “Vitology”,  that winter, the songs “Not For You”, “Corduroy”, and “Immortality”. Nobody had heard these songs before live or otherwise. On the last day, they closed with a lullaby song called “Bee Girl”, an ode to the girl from the Blind Melon video for “No Rain”.

Neil Young & Crazy Horse were last and this would be the first time I’d see Neil backed by his famous friends. The sets were marked with a tinge of melancholy, due to the recent suicide of Kurt Cobain. Their song, “Sleeps With Angels”, from their latest album of the same name, clearly was meant for him. That, and he and the band played “Hey Hey, My My (Into The Black)” both nights. Kurt had written the lyric, “It’s better to burn out than to fade away” from that song in his suicide note. Heavy as the mood was, they ended their set on a lighter note, bringing up folks from all the acts of the day to sing “Piece Of Crap” for the encore.

House Of Pain, Biohazard, Korn, Fill., SF, Fri., October 7, 1994

SETLIST: All That, Back From The Dead, Keep It Comin’, Jump Around, Who’s The Man, Put Your Head Out, Same As It Ever Was, Legend Hip Hop, Over There Shit, What It Is, On Point, Where I’m From, We Ain’t Goin’ Out Like That, Shit Kickers

The Fillmore had been open for a half year and I was starting to get used to the scene there. I appreciated the dichotomy between there and it’s big brother the Warfield. I imagined that was what it was like for the folks working between the old Fillmore and Winterland back in the day. I was pretty much established as the guy who worked the horseshoe and it was perfect, perfect sight lines, and the best sound in the house.

This show was a definition sausage fest. I mean, it couldn’t get much more manly than this line up. Little did we know that it would be Korn who stole the show that night. They were so new that they had been playing with the House Of Pain and Biohazard for free to try to get some exposure. Only four days after this show, they officially released their self titled album and totally blew up on the scene. I thought they had a dumb name before I heard them, but granted, it was easy to remember. Their music was powerful and they made a hell of an impression in the mere half an hour they had in their set. Everybody got a kick out of Jonathan Davis busting out the bagpipes to do a cover of “Low Rider” before they went into “Snakes & Ladders”. They would go on to influence many of the so-called “nu metal” bands for years to come.

A tough act to follow, Korn, but Biohazard is nothing if not tough. Listening to them, one can’t help but puff your chest out a little. I knew about them from their song “Tales From The Hardside” being on “Beavis & Butthead”. I’ve come to appreciate recently just how much that show exposed me and others back then to good music that wasn’t necessarily in MTV’s regular video rotation. They had some technical problem near the end of their set, which gave Billy Graziadei talked about racism to the crowd. Apparently he had a run in with come black fellow at the grocery store buying beer before the show. He condemned racism saying, “Fuck black power! Fuck white power!” Pity that some big guys with tattoos like Biohazard are automatically assumed to be bigots. Their drummer and bassist are Jewish and they just recorded “Slam” with Onyx only the year before for the “Judgment Night” soundtrack.

Anyway, the crowd had some testosterone left over for House Of Pain. Their smash hit “Jump Around” was already played to death and really to this day, it continues to be a mainstay song for DJ’s who want to pump up a crowd. No matter what your opinion of the band, that song works every time. It’s next to impossible not to bop your head to it and get a little stupid. Like the Beastie Boys, the House Of Pain also exposed a generation of white people to hip hop, cementing the legitimacy of the genre to the mainstream. They had a great set that night and did a rousing cover of Cypress Hill’s , “We Ain’t Goin’ Out Like That”. 

I was able to snag their setlist that night from the sound man, easier than getting it from the stage. Most folks look at the front of the stage and if it’s not too crowded or you’re already up front for the entire show, it’s not to hard to snag one. Sometimes you have to compete with other hardcore fans and other times, nobody else really cares. You do learn when to ask a sound guy for it though. Make sure they get the important stuff out of the way or if they’re close to it and it would only take a second. I’ve been that sound guy and if I don’t snag the list myself, I always give it to anybody who wants it. Anyway, the Fillmore had a good poster that night of a cartoon boxer punching out his opponent in the ring. Even the poster was macho.

Alice Donut, 7 Year Bitch, Duh!, Fill., SF, Wed. October 12, 1994

It was a good thing my roommate Mike convinced me to catch the Alice Donut show since they would disband a couple years later and I wouldn’t get a chance to see them again until the reformed and played a gig at Slim’s ten years later. Technically, Mike was interested in the show for the opening act, 7 Year Bitch. He had a crush on the singer, Selene Vigil, at the time.

The opening act, Duh!, was led by Greg Werkman, the man who ran Alternative Tentacle Records for Jello Biafra. Like me, he was stocky and a bit of a nerd, but he was punk through and through, with a devilish sense of humor. They did a song about getting your date into a show on the guest list called, “Plus One”, and a hilarious song called “Pocket Pool”, which is about what you think it’s about. They introduced “Buns Of Marshmallow” to everybody who had “big motherfuckin’ asses”, reminding the crowd that most people need a little padding on your ass to look real good. They finished their set by doing a messed up, sloppy cover of Nirvana’s “Heart Shaped Box” and Green Day’s “Basket Case”. A year later, I became a intern for Alternative Tentacles and I praised Greg for the few times I saw him and the band play and his fearlessness. Apparently, I saw pretty much the only times that band ever played. Lucky me.

Like I said, Mike was really turned on by 7 Year Bitch and I was really impressed by their music. They were tight that night. Their guitarist, Stefanie Sargent, had passed away in 1992 from accidentally asphyxiating herself on her own vomit after ingesting alcohol and heroin. That, coupled with the brutal rape and murder of Mia Zapata of the Gits, they released the album “Viva Zapata”, singing songs in tribute to both of them. Like Alice Donut and Duh!, I was lucky to catch them when I did, since they broke up a few years later.

Alice Donut was a curious band, punk but a certain subtle weirdness, a good band for Alternative Tentacles. I liked that they busted out a trombone to play the melody during their cover of the Beatle’s, “Helter Skelter”, and even played a lick of the alien’s song from “Close Encounters Of The Third Kind”. I loved the poster they gave out that night, it’s orange lettering reminiscent of the traditional psychedelic 60’s style.

Sausage, Tilt, The Mermen, Fill., SF, Sat., October 15, 1994

SETLIST : Riddles Are Abound Tonight, Prelude To Fear, Here’s To The Man, Temporary Phase, Shattering Song, Toyz 1988, Caution Should Be Used While Driving A Motor Vehicle Or Operating Machinery, Girls For Single Men, (unknown), Recreating

It was good to see Sausage one more time, since this would be the last time I’d see them play. Ironically, at the time I was concerned that Les would not be doing Primus for a while, hopefully not indefinitely, because of this project and Herb’s touring with his other band, Laundry. Soon enough, my fears would be assuaged with the release of “Tales From The Punch Bowl” the next year.

The Mermen opened that night, a perfect opener for any show in my opinion. They have the ability to loosen up a crowd with their surf rock and play at just the right volume for an instrumental band, quiet enough to talk to your friends, but loud enough to not be distracted by others if you’re focusing on them alone. Next was Tilt. They were from Berkeley and I really liked their music, especially their singer, Cinder Block. 

I was pretty tired by the time Sausage got on stage. The Fillmore always starts their shows on fridays and saturdays at 9 PM instead of the usual 8. They played  only Sausage songs, but “Toyz 1988” is an early version of Primus’ “Toys Go Winding Down”. They had a great poster that night of a race car and I put it up on my wall the moment I got home from the show.

The Specials, Let’s Go Bowling, Fill., SF, Wed., October 19, 1994

SETLIST: The Guns Of Navarone, Dawning Of A New Era, Do The Dog, It’s Up To You, Shark Attack, (unknown), Wear You To The Ball, Rude Boy’s Out Of Jail, Do Nothing, Pressure Drop, It Doesn’t Make It Alright, Stupid Marriage, Little Bitch, Rudi, A Message To You, Too Much Too Young, Concrete Jungle, Gangsters, Monkey Man, Farmyard Connection, Ghost Town, Nite Club

I’d grown up listening to the Specials, my brother Alex having been in the Dance Hall Crashers and quite the ska expert. I had seen members of the band play in the Special Beat, but this would be the first time I’d be seeing the Specials proper. This was the first time they’d played the bay area under their original name in over a decade. Terry Hall had long left the band, but Roddy Radiation did fine filling in for his vocal parts.

Like the Crashers, Let’s Go Bowling was lucky enough to open for a few of ska’s second wave bands like the Specials and I could tell they were walking on air that night. They did a couple classic ska covers, “Shame & Scandal” and “Stone Cold” along with their tunes. I always liked Let’s Go Bowling. They were nice guys and treated me kindly when I was following Skankin’ Pickle and the Crashers around and I was glad that this show was giving them some more exposure.

I was really itching to see the Specials by the time they got on and they had the crowd skankin’ instantly when the opened with “Guns Of Navarone”. They covered all their hits that night, even doing a couple covers, “Wear You To The Ball” and “Pressure Drop”. I loved when they did “Stupid Marriage”, Neville Staples playing Judge Roughneck, putting Roddy on trial. Ultimately, he decided to give Roddy two years for smashing his girlfriend’s window. The night would have been perfect if only they got a poster at the end of the night. They certainly deserved one and to make matters worse, they didn’t get one when they played the Fillmore three years later. Tough luck.

The Mighty Mighty Bosstones, Face To Face, Voodoo Glow Skulls, Total Chaos, Fill., SF, Thur., October 20, 1994

The Bosstones had built themselves quite a reputation for having rowdy shows, so the Fillmore staff were bracing themselves. Apparently, they made a mess of the Trocadero last time they were in town. Good. I hated that venue. I was glad to see them play the day after the Specials, the only time I can remember two ska bands playing back to back at the Fillmore. There were three openers that night, obviously making it a longer night than usual. The amount of opening acts does affect the overall pacing and vibe of a show. Four band nights give you some variety, but can be taxing, especially if the first band is Total Chaos. They weren’t that good and were waaaaaay too loud.

The Voodoo Glow Skulls, on the other hand, were great. Like the Mermen, they are an ideal opening band. Everybody loves them. They were a large punk ska band with a full horn section that played at breakneck speed, yet were able to keep rocksteady timing. I loved their frantic covers of “Here Comes The Sun” and “Charlie Brown”. Though this was my first time seeing them, I’d be lucky enough to see them a few more times to come opening for others. Face To Face were next, but I wasn’t that impressed with their music. I found myself distracted by the goofy faces Trever Keith would make when he was singing. I couldn’t get away from those bugged out eyes of his.

As expected, when the Bosstones got on stage, the place went bonkers. I was relieved to be cut from ushering that night and had my beer way in the back, a safe distance from the mosh pit. It was hot as hell in there and for the life of me, I will never understand how the Bosstones could tolerate playing their shows wearing suits. Their dry cleaning bills must of been horrendous. I didn’t know their music then, except for their single, “Someday I Suppose”, which my sister Erica was obsessed with and listened to incessantly. I liked their cover of “Simmer Down” though, appropriately named, being one of the only songs that calmed the crowd down at all.

The Hell’s Angels biker gang were apparently fans of their music and there were several of their members in the house that night, more than I’d seen at any show as I recall. I always feel safer, despite that bad scene at Altamont, whenever they are around at shows. Like the Nation Of Islam guys, people tend to mind their manners whenever they show up. But like the proverbial 800 pound gorilla, nobody tells these guys no, not even Fillmore security. I’ll never forget the sight of one of the Angels literally standing on the corner of the railing of the balcony directly above stage right, the backstage booth, his back leaning against the small bit of wall there on the side. He seemed so casual about it, watching the show, and sipping his beer. The Fillmore security kept an eye on him, but they were just as powerless to stop him as all the other Angels when they flooded on stage with their girlfriends to watch the Bosstones’ encore. I was glad I got a poster that night, but was still miffed that the Specials didn’t get one the night before since they clearly were an influence on the Bosstones. That’s show biz, I guess.

MC 900 Foot Jesus, Consolidated, Artis The Spoonman, Richard McGee, Fill., SF, Fri. October 21, 1994

A little beat from the Specials and the Bosstones, the nights before, I managed to drum up the energy to end the three day stretch with MC 900 Foot Jesus. His single, “If I Only Had A Brain” was getting a fair amount of airplay on the radio and I knew it from seeing it on “Beavis & Butthead”. I still laugh thinking of Beavis being hypnotized by the song’s rhythm line. The video for that song was directed by Spike Jonze and was hilarious.

I had dinner up in the poster room that night and enjoyed watching Richard McGee charm the first few patrons let in, though Raffle Box Annie was annoyed by him as usual. A DJ from the Live 105 radio station tried to introduce Artis The Spoonman on the main stage but was mercilessly heckled. Artis was a street performer from Seattle who often would play in front of Pike’s Place, playing a variety of spoons very skillfully. He was brought to the attention of mainstream audiences from Soundgarden’s song, “Spoonman” and was in the video for that song as well as played his spoons and sang. I thought he had a beautiful voice, actually.

My brother Alex was there ushering with me that night and the crowd was pretty tame. We saw our friend, Beth, at the show. We’d worked with her at school at the student union coffee shop and bar and affectionately knew her as “Evil Sister Beth”. She was sort of goth girl, waifish and pale with the sides and back of her head shaved and long braided black hair on top. She was obsessed with Kate Bush. I actually hooked up with her at one of our parties in the Mission, which actually felt a tinge incestuous because of the nickname we gave her. That was only one of two occasions when I actually went all the way to home plate in the bathroom during a party. She gave me a serious of hickeys so severe, I wore a turtleneck sweater for a few days to conceal them. We dated for a while, but it never became anything too serious. 

Anyway, I digress. Poor Beth had been in a motorcycle accident a couple weeks before the show and was walking with a cane. She said she wouldn’t of had a problem making it up the stairs of the Fillmore, but the staff insisted she take the handicapped elevator and gave her a seat on the long bench on the stage left side of the house. I’m glad she was there. We remained friends even after we stopped seeing each other.

Consolidated were next and I was a big fan of theirs by then, having just seen them at Slim’s. I felt they deserved to headline their own show at the Fillmore, but glad they were there regardless, especially since they were opening for somebody as talented as the MC. The stupidest thing happened to me during their set though. I only had one earplug that night, tearing it in half, and giving the other one to my brother. During Consolidated’s set, the half plug in my right ear became stuck and was so far in my ear canal that I couldn’t get it out.

I tried desperately with my fingers and failing that, even tried prying it out with the smallest key on my key chain. I finally swallowed my pride and discretely walked into the Rock Med station behind the merchandise booth and asked for Barbara, the head Rock Med lady to help me. She got out her small flashlight and a pair of tweezers and was able to remove it pretty quickly. My humiliation was punctuated by the Art, the house manager cruelly joking, “This is why we don’t pay our ushers”. I eventually forgave him for that slight when I heard he died far to young from cancer a few years later. Unfortunately for me, it think the ordeal injured my eardrum a little on that side and it never entirely recovered.

The good news was that MC 900 Foot Jesus went on to do a great show and helped me forget all that. His music influenced other artists to establish the genre of “nerd-core”, white guys rapping about science, role playing games, and stuff, people like MC Chris and MC Lars. They had a great poster that night, but once again, I was irked that they and the Bosstones would get a poster and the Specials would not.

Blues Traveler, Sheryl Crow, War., Tues., October 25, 1994

SETLISTS

SHERYL CROW : Reach Around Jerk, Can’t Cry Anymore, Love Is A Good Thing, Leaving Las Vegas, Run, Baby, Run, On The Outside, The Na-Na Song, Strong Enough, Rodeo, I Feel Happy, All I Wanna Do (with John Popper), I Shall Believe

BLUES TRAVELER : Save His Soul, The Good The Bad, and The Ugly, Crash Burn, But Anyway, Support Your Local Emperor, Mulling It Over, 100 Years (with Sheryl Crow), Alone, NY Prophesie, Optimistic Thought, Jabberwock, The Mountains Win Again, Miss You, Brother John, Hook, Stand, Dropping Some NYC, Love & Greed, (encore), Crystal Flame

Though I’d missed Sheryl Crow during the HORDE tour, I quickly got a second chance seeing her open for fellow HORDE alumni, Blues Traveler. Her debut album, “Tuesday Night Music Club”, was already a huge success, with several big hit singles off of it like “All I Wanna Do” and “Leaving Las Vegas”. My flatmate Troy was there and he thought Sheryl wasn’t that cute, but I disagreed. But this was Blues Traveler’s show and I was there really to see them, my first time seeing them as a headliner.

Sheryl did a good job opening and John Popper came out to play along with her band during “All I Wanna Do”. He told the crowd, “I would take a bullet for Sheryl Crow”, and she joked, “Now, now everyone, put down your guns”. Blues Traveler did an awesome set too. The Pollard brothers were there and knew every song and I was becoming more familiar with their music too.

But one of my all time favorite memories of seeing a celebrity at show happened that night. George Lucas himself, the mastermind behind “Star Wars” walked past my aisle. In a split second of genius level smart ass-ness, I took him by the shoulder to guide him backstage and said, “Right this way, Mr. Spielberg”.  He looked at me and gave me his trademark subtle smirk and that was that. It still makes me chuckle to this day. Nick, you smart ass.

Cop Shoot Cop, Slug, GAMH, SF, Fri., October 28, 1994

This was an interesting band and I’m glad I caught them just before they dissolved. They’d just put out their last album, “Release” and they were one of those folks who had toured on a separate leg of the Lollapalooza ’93 tour on the second stage. I had it in my mind to check out as many of those bands as I could at the time at least getting one of their albums to see if they were any good. I had their previous album, “Ask Questions Later” and I liked their sound, so I decided to stroll over to the Music Hall and check it out.

I didn’t like Slug, the opener, very much and neither did the crowd. We waited patiently until Cop Shoot Cop got on. They did a good set and I was able to snag the setlist. I remember that they had an unusual drum kit, including a large metal sheet hanging beside the kit like a gong which the drummer bashed from time to time. I had a rumor that Cop Shoot Cop were a bit of a handful for concert promoters and like I said, they were splitsville by 1996 anyway. The frontman, Tod A., did however go on to form the band Firewater shortly after and I liked them very much.

Meat Puppets, Rust, Spell, Fill., SF, Sat., October 29, 1994

SETLIST : We Don’t Exist, Station, Violet Eyes, Things, Oh, Me, Never To Be Found, Sam – Another Moon – Sam, Six Gallon Pie, Severed Goddess Hand, Tennessee Stud, The Adventures Of Pee Pee The Sailor, Plateau, Why, Comin’ Down, Sexy Music, Open Wide, Backwater, Look At The Rain, Up On The Sun, Third Stone From The Sun, Popskull, (encore #1), I Can’t Be Counted On At All, Lake Of Fire, (encore #2), I Saw The Light, He Walks With Me (In The Garden), Maiden’s Milk

The Meat Puppets had gained notoriety around this time having been guest musicians on Nirvana’s Unplugged album which they played two of their songs, “Lake Of Fire” and “Plateau”. Their most recent album “Too High To Die” was well received and these guys seemed to be on the rise, so I decided to check them out. Unfortunately, that album was poorly titled, since the Kirkwood brothers soon spiraled downward into drug addiction and the Puppets never rose to that level of success again.

Not to say they weren’t a good band, they were. I especially enjoyed the opening band, Spell, that night. They had a good sound, so much that they made the following band, Rust, look bad. They did covers of songs from the 60’s and 70’s replacing their lyrics with dark parodies of them. Pity they only did one album and vanished shortly afterwards, but I’m glad I caught them as well as the Puppets during their apex. Fillmore had a nice poster that night too.

Fishbone, Weapon Of Choice, Slim’s, SF, Sun., October 30, 1994

I have a hard time forgetting the shows that got away and this was one of them. Now, I got some stuff from this show, but I fell victim to what I believe was the first time I ran out of batteries at show with no back up batteries on hand. When that happens, the recorders motors slow down until they eventually stop. With more and more music being laid down onto less and less tape, the result when played back is the music gradually speeding up until it ends with a climactic, high pitched, sonic black hole implosion. It would be cool if it ultimately wasn’t so disappointing.

Back then, across the street from Slim’s, there used to be a brewery called Twenty Tank. They brewed high quality beer at a very reasonable price and their food was excellent as well. My flatmate Mike and I had quite a few pints before going into the Fishbone show and were drunk, but sober enough to do some moshing. It was the night before Halloween, affectionately known as “Devil’s Night”, made famous by the movie “The Crow”, so I opted to wear a latex Devil’s headpiece for the occasion.

Like I said, it wasn’t a total wash. I got the entire set of the opener, Weapon Of Choice, always a reliable opener and they did well as expected. Everybody had a boner for Spankie, their back up singer/belly dancer. But when Fishbone got on, that’s when the juice in my tape deck started to run out. I was only able to get “Nutt Meglomaniac”, the first song, before it started to fade and by the beginning of the third song, it was dead.

At the time, I didn’t know this since Mike and I were balls deep in the mosh pit. The second Angelo got on stage, he promptly marched over the the paper “No Headsurfing” sign taped to the support pillar on the side of the stage, ripped it off, crumpled it in his fist, threw it into the crowd, and dove off the stage. I think he sent a clear message that night of what Fishbone’s policy was on the subject. We were all having the times of our lives that night and I did a little surfing myself, getting on stage for a moment with my Devil hat, giving Angelo the heavy metal “devil horns” hand gesture with both hand, which he gleefully reciprocated, before diving back into the pit. My friend and fellow usher from the Warfield, Dave one upped me and got on stage and showed Angelo his Fishbone tattoo on his upper arm before jumping back in too, but I wasn’t jealous. Clearly, he was the more committed fan.

What I didn’t know at the time was that Fishbone, like the Meat Puppets were on their way down from the height of their popularity. Their guitarist, Kendall Jones, had a mental breakdown of sorts and found sanctuary in some religious group. When the bassist, Norwood Fisher, attempted to “rescue” him from this group, he was charged with attempted kidnapping, but was later acquitted. To make matters worse, Sony dropped them from their label the next year, when they didn’t like their new material. “Chim Chim’s Badass Revenge” wouldn’t be released until 1996 on Rowdy Records, but we did hear the new song, “Beer Gut”, that night. Fishbone would continue to tour with Angelo and Norwood, but the rest of their line up would remain in constant flux. Their shows would always be stellar and their reputation amongst fans and fellow musicians would continue to be beyond reproach.

The Rolling Stones, Oakland Stadium, Oakland, Mon., October 31, 1994

SETLIST : Not Fade Away, Tumbling Dice, You Got Me Rocking, Shattered, Rocks Off, Sparks Will Fly, (I Can’t Get No) Satisfaction, Beast Of Burden, Out Of Tears, Doo Doo Doo Doo Doo (Heartbreaker), Love Is Strong, It’s All Over Now, I Go Wild, Miss You, Honky Tonk Women, Before They make Me Run, The Worst, Sympathy For The Devil, Monkey Man, Street Fighting Man, Start Me Up, It’s Only Rock N’ Roll (But I Like It), Brown Sugar, (encore), Jumpin’ Jack Flash

At long last, I was seeing the Stones. I’d missed them the last time they toured in 1989 on the Steel Wheels tour and was determined to catch this one, especially since it was to be on Halloween. The new album, “Voodoo Lounge”, was selling well and the single, “Love Is Strong” was a hit. It was catchy. I liked it, especially the music video. I couldn’t help but wonder how the U.S. military would react to a 500 foot tall Mick Jagger or Keith Richards stomping around New York City. It stung a bit that the tickets were $60, a king’s ransom back then, but commonplace today, even in adjusted dollars. But if I was to shell out that kind of loot for a show, this was the one. In defense of the high ticket price, the production on this show was off the charts. That had to be the largest stage set I’d ever seen. They must have used dozens of semi trucks full of gear and hundreds of stagehands to put it all together.

My flatmate Mike and his buddy Rodney were going along with me that night. They were notorious for getting wasted in the parking lot before a show, which I didn’t mind and was all for, but this would make them late each and every time. I wouldn’t stand for this, not this night, especially since I was spending that much bread. Seal was opening and I didn’t want to miss him, so I told them I’d just go ahead of them and meet them up in the seats later. Despite my best efforts, the teeming masses on BART that night and the line to get in the stadium were overpowering. I managed to get to my seat only in time to catch Seal’s last song.

Mike and Rodney surfaced once again just in time for the Stones to begin with the cover of “Not Fade Away”, a song I was accustomed to hear the Grateful Dead play. At the time, I thought it was a Bo Diddley song, though Mike insisted it was a Buddy Holly song. He was right. They covered a lot of hits that night which wasn’t hard considering their song catalogue. They set off big sparks in the background for “Sparks Will Fly” and got the crowd to sing along with the “Woo”s in the chorus of “Miss You”. They were showing video clips of all kind of sexy women like Marilyn Monroe during “Honkeytonk Women”, including what I believe was a microsecond flash of a lady giving a blowjob. Halfway through the set Mick introduced the Bobby Womack song, “It’s All Over Now”, saying, “Here’s a song that was written before this place was even here”. True, the song was written and was the Stones’ first hit two years before the Stadium was open.

Maybe above all things impressive about the Stones, was the sheer energy Mick brought to the stage. I would be lucky to get through two songs running up and down the stage’s runways into the crowd, dancing my ass off like he did without being totally winded. An entire show would put me in intensive care if it didn’t kill me. Mick helped make up for when Keith did his song, “The Worst”. Keith really should stick to the guitar and being a party animal, of which he truly sets the standard.

After Keith’s song, Mick returned to the stage wearing a Mad Hatter’s top hat and the stagehands let loose a ton of oversized props which included Elvis, a dinosaur, and evil clown, and Krishna for this Halloween’s rendition of “Sympathy For The Devil”. They finished up the encore with the favorites, “Brown Sugar” and “Jumpin’ Jack Flash” and set off a ton of fireworks above the stadium at the very end.

There was a drunk girl behind me the whole night, not dancing or even standing who kept bellowing an annoying, “Whooo! Whooo! Whooo!”. It wouldn’t have been as bad, but she kept it at that pitch and volume all the way through. That, and the merchandise prices at the concession stands were unforgivable, though it wasn’t totally unexpected considering the ticket price. They wanted $200 for one of their lithographs. But despite that, I had the time of my life that night.

I stumbled out of the stadium and decided to take the long way around to get to the BART station, avoiding what I’m sure was a slow moving, packed stream of people going across the main pedestrian bridge. As I was walking, I remember some guy running past me shouting, “Who was up front with me!?!” When I got to the station, there were hundreds of people lining up to get through the ticket gate. Every minute or so, a straggler would try to jump the gate, setting off an obnoxious buzzer which alerted a scrimmage line of BART cops on the other side. They’d bag these kids like bears scooping up salmon heading upstream. Yep, I was better late than never seeing the Stones and was lucky to see them a couple times after this one. If I look even half as good as Mick when I get to be his age then, I’ll count myself lucky.

L7, The Melvins, Slim’s, SF, Sat., November 5, 1994

I talked my flatmate Mike into driving us down to Palo Alto to the Edge to see this show. Thankfully, I was able to navigate us there without getting lost as I usually do trying to find that place. No wonder Stanford is so exclusive. It’s hard enough to just find anything down there much less be admitted. I always hated the vibe at the Edge, but it was good space sound and visually and they brought acts such as this one that I simply couldn’t pass up on. The club was guarded by an army of strict, Burger King headset wearing Sport-O’s that were notorious for confiscating people’s herb. The drinks were pricy and and everybody is really tense there, which is why the Edge is aptly named.

Still, it was worth it, especially since the Melvins were opening and they were really good that night. Though they were mercilessly booed every time I saw them open up for people before, their music was growing on me and I was beginning to see why so many music fans and musicians respected them. I was a very enthusiastic L7 fan by then, having already seen them twice in a row at Lollapalooza that year. Their guitar amps were still spray painted white with frosty decorations from that tour, but they didn’t have the snowman on stage this time. They covered all the hits they played that summer and a bunch of ones I didn’t recognize as well. They were hot back then and I was glad I saw them as much as I did in ’94.

Eric Clapton, Fill., SF, Wed., November 9, 1994

SETLIST : Motherless Child, Malted Milk, How Long Blues, Kid Man Blues, County Jail Blues, Forty-Four, Blues All Day Long, Standin’ Round Crying, I’m Your Hoochie Coochie Man, It Hurts Me Too, Blues Before Sunrise, Third Degree, Reconsider Baby, Sinner’s Prayer, I Can’t Judge Nobody, Early In The Morning, Too Bad, Someday After A While, I’m Tore Down, Have You Ever Loved A Woman, Cross Cut Saw Blues, Driftin’ Blues, Cross Road Blues, Groaning The Blues, Five Long Years, Ain’t Nobody’s Business

There was no measuring how important the Clapton shows would be at the Fillmore. I don’t believe he’s ever played in the bay area since. I, along with what I imagine every usher on the planet, had been trying to get in touch with Tina the head usher, but I heard no reply and this night was the last night of the run. In a last ditch effort, in the pouring rain, I went to the Fillmore and staked out front in the hope that Tina would see me or at least one of the other ushers would tell her I was out there. My friend and fellow usher, Ian, had the same idea, and there were stood, gazing up at the staircase on the side of the Fillmore, leading up to the side door, hoping to get some mercy.

We’d almost given up hope, when at last she poked her head outside and saw us below with our puppy dog eyes and she quickly let us inside. We leapt up those stair like we had just won an Oscar or at least a Grammy. Going from the cold, damp, and gloomy exterior to the warm, fuzzy hearth of the Fillmore was a most pleasant change of scene indeed. There wasn’t much time until the usher meeting and the opening of the doors, so I quickly scanned around to see if I could catch a glimpse of Mr. Clapton.

I hopped up to the balcony and lo and behold, there he was.  Naturally, he was surrounded by a throng of friends and well wishers and little ol’ me was predictably stupefied into a trancelike stillness. I’d seen him a couple times before at a distance at Shoreline and the Royal Albert Hall, the most expensive show I’d ever attended, but I was less than ten feet away this time. I was mildly stunned on how diminutive he was, skinny as a rail. Maybe it was the oversized gray turtleneck sweater he was wearing.

Words still can’t adequately express the gratitude I felt to Tina that night for letting me inside. She was probably relieved that the show run was ending and ushers like myself would stop hounding her night and day. I was assigned to guard the Horseshoe along with four others, making it the best guarded position in the house. They had set tables all over the dance floor and there were video cameras everywhere taping the whole thing, though I never saw an official release of any of the footage shot from these shows. The tables probably killed at least 300 standing spots for the fans, but it did provide me with a clear line of sight looking over all the people sitting at them. Ironic, that the folks sitting at those seats would eventually get up and join the rest of us in the back, so they could dance.

Just before the show started, I was in the lobby and guess who showed up? Jerry Garcia and Bob Weir from the Dead. They walked right past me, taking the employee staircase up to the VIP booths. As Bob passed, I involuntarily looked him in the eye and gave him the old chin jerk-up motion, the intergalactic signal of recognition. He smiled and did the same to me. It didn’t seem to phase him, but I felt silly.

Clapton had just released the “From The Cradle” album, the long awaited follow up to his massively successful “Unplugged” album. It was made up entirely of blues cover songs and that’s all he played that night, which was fine by me, since I’d heard him do his original stuff during those earlier gigs. Stupid as it was and still is, I had the jingle from the “Clapper” stuck in my head the whole night, “Clap-on! Clap-off! The Clap-ton!” I know, I know. I want to smack myself upside the head for ever thinking of that.

Eric covered a lot of material that night and I knew a few of the blues standards like “Motherless Child”, “Hoochie Coochie Man”, and “I’m Tore Down”, a song I’d heard Jerry and Bobby play before as well. Though I felt Clapton, being a British honkey, might of lacked the same oomph that an old school black man from the south or Chicago might had, he more than made up with it with his laser like precision on guitar. Few guitarists even come come close to his dexterity and timing.

Like I said, footage of those shows never made it to an official release, though I was led to believe that it was HBO who was there that night. Some decent quality bootleg stuff surfaced later though. The big prize that night was the poster, universally regarded as the flagship of the poster fleet until the death of Johnny Cash. Regardless, I was just overjoyed to say I was even there. After I got home, I immediately put it up on my wall. My friends thought I was crazy to  put pin holes in its corners when I put it up, but I think I did it subconsciously to prevent me from ever selling it.

Tool, Laundry, War., SF, Fri., November 11, 1994

SETLIST : Intolerance, Bottom, Stinkfist, Undertow, Swamp Song, Sober, 4 Degrees, Pushit, Disgustipated, Prison Sex, Cold And Ugly, No Quarter, Opiate

I had already signed up to see Hole with Veruca Salt opening at the Fillmore when the word came through that Tool would be playing at the Warfield on the same night. I gladly dropped the Hole show like a hot stone. After having my mind blown away by them on the second stage of Lollapalooza the year before, and once again at that overcrowded show at the Trocadero, I knew there was no choice in the matter. When I got in the doors early that night, before the usher meeting, I was able to hear Tool do one new song during soundcheck, which I later found out was named, “Pushit”. They wouldn’t even record that song for another year and wouldn’t release it with the other new songs on “Aenima” until the year after that.

Opening that night was Laundry, the side project of Tim Alexander from Primus. The soundcheck was running behind, so they were still checking after the doors were opened, giving us a sneak peak into what they sounded like, though I imagine patrons coming it thought they were late and wondered why the house lights were still up. They came back on shortly and did their set for real, but I wasn’t too impressed. I mean, they were OK, but Tool has the habit of picking opening acts that are forgettable, if not downright annoying, such as the aptly named Failure.

Tool came on, opening with “Intolerance”. I’ll say it once, I’ll say it a million times, when Maynard sings, no matter how far away I am, it always feels like he’s singing right at me. When he screamed, “You lie, cheat, and steal!” over and over again, I felt like cowering in a corner, whimpering, “No! Not Me!” As luck would have it, we fans were able to hear not only the new song, “Pushit”, but also “Stinkfist” and their glorious cover of Led Zeppelin’s “No Quarter” When “No Quarter” started, none of us could believe our ears. It started out like the original, so gently, but by the end of it, it really felt like a Tool song. Pity there wasn’t a poster that night, especially since Hole at the Fillmore got one and it was a really good one too.

Hanging out down on the dance floor that night was an adorable, elderly usher named Janet. She was a widow and ushering helped her get out of the house, hear some music, and be sociable. She was kind to me and I reciprocated, which led to her becoming quite attached to me, pretending to be my girlfriend, which I allowed her. I couldn’t help it, she was so damned cute and it did boost my ego. She even gave me a few of her husbands neckties as a gift once. After that show, I walked her out to her apartment building which was just around the corner, arm in arm, a custom I’d repeat for several shows to follow. She was slowing down back then, probably being in her 70’s, and she eventually stopped ushering altogether. I feel sad thinking about her now, knowing that she has likely passed away by now. Clingy as she was, I miss Janet. She was a sweetie.

Widespread Panic, The Freddy Jones Band, War., SF, Sun., November 13, 1994

SETLIST : Let’s Get Down To Business, Travelin’ Light, Pickin’ Up The Pieces, Makes Sense To Me, Pleas, Junior, Diner, Space Wrangler, Henry Parsons Died, Ain’t Life Grand, Driving Song, Little Kin, Blackout Blues, It Ain’t No Use, C. Brown, Disco, Porch Song, Fishwater, (encore) Can’t Get High, Chilly Water

Jerry Garcia would not be dead for another year, but more and more of these new hippie bands like Phish were coming out of the woodwork. Subconsciously, we all knew it was coming and there were a lot of new hippie music fans who got into the Dead after their hit, “Touch Of Grey”. People like me were called “Greyheads”, a term of mild derision, but I didn’t mind. I was never entirely committed to the band half as much as their tried and true, so I didn’t mind feeling like an outsider.

This night, I was seeing one of the new guard, Widespread Panic. The crowd was basically the same as the Dead/Jerry crowd, maybe a touch younger. They minded their manners during Freddy Jones, the opener, but it was getting crowded down on the dance floor. I was loosing my patience quickly and really was having a hard time by the time Panic got on. I couldn’t get cut from ushering fast enough. I remember Lisa Lusk was the head usher that night, substituting for Tina, and she saw that I clearly had a hard time. She gave me an extra drink ticket for my trouble.

I went back down to the dance floor, traded in my first ticket for a beer and immediately chugged it at the bar. I took a deep breath, belched, and traded in my other one. I took two step down the aisle from the bar and one of the spinning dervish hippie dancers knocked by beer, filled to the brim right out of my hand. I stood there looking at my newly emptied hand and the dancer didn’t even notice and continued to spin. I was so pissed, that I went up to the balcony and sat up there sulking for the rest of the show. 

I gave Panic the benefit of the doubt, though I really couldn’t relate to their music that night. I have to be careful judging a band for the first time, especially if I’m in a bad mood, so I made sure to see them again, just to make sure it wasn’t a fluke. Nope. I still didn’t like them and their crowd was just as hard to wrangle. I do, however, appreciate that Panic was open to tapers and eventually I would discover the Panicstream website that has lots of free live music from a variety of bands to download.

Dinosaur Jr., Come, Juned, War., SF, Tues., November 15, 1994

It had been a year since I’d seen Dinosaur Jr. at Lollapalooza and like many of the bands on that tour, they were at the height of their popularity. Dinosaur Jr. kept it it’s success rolling for another tour with their new album “Without A Sound”, but they would dissolve in 1997 and not return with their original line up for another eight years.

The single “Feel The Pain” was a hit on MTV and the video was a funny one, directed by Spike Jonze, showing J. Mascis and a companion driving around New York City in a golf cart, playing golf, and causing mayhem. Spike was doing a lot of good music video work back then before moving on to major motion pictures like “Being John Malkovich” and “Adaptation”. It was also one of the the only songs from that band that I not only remembered, but actually liked. I did appreciate that Dinosaur Jr. played excruciatingly loud, so I had no trouble picking up their sound on my recording. You could hear it clear as a bell in the lobby.

But as I mentioned, Dinosaur Jr. would never be as big again, though I did manage to catch them one more time playing at Slim’s. I remember taking the tape home that night and playing it in my living room at my place in the Mission to my flatmate Patrick. He wasn’t impressed, but few were ever by the sound quality of my tapes, even one that came out as clearly as that one.

The Pretenders, War., SF, Wed. November 16, 1994

Impressed by their performance at Bridge School, I was eager to see the Pretenders heading their own show. It felt good to get to know their music more and get a closer look at them. Though Chrissie Hynde was only in her 40’s then, she seemed wise beyond her years musically. The Pretenders had gone through line up changes since their inception, but these guys were really tight, especially at that show, very professional. 

Chrissie has such an interesting and unique vocal style. Her jaw undulates up and down when she sings a long note, giving her that eerie but hypnotic tremolo effect and she is smart enough to hold the microphone at perfect distances when she wants to fade in and out her voice. Clearly, there’s a working brain in there with years of practice. 

They had catchy songs too, but even the best ones can become annoying when played to excess. I remember years later, talking to a young usher named Antonio, that he once had a job at Pottery Barn. There, they played a CD of easy listening rock songs over the PA and one of them was “Back On The Chain Gang”, one of my favorites of theirs. As you might imagine, after time, it wasn’t for poor Antonio.

Killing Joke, Stabbing Westward, Slim’s, SF, Sat., November 19, 1994

The Killing Joke was one of those bands I’d heard of and were respected around musicians, but I really didn’t know anything about. Folks were telling me that these guys really developed industrial music, influencing newer acts a few years later, especially bands in the Chicago scene in the 80’s like Ministry and Nine Inch Nails. Intrigued, this was one of those rare occasions back then when I actually doled out money to see a band sight unseen.

Lucky for me, this would be the tour where I’d first see Stabbing Westward, also one of those bands coming out of Chicago. I didn’t realize at the time what  a great scene it must have been to be in the Windy City during that last decade, lots of good people coming out of there back then. Like the Killing Joke, their music was dark and loud, the perfect antidote to San Francisco’s hippie sensibilities. It’s nice to take a break now and again.

I managed to snag the set list that night, but I think my tape ran out just as the set ended for the Killing Joke, so I missed their encore. I’ll never forget at least that one of the songs they played was “Eighties”. That chorus sticks in your head, even if that was the first and only time I’d see them.

They Might Be Giants, Frank Black, War., SF, Sun., November 20, 1994

As big as a fan as I was of They Might Be Giants, I’d gotten to the point that happens when I’ve seen them enough. They’d just played the Fillmore only six months before this. Not to say it wasn’t a good show, it was, but there comes a time, usually after the fifth time seeing a band, that the urgency in seeing them tapers off. This is especially true when a band tours pretty regularly, say pops into town at least once a year. I think with the exposure of new acts from ushering and whatnot, that my attention was starting to drift. I had also amassed quite an arsenal of CDs by this time, so I wasn’t buying as much new material as I’d done previously, including They Might Be Giants’ new album, “John Henry”. Part of the reason was that I was recording so many shows that my arsenal of bootlegs was likewise becoming massive and had my recording of their new material anyway.

Frank Black opened up, doing his solo stuff on acoustic guitar. Like the time I saw him open at the Warfield before, his stuff didn’t really keep the audience’s attention, but I did like his cover of “Duke Of Earl”. Funny how some guys can be in a band like Frank in the Pixies and make brilliant music that attracts hordes of fans, but his solo stuff doesn’t really get any attention and only a handful of fans come to see him. Conversely, there are a handful of musicians like Trey Anistasio of Phish, whose solo stuff was very impressive to me, though the appeal of Phish continues to elude me.

They Might Be Giants had a full band this tour and they were tight. They played some new stuff like “Snail Shell” and “Subliminal” as expected, but I was pleased to hear some old songs I didn’t expect like, “I Hope That I Get Old Before I Die” and “He Wants A Shoehorn”. They also surprised the crowd covering a few bars of “Tainted Love” and then finishing their encore with “Frankenstein”, a cover they played at the Fillmore, but nonetheless welcome to hear.

I always feel guilty coming to the point of such familiarity with a band, especially to one that I’d followed so closely like this one. It’s important to accept it and remember that there’s an ocean of new bands out there to be discovered. They Might Be Giants will always have a special place in my heart though.

The Go-Go’s, Bikini Kill, War., SF, Tues., November 22, 1994

The Go-Go’s, unlike They Might Be Giants, was a band I’d never seen and was itching to put my first show with them under my belt. This was compounded with the fact that Bikini Kill was opening, a band riding the cusp of the new Riot Grrrl wave, along with such acts as L7, Babes In Toyland, and Seven Year Bitch. The Go-Go’s had been broken up since 1985, so this reunion was a very big deal. All the ushers wanted to do this show.

Bikini Kill lived up to their hype and then some. I very, very impressed with Kathleen Hanna and the band. Their sound was frantic, yet seductive. The world needs more bands like them, especially giving a swift kick in the nuts to right wingers during the height of Newt Gingrich’s reign of terror in congress back then. I’m glad I got to see them when I did, since they would break up only three years later.

The Go-Go’s were tight that night, covering all the old hits and playing their new single for the reunion, “The Whole World Lost It’s Head”. They gave out a great poster that night as well which I immediately put up on my wall when I got home. I did however learn the hard way that posters will fade in color if exposed to sunlight long enough which is what eventually happened to that one.

The Jesus & Mary Chain, Mazzy Star, The Velvet Crush, Fill., SF, Tues., November 23, 1994

SETLIST : Snakedriver, Blues From A Gun, Come On, Hole, Catchafire, Happy When It Rains, Head On, Perfect Circle, Everybody I Know, Girlfriend, Far Gone & Out, Teenage Lust, Sugar Ray, Nine Million Rainy Days, Sidewalking, I Hate Rock & Roll, Sometimes Always, Reverence

There’s little more frustrating to me than being stuck in another position ushering other than the horseshoe at the Fillmore, especially when it was a show as important as this one. I love the Jesus & Mary Chain. They will always bear the honor of not only being the first bootleg ever (the Paradisio show in Amsterdam 1992), but the first show I ever ushered as well at the Warfield. But as luck would have it, I got stuck for some reason checking bags and stuff at the front door.

The good news was I did manage to get a couple breaks in to go upstairs and catch a few songs from the openers. I got three songs from the Velvet Crush and four from Mazzy Star. Hope Sandoval, the singer of Mazzy Star, had hooked up with William Reid of the Chain to make the world’s most frumpy rock n’ roll power couple. Their dark alliance at least made the duet song, “Sometimes Always”, a hit on the new Chain album, “Stoned & Dethroned”, though it was William’s brother Jim who sang the male part in that song. 

The Velvet Crush did fine, but like I mentioned, I didn’t get to see much of them. Mazzy Star did their heroin country thing, Hope brooding in the shadows, her hair covering her face like Cousin It from “The Addams Family”. I had to return to my post at the front door before they played their hit, “Fade Into You”, though I was comforted in the knowledge that I’d caught Mazzy Star twice before that year at the Bridge School shows.

The Chain played well that night as always, covering all the hits I’d heard on previous tours, and a handful of songs from the new album. As expected, Hope came out for the encore to do the duet, “Sometimes Always”, a once in a lifetime treat I wouldn’t appreciate till years later. Hope and William broke up and I doubt I’ll see them on stage performing that song live ever again.

The Cranberries, MC 900 Foot Jesus, The Gigolo Aunts, War., SF, Fri., November 25, 1994

The Cranberries were now headlining the Warfield and venues like it around the country, after upstaging Suede while opening for them the year prior. Their new album, “No Need To Argue”, kept their success rolling on with their hit single, “Zombie”. It was a good line up that tour with the Gigolo Aunts and the venerable MC 900 Foot Jesus, an eclectic choice for the tour and a welcome one.

The Gigolo Aunts were good, a respected rock band from the east coast who’d been around since the early 80’s and finally got some recognition with their song, “Where I Find My Heaven”, which made it on the soundtrack for “Dumb And Dumber”. Silly as that movie was, the soundtrack had some good stuff on it, and establishing it as a sort of time capsule for 90’s music in general.

I was lucky to catch MC 900 Foot Jesus when I did, for his music career came to screeching halt after this tour. He apparently got tired of the usual music industry bullshit and became a pilot, an appropriate job for Jesus, a deity who lives up in Heaven with his dad. It’s a pity though. His music was original and intelligent, helping influence nerds everywhere to go out and make their own music. I think even Beck took a page from him. The Cranberries did go on with their career for a few years longer, though they would never reach the height of popularity that they achieved during these years again. I remember their singer, Dolores O’Riordan, had dyed her hair blonde during this tour. It was a good look for her.

Luscious Jackson, Ben Harper, The Edge, Palo Alto, Mon., November 28, 1994

I originally had the line up of these two switched around, partially because my batteries ran out during Luscious Jackson and I missed practically all their set. But the other reason is that this was the first time I saw Ben Harper and he clearly stole the show. Ben was still new, only a three years older than me and he had just put out his first album.

Once again, I had to endure the gauntlet of getting to and getting into the Edge in Palo Alto, same headache every time. I went alone that night, monday being a hard night to rally people to go out. One good thing about this show is that it only cost eight dollars to get in, a very affordable show considering the talent, even when you adjust for inflation. Ben came on, unassuming enough, sat down at his lap steel guitar and proceeded to blow everybody’s minds. Really, few artists made a first impression on me, especially an opening act, as powerful as he did. He only did six songs, but they were enough, particularly his cover of “Superstitious”.

Following Ben was tough, but Luscious Jackson did just fine. They had just released “Natural Ingredients” on the Beastie Boys’ Grand Royal label and it was a big hit, especially the single, “Citysong”. I was really attracted to Gabby Glaser at the time, but I eventually became a Jill Cunniff man as I grew older. What a pity my batteries ran out that night. Their voices just got faster and faster until they became a super high pitched mouselike shriek. Perhaps in the future, I can take this recording and others where the batteries ran out and tweak them digitally to get them back on the correct speed. Later. I gotta finish writing this stuff first.

Quicksand, Orange 9mm, Stanford Prison Experiment, Slim’s, SF, Tues., November 29, 1994

This was day two of a four show stretch and I was once again going solo to see a show. I’d heard that Quicksand, but I was going in sight unseen, partially because I heard that they were planning to break up soon. I don’t know where that rumor came from, but Quicksand managed to stay together another year before calling it quits.

This show did give me the opportunity to see both the Stanford Prison Experiment and Orange 9mm for the first time, both bands very entertaining. I’d see them both open for many heavy punk, grunge, and metal acts during the next few years, but like Quicksand, they would both go the way of the Dodo bird soon enough.

Black Uhuru, Dub Nation, Fenton & The Reggae Angels, The Edge, Palo Alto, Wed., November 30, 1994

SETLIST : Julius Intro, Norweigan Wood Intro, Take Heed, Reggae Rock, Statement, Army Band, Genocide, Iceberg, Give My Love, Breakout, Time, Material, & Space, Angel, Living In The City, Thinking Of You

Having been to the Edge only two days before, I had less of a hassle finding it this time. I’d brought along my friend Hefe, knowing he above all my friends would appreciate this show. Hef’ was deep into reggae music and he had the dreadlocks to show for it. I’d seen a couple Reggae Sunsplash shows at the Greek with him, but I believe this was the first time I went to see a reggae show at a club. I was doubly grateful that Hefe came along, because getting him out of the house to see a show was a much rarer occasion than with my other friends too.

Opening that night was Fenton & the Reggae Angels, an act I would grow painfully accustomed to seeing open reggae acts for years to come. Fenton was a tall, white guy with dreads cascading down below his waist and though his band was competent, they quickly grew tiresome, tiresome to the point that I would show up late to shows just so I could skip having to hear them, much less record them. Dub Nation was very good on the other hand, which helped make up for it.

Before Black Uhuru got on stage, they had some fellow named Juliius come out and toast with the band for what felt like an eternity. The guy kept stopping and starting, cutting off the band mid song before anybody could even get into the groove. It became quite exasperating, though he did get a rise out of the crowd when he did a rhyme about Robert Shapiro. The whole O.J. Simpson trial was going on that time.

Michael Rose and Junior Reid had gone on to their solo careers, leaving Don Carlos to be the lead singer, but Don did just fine, a good a singer as either of them. Like many reggae shows, they were what I like to call “on Rasta time”, meaning they didn’t precisely follow the venue’s schedule. It sounds stereotypical, but believe me, if it’s not a huge festival with set changes carved in stone, it’s true, even with the more renowned acts. So, Black Uhuru didn’t get on stage until after midnight. Still, their sound reinvigorated the crowd, and after a few songs, everybody was dancing. It’s easy to lose track of time dancing to reggae, being hypnotized by the beat, but Hefe and I made it to end. We rolled back to San Francisco, exhausted but pleased, despite the fact that we’d have to get up in a few hours to go to work.

Helmet, Sick Of It All, Today Is The Day, Fill., SF, Thur., December 1, 1994

SETLIST : Unsung, Rollo, Street Crab, You Borrowed, Repetition, Tic, Ironhead, I Know, Blacktop, Silver H., Give It, Milquetoast, Biscuits, Wilma’s, Meantime, Victim (Just Another), San Francisco

This was the final show of a four day stretch and I was glad it was Helmet to end it. I’d seen Helmet a couple times before opening for other acts, but I loved their music and this was my first show seeing them as a headliner. They, along with Korn and the Deftones, were branching out metal music in new directions, some referring it as “nu metal”, but of coarse each act was unique. Helmet, just from their appearance, were different from other heavy acts, because they appeared so clean cut. All of them had short hair. Maybe that inspired Metallica to cut theirs, who knows?

For some reason I can’t remember, I didn’t record any of Today Is The Day. It might of ended up on a B-side of another tape which I misplaced, but I can’t say for sure. I do remember that the crowd was very sparse when they took the stage and I can only imagine their frustration in trying to get folks to mosh when there was clearly so much empty space. They managed to get a few heads to bop, but they otherwise fizzled.

Sick Of It All, on the other hand, never had a problem getting a crowd pumped. Despite his obsession with reggae, my friend Hefe was a punk at heart and got me into their music. He even gave me one of their stickers weeks before and I had put it on my locker at work. By this time, I’d left working at the coffee shop and bar at the S.F. State student union and had moved down the hall to work at the Tech Services, the outfit that put on the events at the union, my first job doing real sound work. Anyway, the sticker graced my locker, a “NY” New York symbol entangled with a red dragon with the song title “Just Look Around” on the bottom. That sticker remained there until I graduated and had to move on. Like I said, Sick Of It All tore it up and I loved it. My only regret is that I had ordered food from the kitchen upstairs and had to take a break for a couple songs to woof it down. Back then, the Fillmore made awesome cheesesteaks that were pretty cheap.

Helmet got on and I was cut from ushering soon enough. I spent my drink ticket and took my beer into the mosh pit, very carefully chugging it and managing not to spill a drop. Chris Charucki was mixing sound that night. He was regular at the front of house position back then and I being the horseshoe’s regular guardian, got to know him a little bit. He was gracious enough to slip me the setlist that night, and most nights if there was one to be given away. I put that setlist on my wall at home and it stayed up for a long time which is unusual since I primarily put up posters. I think that was one of the only set lists I ever put up on a wall.

Charucki, as he was commonly referred to last name only, was a bit of legend around live sound circles and will always be a hero to me. He was a funny guy, stocky, and hairy like myself, though I will only possess a thimbleful of his talent in my lifetime. He had done live recordings, stage managed, as well as toured as with acts as diverse as the Dead to Slayer. There was even a “Fuck Charucki” sticker going around that would end up on sound gear, which I can only assume was done in playful jest knowing Charucki’s rather bawdy sense of humor.

I remember later on, knowing I was a fan of Helmet, Charucki gave me a short stack of set lists he had accumulated from them after touring with them for a while. I graciously accepted them, though they along with any memorabilia from a show I didn’t attend has very little value to me. I’m certain that he knew I was recording and approved. I would habitually check my hip pouch to see if the record light was still on and as small as the headphone mic was, I was close to him for so long, that I’m sure he couldn’t help but notice. Sound men are inherently “situational aware” and that must be infinitely so for a man of his talent. I haven’t seen Charucki in years. I think he stuck with Bob Weir and the Dead’s people after Jerry died, a gig no one any sound man would kill for. I miss him though and hope that he is well.

Diamanda Galas & John Paul Jones, Steve Kent, Fill., SF, Tues., December 6, 1994

This was a unique night being the first of only a few shows in my memory that I attended two different shows on the same day, or night as this was the case. I was divided from the start which show I would go to, this one or Steel Pulse at the Warfield. The attraction of finally seeing a member of Led Zeppelin was the tipping point and I opted for the Fillmore. I’d see Diamanda Galas do her “Plague Mass” show and couldn’t forget her intense wailing voice. At the time, I was too broke to buy the new album she put out with Jones, so I really had no idea what I was in for.

Steve Kent opened the night and he was mild and pleasant to listen to, especially his cover of “Tomorrow Never Knows”. Tina, the head usher, knew of my difficulty deciding which show to attend that night, so right before I was cut from ushering, she approached me with a manilla envelope. She asked me if I could go over to the Warfield and drop it off at the office in the balcony, next to the staircase where we always sign out at the end of ushering there. Ecstatic, I thanked her profusely and agreed.

Knowing that Steel Pulse, like most reggae acts, would be on “Rasta Time”, I knew I had a little wiggle room to hand out and watch the show at the Fillmore, so I stuck around and watched eight songs. I really liked their music and it stung a bit having to tear myself away from that show. Galas sang well with her deep, sultry voice, but snuck in a few of her trademark wailings in here and there. Alas, this would be the last time I’d see her and the only time I’d get to see Mr. Jones. I bolted out after “Last Man Down” and hopped on the 38-Geary bus downtown towards the Warfield.

Steel Pulse, War., SF, Tues., December 6, 1994

To those who may not have read the previous entry, this was one of the only occasions that I attended two separate shows in one night. I left the Diamanda Galas & John Paul Jones Fillmore early with an envelope to be delivered to the head usher at the Warfield that night. Lisa knew I was coming and was in the office upstairs at the Warfield waiting for me. Out of breath from hustling as fast as I could, I smiled and dropped it off to her, then was down on the dance floor hearing the one and only Steel Pulse.

I don’t know how long Steel Pulse had been on stage, but I got in just as they were starting to play “Taxi Driver”. A couple songs later, they played “Ku Klux Klan”, a song I knew well from seeing the concert documentary “Arrg! A Music War”, one of my favorite movies. My brother Alex had a VHS copy taped off the TV, labeled “Tape over this and I will hurt you”. I was able to get eleven songs that night, including an extra long version of “Marcus Say” that had spectacular sax, trumpet, and keyboard solos. It was a great night being able to catch both shows, especially since they were so different stylistically.

The Black Crowes, Slim’s, SF, Fri., December 9, 1994

SETLIST : Sting Me, Hotel Illness, Twice As Hard, High Head Blues, Thorn’s Progress Jam – Thorn In My Pride, Seeing Things, Nonfiction, A Conspiracy, Hard To Handle, Gone, Stare It Cold, (unknown), Mellow Down Easy, Jealous Again, Sometimes Salvation, Wiser Time, She, Thick N’ Thin, Remedy

Around this time, I was dating a girl named Carla, who was the ticket vendor at Slim’s. The Slim’s box office was also a Ticketmaster outlet, one of those places back when people actually would physically line up to get concert tickets on sunday mornings, but the Slim’s connection was one that few knew about. So, with little or no people in line, I was able to score pretty effectively there. But also being one of the only guys who did this, I would get to know sweet Carla. The other ticket girl there, Sally, I’d also get to know but never asked out. As luck would have it,m we’d both serve together a year later working in the office of Dave Leftkowitz, the manager of Primus, she as his secretary, I as his an intern.

But I digress. I liked Carla. She was always happy to see me and I was a swinging single then, so I asked her out a few times. I remember her cute smile, her bobbed hair. She was short, which made me feel tall, and as Sir Mix-A-Lot so eloquently put it, she had back. One night, she gave me the skinny that none other than the Black Crowes were going to do a secret show at Slim’s. I know what you’re thinking, that I was only dating her for free tickets, well, I wasn’t. This was the first and I believe only occasion, that my relationship with her afforded me any privileges and I didn’t get in the show for free.

For some strange reason, they weren’t allowing a guest list, but they were allowing people to purchase their tickets C.O.D. at the box office and pick them up on the night of the show. That night, I got there early, along with a couple friends who were braving the lines to try to buy a ticket and we staked out a spot in line way early, taking shifts to get beer across the street at 20 Tank brewery. Every now and then somebody would have a friend join them in line and people would jokingly shout out, “Cutters!”

The line was around the block when the call came out for the C.O.D. people to come up to the box office to pick up their tickets. I felt pretty cocky, like a real industry insider, but the truth was I just got lucky. I found out after the show, that when the manager of the Black Crowes heard about the C.O.D. deal, he flipped his lid and cut off anybody else from that list getting in, so poor Carla, a tried and true Slim’s employee, showed up later to join me, she was shunned and the poor girl had to go home. Fucking show biz, I tell ya.

As you might imagine, they packed us in like sardines into Slim’s. When that place is sold out, it’s uncomfortable enough, but that place felt like it was at least twice it’s legal capacity. If the fire marshall showed up, he’d of shut it down in a heartbeat. Even though I got in relatively early, I was still almost halfway back in the venue. I caught a glimpse of my friend Rodney when he made it in, but he was a few layers back and when I beckoned him to try to wiggle up to join me, a fellow behind me, grimly shook his head and said, “Don’t even think about it”. I was disappointed, but he was right. Fair is fair, and I was luckier than most that night.

Finally, the Crowes got on stage and they were in fine form, the finest of their career in my opinion. “Amorica”, their third album had just been released in November, and the material was just as good as the previous two. They did a long instrumental between “High Head Blues” and “Thorn In My Pride” and Chris Robinson joked that they felt like getting a little weird and that the Grateful Dead, who were playing across the bay in Oakland that weekend, weren’t hoarding all the weirdness that night. The fans and I were spoiled that night and we all knew it. I’d never see the Crowes in a venue that small again.

Sugar, Magnapop, The Lifters, War., SF, Sun. December 11, 1994

I was too young and dumb to know about Husker Du. I don’t think my brother Alex was into them either, so I didn’t even hear about them until they had been broken up for a few years. Their first album, “Copper Blue” was a big hit and after I saw them that night, I made sure to put it on my Christmas gift wish list. I don’t remember much about the Lifters, but I was glad to see Magnapop again so soon after I saw them open for the Fall at the Fillmore only a few months before this. I liked them a lot, but sadly, this would be the last time I’d catch them before they broke up.

One thing for sure, the show was a loud one. Bob Mould had a reputation for playing at ear splitting volumes and he lived up to it that night for sure. I liked Sugar. They had catchy songs like “Helpless” and “If I Can’t Change Your Mind” and they one of those band names that surprised me that nobody thought of it sooner. But like Magnapop, they too dissolved soon after, though I’d get to see Bob Mould play solo a few times in the future. He’d be playing alone with an acoustic guitar and would be much, much quieter. I heard Sugar did a reunion in 2013, but if they came through the bay area, I missed it.

Joe Jackson, The Murmurs, War., SF, Mon., December 12, 1994

Joe was nice show to have in the middle of this long stretch, a bit of a breather. It was just him and his piano that night. It was a total sit down show, with seats on the dance floor and since it wasn’t too crowded and the patrons were quite civilized, ushering wasn’t difficult at all. I knew Joe from his pop hit, “Steppin’ Out”, back in the 80’s, but hardly knew anything else he did and he ended up not playing that song anyway. Steel Pulse played their song, titled “Steppin’ Out” when I saw them at the same venue the week before and I thought it funny how different each song was stylistically. That, and also Bad Religion, who’d I would see at the Warfield two days later also has a song titled, “Stranger Than Fiction”. Maybe they all should tour together sometime. I’d buy a ticket to that one.

Opening that night were the Murmurs, an acoustic guitar playing duo of young women. They were colorful alright, one with a Ronald MacDonalesque pinkish lavender afro, the other with cherry red straight hair with rainbow colored bangs. They were cute, but when they played their hit, “You Suck”, they seemed tense. Maybe it was the intention to deliver the “You Suck” with a hint of psychotic rage, but the album version was rather subdued. That song made it on “Beavis & Butthead”. They also did a wailing version of “White Rabbit” and while one played guitar, the other feverishly grabbed at her own hair. I guess I’d be nervous too playing in front of a crowd that big with just acoustic guitars.

Later, Joe came on stage nonchalantly, sat at his piano, and began the show. I was impressed by the quality of his voice, silky smooth, but with power and range. I didn’t know most of the songs, but he did do a medley of “It’s Different For Girls” and “Is She Really Going Out With Him?”, two songs I forgot that I knew. I remember him playfully doing a little syncopated riff on the piano that got a chuckle from the crowd.

Off the subject, I’d heard that Joe Jackson was gay, which added an interesting connotation to the song, “Is She Really Going Out With Him?”. I found out later that he wasn’t, though he had been married for two years that ended in a disastrous divorce. Call it a stereotype I guess, he being so well groomed, politely mannered, and English.

The Offspring, Face To Face, The Swinging Utters, Fill., SF, Tues., December 13, 1994

SETLIST : Bad Habit, We Are One, Kill Boy, Burn It Up, Genocide, Dirty Magic, Cogs, So Alone, LAPD, It’ll Be Along, Ska, Come Out & Play, Get It Right, Nitro – Sweater Song – Basket Case – Self-Esteem, (encore), Smash, Session

The Offspring exploded onto the music scene with their album, “Smash”, and got big quick. Though folks were suspicious of them, myself included, of their precociousness, they actually had been together for years and this was in fact their third studio album. They just started when they were really young. This show was the second of a two night stint at the Fillmore and apparently the house management underestimated the rowdiness of the Offspring crowd, neglecting to put up the barricade in front of the stage. Well, some kids got injured the night before and got taken away in ambulances, so they didn’t make the same mistake that night.

The Swinging Utters were a fun opener, but they weren’t on for very long. I’d just seen Face To Face open for the Mighty Mighty Bosstones at the Fillmore that October and was still annoyed with the singer’s bug-eyed faces when he sang. The Offspring, on the other hand, made quite a big impression on me, well deserving of the hype they were getting. The pit was a wild one too, bigger than any I’d seen at the Fillmore.  For their hit single, “Come Out & Play”, they brought some pre-teen kid on stage to chant the line, “You gotta’ keep them separated”. Yeah, it was a great show, but I was furious that they didn’t give out a poster that night, especially since both of the Offspring’s shows were sold out.

Bad Religion, The Supersuckers, Samiam, War., SF, Wed., December 14, 1994

SETLIST : Recipe For Hate, Suffer, The Handshake, Too Much To Ask, Stranger Than Fiction, American Jesus, Infected, Change Of Ideas, Atomic Garden, The Answer, Flat Earth Society, Tiny Voices, Modern Man, What It Is, Watch It Die, Generator, Yesterday, We’re Only Gonna Die, Leave Mine To Me, Anesthesia, Lookin’ In, 21st Century Digital Boy, Along The Way, No Control, Fuck Armageddon… This Is Hell

This was the last show of a five show stretch and Bad Religion was a good way to end it. This was one of those bands I was always aware of, respected around punk circles for as long as I could remember. Their logo with the cross with the anti symbol over it, the “Crossbuster” as it is known to fans,  was everywhere on stickers and T-shirts. Yes, they were known and respected, but with their most recent album, “Stranger Than Fiction”, Bad Religion also found commercial success and they were big enough to pack the Warfield.

I don’t remember much about Samiam, but I liked the Supersuckers and I would go on to see them open for others many times after this one. The singer, Eddie Spaghetti, always wore a straw cowboy hat when I saw him play. It was a good look for him. I was glad to see their video of “Jackalope Eye” made it on “Beavis & Butthead”.

It’s easy to get floored by a band like Bad Religion. Their music was fast, smart, and plentiful. Like other great punk bands, when you get so many breakneck songs one after the other, a 70 minute set feels like a lot longer, so you feel like you got your money’s worth. I liked the way the singer, Greg Graffin, would pace around the stage like he was lost or confused, then snap to attention when he started to sing, pointing around like he was giving a lecture of some sort. Incidentally, I found out years later that he actually did have a masters degree in geology from UCLA and a PhD in zoology from Cornell. Yeah, there are some smart punks out there. Even Dexter Holland, the singer from the Offspring who I saw the night before at the Fillmore, had a masters degree in molecular biology and is currently working towards his doctorate.

L7, Chokebore, Acid King, Slim’s SF, Wed., December 21, 1994

SETLISTS :

CHOKEBORE : Narrow, Thin As Clouds, Nobody, Wash, Throats, Coat, Weightless, Line Crush, Thursday

L7: Everglade, Questioning My Sanity, Death Wish, American Society, Freak Magnet, Diet Pill, Stuck Here Again, Shove, Can I Run, Baggage, Movie Star, Talk Box, Shitlist, Monster, Pretend We’re Dead, Fast & Frightening, Scrap

Up until this year, I’d never seen L7 and within four months, I’d seen them four times! I’d just seen them only a month before at Slim’s with the Melvins. Yes, I got to know L7 well that year and what a year it was for them. Sad to say that they would never be this big again, but I was glad to see them as much as I did that year.

Speaking of the Melvins, Dale Crover, the drummer, was playing drums for Acid King, the first opening band, and I later found out that he was married to Lori S., the lead singer, though they have since divorced. Afterwards, Chokebore played, a band that I was supposed to see open up for Nirvana at that last New Year’s show in Oakland, but was replaced at the last minute by Tad. Both bands were pretty good. L7 covered pretty much the same ground that I saw them play the other gigs that year, to no surprise, but I never get tired of hearing them. The tape recorder made it all the way to the end of the set before the batteries started running out during, “Scrap”. 

Speaking out things running out, this show officially is the first one that I’m writing about without any written assistance from the past. I got lazy back then, probably because I was seeing so many gigs and working so much. So, from here on out, the writing might be more sparse and less frequent, as I have to rely more on listening to the tapes and picking the brains of my friends more for details. I’ll do my best.

Public Enemy, The Goats, Midnight Voices, Fill., SF, Thurs., December 29, 1994

I was glad to see some real hip hop come to the Fillmore. Rap shows were few and far between in my opinion for the BGP scene. But Public Enemy was a act too important to ignore. I’d seen them only once before opening for U2 at Oakland Stadium and it was at quite a distance, so it was good to see them up close for the first time.

MTV was filming “The Real World” in San Francisco at the time and Mohammed Bilal was rapping for Midnight Voices, the first opening act. Not to say that was the only reason the got the gig, Midnight Voices were good. I spotted Judd and Pam from the show walking around, but I didn’t bother them. The Goats kicked ass that night too.

Chuck D said that it was their thirtieth tour and would be the last time I’d see them with Terminator X as their DJ. I didn’t know it at the time, but he had just recovered from a nasty motorcycle accident. I remember too that Flavor Flav went on a tangent between songs, yelling, “Fuck Ricki Lake! She makes black people look fucked up!” He also said that the media could suck his… well, you know what. Yeah, Flav was going through a rough patch then. He was locked up the year before for three months for shooting as his neighbor and later that year he was busted for domestic violence and drug possession.

My friend Hefe was with me that night as a patron, not an usher. He tried it once with me at the Warfield, but found it tedious and wondered away onto the dance floor when the band was on, and resented being scolded for it by Lisa, the head usher that night. He had a great time at the show as I did, but on the way out the front door after the encore, a fight broke out in front of him. I was a few bodies ahead, looked behind me to see what the commotion was, and before I knew it, I was dragging him out of there.

Truth be told, knowing the heavy security presence out there, I just didn’t want us to get entangled in any legal complications. Hefe was pissed that the guys in front of him would start a fight and decided to kick both their asses as punishment for trying to ruin his evening. I told him he was being as stupid as they were and he begrudgingly agreed with me, but I regretted the paternal tone I took with him. Maybe I should of let him kick their asses. Hefe knew martial arts pretty well and probably would of made short work of them. Anyway, the whole incident at least distracted me from the fact that there wasn’t a poster that night, a true miscarriage of justice, though P.E. would get one when they played the Fillmore eight years later.

The Neville Brothers, Sweet & Low Orchestra, The Pulsators, Fill., SF, Fri., December 30, 1994

I was on night two of the final three days of the year and spending each night at the Fillmore. I had heard of the Meters and these guys, but was still woefully undereducated of the sounds of the Big Easy. So, this was a good start. I was pleased that I knew most of the songs, having a couple originals like “Fire On the Bayou” and “Don’t Take Away My Heaven”, but they also did a few covers I knew like “Something” by the Beatles and “Iko Iko”. 

I loved Aaron Neville’s voice, smooth as silk, but I have always found that mole above his right eyebrow distracting. I mean, no offense, he’s a handsome man, but some psychotic urge deep inside me wants to take that thing off. I’m sure I’m not the first person to think this, but hey it is a distinction that makes him easily identifiable and I guess in show business it probably worked ultimately to his advantage. And speaking of show biz, I was relieved that the Fillmore at least had the decency to give the Neville’s a poster that night and it was a good one too.

The Cramps, The Mermen, Pearl Harbor, Richard McGee, Fill., SF, Sat., December 31, 1994

At long last, we’ve come to the end, the end of this year anyway. Going over the shows of 1994, I am reminded of what a good year it was. I was young and frisky. There was a lot of talent around, short lived as many of those acts were. And what better way to end the year than to witness the first New Year’s show at the Fillmore, the very year it reopened. I couldn’t be happier that it was the Cramps too.

This show was a special one as well because I was as high as a kite that night. My friend John had scored some ecstasy somehow and I had a couple tabs of acid, so I went for it and did both that night. I did my share of partying back in these days, but this was the first and only time I had put those together. Thank God it didn’t really start to kick in until the Cramps were almost on. I don’t think I could have ushered effectively otherwise.

Richard McGee was doing his karaoke nightclub schtick up in the poster room that night and I was able to catch him doing an inspiring rendition of “New York, New York”. Pearl Harbor was the first on stage, a punk rock veteran of San Francisco and wife of Paul Simonon, the bassist of the Clash. She had a great look, like the girl who would start a drag race in a 50’s teen exploitation movie. She did a great cover of “Fujiyama Mama” by Wanda Jackson too. The Mermen were next, always a dependable opening act. “Pulp Fiction” had just come out that October, so folks got a thrill when they played “Miserlou” the Dick Dale classic that opened the movie.

They dropped the balloons at midnight and the Cramps opened up with “Mystery Plane”. Yeah, I was sailing by then, but I made sure to drink plenty of water and I was amongst friends. They had put a giant shimmering silver banner of “The Cramps” above the stage, which radiated in my eyes with a light that seemed as if it came from heaven. It was a fantastic New Year’s and as I left the Fillmore it started to rain. I shielded my poster from that show under my shirt until I found shelter waiting for the bus. Waiting on the corner of Van Ness and O’Farrell, I stared at the Cadillac building across the street watching the bricks undulate through my inebriated eyes. I had a huge grin on my face all the way home.

Unfortunately, that grin turned upside down when I got home and listened to the tapes I recorded that night. The mic was cutting out a few songs into Pearl Harbor and it just got worse as the show went on. I mean, losing the Nirvana show the year before because I forgot the batteries was worse because it was my mistake and Kurt was dead four months later. That one I didn’t get at all. At least I was able to dig up a bootleg copy elsewhere of that show years later. But as you might have guessed, I was super pissed, but I took in stride and focused on the good time I had that night. 

Funny, the Cramps had a song which they played that night appropriately titled, “Let’s Get Fucked Up”, so that night shall forever be known to me as the “Fucked Up New Year’s”. There’s only a few shows in my life that actually earned a title. Yes, this, my first New Year’s show at the Fillmore was practically ruined, but thankfully, every New Year’s show I bootlegged after this one came out fine. Perhaps, one day a decent bootleg of that show will surface, but until that day, I shall press on. On to this year of our lord, 1995…

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