This was weirdly hard. I sometimes feel like all I have done since I was 13 is go to shows, or talk about shows, or miss shows I wanted to see. The last few years have been something of a bust, though, possibly even all the years since I have lived in NY. I remember before I moved, going to a show at Jabberjaw and thinking I might die under the weight of knowing everyone there, everyone’s internecine history, our too-close family. And then I went to my first show in NY and feeling so alone because I only knew two people there. My memories are more about who was there and what happened than the music, but the music is what’s playing in my mind as I write this.
1. Sex Pistols on TV: Not really a concert but I was home from school and saw them playing “God Save the Queen” on the barge and it was an instant imprint—that you could make music, make a political statement, piss people off, and dress weird, all at once.
2. Weirdos in Redondo Beach: They had masking tape on their faces and all the surfers and the punkers just stared. They played “We got the Neutron Bomb” and I realized that the Sex Pistols thing was happening here too.
3. Black Flag everywhere and anywhere: The police rioted, the punks moshed—it was always an adrenalin rush and a test of endurance.
4. Operation Ivy at the Bottom of the Hill: They played all over, but this show stands out because basically it meant everyone trekked from the East Bay to SF to see them. After the last song Jesse arranged rides home for people. I was kind of burned out on punk and they reinspired me.
5. Celebrity Skin and 45 Grave at Scream: The Mentors were supposed to play too, but they bailed, so Celebrity Skin played a set as the Mentors, which was hilarious. Don smashed a beer on his head. Dayle Gloria was dressed like a nun, which freaked everyone out and she was the first person I had ever seen wearing a headset. Pat joined Gary on stage to sing “Golden Boys,” which was awesome. Later that night me and Skip got busted for jaywalking but the cops never noticed our IDs were fake and we had drugs on us.
6. Celebrity Skin at the Bottom of the Hill: I was not at this show but it is legend unto me. They had decided they were going to lipsynch all of their out of town shows, but they screwed up the tape and it devolved into Gary yelling at Jason or something—now I can’t even remember the story. Also every time Pat tells it he goes into some long tirade about how he almost sat on a couch that GG Allin had sat on and he shudders.
7. Nirvana at Jabberjaw: They had just gotten signed, and everyone kept talking about the show like it was a funeral. “It’s the last time we will ever see them,” was a common refrain. At the show I asked Kurt how he was going to handle being famous and he said, in all seriousness, “I don’t know, how do you handle it?” HAHA. He said “You are famous in your little circle!” I was like “I think it will be different for you.”
8. Nirvana with Distorted Pony at Rajis: I have to list this one because David U will die with a smile on his face, knowing Nirvana opened for him once.
9. Slug at Jabberjaw: Ok, obviously we all saw Slug 900 million times, at Jabberjaw and elsewhere. But there was this one show, one show, where they went from being a pretty good band of my friends to “Wow, when did Slug get so amazing?” I still remember standing there with my mind blown. I think it was mostly Tomas turning the corner with his drumming.
10. That weird music concrete show at Jabberjaw: What was their name???? Something with a K? Fuck me, I can’t remember but it was intense. I thought Damion was going to pop a vein.
11. Every show at Lectisternium: Still my favorite club of all time, except maybe that weird Mexican restaurant that used to have shows in Torrance. The very best one was Kevin Hanley’s band, Peaches or something like that? Peach?
12. Ethyl Meatplow at the Whisky and at the Temporary Contemporary: They were hitting the big time. The cops shut down the Temp show. Carla had on a leather bra and still seemed oddly prim. I still love this band and play it a lot.
13. Flaming Lips somewhere in NYC: I took a 5 hour bus ride and then sat in Tompkins Square Park for a few more hours waiting for the show. There were about 25 people there in a basement. The band started to play and at the same time turned on a bank of klieg lights behind them that were so strong we all had to turn around and listen to the whole show staring at the back wall of the club. I quit grad school the next week and moved back home to LA. I dig their stuff now but loved them when they were punk.
14. Dead Kennedys at Alpine Village: I am pretty sure I got my bf at the time to take me to this show by telling him that Jello would barf on stage. The next day, my dad very seriously asked me to explain “California Uber Alles” to him.
15. Creedence Clearwater at USC: This is totally weird to remember but somehow my bf (this was obv his musical choice) had gotten his best friend to drive us since we weren’t old enough. This is what blows my mind—we sat in the back seat! How fucking rude is that? I am still mortified in retrospect. Then we got there and he had forgotten/lost/never had tickets so we just walked around and did drugs with people.
16. U2 and J. Geils band at the Forum: Same guy, which is also hilarious. For some reason I though U2 would be kinda badass, but other than the “This is not a rebel song” stuff, they were really tame and I was pissed off. We brought my best friend who had just been dumped. She cried the whole entire show. And we also brought some other couple I can’t remember who made out the whole time but insisted on staying for J Geils. I was like, I need to get out of this fucking town.
17. Mission of Burma at Coney: I beat Matthew at Go-Karts, and since I rarely win at anything, it was a great day. We could hear MoB as we drove. People closer to the stage told me the sound sucked, but it sounded perfect to me.
18. Tribe Called Quest at Tibetan Freedom Concert, San Francisco: The Foo Fighters had just played to a lukewarm reception and then TCQ came out and it was like a few thousand more people had showed up who were STOKED. The rest of us were like, “Oh. That is the new thing, I guess.” The sun had set on our little indie rock moment.
19. Japanther at PS 1: With Penny Rimbaud. Everyone was running in circles (literally) and dancing, there were dinosaurs and smoke monsters. I believe Matt and Ian both had on track suits.
20. Japanther at Autumn Bowl: Ballet and punk rock in a skate park. Perfect.
21. Japanther at Automotive High: I could list every Japanther show, of course, but they played this show on day after a long tour, talked to the kids and exhorted them to be true and to be creative, and didn’t allow me to help carry equipment.
22. USA is a Monster at trucker shack in Greenpoint: What was the name of the shack? Freezing cold, beer in garbage cans, and sausage sandwiches. Jens hated it so of course I loved every minute.
23. Japanther at the Pool: How could I have forgotten this? Playing in a hidden indoor pool with water ballet accompaniment, crazy fans jumping in the water, and pool lady out of central casting with her clipboard and whistle yelling at everyone.
24. Cheeseburger record release party: I mostly remember this because I brought a bunch of ppl who hadn’t seen Cheeseburger before and was slightly scared of how it would go over. Afterwards everyone was soaked in beer and asking me when they were playing again.
25. Cheeseburger at Trash/Lux/whatever it was called then: It was Superbowl Sunday which somehow made the whole thing even funnier, as there were maybe 10 people there, three of them being me, Crystal and Kim. Joe was all “Hey, sports fans!” I don’t think this was the first Cheeseburger show but it was the first one I went to. I remember being so worried they would suck and then being totally impressed at how good they were. Christy had on some filthy white pants. Also, Joe threw an empty Diet Coke bottle at me and I caught it and felt like a badass.
26. Wrens at Knitting Factory: They were last of 30 bands playing at the benefit, and didn’t go on until maybe 1 am, but they had the biggest crowd. I didn’t even know them then and they were so so so nice, and I just suckered Charles into playing a benefit next month so I love them even more.
27. Naked Highway at Delancey: I think Breakup Breakdown and Julia Marvel had just played downstairs? Whitney and Caitlins’s bday? Jens and Jackie and Lisa and I were the last to leave and we passed a guy singing insanely dirty disco songs to a boombox, with a bubble machine and a dancer. I had flowers that someone had brought me (Denton maybe?) and we threw them at the singer and have been friends ever since! Xo Sy, love you.
28. Breakup Breakdown at closing party for Black Betty: Don’t think this needs to be explained at all.
29. Dealbreaker at Black Betty: The infamous night when Dealbreaker, still the worst band any of us has ever seen, will never be forgotten. At one point the singer jumped off the stage and played a guitar solo for me and I wanted to die. Also significant: I did not kiss Jesse Blockton that night, no matter what he has told you.
30. Todosantos and Mae Shi at Miss B’s in Austin, SXSW 2007: Actually every show I saw there was great, excellent programming from Mr. P.
31. Big Sleep at Studio B: Proved to me once and for all that I hate big shows, even with bands I love.
32. Pat Smear at Bogart’s: Pat had just done his first solo record. He had the words written on a piece of paper and played all the songs really fast, staring down at the words, then he played them all again without singing. I still love that record beyond reason, wish it was on CD. After him, SWA played and I was like what the fuck has happened while I have been at college?
33. Ultimate United Givers of Themes, Philadelphia: My MySpace friends! Who turned out to be Dave’s friends! What a weird little thing that was. I LOVE THIS BAND. They write theme songs to movies that don’t have them. So good, and ou know how I feel about comedy rock.
34. Kills at Bowery Ballroom: Alison Mossheart was throwing up in the bathroom before the show and on stage, which apparently really impresses me. I remember noting Don Bolles was good at this a long time ago.
35. Andrew WK at Two Boots: At that crappy little theater in the East Village, they showed his movie and then at the end part, it is a shot of him playing the piano, and the screen pulled up and he was there playing the piano! Whoa! The kids in front went crazy, it was cute. Afterwards he was signing posters and Tommy went slightly insane and took like 20, saying we could sell them on eBay and we’d be rich! Rich!
36. Ar Duvall in Philly: I was there for a booksigning and they played a show just for me and DW, or at least that is how I remember it in my head. Such a great band.
37. Tusk at that place on Cherokee, what was it called?: Two drummers, the first song (I think) was a Vanilla Ice cover, it was fucking awesome.
38. Maplewood at Knitting Factory: I love canyon rock! Closest I will come to seeing the Flying Burrito Bros.
39. Blood on the Wall somewhere in Dumbo with the Rogers Sisters: This might have been the first Todd P show I ever went to? Really really good stuff from two bands I hadn’t seen or heard before that night.
40. Caroliner Rainbow at Al’s Bar: They were weird, they were hard to listen to, they literally put up walls between them and the audience, and yet: love.
41. Motley Crue at the Whisky a Go Go: I think this was 1980? There had been some roundup in the LA Times about who the best new bands of the year were going to be and John Doe said Motley Crue (I swear), so me and my friend Daria went to see them. As true punks we were of course horrified.
42. Haunted Garage at the Coconut Teaszer: I think I had just moved home, and Nicky Beat and Mike Alvarez and some others were living near me in Hollywood. This was a Thanksgiving Day show which was super awesome. I usually hate Thanksgiving!
43. Guadalcanal Diary at Al’s Bar: This was such a great night. Bec I was with Katy and Skip! Generally I don’t like that REM post-punk genre but they were really good.
44. Jesus Lizard at Jabberjaw: David Yow, naked and bloodied, what more can I say?
45-50–God—all the shows in the desert, all the shows at the train tracks, the ones in basements and in backyards and under the piers.