It’s not every day that reading a Web site makes me think of Mojo Nixon eating pigshit.
When Xeni at BoingBoing posted a little ditty about Porky Pooper, I immediately was taken back to the Lost Horizon in Syracuse, N.Y., circa 1990. Mojo opened for the Dead Milkmen, who were on their “Fear of a Beige Planet” tour. His set, during which each band member was swigging their own bottle of Jagermeister, was a blast. At one point Mojo simulated some sweet love on a blow-up pig. Then he held the pig up high, squeezed its belly and popped several unwrapped Tootsie Rolls into his mouth (some of course got tossed into the crowd). Good times. The highlight of the show, however, was the Milkmen’s encore, during which Rodney Anonymous started talking about a time when bands were “bigger, meaner and tougher than us.” He then screamed: “We’re talking about the Misfits!” as the band ripped into a beautifully chaotic cover of “Astro Zombies.”
The nostalgia got me thinking about other concert-moment memories that stand out for me. Moments such as:
Black Flag, 1986, a short-lived place called Exile in Tulsa, Okla. — The first song. This was my first real punk show, and I was beside myself (Henry Rollins was, and still is, a hero). I saw the crowd compact at the front of the “stage” (There was no stage — someone just put down some tape, which Henry, who always performed in running shorts only, strongly advised everyone against crossing.) then heard the band tear into “Loose Nut.” Fucking fierce. The place exploded like the beginning of the universe, and I just stood there, wide-eyed, taking in the wonderful display of it all. After the first couple songs I snapped out of it and jumped into the fray. My ticket was $8. The T-shirt, I think, was $6.
Alice Cooper, 1981, Memorial Hall, Joplin, Mo. — This was my first concert, kind of a consolation prize from my parents for not letting me see KISS on their “Dynasty” tour in D.C. two years earlier. I have no idea why Alice came to Joplin for his “Special Forces” tour (Note: site is missing the Joplin show), but he did and my 11-year-old ass was there. He was still kinda in his pseudo-new wave look, so he sported short hair and played “Clones (We’re All).” But he played many of the classics, too. The great moment for me was the encore, when he out with long hair (it apparently was pinned back), screamed “Thought I cut it, didn’t you, fuckers?” and played “School’s Out.” Little-rocker heaven. The next year KISS started a long road of suck, and I discovered Devo, Gary Numan and Sparks, sending me down a new path of tunage.
Rollins Band, 2003, 9:30 Club, Washington, D.C. — This was the tour for the “Rise Above” CD, a benefit for the West Memphis Three. The tour was like the CD — all Black Flag songs, performed by Rollins Band. I couldn’t wait to see Rollins do those songs live again. Keith Morris of the Circle Jerks sang the first few, old-school Black Flag songs. Then the band kicked into “Rise Above” and Rollins came onstage … with fucking Ian Mackaye! Everyone lost their minds. Neither one of them had lost even a tad of intensity. The entire show followed their lead.
Social Distortion, 1996, Ogden Theatre, Denver — I love it when dipshits get publicly humiliated. This was my first Social D show, and it was phenomenal. The band was tight, and Mike Ness was fierce. Then three skinheads who were ganging up (what else?) on people in the pit starting giving the band Nazi salutes. Ness immediately started making fun of them between songs, saying “In L.A. we just beat the shit out of people like you.” The big skinhead tried to rush the stage — Ness threw off his guitar and went after the guy. The bouncers stopped them before anything happened and kicked out the big skinhead and his friend, leaving a little skinny one alone in the pit. He kinda stood in the back, making faces at Ness while he played. Ness called him out, too, but he just stood in the back with a smart-ass grin on his face. Then the crowd started pushing him forward, forcing him to the stage. His smile quickly turned to fear as he realized the entire pit was pushing him forward; he looked like he was going to pee his pants. The bouncers grabbed him and pulled him out before Ness could touch him.
Big Four, 1993, Davey’s Uptown, Kansas City — Ahhh, back when Davey’s was a literal hole in the wall with no real stage (just a marked-off area next to the women’s room) and 85-cent Old Style night on Thursdays. Big Four is two guys — Ernie Locke, lead singer of Sin City Disciples and then the monstrous Tenderloin on vocals, harmonica and voice distortion and some friends of his who played guitar and sang. Both are big boys. From the bluegrassy “Cajun Family Orgy” to a Butthole Surfers-esque cover of “Stayin’ Alive,” they did it all. During the last song the guitar guy had to “take a dump,” so he took the microphone and guitar into the women’s room as Ernie roamed the crowd a bit. The big finish was him emerging from the bathroom, triumphant, and them meeting back at the stage for a final chorus.
OK, it was pretty damn funny and cool at the time.
These are just a few moments that jumped into my head between stressing about work and stressing about my personal life. Please share any memories you have — not of entire great concerts per se (I could spend hours writing about those), but just cool moments that stand out from the gigs you’ve seen.