October 31, 2002

Pages Turn

Friends and web site visitors alike have lately been commenting about how many shows I go to. It's true -- I've been averaging 1-2 per week lately. It's just the result of living in the band-magnet capital of the world, combined with my rekindled interest in new music (and, truth be told, a work schedule that presently enables me to stay out as late as I wanna). I've gone to more concerts in the past five months than in previous five years, which is a little odd to contemplate given that this wasn't always the case.

See, I like to think of my current show-goingness as really just a return to form after a long, long hiatus. While I have gone to plenty of shows in the 14 years since my first rock club visit (for the record: The Church @ The Living Room in Providence, RI), the last time I logged so many hours listening to live music was the summer of 1991. All the magical elements had come together... summer after high school, before college, with plenty of free time, friends with cars, and the ability (finally!) to get into 18+ shows.

Summer 1991 was also a great time to still catch all sorts of amazing bands in small, relatively uncrowded venues, as this was just before "Smells Like Teen Spirit" came along, making "alternative rock" suddenly popular. And there were plenty of shows from which to choose -- anyone who'd play in New York would almost always come up to Boston. Though the pool of local bands and those from nearby Providence were more than good enough to provide a reason for going out often.

And yeah, a lot of my recollections of that time are surely romanticized, but now I can actually remember which bands I saw, as I found my old datebooks in the bottom of yet another box of stuff I hadn't gone through in ages. From 1989 through 1994, I kept a little black book (actually a Week-At-A-Glance planner) which I used to keep track of appointments, phone calls made/received, letters sent/received, term paper deadlines, work schedules, birthdays and, of course, concerts I was planning on attending.

Even now, flipping through my 1990-1991 book, it kills me to see how many great shows that I never actually made it to. But I was there at enough of them, and it is kind of oddly reassuring to see in retrospect that, damn, this is what I've always done! Heh, I even noted which friends I was dragging along with me to each show. (Thanks Maryn and Drew!)

So in the spirit of CMJ, and the 3-4 straight nights of music in store for me, here's a page from my old datebook featuring four great shows in one week:

Thursday - July 18, 1991
American Music Club / Straitjacket Fits / The Poster Children @ T.T. the Bear's

Straitjacket Fits was the draw for me here, as I hadn't heard of either AMC or the Poster Children at that time. What I recall most is SJ's positively transcendent version of "She Speeds" and that I liked AMC enough to purchase their new album shortly thereafter.

Friday - July 19, 1991
Codeine / Smashing Orange / High Risk Group @ T.T. the Bear's

I missed High Risk Group (maybe I was busy playing pinball in the back), but I really dug Smashing Orange, whose "My Deranged Heart" single I'd bought at some point over the past year. Codeine's sound was kind of new to my ears then, but I did stay for their whole set so I must have liked them well enough.

Sunday - July 21, 1991
fIREHOSE / The Blake Babies / Sebadoh @ The Paradise

This was the big show of the week for me. I'd just gotten my new Sony D-6 recorder and used it for the first time that night, to tape Sebadoh's set. Even though the band had asked me to record their show, I was still nervous about the possibility of the Paradise security confiscating my new toy, so I think that's why I didn't bother taping the other two bands. I was actually more excited about seeing the Blake Babies than Sebadoh, as guitar pop was (and still is) my bread-and-butter, and Sebadoh were definitely more experimental than pop back then.

Wednesday - July 24, 1991
Heavenly / Small Factory / The Swirlies @ The Middle East

This was the the show of the summer, let alone the week, even if I didn't yet know it. Not only was it my first time seeing any of these bands, I'd never even heard their music before. I'd read positive things about Heavenly in the pages of fanzines Incite! and Writer's Block, but that was it. I think it was the Swirlies' first show -- they seemed a bit nervous and hadn't really developed their sound yet, as they were almost Beat Happening-minimal in spots. Small Factory charmed the pants off of the whole crowd, me most certainly included. What a fun band! See how the drummer keeps trying to get the bassist to shut up so they can play the next song! And Heavenly won me over as well, though that was hardly a difficult feat as they worked their marvelous guitar-pop, Amelia + Cathy sha-la-la magic. The next day at the record store where I worked, I made sure to peel from the wall the show poster, which is hanging above my desk right now.

What a week.

Posted by nstop at October 31, 2002 12:59 AM


Wait, did I have a Heavenly review in Writer's Block prior to their 1991 tour?? I'll have to go check the back issues at home tonight...

Posted by: mike on November 6, 2002 06:58 PM

Possibly I'd only heard about Heavenly by reading Incite!, though I'm sure I'd read about at least one or two Sarah Records bands in your zine as well. And that label mystique was a big part of the draw for me: my first chance to see one of the bands on the Sarah label.

Posted by: nstop on November 7, 2002 11:26 AM

Hmm...it's possible that I hadn't even heard Heavenly before their 1991 tour. (No, scratch that: I'd heard "She Said" on the Borobudur comp at WRSU.) I remember we had a review of The Shadow Factory in an earlier issue. And I think you may have reviewed a Sarah record or two.

Heavenly played with Small Factory and Velvet Crush at Maxwell's that same week in 1991. It was one of those rare gigs that was not only satisfying on its own terms, but gave me several new favorite bands to follow.

Can you believe this all happened more than a decade ago?! I can't.

Posted by: mike on November 7, 2002 11:39 AM

Yeah, I think the first two reviews I wrote for Writer's Block were of singles by the Field Mice and Dinosaur Jr. -- strange combination, that!

Velvet Crush were originally supposed to be on the bill at that show, too, since their name was also written down (then crossed-out) in my datebook.

All ancient history now...

Posted by: nstop on November 7, 2002 08:08 PM

Buy www.i-directv.net this it is a wonderful addition to anyones home entertainment system.

Posted by: direct TV on May 27, 2004 08:17 PM

Post a comment


Email Address:



Remember info?