Friday, February 10, 2012

Those Happy Golden Punk Rock Years Pt. 1

It may have been Halloween, 1984, the way I remember it is like this. It as an old two or three story house in Tacoma.

I don't remember anything about playing that show, or most other times. I guess I would have said Wimps played 5 or 6 shows until I saw the list Ron and Mike compiled... many, many gigs, most weekends, sometimes more than once a weekend. After I saw the list, I remembered a few more shows. I still don't remember playing this one at all... I think we must have, I don't know why I would have been there otherwise. I do remember feeling sick and tired and wanting to go home, with no way to get there. There were two choices, being inside the house where it was freezing and noisy, or going outside the house, where it was even colder, frost on the ground, and slightly quieter.

I believe the band that was playing was called The Crypt Kicker Five, but I wouldn't swear to it. I wouldn't swear they played Monster Mash, either, but I seems like they did. I do remember they played Black Sabbath covers, seemingly with no intended irony, and I felt like I was a long way from home that they would do something so rockist (it was later when that sort of thing became cute to do in Olympia).

I was in a bedroom - the bed was piled up with people's coats, and had that familiar smell from back in those days - the smell of things that haven't been washed for months, if ever. I covered myself in people's coats, my throbbing head clutched between my hands, curled up in a foetal position, the wall thumping my back - thump, thump, thump in sync with the music as the band played "Iron Man."

I spent about 2 years there that night, waiting, waiting for it to be over, surrounded by a much rougher crowd than I was used to back home... thump, thump, thump against my spine...

I was always sleep deprived back in those days, I ate aspirin like candy, every day, I worked 8 - 5 at the state (Dolly Parton complained about 9 - 5, it would have been paradise to get a paid lunch, and get another hour of sleep in the morning). There was an infant back home at the house, so there was no rest there, with a mentally ill mother, it always made me feel uneasy to be away at all.

I wanted shows to start on time, and go the hell home when it was over. It never happened that way, of course.

There was the show at Anacortes. I don't remember much about playing that one either. The way it usually went was the show was supposed to start at 9:00 with the Wimps opening. 9:00 would come and of course there was nobody there. Somebody would come around, "oh, could you wait for a while before you start playing? There's nobody here."

Well yeah, I happened to notice that myself. I'd like to play for actual people, so sure.

Could you start at 10:00 pm?


10:00, 10:30, 11:00, 11:30... people have been trickling in, until there's a fair crowd, I'm ready to start, but for some reason, still, nothing is happening. Maybe half the band has gone off to Safeway, and didn't tell anybody. Maybe the promoter is off somewhere getting high. Who knows?

11:45, OK, you guys hurry up, get on stage you have 15 minutes. As usual, I'm very stressed - tired, sick, stage fright pounding me, humiliation (I'm using Bryan Learned's amp. Hey, Bry, where do you plug into this thing? Um, how do you turn it on? Where's the volume?), and I'm seething at the promoter.

But I remember how amazingly assertive Curt was for a guy who chose to name the band Wimps. I think we did our whole set, which was perhaps 40 minutes at that point. He would just get on with it, despite the guys standing in front of the stage and wildly making "get off the stage" signals, he's smile and nod "ok, ok, just one more song..." and we'd launch into another one.

I remember the incident when Heather defused violence by kissing that guy (just like the Hendrix song) that Tobi wrote about in the Beat Happening box set liner notes, I wasn't more than 6 feet away.

Finally, hours and hours later, the show breaks up and we're ready to go home. We were actually paid for this gig, the princely sum of $50.00, so we each got a little over $8 dollars... it would be $8.33 if we split it up evenly, and I think that somebody went to the trouble of doing this (I've made more than that for playing twice since. Wait, three times). I turned my share over to the driver for gas.

Just as we're getting in the car, a band of local lad swarmed us. I swing around, adopting a wide stance. I had no idea what I was gonna do, I knew nothing about fighting. I don't remember what happened next, somehow the situation played itself out without a fight. Curt probably talked them out of it, he had great people skills in situations like this. I didn't really appreciate this at the time, but since then I've come to understand how many things worked out for the better with Curt in charge of the negotiations.

It was a station wagon, I remember this because I took the way back so I could curl up in a foetal position, my throbbing head clutched between my hands.

We stopped for gas or a piss break or something. Candice asked me something, but my ears were still ringing, and I could hardly believe what I thought I heard her say.

"What's that?" I asked, "Do I have a big dick?"

"No, I said 'Do you want to have a picnic!'"

Jello H. Biafra, it was 3:00 in the morning, I just wanted to go home.