Listen while you work.

I find that if I listen to some of these bands while I write about seeing them live a million years ago, it's as if I'm closing the gap of time, balding, beer bellies and emo.

I was a senior in high school in 1992, thinking about nothing but graduating and getting the hell outta there. It's funny, because I started out as an "incoming sophomore" and was really into my classes, like algebra and Spanish. I did really well that first year, but come junior year, the Gulf War (the first one) busted out and we were all like "fight war, not wars" and demonstrating and freezing our asses off. My grades tanked, but boy was I politically active.

We start '92 with another fab Pixies show.

Who the hell is Barkmarket? I wish maybe I had been more open minded about opening acts, but unless I already knew who they were, I wasn't very good at standing around and listening to one band when all I wanted to do was see the next one.

Fugazi played the Palladium in April of '92, and I got to see them (again). I'm pretty sure the Radicts opened for this show and during their opening number I got a big Doc Marten boot planted firmly on my forehead and was knocked out for the first half of Fugazi's set. I'm probably exaggerating here, but I do remember coming to and hearing one of Fugazi's many amazing opening bass lines and I quickly ran right back to the pit, regardless of my Doc Marten induced headache.

Every now and then you'll see a ticket from a different kind of event, like this Les Miserables show.

My parents got me and my boyfriend-at-the-time tickets to see this for my birthday, probably because of the whole revolutionary angle. I hate to admit that not only could we barely fit into the seats (long legs are sometimes a curse), we were bored to tears. I probably would have appreciated the show more a bit later in life, but at the time I was way too punk to dig it.

Look! Another Bad Religion show!

I know, All is the headliner, but I didn't know jack about them and probably left the gig right after Bad Religion's set.

After the Les Miserables debacle, boyfriend-at-the-time one upped the parents with birthday tickets to see Blue Man Group. They did their awesome thing, we were totally wowed, and one of them made it a point to play with the huge nose ring dangling out of my nostril.

The awesome thing about Blue Man Group is that they're still doing this at the very same theater years later, and I've had brunch with Steve White on more than one occasion (his wife Susan is a good friend of mine). And now Susan is on Broadway. Shut up.

I don't remember if the Pixies were splitting up yet at this point or what, but I do remember being very psyched that the Deal sisters were going out into the world with their new band, the Breeders. I was all up in that hizzy (hizzy = show).

But wait a second. Wait just a god damn minute! That ticket says Bogarts, so I guess I saw this gig in Cincinnati? I honestly don't remember the deal with all that, and I probably got in trouble for crossing the boyfriend streams (wouldn't be the first time...).

And then I think I saw my first Consolidated show. They were so much fun. If they were just a little bit more nerdy, they could have usurped MC Frontalot's claim to founding nerdcore.

My first ticket from '93 comes from a Henry Rollins spoken word gig.

I don't remember much from that gig other than him talking about his buddy Joe Cole. I saw him again not too long after that at Wetlands where he basically gave the same spiel, but it was still cool to see him.

'93 seems to be the year I started clipping show ads out of the papers. Before the interwebs, I relied heavily on the Village Voice (and word of mouth) for knowledge of all upcoming shows. Here's one for Consolidated.

Ohmygod the Goats! They were awesome (or at least I thought so back then). That might have been the first I heard of them, and I'm pretty sure I nabbed a used copy of their CD at my local record shop (now an online retailer).

Hey, is that Walt Jabsco?

And it looks like I was at Skalapolooza the very next day!

1993 was a great year for ska in the US. Shitloads of bands, some from the 80s, some new ones, all touring together. These shows were tons of fun because they were always packed with all kinds of different people, who mostly wanted to dance the entire time and I was all about that. I would meet some people about a year later who were at these same shows, but had shaved heads and wore Fred Perrys (a club I would soon join thanks to their combined influences).

But my head wasn't shaved just yet, so I saw Digable Planets in March of '93.

They were horrible. Nothing like the one-hit-wonder video we all saw prior to the show. One of many examples of how hip hop doesn't always translate well in a live show (you'll hear about Wu Tang Clan when we get to '97).

I loved the Sugarcubes, so when Bjork toured solo, I went to go see her at Webster Hall.

I didn't have a great time at this show. Granted, it was only $10, which was awesome, but it was way too crowded and you couldn't get near the actual performance area and the sound wasn't good and just meh. Can't win 'em all.

But that's okay, because there were more multi-band ska shows to go to! Like "Skavoovee."

I should have probably tried to get my dad to come with me to this show, because he was such a huge Selecter fan, but I was at an age where that just wasn't cool (he'd have to wait until 1999 when we saw Joe Strummer together).

Next up: the Beastie Boys years!


The 90s didn't totally suck if you went to punk shows.

During 1990, 1991 and half of 1992, I was in high school, so my budget and freedoms were somewhat limited. High school marked the formative era during which I (and everyone else and their mother) found other kids that loved the Clash who ultimately introduced me to such punk bands as Crass, Conflict, Antischism and Nausea. Fugazi, too, but are they punk?

Speaking of Nausea, I saw them during one of the many Saturday afternoon matinee shows I frequented at ABC No Rio (still going strong) during the 90s. Their show was one of many that were once represented by a huge punk show flier collection, safely filed in a filing cabinet, but those (and everything else in that ill-fated filing cabinet) bit the dust years ago. We'll just have to settle for the bigger names that got fancy tickets printed for their shows at venues like the Marquee, the Academy, the Grand, Palladium, and the Ritz.

There are only two concerts here from (late) 1990: Skinny Puppy at the Ritz and "Special Beat" with the Toasters, also at the Ritz.

The Skinny Puppy show was PACKED and sweaty and I almost got crushed by the crowd of huge industrial dudes. But they were great. Tank Hog sucked. Or perhaps they simply weren't my cup of tea. I just couldn't understand why they were the opening band, a question I would continue to ask myself of opening bands to this very day...

I remember being pretty scared of being carded at this show, because I was only 15 and the Ritz had this stupid policy about shows being 16+. Luckily, being tall, I didn't get nabbed.

Growing up, I listened to my parent's Selecter LPs (among a few other albums of theirs) and had a vague idea of what Two Tone sounded like. In high school, I got heavily into the Specials, English Beat, Madness and Bad Manners (it was a great treat to learn that the Selecter were simply one of many bands churning that sound out of London all around the same time). When I learned that "Special Beat" included members of both the Specials and English Beat, and that they were playing, I was on that like brown on rice. The Toasters opening up was a bit of a bonus because I didn't know them from a hole in the wall, but years later would come to know them quite well.

1991 started off beautifully with a Nine Inch Nails show, in support of their Pretty Hate Machine album, which I (and everyone I knew) loved. I copied the lyrics to a bunch of those songs on my bedroom walls in big black marker and became a total NIN dork. The show was amazing, and I distinctly remember being impressed by the low-tech effect of seeing silver tinsel blown into Trent Reznor's face behind a dramatic strobe light during the entire set. We've come so far in concert theatrics since then...

Don't remember shit about Die Warsaw.

Another band that I got into in high school was Bad Religion, and luckily for me, they played all the fucking time, so you'll see them repeated a couple of times here.

Another band that played constantly was Fugazi. My friends and I went to every local show and even traveled to a couple, like this one at Drexel University in Philadelphia.

It's kinda nuts that I didn't have a proper ticket to save from the show, so I basically made one out of the cheesy ticket stub they gave us. I can tell you that I'm still in touch with at least two names on that ticket stub.

This next show represents the beginning of being heavily influenced by whatever band my boyfriend(s)-at-the-time were listening to. I dated a guy in Cincinnati (I know what you're thinking: she's 15, in high school, and dating someone in Cincinnati? That was the beauty of attending anarcho-punk protests outside of NYC - you never knew what kind of hottie you were going to hook up with), and in addition to being into all kinds of punk/industrial/hardcore music, he had a soft spot for electronica (and the Better Youth Organization, but that's another story) and got me into Meat Beat Manifesto. We'd trade mix tapes through the mail, and his tapes would always include bands like MBM, Pigface, Skinny Puppy and Consolidated. I was instantly hooked, because unlike a lot of the fast paced punk stuff, you could really dance to this shit. So, off to Cincinnati I went (via Greyhound) to see MBM with this guy.

Bogarts was (is) a large venue along Vine Street near the University of Ohio in Cincinnati. The smaller places, like Sudsy Malone's, didn't print tickets, so I have no paper proof of having seen the Dwarves or BuBu Klan there, but I do remember wishing I had a load of laundry with me so I could have gotten in for free.

For my 16th birthday, my best friend Mishy bought us tickets to see Einsturzende Neubauten at the Ritz. They blew us away. Period.

There were a lot of older cats there to see Cabaret Voltaire, who I thought were total disco dorks. Little did I know that they'd been around a while and had a whole other fan base. See what I mean about mismatched opening acts?

A bunch of our friends in high school really dug Primus and were definitely influenced by them in their own bands. I remember being really impressed by how high, and how quickly Les Claypool could pump that one leg while he played bass and sang.

Now, for the juggernaut of all early 90s shows: the first, the original, Lollapalooza. There was tons of excitement amongst my friends about the possibility of seeing so many good bands (Siouxsie! Janes! NIN!) in one day in one place. It was like finally knowing what it was like to be European, what with their all-day (two-day, three-day) music festivals. Sadly, Siouxsie didn't play, but we got to see everyone else perform.

So much dirt got kicked up during each set that we were clawing black mud off our tongues all day (and night). But it was so worth it. Janes made me cry, dammit. I learned that day to wear sunblock to outdoor shows, and lots of it.

Another huge band for me during high school (and today) was the Pixies. Where Is My Mind? was my theme song way before Fight Club got its hands on it.

They were delicious! Don't remember Pere Ubu at all.

And now we close 1991 with yet another Bad Religion show.

Tune in next time when we cruise through 1992 (and maybe 1993)!


1988 and beyond

I started furiously scanning ticket stubs this evening and I realized that my very first major concert isn't represented in the mix, unfortunately.

It was 1988 and the group Refuse & Resist! hosted a Resist in Concert! night at the Palladium. I was there with my parents, mainly to see the False Prophets, who I had previously seen perform the year before at a church (of all places) and MC Lyte. The performance that really blew me away, though, was by a tiny bald chick with a funny name (Sinead O'Connor) wearing overalls and a white undershirt. Most people in the audience didn't seem to know who she was, but I can guarantee you they remembered her forever after that performance.

The ticket frenzy, as promised, begins in 1989 with a Jackson Browne concert in Florida.
This was a birthday present from my Aunt Leah while I was visiting her in Florida. I had already been listening to my parent's Lives in the Balance LP (which I still have), so I was pretty psyched to see him live.

The only other concert ticket I have from the 80s was a Bangles show at Jones Beach. My cousin Dono was dating Susanna Hoffs at the time, so he hooked me (and my parents) up with tickets and backstage passes to see them. I wish I still had the backstage pass, but I all I remember of the show was going backstage and being really excited to see a tub of free bottled water (it was a hot, outdoor, summer concert).

And that concludes my brief ticketganza from the 80s. Next post: the 90s!