Tuesday, December 20, 2005

1988 Revisited

While going through some boxes in the attic recently, Umlaut came across a stack of old concert crap (ticket stubs, etc.) and was reminded that 1988 was a good year. Good Music Geek memories. While these aren't all the shows I saw that year, they are the ones that left an impression on me 17 years (!) later:

Guadalcanal Diary - One Step Beyond, Santa Clara, CA - Feb. 2nd
I loved this band... Charismatic and Rocking in that 80's jangly guitar way. They stormed through a cover of 'Immigrant Song' during their set that ruled. The tour shirt had a map of the U.S. on the back with made up city names (Don't Hit Me Daddy, Arkansas, etc..). Hilarious! A couple of days later a friend was driving back home to Seattle for a visit and stopped at a gas station in Oregon. He happened to be wearing the new tour shirt. When he finished paying the cashier he turned around and Guadalcanal Diary were standing behind him waiting to pay! The band saw his shirt and screamed... and they put him on the guest list for the show in Seattle. Is that a cool band story or what?!

Red Hot Chili Peppers - The Fillmore, S.F. - April 9th
One of the most violent shows Umlaut has ever experienced. Me and 4 others went to the show in one car... 4/5 of us came out injured in some way. As soon as the Chili Peppers hit the stage all Hell broke loose. One friend was pinned against the stage and suffered bruised ribs. Another was kicked in the face by a stage diver and knocked out cold. A stage diver landed on top of me and broke my glasses. Another friend had his glasses broken as well (Contact lenses are for pussies!). Miraculously, the only person not injured was the guy who drove! A chick wearing a skirt jumped onstage and started dancing and Flea pulled her skirt down and shoved her back into the crowd with his foot. At one point in between songs, Hillel stood at the front of the stage and Anthony told the audience to gob on him, a request that was obliged by many. Two months later I was hanging out with these same people on a sunny afternoon listening to KFJC when they announced Hillel's O.D..

Sinead O'Connor - The Stone, S.F. - April 22nd
Mainstream revisionist music history seems to only remember Sinead as a freak one hit wonder. However, before all of that, her debut album was mesmerizing to me. I was WAY into it. The Stone was jammed to the gills sold out and 1/2 of The Smiths were in her band (Andy Rourke and Mike Joyce). In hindsight, it was pretty cool seeing Sinead perform in a 500 seat club before all of the mainstream popularity crap hit her. A friend who couldn't get a ticket had to wait outside during the show, but met Sinead and got her autograph as she quickly ducked into a waiting getaway cab after her set. Sinead has left the building!

Billy Bragg - The Stone, S.F. - April 30th
This was Billy's 2nd ever visit to S.F... I had just missed his S.F. debut in 1986 at the I-Beam. I worshiped his "This Machine Kills Fascists"-style songs. I was so idealistic in 1988. Twas a great set.. He came back 6 months later and performed at UC Berkeley in a venue that was at least 3x bigger than The Stone. I didn't like the larger crowd he was drawing and my fandom faded... and my idealism was soon to follow. I didn't listen to Bragg again until the Wilco Mermaid Ave. collaboration... but I'm listening to the Back To Basics CD as I type all of this and it's still brilliant and still hauntingly relevant in many ways.

The Smithereens - The Stone, S.F. - May 28th
Like Guadalcanal Diary, I still have a soft spot for this band. A great early-Who / Kinks-style live act, but this was probably THE most drunken performance I've ever seen a band play. It degenerated to the point where Pat DiNizio got on his knees and balanced a beer on his head and guitarist Jim Babjak used his guitar like a baseball bat to hit it off. Later Babjak disappeared from the stage during a song but could still be heard playing. A moment later I noticed someone move next to me. I looked and it was a grinning Babjak making use of his Nady system walking through the crowd while he played. He nodded at me as he passed.

Bob Dylan / The Alarm - Greek Theater, Berkeley, CA - June 10th
I was deep into my Dylan obsession at this time.. Out of all the times I've seen Bob, this was my favorite show. His singing was coherent, his performance inspired, and Neil Young played guitar with his band. The Alarm were good too ("68 guns will never die..."). Umlaut will never pay to see Bob live again, but I'll listen to his music forever. For those who care, the setlist was:

  • Subterranean Homesick Blues
  • Joey
  • Absolutely Sweet Marie
  • Watching The River Flow
  • Tangled Up In Blue
  • Masters Of War
  • San Francisco Bay Blues
  • Boots Of Spanish Leather
  • Lakes Of Pontchartrain
  • The Times They Are A-Changin'
  • It Takes A Lot To Laugh, It Takes A Train To Cry *
  • In The Garden *
  • Gates Of Eden *
  • Like A Rolling Stone *
  • Rank Strangers To Me
  • Everybody's Movin' *
  • Maggie's Farm *
* = w/ Neil Young

Ramones - One Step Beyond, Santa Clara, CA - July 12th
I'm thankful that I got to see the Ramones as many times as I did, but I did take them for granted. This was the last time I saw them with Dee Dee (Trivia: Dee Dee's final show ever with the Ramones was a year later at One Step Beyond). Marky was back in the band too. It was very hot, very sweaty, and very loud... In other words, a typical Ramones show. I bought a shirt and button at the merch table. For those who care, the setlist was:

  1. Durango 95
  2. Teenage Lobotomy
  3. Psycho Therapy
  4. Blitzkrieg Bop
  5. Do You Remember Rock 'N' Roll Radio?
  6. Bop Til You Drop
  7. Gimme Gimme Shock Treatment
  8. Rock 'N' Roll High School
  9. I Wanna Be Sedated
  10. I Don't Want You
  11. Chinese Rock
  12. Weasel Face
  13. Glad To See You Go
  14. Sheena Is A Punk Rocker
  15. Rockaway Beach
  16. Garden Of Serenity
  17. I Just Want To Have Something To Do
  18. Too Tough To Die
  19. Mama's Boy
  20. Animal Boy
  21. Wart Hog
  22. Surfin' Bird
  23. Cretin Hop
  24. I Don't Wanna Walk Around With You
  25. Today Your Love Tomorrow The World
  26. Pinhead
  27. I Wanna Live
  28. Somebody Put Something In My Drink
  29. Bonzo Goes To Bitburg
  30. Do You Wanna Dance?
  31. Judy Is A Punk
  32. We're A Happy Family
Thirty-two songs in under 70 minutes... I miss being able to take the Ramones for granted. 1-2-3-4 Cretins wanna hop some 'mo.

Ramones 1988 Tour Button (From the Umlaut Attic)

Anyway, I suppose that's a glimpse into where Umlaut's head was at back in 1988. I wasn't Metal. I was still a year or so away from Grunge reminding me how much I love loud distorted guitars... Still 2 years away from a bad year in my life... Still 3 years away from being reunited with Old Metal and The Mission Glory Days... and still 5 years away from meeting Skychick in a Lower Haight pub.

It's worth noting that I'm not in touch with anyone I hung out with in 1988. It was a good year, but to quote Dylan: "All the people we used to know they're an illusion to me now".