Life on the Other Side of Sex, Drugs, and Rock and Roll
No great shakes here in the present, so I’m once again writing about the past. I went to a Rain Parade/Dream Syndicate/Three O’Clock/Bangles show at the Fonda on Friday night, and I’m inspired. The Dream Syndicate played the first show I ever booked.
I went to the Fonda with one of my oldest friends, Susie, and ran into people that I’ve known for more than 20 years. I met up with Craig, a journalist, and Cary, a publicist; I’ve known Craig since I worked my first record, and Cary — who worked with REM — was the first person I ever knew who worked records at all. I hung out with Steve Backer, my partner-in-crime at Epic, and I stood next to Karen Glauber when the Dream Syndicate played. (We met in 1983 in a corridor at the Hotel Iroquois outside of Steve Wynn’s room after a show in New York; I was on my way in, and she was on her way out.*)
Everyone at the Fonda looked familiar, and, while I feel obligated to note that my vision has deteriorated to the point of legally crap, they probably were — there weren’t that many people who turned up regularly for Paisley Underground gigs. There are even fewer of us who would drag ourselves to a Friday night show 30 years after the fact, and I’m pretty sure I know all of them. I’m glad that I do.
We’re much less fashionable than we used to be. With the exception of a guy in a faux-fur dashiki, who was obviously suffering from dementia, no one bothered to dress up. There were even a few people in their pajamas, which bummed me out only because I hadn’t thought of it. Given that the show went well past my bed time, it would have been efficient, and I would gladly have traded the energy I expended in getting dressed for the energy required to make it through a five-hour standing-room-only night at the Fonda. (When I saw a couple of women sitting down on the edge of the 12-inch platform that separated the concert floor from the bar, I elbowed Susie. “Ha ha ha,” I said. “They’re so old they’re sitting on a riser.” Then I went and sat down next to them, grateful to take a load off, as Susie looked on in disbelief.)
I missed the Rain Parade because I opted to hang out on the roof and smoke cigarettes; this seemed like a sensible decision until I talked to a fellow smoker who used the expression “can of duh” in agreeing with me that the Dream Syndicate’s first album was their best. I saw the Three O’Clock, but I have no idea how they sounded — they played “Lucifer Sam”early on, and I spent the duration of their set wishing they were True West. The Bangles — who mostly played music from their pre-hitmaker small-hair days, were a blast.
I was there for the Dream Syndicate, though, and they played like motherfuckers. In 1983, I decided I wanted to work in the music business after they blew me away at the Rat, and on Friday night, after seeing them again, I considered giving it another shot. But then I came to my senses. I realized that it was never just about the music — it was about the time, the place, and the people — and I realized that my feet were killing me. And then — hallelujah/can of duh — it was time to go home.