Several weeks spent training at SNDP and the Entry were followed by my first mainroom show—the Duran Duran “Big Thing” comeback tour. DD was a high school favorite in 1982: the epitome of all things British and “New Wave,” and not from rural Minnesota. Six years later, however, they were a spent force, having exchanged their alt-cred genesis for teenybopper arena adulation.
My Generation: Fifth in a series. Previous installments: (1) Minneapolis music memories; (2) When First Ave was an underage hipster farm club; (3) The world’s last record store; (4) First Ave’s lesson well-learned
At the time I was a big, dumb music snob—the kind I loathe today. I had no patience for adolescents oblivious to homoerotic subtext who fawned over the Durannies, Culture Club and Wham! as naively as their parents had panegyrized over Liberace and Rock Hudson. (“Union of the Snake?” Come on…) There were at least 300 people gathered outside First Avenue before the doors were even open, as sure a sign of the apocalypse then as a line outside Hooter’s is today.
The only way into the club for employees at the time was through the front doors, so I dove into the crowd and was pummeled repeatedly by jealous little girl fists. Duran Duran circa 1988 was nothing more than a New Order tribute act, but you couldn’t tell from the number of fainters we were pulling from the audience. Emotions ran high in a sold-out house full of twenty-something women and gay men trying desperately to recapture the lost innocence of an idealized past.
Back then, you weren’t allowed to take any containers out of the club, so I was positioned at the front doors after the show, grabbing beer bottles and cocktails from the exiting throng. I saw one young woman, maybe 22 years old, hunched over and looking shifty, obviously concealing something under her coat. Avoiding eye contact, she tried to slip past me so I put my hand on her shoulder and pulled her coat open, revealing an empty plastic water cup clenched in both hands. I gently explained that she couldn’t leave with the cup and reached to take it from her. At which point she clawed at my face and burst into tears, shrieking, “It’s Simon’s cup! He gave it to me!” Then she fell to the floor, sobbing.
I let her go.
So what goes around comes around: I see concerts today where the bands sound like Gang of Four or Joy Division, and everybody has a haircut like Timmy Lupus in the original “Bad News Bears”—including the women. I was at the Pixies reunion show at the Fine Line back in 2004 and got bitch-slapped by a fanboy mindset that continues to confound me. My review of that show (go to howwastheshow.com and search on “Pixies”—I am not David DeYoung) was rewarded with worldwide death threats, part of the reason I rarely write concert reviews anymore. Seriously, the review wasn’t even negative—just lukewarm.
My point throughout was that the “true” fans had donned their idol-goggles and were unable to objectively judge what was a mediocre performance by a poorly rehearsed band that hadn’t played together in over a decade. It was honest, albeit sarcastic, and won me the notice of deranged basement-dwellers in New Zealand, Canada, and Belgium who graciously offered to hop the next plane and murder my family.
My favorite band of all time also reformed in 2004, coincidentally around the same time as the Pixies’ show. I won’t tell you who it was because you’ll laugh at me. Regardless, I traveled all the way to Milwaukee to see them perform and was treated to possibly the worst performance by a professional music group I had ever witnessed. No excuses—they blew.
Next day, the message boards were full of rationalizations and equivocations, including poor lights, bad sound, and low attendance caused by a Packers game. All the explanations came, of course, from people who were not at the show. I added my two cents, being sure to emphasize it was an off-night that did not blemish a respected body of musical accomplishment spanning almost 25 years. At which point someone in Budapest offered to hop a plane and murder my family. I still go to shows, but now I stand quietly at the back and keep my opinions to myself.
Legal restrictions compel Almostred to write under an assumed name. His identity isn’t a big secret but you don’t know him anyway. He is survived by a daughter who doesn’t appreciate his esoteric musical sensibilities and a bank account residing with his ex-wife. His massive record collection is currently very hip with the young people. Contact him at firstname.lastname@example.org.