Public Nuisance/Sin 34/DOA/TSOL
Devonshire Downs (later CSUN North Campus), Northridge, CA
Saturday, April 17, 1982
Time: 8:00 PM
I remember picking up the flyer for this show in March of 1982, at Moby Disc in Sherman Oaks. It was drawn by one of my favorite punk artists at the time: Shawn Kerri. I had been given old issues of Cartoons magazine sometime in the 1970′s, and I had always loved her artwork. I remember being told that she was living with another of my favorite artists: Marc Rude. If you recall his Battalion of the Saints EP cover, you remember it was some really hot art. Unfortunately, both Shawn and Marc passed away. Shawn passed away a bit before her 40th birthday from drugs. Marc died in 2002, reason given was failed health. She’s probably best known for her “Skank Man” for the Circle Jerks.
I asked my Mom if I could go to this show, originally, the answer was no, but with enough begging and pleading she agreed. I would work for the $7.50 admission; it wouldn’t be given to me. And I would have to go with a mature adult for supervision purposes, I’ll tell you why this was a mistake later. This adult was my Uncle Rick (see last column for more info). My Uncle was 4 years older than me, so by this time he was 20. Rick agreed to pick me up and drive me to the show. Rick pulls up at about 7:30 – 7:45 pm, I’m pacing — I want to be there on time, but Rick comes in says “Hi” to my Mom and Brother, and then reassures me that we won’t be late, that no one sets up on time.
By the time we arrive at Devonshire Downs it is a bit after 8:15 and Public Nuisance is already on. I can’t say I remember much of the set. I knew of this band. If I remember correctly they were from the eastern San Fernando Valley. And they were tight with John Macias and the guys from Circle One. But I can’t remember what they sounded like too much. When Rick and I walked in the place there must have been about 20 minutes of greetings in the back before we could get towards the stage, so by the time we were done handshaking and nodding to everyone, Public Nuisance was done. Five years later a group was formed in New York using the same name. A little update on John Macias, I just found this out a few months back: In 1991 John Macias ended up at the Santa Monica Pier, where he was preaching Christianity loudly to passersby’s. Eventually someone called the police. What was printed in the papers: that Macias started running, and knocked a security guard off the pier into the sand. When a police officer called out to Macias to stop, he turned and began walking toward the officer, allegedly with a jacket in his hand. The officer warned him again, then pulled his gun and fired eight times. Macias kept walking, then collapsed and died before the assembled tourists.
Next on the set list was Sin 34. I remember standing midway back in the crowd so I could actually listen and watch them without getting an elbow in the eye by some skate punk. Their line-up was Mike Glass on guitar, Phil Newman on bass, Julie Lanfeld on vocals, and Dave Markey on drums. I don’t remember any songs specifically, but I remember the vocals sounding a bit like Siouxsie and the Banshees, and the drums being a bit tribal, unlike the typical machine gun/rapid fire sound of the L.A. Punk sound of the time. All in all, they were OK. Right as their set was winding down my Uncle came up to me and asked if I could score him some speed as he was just getting off of a 12-hour shift from the theater. Mind you I had never done anything stronger than beer at this point, but he was my idol back then, and I quickly remembered a punk named Rob from school (Birmingham High School) that had stolen a couple of bags of his Mother’s diet pills and was selling them as speed. Rob was in a band with another punk from our school named Mike K. I used to draw their band flyers (I can’t remember the name, other than it was something political). Anyways, Rick buys a few pills from Rob, and I don’t think he felt a thing other than a diminished appetite. I was relieved.
The third band on that night was D.O.A. I had only seen their named mentioned in Flip Side, I knew nothing about them, other than they were a Vancouver-based band that set the crowd on fire. The second they started the slam-pit grew and grew until it took up half of the hall. Guys were jumping non-stop off of the stage, another guy I went to school with named Al kept going back and forth to the pit and coming back worse for the wear each time. I remember not being overly thrilled with their music, just feeling it was somewhat typical sounding. But they went on to perform 25 songs and did 5 encores, so what do I know? Their set was longer than TSOL’s — who was the headliner.
Finally, the group I had been waiting for TSOL! The line-up was Jack Grisham (or was it Alex) on vocals, Ron Emory on guitar, Todd Barnes on drums and Mike Roche on Bass. Barnes, the drummer for TSOL, also the drummer for the Vandals, died on December 6, 1999 of a brain aneurysm at the age of 34. From the minute they struck their first chord the place was jumping. They played material from their first EP (Posh Boy), and their Dance with Me LP (Frontier) and one or two cuts from their Weather Statues EP (Alternative Tentacles) which had not been released yet. TSOL had so many people on-stage that at one point the instruments got unplugged and wires were pulled. So, everything stopped for a minute until everything could be fixed. The highlight of the set was when Jack yelled out “Code Blue!” It was like a bomb went off in the place everybody was singing along and jumping.
“Don’t even cry if I shoot in their hair
Lying on the table she smiles and she stares.”
Looking back now it’s weird to think shortly after my 16th birthday I would be so happy singing along to an ode to necrophilia. It was a different time.
It seemed like, back then anyway, that much was always made of TSOL’s “Goth” look and/or image. Just like the song Code Blue, I always felt it was somewhat tongue-in-cheek. Behind it all was an incredible wall of sound. I saw them several times in the early 80’s, and each time was different, and improved.
I remember the walk out of there (the Devonshire Downs hall), and how most of the campus police were out in the parking lot, I’m sure just to make sure I was safe. All in all the show was very peaceful. If there were any fights, I don’t remember them.
On the way home I remember talking to my Uncle about a girl that had been digging on at me Columbus Junior High named Linda D. I had been hearing her name every where I went. She was dating some guy who was big time in the Hollywood punk scene, the whole hanging out at Oki-Dogs and so on. I hadn’t seen her since 1979-80. So I kind of had forgotten about her. But she was into the scene deep now. Anyways, I bumped into her a year later, in 1983, on a RTD (not MTA) bus and she had just broken up with this guy and was down in the dumps, but it was weird seeing her again. The punk scene back then was a definite feeling of camaraderie. If I was walking down the street, anyone who wasn’t into punk would scream stuff from their cars and occasionally throw things but if you were into punk too, and you would walk across the street and we’d talk about who we listened to, who we knew, and what shows were coming up. For all the media coverage on the” punk violence” I found it to be a very peaceful time.
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