Sunday, May 11, 2008

Jon Field - Up Front DONE

This is part of an ongoing piece where we asked various people from bands over the years what they recall as the most memorable show they ever played (or attended, if they were never in a band), and why. What is posted here is only a sliver of what is to come, so be sure to check back. -DCXX

In the Summer of 1989, Up Front were at the peak of a roller coaster year, having released our first LP in January, then immediately suffering the loss of our singer Steve, then our drummer Jim one month before tour. We were in the midst of a July/August tour that for short stretches had us paired with Unit Pride, GB, Insted & Release, but we would lose our singer Roger and drummer Ari before the year was out. It was also the height of the Youth Crew/Revelation years. Following that summer, many bands broke up and the scene started to fragment with more fights at shows.

I remember at various points on the tour hearing different lineups for the August 4th show at Fenders Ballroom we were set to play. It eventually settled on us, Youth Of Today, Gorilla Biscuits, Insted, Supertouch, Judge, Bold & Chain Of Strength. Needless to say we were really fuckin' excited about this show. We had heard many stories from our SoCal friends about Fenders over the years, from all the great bands that had played there, to the 2000+ people crowds, to the legendary fights, stabbings and shootings from local gangs like the Lads, SBS, Suicidals, etc. We were told not to make eye contact with anyone and we should be OK. Scary stuff for a bunch of teenagers playing the West Coast for the first time, and I think it made us even more psyched to play.

The show was just fantastic all around. We were there with all our east coast friends, but playing on a bigger stage in front of four times as many people, and with all of our SoCal friends there too. The best part was the crowd. About 30 seconds into the first song it was like the scene in Another State of Mind with all the stagedives set to "Violence" from Youth Brigade. People were running behind me, falling on the floor like Angus Young and flailing around. It was fucking insanity. Roger took full advantage of the craziness, doing dozens of dives, and even hanging from the ceiling at once point. To me this is what a hardcore show should be. I'd rather have kids running into me and knocking the coord out of my guitar than standing around with their arms folded nodding their heads.

After our set we decided to have a little fun and run backwards against any circle pits we saw, which did not go over well with the Cali kids. I think Fenders' gang days were over by the Summer of '89, because I don't remember any violence at all that night. Oddly, the only conflict the whole night was with another band. COS borrowed our equipment, and during "Never Understand" Chris Bratton went crazy and knocked/kicked over Ari Katz's drums. Ari was pissed. You can see him in the video for a few songs afterwards, standing right next to Chris looking like he wants to kill him. Then Ryan did sort of a knee slide up to the front of the stage, and I watched my new guitar head go sailing through the air as his short guitar cord yanked it off the cabinet. It was like slow-fucking-motion, with me yelling "Noooooooooooooooo." Amazingly, the head survived without a scratch.

About 6 months after the tour, we got a video of this show. Jeff, Tim (our new drummer) and I gave names to some of the people that came on stage the most: Circle Jerks skanker, NYC skinhead dude, Infest stomp guy, etc. Even though the quality sucks, it's still one of my favorite HC videos almost 19 years later.
The fact that this ended up being YOT's last show was just the icing on the cake. I could name a dozen or more other great shows that stand out to me over the years, but this one always seems to come out on top.

And if anyone has a first generation copy of the video from the show, let me know!

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