Thursday, December 4, 2008

Uniform Choice @ City Gardens, Summer '87

U.C. at City Gardens, Trenton NJ, Summer '87, Photo: Ken Salerno

I went to my first real hardcore show in June of 1987, of course it was at City Gardens, which was a mere 7 minute drive from my parents house. Problem was, at 13, my parents weren't all that thrilled with the idea of me leaving my nice little suburban neighborhood and venturing into the ghetto of Trenton. City Gardens was basically surrounded by low income housing projects and my parents knew the area well because my father grew up in those exact projects. Prostitution, drug dealing, murders, beatings, robberies, etc., it all went down on the regular, in that very area that City Gardens sat in the middle of. Aside from the neighborhood, my parents also weren't too keen on the idea of me hanging out in a dumpy punk rock nightclub. But like any kid discovering something new and quickly becoming wrapped up in it, I would do whatever it would take to get myself out to these shows. Unfortunately, making up stories, stretching the truth and straight up telling lies became my only option. Because of all of this drama, it was extremely hard for me to make it out to as many City Gardens shows that I would have like to have gone to.

One particular show at City Gardens that I distinctly remember being asked to go to was the 7 Seconds, Uniform Choice, Justice League, Token Entry, Hogans Heroes show in the summer of 1987. Marc Maxey from Justice League wrote about this very show for DCXX earlier this week. I remember Tony called me that afternoon of the show and asked if I wanted to go. We jokingly talked about how terrible Uniform Choice were probably going to be since it had become general knowledge that by 1987, Uniform Choice had basically gone rock. In my head I was thinking, "fuck yeah I wana go, 7 Seconds... Uniform Choice, why the hell wouldn't I?", to Tony I said, "Eahh, U.C. is probably going to suck, I'll see 7 Seconds again... I'll pass". Truth was I knew I had to do stuff with my family and there was no way I could get out of it. To make myself feel better and probably sound cooler to Tony, I acted like I wasn't interested. What a fuckin' idiot. I remember sitting over my cousin's house thinking about nothing but that show and tearing myself up for not figuring out a way to go.

Of course when I talked to Tony the day after the show, he told me it was great. I specifically recall him telling me that Justice League were awesome and how he had bought one of their '87 tour shirts. I also recall him telling me that Uniform Choice were actually pretty damn good and played all the classics off of "Screaming For Change". Pretty much all of 1988 and 1989 I would think to myself how much I regretted not doing whatever it took to get to that show. I mean, what a line up... what an incredible line up?

I asked Tony if he could jot down some memories of Uniform Choice's set that night. As always, Tony pulled through and provided us with this insightful and entertaining piece. Let me not forget to give thanks and praise to Mr. Ken Salerno for these sick U.C. shots and all of his photographic contributions in general. So again, thanks Tony and Ken... your contributions are greatly appreciated and we couldn't do this stuff without you guys.

Dubar gives a little mic action to the Trenton crowd, Photo: Ken Salerno

Looking at these Salerno snapped shots, my mind floods with many memories from this show. First off, I remember being stoked to be seeing both Justice League and Uniform Choice on the same bill. Since both bands were from the west coast of the country, they only existed in the ether regions of fanzines and vinyl for me. To think I was going to be anywhere near the intensity that burned off those pictures from the poster that came with the 'Screaming for Change' LP was too much for my little brain to handle. But the day of the show proved to be a bitter pill to swallow.

I remember sitting up in the DJ booth of City Gardens when some dude in all black with a full head of hair came up and asked my brother (the DJ) if he could borrow the flood lamp he used to cue up records. My brother told him he sorta needed the light to do his job and couldn't let him have it. The dude then told my brother that he was with 'the band' and needed the light to sell shirts. When he walked away, my brother and I gave each other a 'Who the hell was that guy?' look and that was that. Next thing I knew, this guy proceeded to unvail abuncha Uniform Choice shirts and tape them to the right side wall of the club. My brother and I watched in disbelief as he proceeded to pull out more and more. It was the Hardcore equivilent of watching abuncha clowns come out one by one from a tiny car. By the time he was done, the entire wall was full of Uniform Choice least fifteen different designs just as Mark from JL stated a few days ago on this very site. At the time, it seemed to be sorta overboard for me, but as I sit and type this, I wish I splurged all my money that night on every design in every style (SS, LS, hoodie, etc.) they had so I could be sitting pretty with an extra knot of cash in my pocket via eBay and maybe a very tight 'A Wish To Dream' shirt resting on my spine.

Dubar... hair not too long, not too short, but still screaming for change, Photo: Ken Salerno

After Justice League delivered a very stellar set, I was pumped to finally see the mighty UC in the flesh. I remember standing up front when I saw the same full haired/black sporting dude who was selling the UC merch come up and grab the mic. WTF??? Could this be the same bald headed dude from the record? I then looked around the stage and saw the rest of the band had long hair, berets, bandanas hanging from every nook and cranny, etc. It might sound very strange in this day and age where technology has provided you with knowing every time someone in Mind Eraser wiped their ass, but back then, communication ran very slowly in the Hardcore grapevine. For all I knew, UC were gonna come out with shaved heads to the bone sporting Zed's purchased Minor Threat shirts. So when they started to play 'Use Your Head' and Dubar began singing in a weird, nasaly voice, I went into the back of the club and sulked. Looking back, it obviously wasn't that big of a deal, but it really bummed me out at that time and place. I remember hearing that bootleg 7" someone did up of the City Gardens set in the early 90's and thinking it sounded great. Perhaps if they didn't sport the black, I would of enjoyed myself that night. Whatever.

Another memory I just had was somone up front for U.C. sporting a mesh baseball hat with 'Straight and Alert' on it in those 'mall style' fuzzy letters (i.e.-like the 'Intensity Crew' shirts) Anyone else remember that? -Tony Rettman

U.C. at City Gardens, Trenton NJ, Summer '87, Photo: Ken Salerno

U.C. at City Gardens, Trenton NJ, Summer '87, Photo: Ken Salerno


Anonymous said...

My first show - Dag Nasty, Uniform Choice, Nuclear Assault, Phantasm and Excel at Fender's Ballroom on 3/27/87 (flyer here - I fractured my foot while pitting to "No Thanks". Still my favorite show of all time.

Anonymous said...

Good points about their clothes that night. I saw them a handful of times that tour, and witnessed Cowboy boots, slacks, black t-shirts, chunky Dad watches and Cult t-shirts. May not sound like much now, but it was a big deal to teenage edge kids in 1987. Still, they sounded great at City Gardens.

Anonymous said...

I know Dubar does not do interviews...But it would be great to hear what he has to say about that whole era of U.C. I think "Staring into the Sun" is actually not that bad of a record. Reminds me of what the SoCal sound eventually transformed into with bands like Pennywise and Offspring.

Isaac Golub said...

I'm not bragging but I think I saw UC every time they played So Cal, looking back it seemed like they played a lot or was it that they were so great that every show carried my satisfaction to the next? I remember one show while they were setting up some weird lady came up on stage, she looked homeless... Dunno. Anyway she was talking out of her ass about nothing that made any sense, this went on awhile and finally UC was about to play so Dubar politely asked for the mic. Lady would not give it up or get off the stage. Dubar asked again politely, she said no so he yanked it from her hands someone covered her head with a shirt and UC tore into a song. Kids went berserk.... moshing, stage dives, sing alongs, all with this lady on stage. She eventually got pummeled or was escorted off, but it was great. Oh and Jake....? You didn't hurt your foot 'pitting', you hurt your foot from all the leather jackets you were holding in the back falling on your foot. ASAI!!!! Seen! NOTED!!!

Anonymous said...

Nez, there's a video floating around of that Fender's show I mentioned and at one point, you can clearly see me on stage during one of the songs. ASAI times 2, beeyotch.

Anonymous said...

So why doesn't Pat Dubar do interviews? What's he up to these days?

SFader said...

I hung out with Dubar recently. A bunch of us went and saw Ian Mackaye speak at UCI. Dubar and Ian had a cool little reunion after all the college tards were done bothering him. Pat's still intense. A sort of normal dude, but also the sort of intensity you get when you hang out with a Hell's Angel. He had some good stories about the YOT/Wishingwell days.

Anonymous said...

"College tards" - that gets the LOL for today. Nice one, Fader.

Anonymous said...

Jake were you in a band?

Anonymous said...

that was a great show, first summer i had a drivers license and was able to pack as many of my friends in my rusted out 72 nova and make the hour and a half drive from the shore to CG....i totally remember being shocked by the look of UC, was expecting them to look like the record...think thats same summer i saw dag nasty

Anonymous said...

Depends on who you ask. ;)

Another great article and photos, DC. Well done, sirs.

Ben Edge said...

"It might sound very strange in this day and age where technology has provided you with knowing every time someone in Mind Eraser wiped their ass"

Ha! I get Mind Eraser rectal updates texted to my iPhone. You gotta stay on top of this shit, b!