A Peter Cortner fronted Dag Nasty at City Gardens, Trenton NJ, Photo: Ken Salerno
In 1987, two of my favorite bands were Agent Orange and Dag Nasty. I can't even begin to tell you how many times I listened to Agent Orange "When You Least Expect it" and both of the Dag albums (Can I say and Wig Out) that year and the years that followed. For Agent Orange it was the skate connection, seeing and hearing them in the Skate Visions video made me an instant fan. With Dag Nasty, it was those powerful, polished, rocked out, hardcore songs that were sung with such sincerity and emotion. I heard "Can I Say" first, but "Wig Out at Denkos" not too long after and for whatever reason, the switch over from Smalley to Cortner on vocals was a total non-issue for me.
When I had heard that both Agent Orange and Dag Nasty were playing together at City Gardens, here in Trenton New Jersey, I felt like the veins in my head were going to explode and my brain was just going to melt. I was stoked to put it lightly. It was a Sunday in July of 1988, the Field Day tour. I rolled out to the show with my friend Tony Rettman and his brother Don who was the City Gardens DJ. Any shows that I went to with Don, we always got there early and I'd usually get into the club before the doors opened because I was with Tony and Don. I remember getting in and seeing the Dag Nasty merch being set up. They were selling the Field Day tour shirt and the legendary Dag Tags (Dag Nasty dog tags) and I wanted everything. Problem was, I didn't have more than three dollars in my pocket, so I was shit out of luck.
The mighty Dave Smalley with Dag Nasty at City Gardens, Trenton NJ, Photo: Ken Salerno
Now I know Dag Nasty didn't exactly have the greatest reputation by the time Field Day was released and I know a fair amount of fans were disappointed with Field Day, but none of that affected this show that night. The place was packed solid with skins, punks, metal heads, skaters, freaks, preppies, straight edge kids, this was a show for all kinds. Shoulder to shoulder, everyone was crammed into that place and me being the easily intimidated 14 year old straight edge skate punk that I was, I wasn't about to push through that fearsome looking crowd to make my way to the front of the stage. Instead I found a safe spot about four or five rows back and settled their for Dag's set.
As for Dag's set, it was friggin' flawless. They played a little bit of everything and played it all perfectly. Hearing Cortner belt out those Can I Say classics was amazing, as was hearing the Wig Out material. The crowd seemingly knew every word, with the exception of some of the Field Day material, which had been recently released a handful of months prior. I remember being in awe of just how tiny Doug Carrion was and being amazed at seeing Brain Baker from Minor Threat with long hair. I was in a state of euphoria standing there witnessing all of this and at that moment in time, there was absolutely no where else I would have rather been.
Peter Cortner and a flipping Underdog shirt wearing fan at City Gardens, Photo: Ken Salerno
Agent Orange closed out the night and as much as I loved them, they hardly compared to what Dag Nasty had just delivered. I definitely didn't have enough money for a Dag tour shirt, but I remember bugging Tony to let me borrow money to buy myself some Dag Tags. Tony wasn't budging though, he thought the Dag Tags were cheesy and kept telling me that I didn't want those things. Damn Tony… 21 years later I still want those Dag Tags!
On our way out of the club I remember stopping to talk to a couple of straight edge kids about the Revelation Records The Way It Is comp that had just been released. One of those dudes was Rob Mars from Crucial Youth, who was also doing a band called In Touch. Thinking back, little did I know at the time what was about to be unleashed on me with that The Way It Is comp that I would be picking up the following week. I guess you could say 1988 was an interesting year for music… maybe that's a bit of an understatement.
More Smalley, more Dag, more City Gardens, Photo: Ken Salerno
As for Dag Nasty, they're still one of my favorite bands and both Can I Say and Wig Out are two of my favorite records of all time. If I could have voted for both records I definitely would have, but because I had to pick one, I went with Can I Say. Looks like I wasn't the only one. -Tim DCXX
Doug Carrion with all his Molly Ringwald fandom, Photo: Ken Salerno
Dag Nasty - Can I Say - 314
Dag Nasty - Wig Out at Denko's - 47
Dag Nasty - Field Day - 32
Dag Nasty - Four on the Floor - 13
Dag Nasty - Minority of One - 8
Brian Baker and Doug Carrion with Dag Nasty at City Gardens, Photo: Ken Salerno
Tuesday, September 29, 2009
Posted by DOUBLE CROSS at 11:27 PM