Monday, November 29, 2010

Jon Field memories

The Gilman St. San Francisco trip, left to right: Jay Weller, Chris Daily and Jon Field, Photo courtesy of: Jon

Jon Field has been a fixture of the east coast hardcore scene for the past 25 years and came up in the mid 80s while seeing shows all over the northeast and playing guitar in Up Front. Tim and I had been meaning to get him on DCXX for a while, and after a night in his hometown of Richmond while shooting the shit over dinner, it really hit us that Jon not only saw tons of awesome stuff and still loves hardcore, but he actually has a great memory for it too. It's always a bummer when you talk to someone who saw awesome bands play over the years, but they have zero recollection of anything substantial.

So, enjoy Jon's memories and the visuals to go along with them. Much more soon, thanks Jon. -Gordo DCXX


What was the best show you ever saw at CB's? Any stand out stories that are still vivid 25 years later?

My main memories of CB's are related to the club itself: The broken floorboards in the pit with 100 year old nails sticking up; carrying my birth certificate so I could prove to Hilly's wife I was 16; the bathroom with one toilet that you had to step up to, with no stall, so that people coming down the stairs could see you taking a shit; the AMAZING sound system, that to this day I can pick out in any live recording from the club; hanging out on the street while the homeless men upstairs heckled us and threw things at us; that feeling I got every time I went of good music, Sunday afternoons, excitement, camaraderie, danger and friends, that still comes back to me whenever I see a video; how the walls literally oozed sweat, cigarette smoke, graffiti and old flyers.

As for shows, a lot are a blur, but a good amount really stand out to me. I'll go with the first three that pop into my head...

The first was when I saw Straight Ahead at the Band Together show in July of '86. My friend Mike and I got in, Steve and Jeff Up Front did not. Normally we would have just left and hung out with them, but it was Straight Ahead! I was blown away. I still remember standing off to the right side of the stage with my walkman so I could record the show. My friends and I wore that tape out. At one point Craig says that people say they (Straight Ahead) are young and just going through a phase, but that they mean everything they're saying, and the girl next to me says "Awww, he's so CUTE." That always makes me laugh when I listen to that recording. Then a fight broke out at the end of their set outside and the whole place cleared out. This was also the show where Rest in Pieces played and Armand wore a Skrewdriver shirt and short 70s gyn shorts. Warzone, Ludichrist and Ed Gein's Car were a few other bands that played that day. With all those great bands, I was amazed that there only were about 75 people in the club at any given time.

Another one that stand out is GI in 1986. They played for close to 3 hours, to about 25 people. My friends and I loved it, the rest of the crowd looked like they were about to fall asleep. They played almost every song they had.


In February of '87 Dag Nasty, Verbal Assault, Bold and Death Before Dishonor played. I remember the rumor being that Dag Nasty had changed and weren't going to play any fast songs. They opened up with a slightly different/slower version of Under Your Infuence. But when they went straight from that into Can I Say the place erupted. At the end of their set, Peter starts doing the chorus and talking part from What Now. The crowd starts doing it with him and he stops them, telling them Dave Smalley's story is totally different. He ends it with "We both walked right by and you didn't say a word. But I looked you right in the eye and said...12XU!" As they broke into the song the place erupted again. This was back before they recorded this song, and before they played it on a fairly regular basis. I have the soundboard of this show and put it in circulation on the web about 10 years ago. The 12XU part still gives me chills, like it did that Sunday afternoon in 1987.

All of the bands that day were amazing. The flyer from that show is still one of my all-time favorites, and I managed to grab the giant Bold set list that was written on the back of two duct-taped-together flyers from that show, two more reasons this show stands out to me. Then, following the CBs matinee, we went to The Ritz to see Ziggy Marley & The Melody Makers...long day.

Bold setlist is from the back of the Dag Nasty/Bold/DBD/Verbal Assault flyer

Tell us about some of the other venues of the NYHC scene in the mid and late 80s - Pyramid, Ritz, L'amour, Irving Plaza, etc. What are memorable bands you remember playing, and what can you recall about these non-CB's NYC venues?

Unfortunately, I never made it to the Pyramid Club. Shows there were always Saturday matinees, and I had to work at Sears all day every Saturday. The Pyramid only did about 6 months of shows in the late 80s, and it sounds ridiculous now, but bands like Youth Of Today, Side By Side, GB, etc. played all the time. I figured no big deal, I'd see them at The Anthrax or CB's. After the fact I wished I had gone to at least a few shows there.

The Ritz was great because it really helped introduce my friends and I to hardcore. We started going to shows at the 11th Street location as metalheads in '85, and ended as SE kids in '88 or so when it moved to the old Studio 54. I saw some great shows at the original Ritz (now Webster Hall), and a handful at the new location in the late 80s and early 90s. I think the best thing about the Rock Hotel at The Ritz shows from '85 to '87 was the variety. Where else could you see the Cro Mags open for SOD or Dark Angel, the Bad Brains open for Slayer, MDC open for Celtic Frost or Youth Of Today open for Discharge?

The first Ritz was an old art deco concert hall, and typical of the mid 80s, there was an odd mixture of punks, metalheads, skinheads, and a lot of mohawks and leather jackets. They rarely had bouncers for the Rock Hotel shows, and if they did it was people like Raybeez, so stagediving off the 5 foot tall stage was prevalent. I remember one guy breaking his neck at a Cro Mags show, and frequently seeing pools of blood on the floor in the bathroom. The best was that they still had an old guy in the men's bathroom selling aftershave/cologne and providing hot towels at the first shows I went to there. Like it was the 1950s and we were at a Frank Sinatra concert or something.


As far as bands that stand out? In addition to the ones I mentioned above, Descendents, Raven, Flipper, Slayer, Motorhead, Firehose, Wendy O Williams, SNFU, DRI, Circle Jerks, Project X, Dag Nasty, Raw Deal, GBH and many more. I remember Warzone coming out with a fog machine, and they used so much dry ice that you couldn't see your hand in front of your face in the pit. I first heard Rise And Fall from Leeway at The Ritz. The bass beginning fooled me and when the guitars kick in quick in the beginning I literally jumped off my feet it surprised me so much. Doggy Style came out in grass skirts and dayglo green body paint and got most of the dance floor (hundreds of people) to do the doggy style hop.

For the earliest shows I was still in metalhead mode, and would stay crushed up against the stage for the whole show. My chest/ribs would hurt for days afterwards. I remember being incredibly psyched to see the Descendents for the first time in 1986. They always put a screen down in between bands (which could last a LONG time) and showed weird videos a la Night Flight on USA. They also would show videos of bands from earlier in the night, and I've always wondered what happened to all that great footage. The promoter Chris Williamson may have had a sketchy reputation, but he put on some of the best shows I've ever seen.

Irving Plaza, Lismar Lounge and L'amour were other places in NYC that I saw shows at back then. A very large PA speaker fell on some guy at a Meatmen/Die Kreuzen show at Irving Plaza. This was War of the Superbikes era Meatmen, they put on a great show.


WNYU pic is Roger Up Front, Ian Keeler (RIP) and Grant Unit Pride, with various Unit Pride and Up Front guys in the background. I'm on the far right behind Grant. This was taken outside of the WNYU building the night Unit Pride and Up Front played on Crucial Chaos, Photo courtesy of: Jon Field

WNYU's Crucial Chaos, while not a traditional "venue," was someplace a lot of hardcore bands played in the late 80s/early90s, and I was lucky enough to play there three times with Up Front. The main DJ area was pretty typical looking for a college radio station, and a large window separated that from the small room where the bands played. While it was a little cramped in the room, the main issue was how hard it was to hear the songs over the wall of noise. Still, it was incredibly exciting to play on the radio. I remember leaving a cassette tape in my bedroom stereo and teaching my Mom how to start the recording when we played.

Even though L'amour in Brooklyn wasn't a typical NYHC venue, my friends and I were introduced to hardcore there through bands like Suicidal Tendencies, Crumbsuckers, DRI and Corrosion of Conformity in 1985, along with great metal bands like Slayer, SOD, Nuclear Assault, Anthrax, Overkill and more. And even though they weren't in NYC, we went to/played some good shows at places like The Pipeline in Newark, NJ, and the Rite Track Inn on Long Island and Streets in New Rochelle, NY.


What is a memorable Up Front show from The Anthrax? Why did The Anthrax always prove to be great for Up Front?

As individuals we went to hundreds of shows there, so most importantly we had tons of friends at The Anthrax. I'm sure a lot of kids in hardcore are lucky to have a hometown club to go to or play at, but of all the clubs I've gone to, The Anthrax was the most unique in that respect (except maybe for Gilman St). There's a few reasons for that: Brian and Shaun being so supportive of the hardcore scene, especially the local scene, and the fact that for the most part, it was an all punk and hardcore club. So shows for us were like a big party. Lots of pile-ups and sing alongs, lots of inside jokes, just a great time.

As for most memorable.....that's a tough one. I can narrow it down to a few. Our show with Youth Of Today and Warzone in the Fall of '87 was our first really big show. We had only been a band for less than a year, and it was packed when we played. Plus, I brought a few of my non-hardcore friends, and I'll never forget their reactions. I'm still good friends with one of them, and to this day we joke about it.

Steve with Up Front at The Anthrax, first show with Youth Of Today, Photo courtesy of: Jon Field

A fight broke out during our set, and the two people fighting fell to the ground at the feet of my friends. I could see the fear on their faces from on stage, I'll never forget it. You have to remember, this was back in the days of Duran Duran and Madonna. So anything with a distorted guitar that wasn't Bon Jovi or Def Leppard was completely out there. One of my friends talked in amazement for months that people had their noses pierced, he couldn't believe it.

The Aaron Straw benefit is another that sticks out. We were at the end of a tour with Unit Pride, and about to go out again for another month long tour. Sadly, I think the violence at that show may have been the beginning of the end for The Anthrax, but even with that, it was an amazing show. Great bands, great cause, and I got to see Wide Awake for the first time in a while. I remember being inside while all the bands were loading in, and Jeff Up Front and I wondered if anyone was in the parking lot. As we rounded the corner and approached the front doors we couldn't believe the line we saw. I never saw that many people waiting to get into a show at The Anthrax before or after that day.

Another one would be when we played with Project X, Judge and Pressure Release in 1988. I broke a string and ended up with Porcell's Les Paul. The crowd was insane, and I was scared to death someone was going to run into me and damage his guitar. Then we played Deliverance after only 1 or 2 practices and butchered it. Towards the end of our set Jeff bashed Steve in the head with his bass guitar tuning pegs, and friends rushed Steve out the back door to the hospital to get stitches without telling us. After 5 minutes of confusion while we looked for Steve, Chris Daily attempted to sing Foolhearted, then we ended the set. So not the best show, but definitely memorable.


Crowd outside The Anthrax for the Aaron Straw benefit, Photo courtesy of: Jon Field


Jeff Terranova said...

Big thanks to Duane at Some Records for that Dag Nasty soundboard!

Fly on the Wall said...

Peter of Unit Pride is the guy holding his fingers up behind the guy's head in the WYNU photo.

ERIC SXE said...

Great post! I love reading this stuff and UpFront was always great!

Jeff was/is one of the best bass players ever.

Those Crucial Chaos shows are awesome. UpFront, Unit Pride, Judge and Turning Point are my faves in my collection.

Brett Hardware said...

I'd love to see a high res version of that Aaron Straw crowd shot so I can try to find my crew in there.

Mike Garceau said...

What's up, creases.

Emil said...

I wanted to check out that Dag live set and found a link here to it (?) although it says its from 12/6/86, there is that 12XU monologue in there exactly as in the story.

ShayKM said...

"I think the best thing about the Rock Hotel at The Ritz shows from '85 to '87 was the variety."

This point is something that needs to be made again and again about '80s HC and punk shows. It holds true across the US and in Europe as well for those years. So many people forget that going to a show was about seeing bands that you had never heard of or knew very little about. This is an aspect of the current HC scene that needs some correction.

Great article...

Jon said...

Creases are the tits.

That's the same Dag Nasty set. When I first put that on Soulseek 5 or 6 years ago, I had the wrong date on it.

XXX said...

Field is Lilker...Lilker is Field.

Laces out Field!

Anonymous said...

I have that Band Together at CBGB show on videotape. it was commercially available from some guy via MRR back in the late 80's. I used to watch the Warzone and straight Ahead parts all the time. Ed Geins car was good too. Rest in Pieces with the short shorts and Skrewdiver shirt was just weird and their music was not that great. Far Back Deep were not something I was into when I got it, I was like 14. Bedlam were a boring thrash band. Ludichrist, I wasn't very into metal at the time so i didn't watch.

The real standout is Warzone. They cover 7 sconds "Young Till I die" twice! begining and ending the set. It's a great great set.