Jules with Side By Side at the CBGB's Shutdown show, Photo: Jennifer Buck Knies
In case you missed parts 1 and 2:
Jules - Side By Side / Alone In A Crowd Part I
Jules - Side By Side / Alone In A Crowd Part II
More records from his collection up for auction very soon right here on DCXX, and MUCH more of this interview to come as well. Alex!!! -Gordo DCXX
Sammy with Side By Side at CBGB, NYC, Photo: Bri Hurley
Then there was the “Shut Down” show...I think a lot has been said about this event, probably too much. Here's some more.
First of all, nobody that I knew went into the show with some defiant mission against CBGB’s, least of all me. I never really liked the owners of CB’s, but that was more of a personal thing. This was a big show – because by October 1987, both GB and Side By Side had pretty much come into their own - not quite headliners, but getting close. So the bill with YOT headlining was pretty impressive – and I was psyched.
The Pagan Babies, from Philly, opened. They start their set, and these two huge (and I am not exaggerating, these were big dudes) latino skinheads set up right in front of the band, on the edge of the stage. And though they looked like skinheads, they were not from the scene. I certainly had never seen them before, and back then I pretty much knew everybody. Even crouched, these guys completely obscured the performers. The band couldn’t move around or anything because the stage was so small. Worse, anytime a kid in the pit would try to plant a foot for a stage dive, these guys would push him down. Now, New York is a hard venue if you are from out of town, so I felt pretty bad for the Pagan Babies. Not only did they have to win the crowd over, but the few kids that wanted to go off were totally gimped by these “bouncers.” In short, I think their set was disappointing, all things considered.
Alex with Side By Side at The Anthrax, Norwalk CT, Photo: Chris Daily
We were watching this from behind the band, and grumbling about it. I turned to somebody next to me and asked “are they going to do this during our sets too?” Somewhere along the line, a plan was hatched to bum rush these guys. Not to take them out, but to overwhelm them and stage dive past them. I don’t remember who played next, Side By Side or GB, but on the first note, the first drumbeat, a bunch of us ran up and dove into the crowd, Jason Krakdown and Gus Straight Edge taking point. The bouncers didn’t know what hit them. The whole time they were focused on the kids in the pit, they weren’t expecting the guys behind them to do anything. Well, seeing this, the kids in the pit started getting more aggressive. It kind of looked like whack-a-mole: kids would constantly pop up to get on stage and the bouncers would push their heads down. Meanwhile, Jason and Gus continued their rampage. They would actually plant their feet on the bouncer’s backs, step up and flip over their heads into the crowd. And then they’d come back and do it again. The bouncers were completely frustrated.
Jason and Gus were no joke. One of them, and I think it was Jason (if I am wrong, Gus forgive me, it’s been 24 years), was flipping over the bouncer on stage right, and the bouncer stood up and grabbed Jason’s legs. So, the bouncer was holding him upside down at the edge of the stage, and he was just sort of hanging there. Jason wraps his arms around the bouncer’s legs and they start wrestling, Jason upside down the whole time. The bouncer eventually lost his footing and fell sideways. If you’ve never been to CB’s, there was a narrow walkway past that side of the stage (it was how you got to the bathroom – but I don’t know anybody who used THAT bathroom). At the matinees, that side stage area was where the girls hung out, because they could get close enough to see the bands without getting stomped on. So here comes this giant skinhead, still wrestling Jason, crashing down on top of all these girls – who were not about to catch these guys. They scream and get out of the way, so there’s really nothing breaking the fall. Crash! I remember thinking “Jason must be dead.”
With the bouncer gone, the kids started pouring onto that side of the stage – but they didn’t dive back into the pit, they started piling on top of the bouncer and Jason. The bodies kept piling up and piling up – now I was sure Jason was dead. Girls are screaming while getting shoved out of the way by this massive pile on. Eventually, kids started extracting themselves one by one. Finally, Jason pops up on stage like nothing happened, and stage dives into the crowd. The bouncer was the last to get up – he had been on the bottom the whole time! He was totally dazed. After this the kids were relentless, and by the end of the third set, the bouncers just gave up; when YOT played, it was like they weren’t even there.
Jules and the CBGB's Shutdown show crowd, Photo: Jennifer Buck Knies
Now, what I did not know was that CBGB’s had recently been sued because some kid at another show had broken something stage diving. I broke my nose at a Pyramid show – in fact Djinji elbowed me, unintentionally. It remains broken to this day. Some kid at the Anthrax broke his leg at a Side By Side show. It happens. To my knowledge, this was the only lawsuit (or threatened lawsuit) against a venue for a kid getting hurt moshing. Anyway, knowing what I know now about premises liability and duties owed to business invitees – I can certainly see Hilly’s perspective. I don’t know that his solution – putting giant dudes that nobody knew in front of the bands on stage – was the best idea, but he was just acting to protect his interests.
But as a 16 year-old (I think I was still a sophomore in high school) what I perceived was that our stage had been hijacked. In my mind at the time, when we were on stage it was ours...it was the kids' stage. And hardcore without the freedom to go off, and interact with the crowd was like a cold cup of coffee – not worth a damn. So, during Side By Side’s set I said some pretty thankless things about CB’s. That really got under Hilly’s skin.
Anyway, after the show – he pulled all the bands aside, singling me out particularly, and told us it was “our fault” that he was going to stop the Sunday matinees. Let’s face it, I may have ranted (which I had the habit of doing on stage), but there was unified defiance that day. The "rebellion" started before I said anything. And while it was easy to single out something I might have said, Hilly was going to stop the matinees anyway – if those bouncers couldn’t stop us, nobody could, and he knew it.
And nobody was particularly apologetic while Hilly was scolding us. In fact, at that moment there was a sense of accomplishment, if anything – we had taken back our stage, and it was one of the best shows ever. Hell, “Shut Down!” became like a battle cry for a while. Project X named a song after it. Now, hindsight being 20/20, it is hard to keep a live music scene going without a venue. And once that realization started to set in, a lot of people, other bands especially, got pretty pissed off. I remember Underdog had gotten back together and I think those guys had an upcoming show that was cancelled. I think a lot of people may have blamed YOT, I think many may have blamed me. It was bigger than me though.
Jules with Side By Side at CBGB, NYC, Photo: Bri Hurley
Later, some of the bands went to Hilly to work things out, the matinees started up again – without stagediving. My understanding is the scene was more “self policing,” the bands actually told kids not to stage dive. This is how Hilly should’ve handled it in the first place. If Hilly had come to Ray, Civ and I and explained the situation – we probably would’ve worked with him. And eventually the whole thing blew over, and things pretty much went back to normal. I remember going back to CB’s sometime later and seeing Judge and stagediving to “Hear Me.” So all the concern that the bands would have nowhere to play was a little alarmist.
But if the only venues we ended up playing were in VFW halls in Lititz, Pennsylvania, then so be it. I think this is what may have been very different about me; it was more important to have one great show at the risk of getting banned, than to have a mediocre show in order to be able to play again. Maybe it depends on your definition of a “great show.” For me, it wasn’t a great show if it wasn’t total pandemonium, both onstage and off. If it was going to be limited, it wasn’t worth it. Realistically, though, that type of attitude is too inflexible. It's not sustainable.
Here’s the thing: I did not care if my band was a success, or if we ever played CB’s again. Side By Side was not my vocational dream, it was not my business plan. All I cared about was the moment. You're Only Young Once was Eric's song, but in his earlier drafts, the lyrical content carried a message a lot more like Young 'Til I Die (7 Seconds - later covered by War Zone), than what it ended up being. I tweaked the message a bit. For instance, in one line, "eternally kids, sticking together" I added a question mark, which completely changed the whole thing. For me hardcore was about seizing the now. Minor Threat warned that we were all heading inevitably to that "adult crash." Side By Side said "before you get there live by your own rules." It was never about making it last.
The irony, however, is not lost on me that I am doing this interview a quarter of a century later...
TO BE CONTINUED
Jules, Lars and Eric with Side By Side at The Anthrax, Norwalk CT, Photo: Chris Daily
Monday, April 11, 2011
Posted by DOUBLE CROSS at 10:15 PM