Speakers Push Air

I Was There!!! Pt 1: Fugazi / Jesus Lizard / Shudder To Think / Leatherface – May 9th, 1992
March 4, 2008, 7:30 pm
Filed under: Uncategorized

(first in a planned series of entries about really classic shows)

Five quid. 5 hundred pence. For that line-up. Even all 16 years ago, that was something of a bargain.

Understandably, I’m hazy on the full details of the day: as a massive Leatherface fan, I was compelled to pay lipservice to being a Sunderland supporter (this is almost as close as I ever got to supporting a football team) and this was the day they got beaten in the FA cup. So when a bunch of us showed up early at Brixton Academy (all on the list, because the venue subscribed to the music publication I worked for and so my colleagues and I had ridiculous blagging powers) to catch ‘the Boat’, they were in particularly subdued mood. I remember they ran through their set pretty quickly, and without much enthusiasm. They finished with a quick burst of ‘howay! the lads’ as well.

I didn’t warm to Leatherface at first – there was something a bit drab about them, they came across as a poor blend of Stiff Little Fingers and Motorhead. But I grew to love them a lot, and even now rarely miss them when they play*. Mainman Frankie Stubbs is a helluva poet and a really compelling bloke, and they really do rock.

I don’t recall if they played this tune that night, but I’m going to post it anyway simply because it’s the best thing they ever did, and it’s from about the same period.

Leatherface – Springtime
(from the Roughneck Records / Fire album Mush)

* If you get hold of a fairly recent Leatherface live DVD, filmed at Camden Underworld, you can rewind / slow-mo / otherwise amuse yourself with the shot of me stagediving and landing on my stupid fat face

Shudder To Think were up next. A Dischord band that were easier to be impressed by than to love. I still have a pile of their records under the bed which never see daylight, but they were different (at least until Placebo came along and nicked at least some of their ideas), especially Craig Wedren’s quasi-operatic voice. I know we didn’t pay CLOSE attention (in fact, I think it was during their set that Ian McKaye from Fugazi caught me backstage drunkenly trying to convince a drunker friend that a bottle of mace was actually poppers. I wasn’t REALLY going to let her sniff it, man…)

Shudder To Think – Hit Liquor
(from the Sony album Pony Express Record)

Then came The Jesus Lizard. I was never as much of a fan as most of my mates were – David Yow was reassuringly mental and they made a great noise, but I found the albums a bit leaden. I always preferred Killdozer.

But they were something else at this gig, and the crowd went absolutely batshit as well. Again, my memory is dim – I remember boots and bodies flying and general mayhem and a brilliant rumble from the stage. By this point I was speeding my nuts off and biblically drunk and the whole venue seemed to be turning into a seething mass of drunken nutters.

The Jesus Lizard – Good Thing
(from the Touch & Go album Head)

By the time Fugazi came on, probably about 5 hours after we got there, standing was getting to be a problem. Luckily, I’ve seen them enough times to know what they’ll have been like if they were on top form, and I know they were on top form.

I came across Fugazi on SnubTV (see also Loop, Dinosaur Jr, Spacemen 3 and pretty much every other great noisy band from the late 80s) when, true to form, McKaye mumbled intensely from under his hoody and Guy Piciotto concentrated on looking cool. That’s one of the many things that gave Fugazi such an amazing energy live – the contrast between tight-as-a-nut McKaye, all hunched and tense and more hardcore than thou, and Guy flinging himself round the stage with utter abandon. Their albums always seemed hit and miss to me – often stunning, but they could be quite airless, bleak affairs too. But as a live band they had few equals. They seem to have split now, which is a fucking shame, but I saw them lots and they were always astonishing. It was actually a toss-up between this and another Fugazi gig, out at Stratford Rex – supported by Shellac! – for the first entry in this series. If you don’t know about Fugazi, check them out – they really were something very special.

Fugazi – Waiting Room
(from the Dischord album 13 Songs)

Afterwards, it all got out of hand. There were personal revelations, ridiculous plots, two friends spinning madly in the middle of Brixton highstreet joined together with interconnected belts. Craig and I decided we loved Fugazi so much we were going back to DC with them, so we wandered across the vast Academy stage and into the back of a big truck, where we hid behind a speaker cabinet expecting to stow ourselves away all the way to Washington. The PA guy who found us explained it was only going as far as Notting Hill anyway…

3 Comments so far
Leave a comment

i was 13!

Comment by londoninflames

As far as I can tell, this page is the only record of this amazing gig on the internet. The only one I can find right now, anyway. What an amazing day. I’m a Sunderland fan, and amazingly in the intervening period I’d managed to separate the two events completely. I’d forgotten they were actually on the same day. I watched the match in The Copenhagen on Camden Road – an absolute shithole!

Thanks for the memories, as they say.

Comment by Ant

Yeah, inspiring day, from start to finish, my jaw basically got further and further towards the floor as the gig progressed. Funniest big was all the tough guys near the front looking a bit unsure of themselves in the dazzling light – McKaye insisted all the house lights were on for their whole set…

Comment by James Parker

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