Wednesday, February 11, 2009

Sidco Drive Rocking The Armory

subtitled: I was really uptight and analyzed culture too much back then, but what do you expect...I was an anthropology major.

I wonder if the National Guard Armory on Sidco Drive hosts concerts anymore? I saw a trio of concerts there in the early 90's and I have fond memories of all of them. I also worked a skate jam there with the assistance of Toby. It was strange to me back then - this mixture of counter cultural rebellion and the military establishment. I wasn't the only one that felt this way. Paul Westerberg inserted the line "the only thing that scares me is the military" into "Nightclub Jitters" when I saw The Replacements on the Pleased To Meet Me tour.

I believe The Replacements were the first rock show I went to at the Armory. I've written about that show in some detail previously here at the Stew, so we'll skim over it this time. I went with a carload of Murfreesboro punks who really only wanted the Sorry, Ma Forgot To Take Out The Trash era Place Mats. We ran into some other punks who were inhaling some sort of drug. I passed. Dreams So Real opened and they were as dull as a Braves baseball game. I ran into Westerberg in the restroom. He looked like he had been drinking. The Replacements then played a stellar show after which I immediately wrote a letter to my pal DD Blank that I then never mailed.

Show numero dos on the list is thrash metal band Death Angel. They had an almost hit song with the uber cool "I'm Bored" which sums up most teenager's daily lament with chunky riffage rumbling to an almost calamitous full stop. Plus they had Death in their name which is always highly appreciated by acne erupting mosh pit denizens. I went to this show with The Gonz and his little brother Papoose. I don't recall who opened. It was probably Rednecks In Pain or F.U.C.T. or maybe even both. There was a sparse crowd, but they all seemed to be moshing in the approved counter clockwise direction just like the race from Alice In Wonderland. I joined in the fun swinging my arms like some punk rock gorilla working off all of the beer I undoubtedly consumed before arriving.

Death Angel were decent. Nothing was as catchy or immediate as "I'm Bored", but you couldn't be too picky since your thrash metal choices in Nash Vegas were very limited then. The music was loud, fast, and while it might not have ruled you could mosh to it. Papoose asked me to knock one of his classmates down so I did. Then I got knocked down. I'd reverse direction just for kicks. The mosh pit was violent, but caring. If you fell down somebody would always reach down and pick you up after you'd been stomped on a few times. One dude I didn't know got a black eye and I had to do a doubletake. He looked like he could have been a stand-in for Emilio Estevez in Repo Man.

The next day on campus I saw him again. So I went up to him and said, "I saw you at the Death Angel show. How's your eye?"

He replied, "It's okay."

Then I couldn't resist asking, "Did anybody ever tell you that you look like Emilio Estevez's character in Repo Man?"

He answered, "Yeah. They call me Repo."

His real name was Dave and he became part of the crew I hung out with at the K.U.C. Grill. He was perhaps the nicest of the menacing looking punks you might encounter at a punk or thrash show in Nashville or Murfreesboro. Dude's probably a doctor or lawyer now.

It was around that same time frame I saw the Red Hot Chili Peppers play the Armory. It was my second time to witness the spectacle that is Flea and company. I had seen them before at Vandy's Rites Of Spring when DeWayne "Blackbyrd" McKnight was playing with them (although I could be wrong). John Frusciante had definitely joined the group by the time they got to Nashville again and he was quickly becoming one of Papoose's idols. So Gonz and him were by my side at the gig and probably Toby too. The usual wreaking crew - and I mean wreaking not wrecking since we usually wreaked havoc wherever we went. Frusciante was the highlight for us, but the whole band was great. They did leave their tubesocks in their trousers that night. Either nobody opened for them or they were so good I forgot the opening band. Maybe someone can enlighten me if there was one or not.

Now that I am older, oh so much older, the connection of rock shows and the armory makes sense. I don't know why it seemed strange to me even back then. Youth make up the lower ranks of the military and their choice of music is likely whatever is in fashion at the time. Sure, Death Angel, The Replacements, and (at that point in time) the Chili Peppers weren't mainstream, but there's no reason to believe there weren't plenty of military into them. The dude nicknamed Repo was in college ROTC. Just look at the USO shows that go over to Iraq and Afghanistan now. Really when you get down to it there is no counter culture that's not willing to be exploited by the establishment so long as it makes money. It's really about commerce on both sides with rebellion being one of the biggest soft soaps out there. As long as you don't take it too seriously it's alot of fun.


Lynnster said...

Just catching up a little after being out of the loop for so long. I missed that 'Mats show due to a funeral back home and wanted to kill myself over it, I was so distraught. That was the second time I got screwed out of seeing them live, and there was a third, until finally I successfully made it to a show here in Memphis at the New Daisy on the very last tour in 1991, when they all looked so miserable on stage it was depressing.

Still, it was an awesome show and fabulous to get to see and hear Paul live on stage. I saw him again there a few years later on his solo tour.

My grandmother got remarried after my granddad died and moved to Nashville around 1990 from my little hometown, and lived just off Sidco Drive for the longest time, until he died and she moved back home. I could never go visit without thinking of the Armory and wondering if they still had any shows there, heh.

Hope you have been well, Wally, and sorry I have been so out of touch (and indeed I got that last bit of artwork you sent me - toooo funny LOL) :D

Anonymous said...

Hey, was just looking up RHCP @ the Guard Armory. The band that opened for them was Fetchin' Bones. I remember the chick lead singer bounding into the mosh pit after her set.