On January 17th, 1994, I awoke in Berkeley to the news that the school I’d graduated from just three weeks ago had been destroyed by an earthquake. Four and a half years of explaining to people where Northridge was and I miss the event that puts CSUN on the map!? SO unfair. I spent all day and night watching footage trying to figure out where the collapsed apartment they kept showing was located. In a matter of seconds, some national news program finally pulled back far enough for me to realize that it was my ex-girlfriend’s apartment….where she still lived. In the very next shot, I could see her standing behind someone getting interviewed. I was so relieved that I promptly went out and saw the Grays two weeks later.
After graduating with a useless degree in radio production (Whaddaya mean they don’t cut tape with razors? What’s a computer?!), I’d smartly moved to the Bay Area to help start a company handling fanclubs for bands with two girls who were in charge of the Jellyfish & Redd Kross Armies. That’s a story for another time but it’s from the girls that I probably heard that ex-Jellyfish guitarist Jason Falkner’s new band had changed their name from Me to the Grays. I’m not sure how else I would’ve found out in the pre-internet age.
I kept my eye peeled and saw an ad in one of the weeklies that a band called the Grays was playing the Paradise Lounge in San Francisco. I’m guessing that I went alone. I’m not sure I would’ve been able to convince either of my roommates to drive into the city and MAYBE see Jason Falkner’s new band, even if they were both Jellyfish fans. I had no internet to check so I might’ve even called the club to see if they knew anything. How 20th century! There were instruments set up for a band that hadn’t gone on yet and as I scanned the main room of the club, I spotted our boy who treated me like a long lost friend. “Whoa, I haven’t seen you since that Lloyd Cole show!”.
I don’t remember anything specific about the show but I’m sure it was great hearing all those songs live for the first time since the album still wasn’t out. They were not as gimmicky and colorful as Jellyfish, just four really talented musicians trading off lead vocals and doing fantastic harmonies. Jason and that guy with the long dark hair were both monsters on bass, alternating between tasteful McCartney hooks and playing four strings as a lead guitar.
It was a great introduction and Jason told me they’d be playing a noontime show at Cal Berkeley two days later, right near my work. Sounded easy enough…..