1996 Tibetan Freedom festival & Imperial Drag instore

Crossing the letter I in the ABC’s of Rock and using it as an excuse to post this old account from 1996 that includes an Imperial Drag instore at the Virgin Megastore in Hollywood.  I have photos from the Polo Grounds but they are buried deep somewhere.  We weren’t close enough to the stage to get anything that great.  Someday.  In the meantime, let me take you back to June 15 and 16, 1996…..

BAY AREA VACATION

kiss meets phantomSummer & I drove up to LA right after work last Thursday. We stopped by my old Hollywood hood and had Thai dinner with Jen Clark. We made really good time and finally got to CSUN amigo Dave Kaplan’s pad in Woodland Hills. Walked to 31 Flavors and learned that while our 4 travelling companions were getting a ride to Burbank Airport, Summer & I would have to drive and pay for parking. They didn’t offer to chip in until right before we drove home, so we grumbled about it the whole weekend. Watched that Kiss at the Amusement Park flick and fell asleep.

yogurt prkThe next morning, we (Summer, me, Dave, his girlfriend Michelle, brother Josh, and his friend Lila) went to Burbank airport. For some reason, hearing Weezer’s “Jamie” finally got me excited about going to the show. The trip went quick: read, slept, peanuts and we were in the Bay Area in less than an hour (I think). We took BART (Bay Area Rapid Transit but prompts many Homeresque, “BART!”‘s) to my old apt. in El Cerrito where my old roomies were nice enough to put up 6 people in just a couple of days notice. We threw our stuff down and BARTed back into Berkeley for Blondie’s Pizza, Yogurt Park, and Cafe Intermezzo salad.

imp dragNext was shopping for music in a big way. Between Amoeba and Rasputin’s outlet (3 million billion CD’s in no order, but everything’s a buck) I walked away with 18 CD’s, mostly promo singles. Highlights included Eric Matthews’ new album (Jason Falkner from Jellyfish plays on this Boo Radleys rip-off), Grapes of Wrath’s “These Days” album (after lending it to a friend who never gave it back), Imperial Drag’s “Boy Or A Girl” radio single (useless but has a cool picture), and an equally useless Gigolo Aunts single with an even cooler picture. I won’t list everything. (you’re welcome)

Summer & I left the others there and went home and napped big time. We woke up and hung out with Geoff from Tucker who now lives in my old room. We watched TV and talked all night. I get along better with him better than ever which is great. He & Denis were really great hosts, getting everyone maximum pillow and blanket potential. Everyone finally got home and we all crashed.

Not mine.  Thanks, internet!

Not mine. Thanks, internet!

The next morning, my friend Andy Warner (Jessica, his sister/my ex, was down in Santa Barbara with her new bo’, sob) came to pick Summer & I up to go into the city for the big show. The other 4 BARTed in. I woulda felt more guilty if they’d chipped in for airport parking, but……Anyways, we drove in and walked aways, spotting 2 guys wearing Getting Red shirts (my friend’s band in LA). Turns out they were their roadie types that I had met before. That was my one random sighting. Long walk and wait to get in….

Recently found this in a folder and put it up for grabs in our bix XXX contest.  Now it's vanished.  Thanks again, internet!

Recently found this in a folder and put it up for grabs in our bix XXX contest. Now it’s vanished. Thanks again, internet!

Free Tibet! Ok, so here we are at the Polo Grounds in Golden Gate Park in San Francisco, site of the Eddie Vedder/Neil Young/Pearl Jam show and the 100,000 person WOMAD show that was so packed that a few friends refused to go there ever again (despite being a huge Beasties, Foo, etc. fan) There are already a billion people here and it’s just starting (100,000 over 2 days was reported). If you don’t already know, this is a 2 day festival for Tibetan relief organized by the Beasites’ Adam Yauch (MCA). The setup was sorta strange, 2 big stages side by side. So, bands were able to set up and have little or no time in between bands (except, as usual, the Pumpkins). MTV covered it and had a huge scaffolding type thing with Kurt and Tabatha getting yelled at all day long.

Richie Havens started the show, a nice cool folky intro. We got right up front for Cibo Matto and they absolutely were best of show. Sean Lennon on bass & Russell Simins (from Jon Spencer Blues Explosion) and everyone ripped it up. I was way hyper, pogoing through most of the set (shin splints haunted me later). I can’t wait to see the MTV reports to see if you could see us. (turns out you couldn’t) We’d made plans to meet up with the other 4, but they got there late and decided to not go to our designated meeting place. We, of course, went back there and waited all the way through Pavement (“Killing Moon” by Echo and Schoolhouse Rock’s “No More Kings” were the hi-lites) and Biz Markie (random bits of songs but pretty damn funny). It took forever to get there so we were pretty pissed when we randomly saw them and they told us they didn’t bother. I gave them a key and said, “Later.” 

Tribe Called Quest were great doing all the hits: “Scenario”, “Check The Rhyme”, “Can I Kick It?” etc. and then Foo Fighters ripped shit up. They played about a half hour which was perfect for me. The other 2 times I’d seen them, it got a bit long for me. The Pumpkins got off to a great start, tearing up “Butterfly Wings”, “Zero” and “Tonight Tonight” before Billy decided that he was bored and no one cared about the cause. This resulted in a 20-25 minute stupid jam that included little bits of “Silverfuck” but was mostly just Billy smiling at the crowd, knowing that we had to endure this crap and he wouldn’t end it. In the end, he was onstage, feedback blaring, pulling the strings out of his guitar. The end. Yawn. Is this the band I’ve paid untold money on? Angst is so cute.

The Beasties were typically great despite a good half hour of crowd craziness. The whole place surged toward their stage the second the SP’s ended and it was really dangerous (like every other dumb festival pit I’ve been in) The crowd was just….lame. Any political speeches about the Tibetan cause were greeted with mulletheads shouting stupid things. As a political prisoner of 33 years described all of the torture he went through, a guy next to us said, “That guy’s had a tough life, get him a beer!” Gotta love us Generation Xers! If you don’t see the humor in a bunch of dumb rich white kids jumping up and down singing, “Despite all my rage I am still just a rat in a cage”, then you=dumyhead.

Anyways, as I was saying the Beasties did the usual alternating between punk, funk, and passing the mic. No new stuff, despite a new album in the works and no old school stuff either. Lots of typical great calls anyways “Shake Your Rump”, “Stand Together”, “Something’s Got To Give”, and “Get It Together” w/Q-Tip from Tribe joining in. Biz also came out and helped out on a couple of things (of course, the intro to “Time For Livin'”) and one of the Tibetan monks did a cool dijereedoo-type drone voice thing while MCA rapped over the drone and a beat. Pretty cool. Then the monks came out, did a blessing and the show was over.

marginalWalking out of the show, we encountered Keith, a cool guy who writes a great SF comic strip called “The K Chronicles” and has a rap band called Marginal Prophets. He was selling his CD’s and comix & remembered me and my old roomies inviting him to come to one of our parties. I bought comix and a CD and will probably see his band in SD this month. We waited in traffic forever and finally had dinner with Andy’s aunt & uncle. I don’t miss dating his sister, but, I do miss their family. Kinda nervewracking for Summer at first, until she realized how cool they were. We went to a cool cafe and watched stupidness disguised as art jazz and had a great dinner. Home & sleep.

Awww.  Forgot about the arm scissor dance.

Awww. Forgot about the two armed scissor dance.

We woke up late the next day and ended up missing Buddy Guy and Yoko Ono (which we wanted to), but also missed Sonic Youth & Beck (DAMN!) We just lost track of time and BART took a real long time, so we walked in and caught De La’s set. They wuz great, doing lots from 3 Feet High & Rising. We watched the Skatelites from a distance waiting for Andy, but we never found him (at least we tried!) We weaseled our way up toward the front for Bjork, who was basically the only reason we really wanted to come on the 2nd day and she didn’t disappoint. With 2 rave looking DJ’s (track suits) and her usual woman keyboardist/mad scientist she sounded pretty good (voice wasn’t 100%) on “Army Of Me”, “Human Behavior”, “Hyperballad”, “Violently Happy” plus a couple(?) more. The crowd was into it when the beats popped in and we had fun despite the slight crush and a few fights.

96rageWe met up with the other 4 (they had realized they left their tickets at home and had to go back while we were on the BART) before the Fugees and decided to leave. We grabbed a bite to eat, sat and listened to their boring covers and went up high to watch some of Rage Against the Machine. It was touching to see the crowd get so worked up. Their political anger swelled to the point that they simply had to jump around, mosh, etc. It looked pretty crazy. They sounded great but I still think they need a sense of humor. Debbie Gibson covers already! We bought a shirt (bragging rights) and walked out slowly hearing Rage get quieter and quieter until we got to the bus and got on before the Chili Pepper even went on. We bussed and BARTed and got back home in time to join Geoff and Jen Eubanks for Mel’s burgers and “The Cable Guy”. DO NOT SEE THIS MOVIE! It sucked minus the Ben Stiller Show cast members’ cameos. Went home, talked, slept.

Leif_Feel-The-Need-cd-300The next day, the other 4 went into Berkeley and I had lunch with ex-CSUN roomie Chris Valuckas (gave him a HUGE Leif Garrett poster of the album flat we used to have in our front window), my uncle Avram and my old LA BMG co-worker Christie. We had great Chinese food at Yummy Chinese Restaurant. We actually have a framed menu in our kitchen in San Diego to remind us of the Bay Area. It was great to see everybody, even though I couldn’t manage to hook up with Drew, Sam, Pat, Yvonne, Jenne Leo, Suzy and whoever else I can’t think of offhand. I miss the Bay Area more and more with each trip. Hopefully, we’ll be back up within a few years. Christie let us raid her trunk full of BMG promos and got all kinds of goodies. This brought my CD total to 24 for the trip. Crazy.

So, we headed back to Burbank on an uneventful flight. Peanuts….. The 4 redeemed themselves by chipping in for our parking and we headed to Melrose for some Humphrey Yogart, only to find that it had changed names (The Mix) and owners. It’s ok, it still tasted great. We made a few phone calls and headed to Virgin Megastore to catch Imperial Drag play acoustically. I talked to the drummer for a little bit about the band Silverjet. He was roomie with the lead singer (I think) and the label I worked for was trying to sign them when I worked there. They ended up with Virgin and the album is almost done. Keep your ears out for it!

I is for instore. The other time I saw them was at Virgin Megastore June 1996.  I had a setlist.  HAD.  Can't remember if I had any pictures but these were on ImperialDrag.com

I had a setlist. HAD. Can’t remember if I had any pictures but these lil’ guys were on ImperialDrag.com

Saw lots of familiar faces: Silverjet, old Jellyfish fans whose numbers I’d lost, Dan Buczaczer & Chloe (her last week here before going back to MTV NY), and some guy I met backstage at a Bush/Toadies show. Random. Anyways, I didn’t bother talking to Roger and Eric. There were a million things I wanted to ask them now that I’ve started the (Jellyfish) website, but, I was tired and it was a pretty thick scene of hangers on. They were great, playing just organ, electric guitar, bass, conga, and drum machine (huge rap bass for “Spyder”) The girls next to me were teens who had named their band after Manning (Roger’s Pinwheel) and had called up Loveline to tell him. They were freaking out when Eric remembered the call. Anyways, they were great.rog's pinwheel

Dave & Michelle showed up and were gonna go see a surprise Beck show at Tower Sunset which we were gonna try to do, but I was way too tired and we still had to drive back to SD. Not to mention I had to work at 8, Summer called this morning to find out she had to work at 7. I grabbed a setlist (which has since disappeared, maybe I gave it away) and we ate at Wolfgang Puck’s (yum) with Dan & Chloe before hitting the road. Chloe’s Weird Alish spoof on Rage’s “Bulls On Parade” was the highlight: “Chicken tortellini! With pasta made of shells!”

I spent a ton of money on this trip, but, it was totally worth it. Hell, I’m hugely rich, right? Who cares? Talk to y’all later……AG

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