Friday, July 3, 2015

33 years later, Ian MacKaye and others revisit classic gig that featured Dead Kennedys, Minor Threat, MDC, Zero Boys and the Detonators

Minor Threat rages at Alpine Village. (Glen E. Friedman photo, used with permission.
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By Andy

I've written about this gig before, but it keeps coming to back to me almost on a yearly basis. Someone will post a flyer or photo or ask me a question about it: Did the Dead Kennedys, Minor Threat, MDC, Zero Boys and Detonators really play on the same bill? Yes, and it was spectacular.

Last week, Dave Dictor of MDC posted a Glen E. Friedman photo of the epic gig that took place on July 3, 1982 at the Barn at Alpine Village in Torrance, Calif. I'd never seen this photo of Minor Threat tearing it up and it's posted above.

So, 33 years to the day, we revisit that gig again, this time with a few remembrances from Dictor, Mark Cutsinger of the Zero Boys, Bruce Hartnell of the Detonators and a lengthy interview with Ian MacKaye of Minor Threat. Settle in and imagine you were there.

*** Dictor: Well, it was an awesome show and I believe voted best show by Flipside readers at the year-end poll. And it wasn't a violent show either... all the knuckleheads weren't hip to the punk slam thing that made the Olympic and Fenders so crazy scary. There was an overwhelming feeling that we were all in this thing together. That feeling has long been gone.

It was a great classic gig -- the whole of 1982 was just so over the top that it truly was one gig out of dozens that were so incredible and really, thanks to Biafra.

*** Cutsinger: I do remember the oceans of people singing along with our songs! Which was astounding to me because we were so far away from Indianapolis! And I remember it was very much fun playing on a bigger stage than normal. I also remember the ambulance being called more than once. And people bloodied from jumping off the PA stacks. Dead Kennedys and Minor Threat were awesome.

*** Hartnell: It was a fantastic gig. I just saw Dave from MDC about a month ago and we were talking about how great that show was. Not too often that you get a bill like that.

We got a ton of gigs from that show, and it pretty much was our first real big gig. The bands were all fantastic, and I think it was the first time on the West Coast for Minor Threat, who were REALLY young. The Dead Kennedys were at the top of their game.

I think that was one of the last big shows in the South Bay for the longest time.

*** MacKaye: I saw the Adolescents the other night and I was talking to Steve Soto and I was just telling him about that show, because it was such a pretty action-packed gig, that one.

Our (tour) routing was so crazy: It was like Boston then Lansing and Detroit and then ... Reno! We did a couple shows in San Francisco. We did a show with the Dead Kennedys there, too, we opened for them at the On Broadway. Biafra had helped us out and they got us on those two really big shows, which were really important gigs for us.

Of course, I was a huge LA punk fan. We had studied punk bands really closely, and at that point, Henry had moved out there, so I knew all the SST people. Huge fans of the Minutemen and all that world, but also Circle Jerks and all those bands were also really super important to us. Cynthia Connolly, who was my girlfriend at the time, she had moved from LA, so I heard so much, and LA was such the Mecca, as far as we were concerned. (The Teen Idles played in LA in 1980, so it wasn't his first taste of the punk promised land.)

But getting there and playing this enormous room, to us it seemed enormous. I remember during the Dead Kennedys, or maybe it was even before the Dead Kennedys, I remember being on the balcony and there was two pits. There was one right in front of the stage and another one back about 20 feet. I just couldn't believe it! ...seeing how many punks there were in LA and how intense things were. It was a really super-physical... probably the most physical we had seen up to that point. And LA punks really rocked the serious fashion; I don't mean that in a derogatory way at all, literally they were striking.

I remember it being super hot, it was full-on, it was a good gig. I felt we brought it that night, so I was quite happy.

Mostly, I just remember my mind being so completely blown. I wasn't from LA, but the way I perceived the LA punk scene, the energy that was coming off of that, I felt a real connection to it.

One of my biggest memories at the end of the night was, people were all hanging out and I had gone out to the van to get something. The parking lot was really scary with these bouncer dudes, the giant Samoan bouncer guys were chasing people everywhere and telling people to 'Get the fuck out of here.' So I kind of ran back into the building, and a bunch of the  bouncer dudes were like all huddled together. I was walking across the floor, making my way back to where the dressing room area was and those guys were like, 'Yo, man, the shows over, get the fuck out of here' and I said, 'I'm in the band' and they said, 'What the fuck did you say to me?' or something like that. And the guys had 2-by-4s and they start running at me. The violence was at a whole 'nother level that's going on here. The bouncers were at war with kids. They were their own gang.

(Editor's note: In addition to dealing with the bouncers, MacKaye had to squash a beef -- again -- with TSOL that night. What started out as a joke he made in DC to Government Issue singer John Stabb, who began sporting goofy clothes on stage -- much like Jack Grisham from TSOL -- turned into a run-in with TSOL when they played in DC.

A while before TSOL rolled into DC in the summer of 1982, MacKaye joked to Stabb, "When TSOL gets here, I'm gonna beat their asses," and then Tesco Vee of the Meatmen and Touch and Go fanzine printed a cartoon that featured some angry guys with baseball bats saying they were waiting for TSOL in DC.

All a joke, MacKaye stressed.

When he arrived at the 9:30 club in DC for TSOL's second set of the night, Grisham and company cornered MacKaye, who explained that he was kidding with the comment to Stabb. All was forgiven and MacKaye got TSOL's phone numbers and said he'd keep in touch.

But when TSOL started trekking back to LA, word got out from people along the way about MacKaye's joke to Stabb -- which had already been dealt with -- and when Minor Threat arrived at Alpine Village, the TSOL guys were waiting and soon had Brian Baker up against a wall backstage. What was old news was thought to be fresh again, but that wasn't the case. MacKaye came to the rescue and set things straight -- again. All was well after that and MacKaye and TSOL's Ron Emory joked about the incident not too long ago.

MacKaye also met D. Boon and Mike Watt from the Minutemen that night, which was a highlight.)



*** MacKaye:  Nah. They're great songs, and of course, I really loved 'No Reason' and 'Small Man, Big Mouth,' and of course, I love those songs, but I'm always really clear about that it was time to stop. I feel like the fact that I just keep it clear, they're never sullied.

It was interesting, I saw the Adolescents the other night and they're great, I really enjoyed the show. But it's also, it's weird, it's hard to imagine me singing songs that I wrote when I was  19, 20 years old. It had nothing to do with them being immature or childish. I'm actually more proud of those songs now than I was probably then. But rather, they're of a context. I was singing to a specific context and that context doesn't exist anymore. It doesn't mean that there isn't other things to sing about that I shouldn't be singing, it just means that the thing that created those songs, they're no longer in place.

There are other things that other people can write about, there might be similar things, but I feel like, in a way, by letting them just exist as that, then that makes them eternal. I somewhat regularly meet 12, 13, 14 year old kids who are just totally into Minor Threat now, and I think, 'Yeah,' because they can apply because I was singing about being a kid. Being 53, I don't see singing about (being a kid), it's just hard for me to imagine it.

I wanna just be clear, I enjoyed the Adolescents, it was great, I don't feel like there's anything wrong (with them playing old songs along with new ones) ... I just think that for Minor Threat, we made a clear decision. I feel like it was the right one. That's that.

I also miss playing tackle football and I miss grinding in a pool. The same way I might miss singing those songs, but that's the way it goes. I miss sitting on my Mom's lap... that's the way it goes. That's life. So the thing to do is not try to find someone to be my Mom and sit in their lap, but rather whatever it was that I gleaned from that experience, find a corollary or a parallel or something that now can seed that same kind of energy in whatever form it would manifest today.

Dead Kennedys energize the crowd at Alpine Village.
(Glen E. Friedman photo, used with permission)


  1. another great story thanks for sharing

  2. This was the first punk rock show I ever attended, age 16, coming all the way from Tucson (without telling my family). It was... eye-opening.

  3. It was definitely a stunner, Ben. Cheers!