Saturday, July 11, 2015

Everything falls into place: Dad drives soccer punk to Husker Du gig

Flyer from the There's Something Hard in There archive.

By Andy

Husker Dad, we'll call it.

So, when I was a junior in high school, I played varsity soccer for Bishop Montgomery and we had a match the afternoon of Jan. 11, 1983 against a Camino Real League opponent at some field in the Los Angeles area (possibly Salesian High in Boyle Heights).

Since we weren't playing in the tough Angeles League anymore, we won our games fairly easily against the weaker CRL teams. On this day, we were surely riding high after shellacking our hosts, even though I preferred the more competitive matches, winning 2-1 instead of 10-0, or something like that.

Following the match, as we were lounging on the bleachers watching the junior varsity game before loading into the bus for the ride back to our school's location in Torrance, there was plenty of joking and laughter in the air.

However, I was standing behind the bleachers hurriedly switching into my jeans and Battalion of Saints T-shirt for my trip to the rough-and-tumble environs of Huntington Park for a gig that night. You see, I somehow talked my Dad -- who was a fixture at all my matches -- into driving me to Mendiola's Ballroom -- on a week night, no less, with homework on the back burner this time out -- to meet up with my Husker Du pals, who were playing with the UK Subs, White Flag and Red Scare that evening.

My teammates already thought I was a bit off-kilter with my musical taste -- I was playing GBH on my headphones on the bus ride while others were tuned into stuff not in my domain -- and I'm sure they were wondering where the hell I was heading in my Dad's yellow Gremlin. Dad remembers my coach being bummed that he ushered me to the gig, but that's punk rock for ya... bucking the system, dribbling your own ball away from the Man.

I must admit, it was a bit odd to grab a ride to the gig from my Dad when I was used to piling into a crowded car with a bunch of my punk friends and darting off to some tattered ballroom or club in Hollywood or Sunland. It was cool, though, to get Dad involved and I'm forever grateful for his trust in me and the Huskers to keep an eye on me that night and drive me back home to Redondo Beach, home of SST Records at the time, where they were staying while in town to record "Metal Circus" at Total Access.

As we rolled up to the gig site -- where there would be a major riot between punks and cops at an Exploited gig a few weeks later -- we spotted the Husker van out front and we got out of our car and found the guys lurking around waiting to load in their gear.

I introduced my Dad to the Huskers and everything seemed cool (my Mom had already met Bob once, so I'm sure she gave my Dad the go-ahead with this experience). Hands were shaken, a few words exchanged and Dad was off back to Redondo.

"That's some parenting there," Grant joked, giving Dad props for allowing me to attend this gig with these older guys in an unknown part of SoCal, which I'd never been to before and never have again.

So, it was a great night. The Huskers soundchecked about 5-6 songs as if they were playing the gig, just a furious mini-set that featured a killer version of "It's Not Funny Anymore." (That song was already familiar to me even though it wasn't released yet.) One guy hanging around early asked Bob if they were doing two sets that night; nope, just one, but we certainly got a treat beforehand.

The actual gig was a blast, with all bands delivering top-notch sets and I was especially stoked to see the UK Subs for the first time. All energy, no BS … just the way it's supposed to be.

Thanks for the ride, Dad!

(Although I enjoyed watching the Subs' guitarist Nicky Garratt leap all over the place during the gig, he did rag on the Huskers in a Flipside interview a few months later. While being interviewed at Mendiola's, he pointed at the Huskers playing and said, "I don't like the way it's happening in England and in the states, thousands of bands playing like this. They all sound the same ... I don't like it and I don't see the point in it."

Well, I think he missed out in appreciating the Huskers: a solid, insightful band that inspired and influenced many groups along the way.)

BMHS soccer squad; me bottom row, far right. (Excalibur yearbook photo).
Former Mendiola's Ballroom site today. Courtesy of the Husker Du Database and Google Maps.

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