The BEST Show I NEVER Saw

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There are two bands that I am not a fan of, but it seems that many of my friends are. 

One is Pavement. I’ve often heard over the last few years, “You like Pavement, don’t you?” I usually reply, “I’ve never heard them,” and my friends are surprised at my answer. What’s the surprise? I’ve never listened to Pavement.  I don’t even know what kind of music they play. I don’t listen to much NEW music. I suppose I can go on YOUTUBE and watch them, but that’s not my way. I like music to find me. I unknowingly went to see a Nina Simone concert at the Hollywood Bowl in 1992, and I have been a devout fan of her bluesy soliloquies ever since. 

There are two bands that I am not a fan of, but it seems that many of my friends are. 

One is Pavement. I’ve often heard over the last few years, “You like Pavement, don’t you?” I usually reply, “I’ve never heard them,” and my friends are surprised at my answer. What’s the surprise? I’ve never listened to Pavement.  I don’t even know what kind of music they play. I don’t listen to much NEW music. I suppose I can go on YOUTUBE and watch them, but that’s not my way. I like music to find me. I unknowingly went to see a Nina Simone concert at the Hollywood Bowl in 1992, and I have been a devout fan of her bluesy soliloquies ever since. 

Good music always seems to find me.

The second band, Sonic Youth, on the other hand, I’ve known of since the late 80’s. I remember back in 1988 in Berkeley, my best mate, Chepe Escondido, owned the CICCONE YOUTH album, as well as SY’s entire discography on vinyl or disc. On the CICCONE YOUTH album, they covered Addicted to Love, and to this day, that is the only song by them I know!  During the late 80’s, Chepe played drums in a band called BEEF CHURCH headed by Stonio Lopez, who was a HUGE fan of Sonic Youth and all that post punk electronic Pish posh Sunday trousers that characterized the 80’s sound. 

Last Thursday night, September 30th, Pavement headlined the Hollywood Bowl, with Sonic Youth as the second band, following the opening band, NO AGE, whom I’d never even heard of. None of these three bands mean anything to me, except by association.



When Wednesday Sept. 29th rolled around, and I read of the show in the LA Times Calendar section, I thought to myself, I don’t know a single song by Pavement. That day, I had band practice and Flibby said, “I told you about that concert last month!”  I pleaded ignorance and in the end, both Flibby and Chepe told me that they’d both seen Sonic Youth several times and they were both big fans. So, Sonic Youth had props by my band mates.  Still, Sonic Youth, I don’t really like them.

In all honesty, Addicted to Love is the best song I’ve heard by them! I think Mike Watt plays bass on that track. I’m a big fan of MWatt and everything he’s done, but Sonic Youth?

I remember in 1989, Sonic Youth opened up for Neil Young in Oakland, and they were booed off the stage! Neil came on and did a lot of crazy distorted songs from the TRANS album, to show his support for THE BAND that his fans didn’t like.

I don’t like Sonic Youth. I’m not ashamed to say it.

I have a big problem with cacophonous music. Husker Du, Rage against the Machine, et al, bands I respect; I just don’t like their music cuz…I can’t really say why. Explicit lyrics of Ice Cube and Eminem, Ornette Coleman’s crazy sax, VU’s art house John Cale disharmonies – I like that shit! I like cutting edge, I like ground breaking sound. Still, I don’t find those artists to be cacophonous or hard to listen to; but Sonic Youth and Husker Du, I don’t really like their sound. I find it difficult to listen to.   I love Nirvana and Melvins and Minutemen and Firehose and Jane’s Addiction. There is a difference.

Music is a natural science. There are rules. People say, “Thurston Moore is a genius. He thinks outside the box.” I say, “There is a reason there is box to begin with.” Nuff said.

Because I lived on Cahuenga Blvd in Hollywood, right down the street from the Hollywood Bowl the entire year 1995; and because my brother, mother and I had attended the Hollywood Bowl’s summer classical series 2010 (to be reviewed in the next blog) 5 times this summer (Thursday nights); I figured, I can just get there early, find free parking on the street, and I’m sure I can just sneak into the show for free. That was my plan – to get into the show without paying.

On Thursday, the day of the show, I left my house in the morning and went to the house of my friend that I’ve known longer than any other friend I have, St. Tommy. Saint’s wife lectured me that my entering the Bowl without a ticket was like stealing, that I could be imprisoned, etc., and I said, “I’m just going to go down there and see what happens.” Lucy told me that she’d snuck into a Talking Heads show back in the 80’s and that “We’re not teenagers anymore. We can’t just sneak into concerts.”

St. Tommy recommended that I dress like an usher: black pants, white shirt; but I had my nice attire all planned out, and I had a ticket stub from 2 Thursdays prior. I felt like I could get in no problem.

In my life, I’ve snuck into numerous concerts, including Neil Young at the Catalyst Club in Santa Cruz, James Brown AND Santana, both at the Greek Theater, different shows. I’d snuck into Jerry Seinfeld at the Saban Theater back in April, so again, I felt bulletproof.

I went to the show. I parked a mile away and walked up Sycamore past Sunset and Hollywood Blvd to where there was a once a week – Farmer’s Market with live music and food and stuff. 

I hung out there for a spell, had some samples, thought about renting a space to sell books in later weeks. I walked along Outpost Rd and Camrose Lane where large Hollywood Hills homes stood and it was really cool just walking around and taking photos. I spent over an hour just walking and clicking and chatting with folks.

One woman commented to me, “Where are you from?” I said, “I’m a local, but I like to play the part of a tourist from time to time.” She said, “You DO look like a tourist.” 

I was happy about that. I arrived at the Bowl and security was tight. If I wanted to sneak in, I’d have to climb a fence or scam my way in. There was a Gallo vendor giving away free chilled Chablis plastic glasses of wine, so I had a few. I smoked a joint in their smoking section. It was homegrown so nobody really noticed.

Just before show time 8pm, I figured, “You know, I don’t really like any of these bands. There is no reason for me to try to sneak in and risk getting caught,” so I called Chepe and he said, “Come over, let’s jam out.” I said, “Cool.”

Then, while walking out – I’d parked a good distance from the Bowl, and as I walked down Highland Blvd, I noticed some people selling tickets. They looked me in the eye and said, “Do you need a ticket?” I replied, “Yes.” But I specified that I didn’t want to BUY one because I had no money. They told me they had an extra ticket and were trying to sell it. I said, “Good luck. There are lots of scalpers.  Perhaps you can sell it, but probably not.” They said to me, “Well, if we don’t find a buyer, I guess we can give the ticket to someone.” I said, “It’s nearly show time! The first band is going on in a few minutes.” As if to say, “Gimme the damned ticket, yer not gonna sell it.” But, they did not feel the same way. “We’re going to walk to the turnstile and see if we can sell it along the way. But, if we can’t sell the ticket, it is yours.” They began walking and I followed. After a few steps, I could sense their apprehension that I was following them, so I said, “You know what, forget the ticket,” hoping they would just give it to me. They didn’t, so I turned and walked away. They headed to the front and probably watched the show with an unused ticket on their person.

I started walking towards my car and many concert goers were walking towards me on the same street. Again, I was greeted by concert goers with extra tickets. There were 3 girls, and the one holding the ticket had like 7 tickets with her. She said, “I have extras.”

I explained to her, “Look, the show is not sold out. There are a lot of scalpers selling tickets. You can try to sell them, but the show starts in a few minutes and you can give me one, or you can enjoy the show with unused tickets, knowing that I didn’t get it.”

She chose the latter and walked off. At that point I thought, “Really, you’d rather swallow the loss than give away a ticket for free!”

 I remember all the Deadheads I’d known in my life who’d go to Dead shows with no tix, just a cardboard sign that read, “I NEED A MIRACLE!” or less, just walked around with a finger in the air, and got free tickets to enter.

 I remember at the MELVIN’s show last month at the Troubadour. So many people without tickets trying to buy. Occasionally, someone came to the show with 1 or 2 extra tickets. NO PRICE AUCTION ever ensued. Every ticket sold before that show was sold for face value. No gauging or selfish motivations seemed to be a part of the transaction. I thought that was so cool.

 But for Pavement/Sonic Youth, this wasn’t the case. “YOU WOULD RATHER BURN THAT TICKET IN YOUR POCKET THAN GIVE IT TO A FAN!” Yes. They would. They would rather eat the ticket, then let someone enjoy the show. And given the fact that it was not a GA event, I’d probably have to sit next to the person who gave me the ticket. Maybe that was their reasoning. They’d rather have an empty seat next to them.

 I remember the next day, St. Tommy telling me, “You know, if you’d played your cards right and said the right things, you probably could’ve got a ticket.”

I probably could have, but if that’s the way the fans of Pavement and Sonic Youth think, money before music, cost before conscience, dollars before kindness, then why would I want to attend their show.

I gave up on finding a ticket and proceeded down Highland Blvd. There at the bottom of the hill was a MONSTER BEVERAGE truck, giving away ice cold cans of MONSTER Beverage. I’d been walking hills for hours, and as I popped that pop top and drank my beverage, I thought, “I could be in the show right now, and I’d be so thirsty. This is SO MUCH BETTER! I’m so glad I’m here on Hollywood Blvd drinking a free beverage than in a concert hall full of capitalist scum.”

I drove to Chepe’s in East LA and we rocked out on bass and drums for several hours.

That was, by far, the BEST SHOW I NEVER SAW.

    “I pooped my pants!”



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