Protest 100: The Kinks – ‘Apeman’

Artist:          The Kinks

Song:           Apeman

Album:        Lola Versus Powerman and the Moneygoround, Part 1

Producer:    Ray Davies

Label:          Reprise

Year:           1970

Notes:
This lament of the modern world’s man-made problems isn’t so much a call to arms as a  contemplation of flight. Its laundry list of maladies, however, is coupled with an inescapably catchy chorus, keeping you rooted on the spot. Have some fun while the world burns! It’s not like you’ve got somewhere else to be.

Excerpt from ‘Unreality’  —
“His host, however, sprang upright, mouth agape and eyes agog.”

Lyrics:
I think I’m sophisticated
‘Cause I’m living my life like a good homosapien
But all around me, everybody’s multiplying
And they’re walking round like flies man

So I’m no better than the animals sitting in their cages
In the zoo man
Because compared to the flowers and the birds and the trees
I am an Apeman

I think I’m so educated and I’m so civilized
‘Cause I’m a strict vegetarian
But with the over-population and inflation and starvation
And the crazy politicians

I don’t feel safe in this world no more
I don’t want to die in a nuclear war
I want to sail away to a distant shore
And make like an Apeman

I’m an Apeman, I’m an Ape Apeman
No, I’m an Apeman
Well, I’m a King Kong man, I’m a Voo-Doo man
No, I’m an Apeman

‘Cause compared to the sun that sits in the sky
Compared to the clouds as they roll by
Compared to the bugs and the spiders and flies
I am an Apeman

I’m an Apeman, I’m an Ape Apeman
No, I’m an Apeman
Well, I’m a King Kong man, I’m a Voo-Doo man
No, I’m an Apeman

I don’t feel safe in this world no more
I don’t want to die in a nuclear war
I want to sail away to a distant shore
And make like an Apeman

‘Protest 100’s mission is two-fold: dispelling the myth that heavy metal is a brainless, socially unaware music genre, and raising awareness of the issues facing our country in the Nov. 3, 2020 election. The path won’t be exclusively metal—some punk and rap and other stuff will be in here too, including the classics—and is not a ranking. All songs are songs I’ve heard while putting this list together, ordered in a manner designed to entertain and educate.

Protest 100: Fever 333 – ‘Made An America’

Artist:          Fever 333

Song:           Made An America

Album:        Made An America

Producer:    John Feldmann, Travis Barker

Label:          Roadrunner

Year:           2018

Notes:
I hadn’t paid a second’s worth of attention to this band until I stumbled upon a Facebook Live (while it was happening) of them performing on a set by themselves in the wake of George Floyd’s murder. The power was palpable. Formed from the remnants of three other LA-area bands, Fever 333 played its first show in 2017 in the back of a moving truck parked at a donut shop in Inglewood. The 333 in the band’s name represents the three core views the three-piece band espouses: Community, Charity, and Change. The band’s logo is an homage to the Black Panther Party.

Lyrics:
We are the melanin felons
We are the product of
Plunder and policy that you gotta love
Casinos, amigos on forty acres, uh
They built this shit on our backs
Made an America

Living in terror all while they terrorise
Cover your eyes ’cause people terrified
Fuck all the promises you were promised ’cause
They’re cutting your oxygen ’til you paralysed

Where we land is where we fall (Made an America)
All for one and none for all (Made an America)
No stars dead bodies on the boulevard
Cop cars, true killers, and they still at large
Where we land is where we fall (Made an America)

Home of the big bodies and wide blocks
The government giving ghettos that crack rock
Making quotas off baking soda and mass shock
This ain’t a theory, I saw it happen on my block
The homie Hector selling heroin from nine to five
My brother’s burning down the block when Rodney almost died
We’re giving thanks for measles, blankets, and genocide
They call it “cleaning up the streets”, we call it “homicide”

Where we land is where we fall (Made an America)
All for one and none for all (Made an America)
No stars dead bodies on the boulevard
Cop cars, true killers, and they still at large
Where we land is where we fall (Made an America)

Made an America, we made an America
Made an America, we made an America
Made an America, we made an America
Made an America, we made an America

Ah, oh
Oh, oh, oh, oh
Alright
You built this on our backs
Okay
Show ’em who we is

Where we land is where we fall (Made an America)
All for one and none for all (Made an America)
No stars dead bodies on the boulevard
Cop cars, true killers, and they still at large
Where we land is where we fall (Made an America)

Made an America, we made an America
Made an America, we made an America

‘Protest 100’s mission is two-fold: dispelling the myth that heavy metal is a brainless, socially unaware music genre, and raising awareness of the issues facing our country in the Nov. 3, 2020 election. The path won’t be exclusively metal—some punk and rap and other stuff will be in here too, including the classics—and is not a ranking. All songs are songs I’ve heard while putting this list together, ordered in a manner designed to entertain and educate.

Protest 100: Rage Against The Machine – ‘Down Rodeo’

Artist:          Rage Against The Machine

Song:           Down Rodeo

Album:        Evil Empire

Producer:    Brendan O’Brien

Label:          Epic

Year:           1996

Notes:
This song is steeped deep in the class inequalities bared by the 1992 riots in the band’s hometown of Los Angeles. The message: stop pointing your anger at each other, start pointing it at the people running the show. And don’t forget Black Panther Fred Hampton’s death at the hands of the FBI. Just a quiet peaceful dance!

Lyrics:
Yeah I’m rollin’ down Rodeo wit a shotgun
These people ain’t seen a brown skin man
Since their grandparents bought one

So now I’m rollin’ down Rodeo wit a shotgun
These people ain’t seen a brown skin man
Since their grandparents bought one

So now I’m rollin’ down Rodeo wit a shotgun

Bangin’ this bolo tight on this solo flight can’t fight alone
Funk tha track my verbs fly like tha family stone
Tha pen devils set that stage for tha war at home
Locked wit out a wage ya standin’ in tha drop zone
The clockers born starin’ at an empty plate
Momma’s torn hands cover her sunken face
We hungry but them belly full
The structure is set ya neva change it with a ballot pull
In tha ruins there’s a network for tha toxic rock
School yard ta precinct, suburb ta project block
Bosses broke south for new flesh and a factory floor
The remains left chained to the powder war

Can’t waste a day when the night brings a hearse
So make a move and plead the fifth ’cause ya can’t plead the first
Can’t waste a day when the night brings a hearse
So now I’m rollin’ down Rodeo wit a shotgun
These people ain’t seen a brown skin man
Since their grandparents bought one

Yes I’m rollin’ down Rodeo wit a shotgun
These people ain’t seen a brown skin man
Since their grandparents bought one
So now I’m rollin’ down Rodeo wit a shotgun

Bare witness to tha sickest shot while suckas get romantic
They ain’t gonna send us campin’ like they did my man Fred Hampton
Still we lampin’ still clockin’ dirt for our sweat
A ballots dead so a bullet’s what I get
A thousand years they had tha tools
We should be takin’ ’em
Fuck tha G-ride I want the machines that are makin’ em
Our target straight wit a room full of armed pawn to
Off tha kings out tha west side at dawn

Can’t waste a day when the night brings a hearse
Make a move and plead the fifth ’cause ya can’t plead the first
Can’t waste a day when the night brings a hearse
So now I’m rollin’ down Rodeo wit a shotgun
These people ain’t seen a brown skin man
Since their grandparents bought one

Yeah I’m rollin’ down Rodeo wit a shotgun
These people ain’t seen a brown skin man
Since their grandparents bought one

Yeah I’m rollin’ down Rodeo wit a shotgun

The rungs torn from the ladder can’t reach the tumour
One god, one market, one truth, one consumer

Just a quiet peaceful dance!
Just a quiet peaceful dance!
Just a quiet peaceful dance!
Just a quiet peaceful dance!

Just a quiet peaceful dance for the things we’ll never have
Just a quiet peaceful dance for the things we don’t have

‘Protest 100’s mission is two-fold: dispelling the myth that heavy metal is a brainless, socially unaware music genre, and raising awareness of the issues facing our country in the Nov. 3, 2020 election. The path won’t be exclusively metal—some punk and rap and other stuff will be in here too, including the classics—and is not a ranking. All songs are songs I’ve heard while putting this list together, ordered in a manner designed to entertain and educate.

Protest 100: MC5 – ‘Motor City Is Burning’

Artist:          MC5

Song:           Motor City Is Burning

Album:        Kick Out The James

Producer:    Jac Holzman, Bruce Botnick

Label:          Elektra

Year:           1969

 

Notes:
Originally released by John Lee Hooker in 1967 and recorded by him just two months after the Detroit riots it describes, ‘Motor City Is Burning’ fit like a glove as part of the live set captured for MC5’s debut album, ‘Kick Out The Jams.’ The no-holds-barred narrative-grit of its lyrics could also teach a thing or two to aspiring 21st century protest rockers. Then again, most have yet to get the kind of seat Hooker had:

“I know what they were fightin’ for,” he said. “I feel bitter about that. A big city like Detroit… you know, racial like that. It wasn’t like Mississippi, but… they hide it under the cover there. In Mississippi they didn’t hide it, they just come out with it, and that’s the only difference. It finally got so hot, people got so fed up, that the riot broke out, with all the burnin’ and the shootin’, the killin’. I could just look at the fire from my porch or my window, outside in my yard… I could see places goin’ up in flame, hear guns shootin’, robbin’ stores, runnin’ the business people out of they stores. There was a lotta lootin’ goin’ on, y’know… the po-lice was even lootin’. They like to have burned the whole city down. A kid brought me a new git-tar, a Gibson 12-string. Cost about $1,500… I got it for five dollars. The kid didn’t know what he had!” Hooker laughs in memory. “‘You wanna buy this?’ ‘Oh yeah!’ ‘You got five dollars?’ I say, ‘Yeah!’

“You could see the fire burnin’. You could see the bombs, the smoke, buildin’s goin’ up. You see the people runnin’ out the stores, the business people leavin’ everythin’ in there. Stuff was layin’ in the streets, man. Clothes, brand-new shoes, just layin’ there. Couldn’t tell no-one not to pick it up, and some people did pick it up. Went to jail for stealin’ stuff. Two policemen… found a whole lotta stuff that they done took. They suspended them, and put them in jail. Everybody was lootin’. The white, the black…”

“After that, the whole country went. Watts got burned down. A lotta other places got burned down. Like a cancer. You hear everybody say, ‘Burn, baby, burn.’ That’s what they said. ‘We gon’ burn, baby, burn.’ They was burnin’ three or four blocks over, but they never come down to where I was.”

–(Murray, C.S., ‘Cuttin’ Heads: Motor City Is Burning,” Louder, May 20, 2014)

 

Excerpt from ‘Unreality’ 
“There was a good deal of smoke coming up as a result of the now smoldering bedding, but most of the flames seemed to be burning themselves out. ”

 

Lyrics:

Ya know, the Motor City is burning, babe
There ain’t a thing in the world they can do
Ya know, the Motor City is burning people
There ain’t a thing that white society can do

Ma home town burning down to the ground
Worser than Vietnam

Let me tell you how it started now

It started on 12th Clair Mount that morning
It made the, the pig cops all jump and shout
I said, it started on 12th Clair Mount that morning
It made the, the pigs in the street go freak out

The fire wagons kept comin’, baby
But the Black Panther Snipers wouldn’t let them put it out
Wouldn’t let them put it out, wouldn’t let them put it out

Get it on

Well, there were fire bombs bursting all around the people
Ya know there was soldiers standing everywhere
I said there was fire bombs bursting all around me, baby
Ya know there was National Guard everywhere

I can hear my people screaming
Sirens fill the air, fill the air, fill the air

Your mama, papa don’t know what the trouble is
You see, they don’t know what it’s all about
I said, your mama, papa don’t know what the trouble is, baby
They just can’t see what it’s all about

I get the news, read the newspapers, baby, baby?
You just get out there in the street and check it out

I said, the Motor City is burning, people
I ain’t hanging ’round to fight it out
I said, the Motor City is burning, people
Just not hang around to fight it out

Well, I’m taking my wife and my people and they’re on TV
Well, just before I go, baby, [Incomprehensible]
Fireman’s on the street, people all around

Now, I guess it’s true
I’d just like to strike a match for freedom myself
I may be a white boy, but I can be bad, too
Yes, it’s true now, yes, it’s true now

Yes

Let it all burn, let it all burn, let it all burn

‘Protest 100’s mission is two-fold: dispelling the myth that heavy metal is a brainless, socially unaware music genre, and raising awareness of the issues facing our country in the Nov. 3, 2020 election. The path won’t be exclusively metal—some punk and rap and other stuff will be in here too, including the classics—and is not a ranking. All songs are songs I’ve heard while putting this list together, ordered in a manner designed to entertain and educate.

 

When live music returns

When live music returns, I’ll be there. It is far and away my favorite form of entertainment and has been since Memorial Day weekend of 1981 when I attended my first concert: Van Halen at Wings Stadium in Kalamazoo, Mich., early in the ‘Fair Warning’ tour.

I went with a friend of mine whose older brother bought both the tickets and a $250 Oldsmobile Vista Cruiser to get us there. There were five of us in that car and we caravanned with a bright blue gear-headed Nova piloted by a hot stoner chick and three of her friends.

Rave (as he was known) and Daze rode up front. They were both named Dave but were inseparable and had taken the alternative handles years earlier so they’d know who was being addressed. The names also suited them.

We stuck to surface roads, as one does when rolling in $250 ride. But even these proved too much for the old wagon. The engine rattled. Steam billowed. The car ground to halt in a small-town church parking lot.

The Nova pulled over and we piled in. Three people sat in front with one of the girls on the lap of the guy against the passenger door. Three more sat in the back, with the other two girls stacked like lumber across us, backs against opposite sides of the car.

Nine people in a Nova crossing West Michigan to see the mighty Van Halen. I was in 15-year old heaven. Pre-mixed gallon jugs of Kalua and milk started being passed around. Doobies too. I was still scared of weed at the time, but the milk tasted great.

Our seats were about 20 rows up off the end of stage left. I was dumbstruck from the moment the lights dropped and the opening five chords of ‘On Fire’ burst from the PA. Nothing I’d ever experienced had prepared me for this. I’m not sure I blinked for the entire set.

We piled back into the Nova and drove home, bodies once again stacked on bodies.

My friend and I declined the older (19-23) kids’ invitation to join them for some purple microdot. My head was already overloaded with sensory input as it was. I had found live music, the single thread that would continue for the rest of my life, binding everything else together.

So many shows have already been cancelled in the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic. My list alone includes: Killer Hearts, Fun Haunts, The Quireboys, Soulfly, Toxic Holocaust, Bongzilla, Geoff Tate, Bayou Vimana, Ween, Sepultura, Sacred Reich, Crowbar, Rival Sons, Testament, Kvelertak, Fu Manchu, Slaughter, Kix, Baroness, Against Me!, King Buzzo + Trevor Dunn, Primus, Wolfmother, and The Sword.

It’s going to take a while to get back to the Spirit of ‘81. But venues are starting to figure out how to reopen. Bookings are being made. We’re on our way.

I suspect others will get back in the swing of things before me. Most evidence to the contrary, I’ve got a wide cautious streak. But eventually some friends of mine will be playing and other friends will be going to see them and there I’ll be, reborn for the 9,000th time.

In the meantime, I’ve been better familiarizing myself with some Houston favorites and invite you to do the same.

See you out there!

 

Loose Nukes

Loose Nukes

Genre: Hardcore (but with some rock n’ roll)

Notable: Released new record, ‘Cult Leaders,’ Apr. 7, 2020

Standout track: ‘MK Ultra’

https://loosenukestx.bandcamp.com/album/cult-leaders-lp

 

Bayou Vimana

Bayou Vimana

Genre: Rock n’ roll (heavy)

Notable: Going into the studio Summer 2020 to record debut full-length

Standout track: ‘Path To Hell’

https://bayouvimana.bandcamp.com/album/origin-sound-southwing-audio-masters-ep

 

Fun Haunts

Fun Haunts

Genre: Rock n’ roll (pop)

Notable: I don’t know why their Bandcamp page says they’re from Seattle

Standout track: ‘Lips’

https://funhaunts.bandcamp.com/releases

 

Man, The Robot

Man, The Robot

Genre: Grind (hardcore)

Notable: Released Vol. 1 of a COVID-19 EP trilogy, ‘The Covid Chronicles: Vol. 1: Clotho,’ May 13, 2020

Standout track:  ‘The Night the Guy Cut the Power at Our Poetry Reading

https://mantherobot.bandcamp.com/album/your-absence-has-been-a-constant-presence

 

Dead Stuff

Dead Stuff

Genre: Grind (thrash)

Notable: More genres emerge during the live set

Standout track: ‘Fuck Cancer’

https://deadstuff666.bandcamp.com/

 

The Business Machines destroy time

The possibilities weren’t quite endless. In fact, they numbered two: disaster or a good night out with friends, maybe even both. Such is life when your favorite garage rock n’ roll band of all time reunites for its first local performance in 13 years.

Forged from chunks of Houston punks Dig Dug, Sore Loser, and Panic in Detroit, braised in a giant kettle of beer over the fires of anti-capitalist rage, the Business Machines were almost instantly too much for their hometown. A few performances as IBM went over with such spectacular aplomb that they drew the electric eye of the giant corporation already squatting on the name. Cease and desist orders followed and the Business Machines were born.

The band bought a van. The band put together its own nationwide tours, performing with acts like Teenage Bottlerocket, Rye Coalition, 400 Blows, and The Fleshies. The band drove to Chicago and recorded its debut album, ‘Almost Automatic’ (2003) with Steve Albini. The band moved to L.A., engaged the machine, recorded a killer demo with Karl Derfler (Roky Erickson, Flamin’ Groovies, Mother Hips, etc.), played the Troubadour, the Roxy, the Kibitz Room inside Canters Deli, got booked at the Viper Room but bumped for a Sting birthday party, lived on the cusp of almost making it for as long as it could, …and imploded.

Its vocalist buggered off to Maui. Its bassist became a manager/booking agent. Its drummer remained in Los Angeles and immersed himself in the visual arts. And its original guitarist moved to Austin and became an engineer/producer.

Years went by. Weird rumbles were heard from redneck NorCal (Redding) that an all new lineup had emerged, led by front-guy. They played in the woods. More years passed without another peep. But a recoalescence had started. Drummer and second guitarist began jamming, writing for a new project but also teasing the world with run-throughs of old Business Machine numbers.

Members started to see each other again, drawn together by the same events that pull on us all: holidays, funerals, benders. And then the improbable started to happen…

There were no ashes from which to rise. Those had long ago been rain-soaked, stomped through, and reground to dust under humanity’s collective boot. But in mid-October 2019, and against everything but the rock-est of gods, a deep cover, quasi-reunion show was announced: a five-song set in Austin as part of SatelliteFest with guitarist and vocalist performing with a backup band as the Fuck Trump Machines. They rehearsed three times before the show. A center of gravity was found. The duo’s powers grew.

One step remained to achieve full reconstitution. A full set. With the full band. Back home.

One month to the day after SatelliteFest, the date was announced: Friday, Dec. 20 at Rudyard’s. Never prone to pussyfootin’, Business Machines did it right, turning the night into a mini-fest by adding Fun Haunts, Bayou Vimana, and The Cops to the bill.

But almost on cue, the dominos started falling the wrong way. The venue had to be changed. Big Star Bar stepped into the void to keep rock alive.

Seven days before the show Lucas Juarez (vocals) came down with a sinus infection. “My sinus is fucked and show pending…not gonna let the universe fuck me over again. We’re gonna kick the universe in the fucking nuts and curb stomp that motherfucker if it gets in the way of this show. Fuck you universe!!! We’re back and pissed off!!! Get ready to have your milky way pushed in.”

Another day went past and drummer Alex Arizpe’s back started to tweak him. “As usual, Life is attempting to keep us from playing this show on Friday. Lucas suddenly developed a harsh sinus congestion and my back is threatening to give out. We’re working last minute on getting cymbals for the show and time is ticking away ever so quickly. It’s always something! But we are two-hundred percent determined on executing our set. WE’RE GONNA DO THIS! We are willing to sacrifice everything for this one moment, ready to punch anyone or anything that gets in our way. The universe has been against us from day one, and we’re not gonna get fucked over by it, or God or the devil or anyone or anything! We’re ready to quit jobs, health and money for this set that may mean nothing to anyone else but us. We are, and have always been, professional and punctual. We will rise and we will rock the shit out of it! It’s not about the venue, it’s about the performance. This moment is ours, and we will choke it into submission and fuck every second of this set to complete satisfaction. And that’s how you retaliate against the universe! After that, we can cry and die! At this point we don’t care if we die on stage, but we’re gonna do it no matter what! Business Machines for life!”

Calls went out. The necessary hardware was secured.

A railed-in, elevated seating area near Big Star’s center served as the stage. Production—both audio and visual—was expectedly minimal, but as Fun Haunts kicked into its aggro-tinged power pop, a 100% on point mix emerged. Even to brand-new ears, and at an already kicking volume, everything could be heard

No similar lack of familiarity accompanied Bayou Vimana. They’d been gigging around town for years on bills both large and small and built a ‘must-see’ reputation among those who like their rock hard-livin’ and dirty. Consisting of a bunch of dudes who’d been playing Houston since the 90s in acts like Twenty-Three, Donkey Punch, End Result, Small Craft Advisory, The Drunks, Vice Grip, and WD-40oz, playing a table island in front of an initially half-attentive crowd was old hat.

But BV became a band for one reason, literally: to rock as many asses as possible while still able to do so. And, as amply demonstrated on their now played-into-the-ground EP, they are up to the task. Listen to it. Imagine it live. The experience is every bit as good as you would hope and lacking even the tiniest whiff of cheese.

The Cops are hugely entertaining. They dress like cops. They play short bursts of retro punk. They were the perfect setup.

 

Business Machines filed onto the stage for one last tuning and level check. Gil Lira (The Killer Hearts, ex-Bickley) plunked his bass, filling in for the one missing member from the classic line-up, Andrew Harper. Alex clattered around his kit. Lucas paced. Guitarist John Michael plugged into his rig and…nothing. Not even a hum or pop. Matthew Juarez (Lucas’s brother. former Sore Loser bandmate, and promoter of tonight’s show) stepped into the fray, poking and prodding however he could. Cables and power supplies were checked, rerouted, turned off, turned on. Still nothing.

A call for merciful assistance (aka “can we please borrow someone’s amp”) went out and went out again. One of the Cops’ guitarists stepped into the breach.

‘Chronic Marriage Syndrome’ lurched from the gate, disparate parts of a whole as everyone got their legs under them. As the stomp of perennial b-side ‘No Class’ kicked in, a groove started to emerge. ‘Big Trip,’ a young man’s letter home from the rock n’ roll road, followed as the band’s power continued to grow. Lucas strained at first, but when the song got to its bridge and he started the talking-to-his-mom part of the lyrics, the clouds parted.

Juarez ditched the mic stand as ‘Secret Admirer’s slither began. Mid-tempo and one of the greatest stalker songs ever, it brought full gel to the band and crystalized Lucas’s comfort out front.

Hot Water Music-tinged ‘The Real’ kicked Business Machines into attack mode and when the pure garage of ‘Biggest Little Whorehouse in Texas’ (a 90-sec ode to Ken Lay and Enron) followed, blast off occurred. ‘Down But Not Out,’ ‘Rock n’ Roll,’ ‘Pattern,’ and ‘Almost Automatic’ were non-stop shreds of undiluted rock glory, removing time and space the way only the best can. There was a third option after all. Greatness.

And then it was over. A friend who hadn’t caught them back in the day leaned in: “Dude. What the hell? A great band, with great songs, and a great show. How did this not happen?”

Show biz, brother. But it would still be amazing to see what this looked like at the end of even a four-show run sometime. Holy shit.

L.A. shows are coming. More for Texas too.

 

 

Mayhem, murder, and music: Altamont turns 50

The Altamont Speedway Free Festival, held Dec. 6, 1969, has been immortalized in the Rolling Stones concert film ‘Gimme Shelter’ and is widely considered  the end of the ‘Summer of Love.’ The Stones headlined and are often thought to have organized it as their own Woodstock, having not appeared at the festival held that summer in Bethel, NY. An alternative narrative, however, credits Jefferson Airplane members Jorma Koukonen and Spencer Dryden, in cooperation with the Grateful Dead, as the event’s catalysts.

In either case, poor organization dogged the festival from the beginning. Altamont, 50 miles east of San Francisco, was chosen just two days before the event after plans to use first Golden Gate Park and then Sears Point Raceway in Sonoma collapsed. Traffic backed up for 20 miles trying to reach the speedway as an estimated 300,000 people made their way to the site. Wine, marijuana, and other drugs were openly available and used. One concert-goer on LSD jumped from a freeway overpass and was seriously injured. Another drowned. Multiple assaults and widespread property damage occurred, two other people died accidentally, and one person (Meredith Hunter) was murdered by Hell’s Angels.

The Grateful Dead, scheduled to play immediately before the Stones, dropped out of the show and left the site as security deteriorated.

Given the way everything went down, Hell’s Angels were understandably defensive about post-show characterizations that they had been hired to provide event security. Details of how they became involved and what their role was intended to be vary with almost every recounting. Their behavior as captured on film, however, is nothing if not that of a security force gone mad.

Santana kicked the music off, followed by Jefferson Airplane, the Flying Burrito Brothers, Crosby, Stills, Nash & Young, and the Rolling Stones.

The scene surrounding snippets from Santana’s set is remarkable. Even if one didn’t know the history, the sense of menace is palpable. This was not a good time—notwithstanding the stage announcer’s hopeful suggestion that it “could be the greatest party of 1969 that we’ve had”—and it had only just begun.

 

Jefferson Airplane’s performance ground to a halt as violence erupted down front and a slow-motion stage invasion occurred. Hell’s Angels tried to clear the throngs, but having struck the Airplane’s Marty Balin and knocked him out in the process, their authority to do so was openly challenged. Grace Slick took the mic to try to get the show back on track: “You gotta keep your bodies off each other unless you intend love. People get weird and you need people like the Angels to kind of keep people in line. But the Angels, you know, you don’t bust people in the head for nothing.”

 

Stage announcements before the Flying Burrito Brothers tried to brighten the mood, and FBB succeeded in lifting the gloom to a degree, but nothing could be done to mitigate the claustrophobic conditions. Altamont’s tiny, low stage at the bottom of a geographic bowl now looked like the center of a refugee camp as opposed to a place where some of the world’s greatest bands were playing.

 

Crosby, Stills, Nash & Young played a six-song set and split, having their own gig that night at Pauley Pavilion on UCLA’s campus.

From Graham Nash’s 2013 autobiography: “We got a bad vibe from the moment we arrived. Electronic music blared over the PA that was loud, obnoxious, and irritating as hell. That put us in an itchy and distracted mood. More than two hundred thousand people were packed into that track, most of them ripped on amphetamines and LSD. The Hells Angels were drunk and unruly. It was an ugly scene, and unpredictable.

“The only reason we did Altamont was because Jerry Garcia had called Croz and prevailed on their friendship. But by the time we got there, the Dead had refused to go on after Marty Balin, lead singer of the Jefferson Airplane, got punched in the head. That left it to Santana, the Flying Burrito Brothers, the Stones, and us to keep a lid on that crowd. Woodstock had been our gig, and we were cool with that. The Stones were headlining; we’d be long gone by the time they went on.

“Our set went down smoothly and was incident-free, but Stephen was freaked out from the moment we went on stage. He took the temperature of that crowd and sensed the danger in the air. Later, he said he feared that some nut was going to try to shoot Mick, which distracted him from the get-go. And, of course, during the Stones’ set a fan was fatally stabbed by a Hells Angel a short distance from the front of the stage, which more of less signaled the end of the Woodstock era. The minute we finished, we grabbed our guitars and took off for the helicopter at a dead run. We were out of that scene before the applause died down. We flew down to LA and appeared that night at UCLA’s Pauley Pavilion, where Stephen fainted from exhaustion.” (Nash, Graham; Wild Tales: A Rock & Roll Life; pp. 177-178.)

I’ll leave the Rolling Stones set to “Gimme Shelter,’ but urge you to take some time this weekend to watch the movie. Aside from capturing Altamont in all its grime and tragedy it serves as a perfect encapsulation of all that is both glorious and hideous about the music industry in general.

 

 

Set lists [from Wikipedia]:

Santana

Jefferson Airplane

The Flying Burrito Brothers

  • “Lucille”
  • “To Love Somebody”
  • Six Days on the Road
  • “High Fashion Queen”
  • “Cody, Cody”
  • “Lazy Day”
  • “Bony Moronie”

Crosby, Stills, Nash & Young

  • “Long Time Gone”
  • “Down by the River”
  • “Sea of Madness”
  • “Black Queen”
  • “Pre-Road Downs”

The Rolling Stones

 

 

Listen to dUg Pinnick!

The first new King’s X music in 12 years will be released in February-March 2020. Only the tiniest snippets have emerged so far, but they suggest a modern, varied, expansive album that could well be the band’s crowning glory.

Personal and health issues have limited touring in second-half 2019. The band has cruises scheduled in February (Monsters of Rock) and March (Cruise to the Edge), and a half dozen US dates scheduled for April, but until then fans of all things Doug Pinnick will have to content themselves with his prodigious back catalog.

The man almost literally never stops making music. Sometimes it’s one-off covers for compilation albums, sometimes solo records, other times heading into the studio with any one of a number of non-King’s X bands he’s formed over the years, the most recent version of the last being KXM’s ‘Circle of Dolls,’ released Sept. 13, 2019.

Sometime before it came out, and building on the fun had crowning ‘Over My Head’ the most beloved King’s X song ever, I created a bracket pulling songs from Doug’s album-length outside projects. It was intended to include at least one track from each of his outside bands and almost hit the mark. The Mob (also feat. Reb Beach, Kip Winger, Kelly Keagy, and Timothy Drury) came up short. Even when choosing 64 Doug songs outside King’s X, the options were so deep that there just wasn’t room for a track from the project’s 2005 release.

There were, however, entries from Supershine, Poundhound, Tres Mts., 3rd Ear Experience, KXM, Razr 13, Pinnick Gales Pridgen, Grinder Blues, and dUg Pinnick himself.

Of the 16 still standing, five came from Poundhound, five were released under dUg’s name, and another five came from KXM (Ray Luzier, George Lynch, and dUg). Pinnick Gales Pridgen nailed down the final slot with ‘Hang On, Big Brother’ from its self-titled debut.

Poundhound’s debut, ‘Massive Grooves from the Electric Church of Psychofunkadelic Grungelism Rock Music,’ released by Metal Blade on Aug. 11, 1998, snared four spots on its own, ‘Music,’ ‘Friends,’ ‘Love,’ and ‘Jangle’ all making the final 16.

 

 

Excerpt from ‘What You Make It: The Authorized Biography of Doug Pinnick’:

Doug welcomed the return to a small, independent vibe. Metal Blade knew and liked its niche. It didn’t take many risks and ran its business smoothly, comfortable with what it was. The band felt safe and liberated from Atlantic’s rock star obligations. “That world was so engulfing,” Doug reflects. “We weren’t ourselves. We were the band everybody thought was going to make them millions of dollars. They put us in a little bubble and fucking hand fed us.”

Daniels believed the singer of an established band, being the focal point, should get his own record deal in addition to the band’s. Metal Blade agreed. The deal gave Doug money for the first time. Doug built his home studio, Poundhound, with the advance for his first solo record and made a down payment on his house as well. The second record paid off the credit cards he filled putting furniture in the house. It allowed him to move into suburbia and finally get what he wanted: a house and a studio of his own.

After all the years on Atlantic it took a solo side-deal from a metal indie to give Doug a place to call his own.

Poundhound’s ‘Massive Grooves from the Electric Church of Psychofunkadelic Grungelism Rock Music,’ Doug’s first solo record, excited him musically. He’d become increasingly frustrated with the way his songs were turning out in King’s X. He didn’t think they were bad. They just didn’t sound the way he heard them in his head. With ‘Massive Grooves….’ Doug set out to write a bunch of songs for himself, play them himself, do exactly what he wanted. He performed all the instruments except drums, which Jerry played, and was pleased with the outcome: a no frills record of Doug straight-up singing his songs and sharing his heart.

King’s X recorded ‘Tape Head,’ its Metal Blade debut, at Poundhound Studios as well. Doug was so happy with the ‘Massive Grooves….’ songs that, rather than trying to make lightning strike twice, he suggested the band write its new record together.

 

 

It will be interesting to see what song ends up taking the top spot. My bet’s on something from ‘Massive Grooves…’, but the choice is up to you, the reader, and the love out there is also strong for both ‘Strum Sum Up’ and KXM.

You can vote at https://www.facebook.com/dUgPinnickBio/ and pick up a copy of ‘What You Make It’ here.

Experience Hendrix: Power trio fantasy

From the first date of Experience Hendrix 2019 there was one point of consensus: the regular-set closing trio of dUg Pinnick, Joe Satriani, and Kenny Aronoff stole the show. The songs? ‘Crosstown Traffic,’ ‘Manic Depression,’ ‘I Don’t Live Today,’ ‘3rd Stone From the Sun,’ and ‘Voodoo Child.’ Not enough for you? Try Buddy Guy, Billy Cox, Taj Mahal, Jonny Lang, Dweezil Zappa, Doyle Bramhall II, Eric Johnson, and Chris Layton applying their skills to Hendrix as well.

Covering the eastern US in the spring, Experience Hendrix is now making its western run. Fall dates start Oct. 1 at the famed Paramount Theatre in Seattle and wrap up Oct. 22 in San Antonio.

Californian’s will be getting their second recent dose of dUg live in action, his having completed a late-summer trio of dates with 3rd Ear Experience, the desert jam collaboration led by long-time friend Robbi Robb. The two first met when both were on Megaforce and have had overlapping musical journey’s ever since (as chronicled in ‘What You Make It’).

dUg is also fresh off recording the first King’s X record in 11 years. Golden Robot Records will be releasing the still-untitled album worldwide, most likely in 2020. The band recorded at Blacksound Studio in Pasadena, Calif., with ‘Strum Sum Up’ producer Michael Parnin.

Only the tiniest snippets of music have emerged via the band’s social media pages but based on these the album sounds poised to exceed all expectations, offering both a throwback to the depth of King’s X earliest work and perhaps the band’s most modern, accessible, and varied album ever.

King’s X dates follow Experience Hendrix, starting Oct. 31 in Indianapolis (with Tommy Baldwin Band) and running through a Nov. 16 homecoming in Houston (with Karim K). New material has yet to be performed live, but it will debut sometime!

Enjoy the rock! Enjoy the read!

Experience Hendrix dates and ticket info below.

==

 

Dates:

Oct. 1, Seattle, Paramount Theatre

Oct. 2, Portland, Arlene Schnitzer Concert Hall

Oct. 3, Eugene, Ore., Hunt Center For the Performing Arts

Oct. 4, Oakland, Paramount Theatre of the Arts

Oct. 5, Reno, The Expo at Silver Legacy Resort & Casino

Oct. 7, Davis, Calif., Jackson Hall at the Robert and Margrit Mondavi Center for the Performing Arts

Oct. 8, Santa Rosa, Calif., Luther Burbank Center for the Performing Arts

Oct. 9, Anaheim, Calif., City National Grove of Anaheim

Oct. 11, Indio, Calif., Fantasy Springs Resort Casino Event Center

Oct. 12, Funner, Calif., The Events Center at Harrah’s Resort Socal

Oct. 13, Mesa, Ariz., Ikeda Theatre at the Mesa Arts Center

Oct. 15, Denver, Paramount Theatre

Oct. 16, Colorado Springs, Pikes Peak Center

Oct. 18, Newkirk, Okla., First Council Casino Hotel

Oct. 19, Tulsa, The Joint at the Hard Rock Hotel & Casino

Oct. 20, Houston, Revention Music Center

Oct. 21, Austin, Austin City Limits Live at The Moody Theater

Oct. 22, San Antonio, Tobin Center for the Performing Arts

 

Tickets available here.

 

‘What You Make It: The Authorized Biography of Doug Pinnick’ available here.

Texas International Pop Festival, 1969

Two weeks after Woodstock, the Texas International Pop Festival occurred outside Dallas at a speedway in Lewisville. Among the notable acts available for a $6.00 ticket (but absent in New York) were Led Zeppelin, a brand-new act from Flint, Mich., called Grand Funk Railroad, and Chicago Transit Authority. Zeppelin’s set is generally considered one of the best from the band’s early US tours. Grand Funk made the most of the opportunity by opening the main stage on each of the festival’s three days.

Led Zeppelin performed the second night, wrapping up a five-week string of 23 US dates before returning to the UK the next day. They played five songs, starting off with ‘Train Kept A-Rollin’ and ‘I Can’t Quit You Baby’ before launching into extended jams of ‘Dazed and Confused,’ ‘You Shook Me,’ and ‘How Many More Times’ (two parts and more than 22 minutes!). An encore of ‘Communication Breakdown’ followed.

Zeppelin and Janis Joplin were the festival’s two highest-paid acts, pulling in $10,000 each. Grand Funk, by contrast, played for free and paid its own expenses.

Camping was not allowed on the festival grounds, but The Merry Pranksters ran a nearby camp site and free stage. Hijinks were rampant but peace ruled the day, with no violent incidents reported. Hog Farm commune leader Wavy Gravy, there running festival security, got his name over the weekend. In addition to security, the Taos, NM,-based commune provided free food.

Participants who had also been at Woodstock, where this festival was promoted, found the “vibrations” better in Texas. “Things have been real smooth,” agreed Lewisville police chief Ralph Adams on the first day of the event. That night, a patrolman watched from a distance as 25 or so festival-goers swam nude at the camp site’s lake. “I don’t care what they do as long as they don’t hurt anybody else,” he said.1

Despite the tranquility, however, Lewisville’s Mayor held a press conference a few days afterwards to say he didn’t think there’d be another such event, explaining that “this type of thing just does not fit into our mode of living in this area.”2

An estimated 120,000 people attended the event. About one-quarter of 85 arrests made were for drug violations. No arrests were made at either the festival site or the campground.

Grand Funk had released its debut album, ‘On Time,’ via Capitol Records earlier in August 1969. Produced by Terry Knight, it went Gold, peaking at #27 on the Billboard charts and kicking off Grand Funk’s multi-platinum, stadium-headlining career. Knight (former bandmate of Brewer’s in Terry Knight and the Pack) produced the band’s first seven albums, through 1972’s greatest hits compilation, ‘Mark, Don, and Mel: 1969-71.’ The band self-produced ‘Phoenix,’ released later that year, before turning the reins over to Todd Rundgren for ‘We’re An American Band’ (1973) and ‘Shinin’ On’ (1974).

 

LINEUP

Saturday, Aug. 30, 1969

Grand Funk Railroad
Canned Heat
Chicago Transit Authority
James Cotton Blues Band
Janis Joplin
B.B. King
Herbie Mann
Rotary Connection
Sam & Dave

Sunday, Aug. 31

Grand Funk Railroad
Chicago Transit Authority
James Cotton Blues Band
Delaney & Bonnie & Friends
The Incredible String Band
B.B. King
Led Zeppelin
Herbie Mann
Sam & Dave
Santana

Labor Day, Monday, Sept. 1

Grand Funk Railroad
Johnny Winter
Delaney & Bonnie & Friends
BB King
Nazz
Sly and the Family Stone
Spirit
Sweetwater
Ten Years After
Tony Joe White

 

‘Got No Shoes, Got No Blues’ festival film

 

Grand Funk Railroad

 

Led Zeppelin

 

King’s X – ‘Closer/Captain’ cover – Cardi’s, Houston, 1996

 

References

  1. Kifner, J., “Texas Pop Fans Don’t Have Bethel’s Problems,” New York Times, Aug. 31, 1969, p. 46.
  2. “Pop Festival The Last, Mayor Says,” Reading Eagle, Sept. 5, 1969, p. 3.