Gomez/ The Libertines The Jockey Club
Van Halen Cincinnati Gardens
The Romantics Timberwolf Amphitheatre
Dez Dickerson&The Modernaires/Billy Idol Hara Arena, Dayton
Honeymoon Suite The U-Turn, Middletown
Saccarine Trust/Black Flag The Jockey Club
Yes Riverbend Amphitheatre
The Replacements The Jockey Club
Yes Riverfront Coliseum
I’d heard The Libertines on Robin Plan’s “Planet X” late night show on 97X, and she mentioned they were playing some place called The Jockey Club. It was the middle of my senior year and I felt isolated and alienated. The crazy things Dakni and I had worn to school (glitter-splattered trash bags, multi-colored hair, face paint) and the crazy things we discussed (mostly punk and new wave music) labeled us as “weirdos.” She graduated in 1983, moved to Florida that autumn and I had no one. I was relegated to eating lunch by myself, or occasionally with some other misfits. The only thing any of us had in common was that we were all friend-less. Our lunch table was known as the “freak zone.”
So on a cold weekend in February, I drove down by myself and caught local bands Gomez and The Libertines at The Jockey Club in Newport, Ky. The place was an absolute dive, the neighborhood blighted, the crowd rough, and I was scared shitless. By the end of the show, however, I was over the moon to discover likeminded souls out there that dug the same music as me. Even though I was by myself I felt less “alone” than I did at school. Suddenly I “belonged” and it was a great feeling.
I caught the Dez Dickerson/Billy Idol show a few months later with another blind date—this time a true punk rocker named Marc who wore thick eyeliner and had a safety pin through his cheek! He was a distant relative of someone I knew, who thought we would hit off well because we were both “weird.” Marc was sweet and I learned within twenty minutes that he was gay. I ended up hooking up at the show with a suburban punk from Enon named Scott, and Marc ended up hooking up with some leather biker mate of Scott’s.
I told Scott about The Jockey Club, and we drove down together in July to catch the Saccarine Trust/Black Flag show. We didn’t know what to think about that show because Henry Rollins looked like a metal head with his long hair and bell-bottoms, but he and the band were a whirlwind of seething energy! Mostly I remember drinking Foster’s Lager in oil cans, trying to stand clear of the mosh pit churning out of control on the tiled floor. I was eighteen, which back then was the legal age for beer, so I was the one going to the “bar” to buy the booze, since Scott was still seventeen for another month. We were surprised and relieved that no one seemed to care that Scott was an underage drinker. And the “bar” wasn’t really even a bar at all! There were no barstools, no taps, no liquor. It looked more like an abandoned luncheonette with two chill cabinets against the grimy wall and a scary skinhead taking orders. Although you couldn’t really order anything, because the only thing they served was Foster’s in the oilcan. No glass was allowed because it could be broken and used as a weapon—but holy fuck those Foster’s cans were the perfect projectile missiles. They weighed a ton and were cheap as chips.
In October Scott and I went to back to the Club and caught The Replacements. Bobby Stinson wore a dress, Westerberg was drunk, and they rocked our asses off. I loved them. They were raw and so alive—the real deal—and they looked just like us: torn jeans, Chuck Taylor’s, t-shirts. It was a bittersweet show, however, because Scott’s military parents had pressured him into the service. I was shattered when he told me, and a few days after the ‘Mats show he was shipped out to Biloxi, Miss., his spiked hair shorn.
We wrote a few letters to each other—him mostly bitching about getting into more and more trouble—but I had started university and wasn’t about to sit home alone on the weekends and pine for him.
There were other shows I saw in 1984:
Van Halen: two freshman girls in my typing class paid me to drive them there, and bought my ticket. I ran into an old girlfriend, LA, at the show and we vowed to stay in touch.
The Romantics: They played Kings Island’s Grad Nite and I caught a couple of songs. They sucked.
Honeymoon Suite: The friend I’d reconnected with called me up for an evening of fun. Our plans to get drunk at the drive-in were thwarted by the sight of a huge tour bus pulling into the bar across the street from the Star*Glo. Curiosity got the best of us and we pulled up beside the bus to find out who the band was. We didn’t know them but chatted with them, and ended up cruising around Middletown with the guitarist and drummer in the bitchin’ Camaro. They bought us dinner, helped drink our 24-case of cheap Busch beer, and put us on the guest list. How could we refuse?
Yes: A month after the Honeymoon Suite gig, LA and I had plans to see the re-formed Yes, who were riding high on their 90125 album. Two days before the show, LA’s favorite cousin Kevin was killed in an auto accident in rural Kentucky. After much soul searching, she decided that she couldn’t handle seeing Kevin in a coffin, and she came to stay with me for a week while the rest of her family made the trip down south. Yes put on a great show, with lasers galore, but neither of us could properly enjoy the show with Kevin’s untimely death hanging over us. I still have the concert shirt I bought that night. It’s raspberry red, sleeveless, glows in the dark (which I didn’t know when I bought it) and because I love all things luminous, I have thus far refused to hawk it on eBay.
Ratt/Billy Squier: I had seen LA staggering around at the Nazareth/Billy Squier show the previous year, and she convinced me that we needed to go see him again. So we did. I can’t remember a single thing about the show. I might have been very drunk. I’m pretty sure I was.
Yes (again): Can't remember who accompanied me to this show and I don't remember much about it, but I have the concert stub so I must have gone. I also must have BEEN GONE at the show.