Monday, May 18, 2009

Lust For Life '90

Let me start of by saying that I don't have the date for this performance. Not the biggest deal, but very unlike me not to date an archive piece. This is only relevant in that I can't remember if this performance was for CMJ or NMS 1990. Which brings us to the start of our story.

'Love You Til I Don't' was released in January '90. Label relations were strained from the start, but that's another story. For CMJ (or NMS) that year, Barn One booked an entire night at Tramp's to showcase their roster. Quite a number of bands were on the bill, including many who did not have albums out at the time. (And may have never released albums. Memory fails.) BO had a habit of raving about, then losing interest in projects.

This show was to take place on a Tuesday night, the last night of CMJ (or NMS.) For some unexplained reason, I was chosen to "close" the night. Which meant I would be going on at 2 AM on a Tuesday, long after everyone had either gone back to their hotels for an early morning flight or already flown home.

In addition, my drummer Chris had cracked his spine riding The Cyclone at Coney Island a week or so prior to the show. Clearly, this was a nothing to gain, nothing to lose proposition. So why the hell not have some fun? It was an opportunity for a one time only performance.

I had my bass player, Rich Grula and he was always up for anything. I enlisted a couple Pier Platters coworkers, Artie from Earth Pig and Lyle from Damen. But why stop there? I knew there would be a number of musicians at the show. So I would bring all my guitars and all my amps and recruit a band.

First thing to do was go buy some poster board. I wrote the lyrics (I am famous for my poor lyric memory) on the poster board. Next, I took a roll of perforated computer paper and wrote the chords out. I could indicate the changes with my feet in a game of rock and roll Twister.

One of my roommates, Marie Javins, was hosting a friend of hers for the rock weekend. Karl Straub of The Graverobbers. (He was later to immortalize Pier and me in the 'Mark Robinson' 7") He was and still is a great guitarist. And he was in.

The night of the show, we roped in a couple attendees. Ira of Yo La and Jim DeRogatis of the band Airliner and rock journalism excellence. The original plan was to start with Rich, Lyle and myself and bring up the guests one at a time. But I must not have spread the word, because the stage was filled from the start.

No rehearsal, no real plan, other than to play until we were done. And with that, I proudly present 2 AM on a Tuesday night at Tramp's.

Karl Straub kindly offered his memories of the evening

otis, my memory of it is prob sketchier than yours-- i also cannot remember whether it was cmj or nms. i'm not even completely certain what either of those things are, at this late date. i recall that a band called "sweet lizard illtet" played, and maybe another band where the drummer used water cooler jugs as part of his kit? maybe that was another show. (editor's note - sounds like Barkmarket to me)

beyond that, my clearest memory is of the next day, when i was browsing in see hear (is that right?) hip bookstore, and lyle (who i did not recognize) was behind the counter. he said to me, "hey, great show last night" or some such, and i made the mistake of saying, "oh, were you there?" if i'd been thinking more quickly, i'd have realized that anyone at that show while we played would, statistically speaking, probably have been on stage. He got a peevish, or miffed, look on his face, and then started miming drumming, so as to jog my memory.

(I have to say, it was the most hostile mimed drumming I have ever seen, before or since.)

my weak response was that it had been pretty dark on stage, and i'd never really gotten a good look at him. This did not appease him, however. Lyle, if you're reading this somewhere, I'd just like to say, maybe now that so many years have gone by, I could make it up to you by meeting you somewhere and buying you a beer. Although, since I don't remember what you look like, the same thing would probably happen again.

at approx. 2:50 of part 3, you have documentation that I used to climb up on things, preparatory to jumping off of them, while strapped to a guitar. It was a way of enhancing the natural excitement over the fact that we were about, against all odds, to finish the song. There was a lot of demand for that sort of thing, in that era.

Rich Grula added:

Oddly, I have no memory of this show. I mean, nothing. The only thing I recall is that we used to jam on Lust For Life, but this whole she-bang, it's my own personal 17-minute gap.

Did we really play a gig with only one song? Wow.

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