Sunday, April 20, 2008


Real Enemy @ The Electric Banana 4/20/83. Photo by Eric Bauer

April 20th 2008 marks the 25th anniversary of the first time I ever took the stage in a band; specifically it was the first Real Enemy gig at (where else?) the Electric Banana in Pittsburgh, PA. Real Enemy was formed right after I took a road trip to D.C a month earlier, where over a three day period at the 9:30 Club I saw The Cramps, The Gun Club, and perhaps most importantly, a now-legendary hardcore matinee with The Necros, The Faith, The Meatmen and Hate From Ignorance that took place on Sunday March 27th. There are pictures from that show in the book Banned in D.C., and yes, you can clearly see an 18 years young, wide-eyed MLV in the crowd. Looking back today, the really remarkable thing is that after seeing that show, I went back to Pittsburgh, put the band together, quickly wrote up a whole set, and we were playing out a mere 24 days later. 8 days after that we played with Husker Du, and two days after that, we opened for Flipper. Those were the days…

Real Enemy consisted of the angry young me on vocals, Vince Curtis, who would later join me in Half Life, on guitar, boy genius Steve Heineman, who still makes his living playing music on bass, and the veteran of two great Pittsburgh punk bands – namely Radio Hanoi and Ground Zero – Russell Smith on drums. In the next 6 months we would go on to play with everyone from Ultra Violence at CBGB’s, to my hardcore heroes The Necros, before self destructing at a gig opening for, perhaps appropriately, No Trend. But back to April 20th, 1983…

Back then, bands had to play two sets, and we needed another band on the bill to fill up an entire evenings worth of “entertainment.” The choice was obvious for us, as Vince was also a member of Plastic btls, the ‘Burgs premier industrial band, who were fronted by Lee “Mr. Destruction” Skirboll. The door price was $1, and I clearly remember that 83 people paid to get in (1983 – 83 people – easy.) Draft beers were 50¢ until 10 PM, so I’m pretty sure the crowd came early. What that must have been like for them, a brutal set of industrial (in the Nurse with Wound / Whitehouse sense of the word children, no Thrill Kill Cult here!) music, followed by a brutal half hour of angry hardcore, followed by more industrial then, hey, why not? more hardcore. With the exception of Real Enemy covering “Teenage Lobotomy” and resurrecting the Radio Hanoi burg-classic “Jody is a Lemonhead” it was all original material, none of which any of the audience could have ever heard before. Were they intrigued? Disappointed? Happy to have something to do for a dollar on a Wednesday night? I’ll never know for sure, because I was way too interested in creating “the scene” (as opposed to making “a scene”) so that we could do it again and again. I dreamed that there would be lots more bands, people that wanted to publish fanzines, start radio shows, make flyers, create indie record labels and so on. All I wanted then was for Pittsburgh to have a real hardcore scene like Washington D.C., which eventually did happen – and it all started on this particular evening, 25 years ago today when the first ever local hardcore band took the stage for the very first time. Someone had to go first, it just happened to be us.

1 comments:

Wicked said...

You fuckin' tell 'em. Fuckin' tell 'em, that's what the fuck um sayin'

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