This past weekend the crew got together just outside of Princeton NJ for a full day of shooting interviews. Me, Amy, Tozzi and Salerno met up early on a gray Saturday morning. On the itinerary for this shoot were a bunch of regulars, some of which had been at City Gardens on day one. The docket included various former DJ’s, bouncers, stagehands and general observers. These are the folks who watched a fledgling little faction of supporters grow steadily into tight-knit groups of friends and, eventually, a scene. Laughs were had, Gail brought some AMAZING pumpkin chocolate truffle creation that had us all salivating, and every time you turned around Salerno was there with that damn camera of his taking those “candid” shots (which really means taking pictures when you’re not looking and unprepared and in the worst possible grimace or chuckle in which to be photographed…). As an added bonus, Randy Now even joined us for the day.
As I sat and listened to people speak I noticed certain details that had been coming up throughout the shoot; a few common threads run invariably throughout all these stories. Constant themes of friendship worked their ways through these narratives of cognizant recognition of this thing called music. To a person each one basically told a similar story: that of people dissatisfied with the world (and particularly) the music around them and how they actively sought something different, something with substance. Even if, at first, they had no idea what they were searching for. Each told tales of rebirth in a music scene that meant more to them than anything else at the time. Their lives, minds, and passions were all inspired by the various forms of music they discovered and all were lead down a similar path they met. Most likely, at City Gardens. What comes through most pointedly is the sense of community that was had back then. There’s a reason why most of these people are still close friends some twenty-five years later.
Most riveting were the tales of the bouncers. Thinking back, especially, to all those Hardcore shows… man they were fucking wild. Often times they got pretty out of hand. To hear what it was like from the guys who saw (and dealt with) it every night was amazing. These guys were their own separate faction. While they loved the music and were there for the music, they had a job to do. They saw A LOT. Bouncers are a breed apart, that is for sure, and their insight is both unique and invaluable. There is a definite sense of weird juxtaposition when hearing them describe shows I saw with my own eyes. Stuff that, as a fan and a patron, I never knew was going on was brought to light in vivid detail. For me, I spent the majority of the shows watching the stage. These folks, for the most part, were looking in the opposite direction. They were part of the energy coming off the bands reflected and directed back at us. They were a big part of the synergy between us and the bands; like conductors and conduits. Even the mundane seemed transformed into the magical. For example: being tapped by Randy to help the Ramones load in might seem like a chore to someone who has loaded in hundreds of bands before. To a kid who was 14 at the time it would have been nothing short of miraculous to be able to do such a thing. Many of us, maybe most of us, were just fans. The closest we ever got to our heroes was perhaps and after-show handshake, or a minute at the merch stand. Maybe we got a night out for pizza with them, or, if we were lucky enough, found some kind of party to fall into. Most of us, though, just went home and dreamed about how cool it would be to be in our own band, playing our own shows… These guys had a hand in the reality of it. These bouncers, DJs, light and sound people etc; these guys saw the trivial be elevated to the holy and saw daily examples of artistic purity.
For me, the deeper I get into hearing people’s stories the more I see, remember and re-live my own. This is the entirety of beauty in what we are trying to capture. Behind each story is an air of humanity; a detailed account of how the music so forcefully touched all of our lives. With each one I am transported back to an energetic, optimistic time in my life, one I have since lost and am constantly looking for. You can see it in their eyes as their stories unfold; each one of them gleaming with a fraction of the joy they so vividly remember. To be entrusted with the care of these stories; these living things, is to hold a legacy in physical form in your hands. It is gentle and yet strong… vital. To hear and remember those days told in a language of youthful enthusiasm and pride is to feel validated (and, in some ways, vindicated) and brings you close to people who share something very reverent with you.