Miraculously, I wasn’t grounded. I was sure I would be, because my folks had a wicked track record of grounding me for really long periods of time. If I got Cs on my report card, I wouldn’t be allowed out of the house for the nine weeks until my next report card. Nine weeks! insane. On the matter of filling the living room with mega loud rock and roll and turning our home into a juvenile and adult delinquent clubhouse, however, they were not so strict. My dad hollered at me for about a half hour after my guests had gone. He said all of the usual shit. Asked a lot of rhetorical questions designed to have me feel guilty. When my mom came home, she didn’t seem to think it was any big deal. She thought it was dumb and rude, and of course, that was the end of me having any music rehearsals at our house, but I was free to go. I wasn’t grounded. I was confused, but I wasn’t about to question it.
For the preceeding couple of weeks, we had been talking about doing a “show” in the basement of the house of a girl who lived near the Edmund’s schoolyard. Her name was Stacy and she lived in a massive 3 story mansion in Northwood. She would come to the schoolyard sometimes and she would come over to my house occasionally. Her boyfriend, a punk rocker named Wally, had a crazy Christian mother who wouldn’t let him see her, so they’d hook up at my house under the pretense of liking our “band”. Anyway, her folks were leaving town for a week and left her in charge of her 15 year old self and their massive house which was filled with insane amounts of freaky hoarder shit. I can’t remember who’s idea(probably Richie’s)it was, but we picked a good evening and got all of our gear down into her basement and set it up. We wrote a set list. Then we played for 6 or 7 people. The same 6 or 7 people who came to see us every day when we played in my basement. It was a lot of work for nothing. It was a big dumb disappointment. The first of literally thousands.
Around the same time, I was able to check out the Philly Cookbook. Xav and Jerry put together a new band. I think it was called Animated Dreams. They were playing there and gave out these cool handbill flyers that had some surrealistic imagery. Brian, Richie, and I all walked over there on the scheduled evening. The club was just a half block off Frankford ave somewhere between Bridge-Pratt and Margeret-Orthodox stops. This was only about a half mile from my house, but it gave me the creeps. Anytime I’ve been under the el at night, I feel like I’m in the wrong place. Maybe it wasn’t dangerous, but it was definitely creepy and being on the east side of Frankford after dark was also shitty and creepy to me.
We arrived at the club. There was a square brown and ivory light up sign that said Philly Cook Book. It was basically a 3 or 4 car garage that somebody had converted into a stage and a small seating area and a bar. There was no cover to get in and no doorman. We walked in and saw Xav and Jerry and co. sitting at some tables with a bunch of gear around them, guitars, amp heads and shit. We went right over to them and sat down and hung out. There was a band on the small rise stage playing original music that sounded like Cinderella. They played ok, but they looked like shit. They were all different ages, like one guy in his 30s and another in his late 20s and 3 others in their early 20s. A few of them were on the beefy side and they obviously hadn’t called each other before the show to see what they all should be wearing. Some of them were in heavy metal gear, not quite spandex, but everything else-black and pink leopard print bandannas tied around ankles, studded bracelets and tight black jeans and japanese headbands most likely from a metal head boutique called Hyper Hyper Warrior. These 2 had big Aqua Netted girl hair. The 2 older guys and one of the younger dudes were in street clothes-one had a hyper color t-shirt another had an Eagles(the football team) t-shirt, dirty blonde mullets, leather converse, goin’ to the bar-wear. Like I said, they played well, and the singer meant it and he had the goods, and it was loud and tight and you could hear everything. Very exciting.
The part of the club where we had been sitting was on the far end away from the bar. We hadn’t moved from the table since we’d slunk in about 3 songs earlier. I’d glance over toward the bar every couple minutes because I was both curious about my surroundings and also because I wanted to see if anybody had noticed two 14 year olds and an 18 year old hiding in the corner. They totally had. Some dude walked over eventually and told us we had to go. I didn’t even argue or ask why, I just got up and left. It was a shame that I didn’t get to see Animated Dreams play, but at the same time, I was fine with it. I got to check out the club. What an amazing shit hole. It made me believe that anything is possible. You just put a bar and a stage in a garage and start telling people it’s a nightclub and ABRA CADABRA, you have a nightclub.
Right at the very end of the summer Eric Midgett told me about his friend Erik G. He said dude played drums and we could go to his house and play. We walked over there with my guitar and my small Gorilla amplifier. It was about a mile and a half away. We had a fun day. The house was full of skate punks. There was Erik and his brother Julian who I was just meeting plus Roland and Dan, who I already knew from school. All 4 of those dudes had red hair, so that was pretty weird. Right away, I started playing Paranoid by Black Sabbath, but I sped it up to hardcore speed since we were all “punks”. Eric Midgett and another huge skinhead looking dude named Sean Roche traded verses shouting into a blown out microphone that was plugged into an amp they already had on hand. Erik was a good drummer, but he wasn’t nearly as loud as Richie had been. Even still, my little amp struggled to be heard. We spontaneously wrote a few songs around some lyrics Midgett had written about how phony everything was. When we wrapped up we agreed we would do it again, but then school started and I don’t think we did.
Now that all of Richie’s gear was gone from my house, I realized that I’d need a bigger, louder amplifier. I didn’t need a monstrosity like the giant Acoustic system I’d been using, but I would need something bigger than my little gorilla. Something in between. just loud enough to get up over the drums.