Tag Archives: punk

Dead Boys, speaker salesmen

A 1977 performance by the Dead Boys at CBGBs is being used as the cornerstone of a new commercial spot for Sonos wireless speakers. It’s a short clip of “Sonic Reducer” taken from footage filmed for CBS’s 60 Minutes in the hey-day of punk. The show was later released on DVD as Live at CBGB’s 1977.

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Lou Reed (1942-2013)


Lou Reed, the famous New York artist/musician/poet, died on Oct. 27 at the age of 71. To my knowledge, his only performance in Youngstown came on April 27, 1978 at the Tomorrow Club.  The show came in between the release of the studio album Street Hassle in February and the live recording Live: Take No Prisoners in May.

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Because the night belongs to us

patti smith 2-15-78Patti Smith was one of the foundations of the New York City underground rock scene at the time of her Feb. 15, 1978 appearance at the Tomorrow Club. Commercial success was limited at this point, but that changed in a few weeks time when she released the album Easter. The Bruce Springsteen-Patti Smith penned “Because the Night” shot up the charts when it was released in the spring eventually allowing Smith to slow her hectic touring schedule in the 1980s.

WHAT THE SHOW SOUNDED LIKE: Here’s Smith performing her biggest hit on TV later in 1978.

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Space Potatoes at Cedars

The satirical punk rock act The Dead Milkmen graced the stage at Cedar’s on Sept. 24, 1986. Could not find any ads from the newspaper, but the band’s drummer wrote a tour diary and the stop in Youngstown is mentioned. The band opened for itself as the Space Potatoes.


WHAT THE BAND LOOKED LIKE: Here’s the band a little later on in 1986.

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Dead Boys ressurection

Never really completely out of commission until Stiv Bators’ death in 1990, the Dead Boys “reunited” for a gig on Oct. 25, 1986 at Cedars. The band cut the ill-fated comeback recording “All The Way Down/The Nights Are So Long” at Peppermint Studios in Youngstown in the days before the gig (Bators was on a break from Lords of the New Church). Guitarist Cheetah Chrome claimed in his book A Dead Boy’s Tale that the songs sounded like they were recorded in a polka studio (which of course was true). To this day, Chrome says he will not have anything to do with those recordings and admits he has been known to break a record or two if they are ever shoved in his face to sign.

Chrome did say the Cedars gig was one of the band’s best and it played to a full house. The Infidels, who later would actually fill in for missing Dead Boys members in future reunion shows, opened the show. In the run-up to the concert, Bators admitted to a Vindicator writer that the Dead Boys never played here before and made up a story about how the band would be turned away from gigs in these parts because they wore leather and looked like bikers. Pretty much total bullshit, but the writer took the bait anyway.

WHAT THE SHOW LOOKED LIKE: Here’s the band a few days later doing a Halloween gig at the Ritz in New York City:


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Ramones at the Youngstown Agora

The first song on the Ramones’ 1981 release Pleasant Dreams ironoically is “We Want The Airwaves”. When the band arrived for its October 4, 1981 show at the Youngstown Agora, it wasn’t getting much air play and the strain between Joey and Johnny Ramone was increasing over girl issues. Despite not getting along for pretty much the rest of their career (this includes all band members), the Ramones found a way to make a go of it on stage and in the studio in the 1980s and 90s. They just never achieved the pop chart stardom they craved as kids from Queens eating refried beans and gulpin’ down thorazines.

I had previously posted that this was the last Ramones show in Youngstown. That might not be correct. There is evidence of a show taking place on July 23, 1983 at the State Theater. The State Theater was not running ads in the Vindicator at that time, but there is a mention of the show in The Jambar from that time frame. Ramones gigographies online do not list that show as happening, but there is a mention of “Hicksville, Ohio” on July 22 in the Wikipedia entry regarding Ramones concert tours. There is also a possibility that it was canceled or the State Theater had already closed. Anyone in the know feel free to leave a comment.

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A hardcore show at Stambaugh … wait, what?

Corrosion of Conformity garnered mainstream hard rock/metal success in the mid’ 90s with albums such as Deliverance and Wiseblood, but well before that happened COC was a sought after hardcore band with a pretty cool logo hailing from Raleigh, North Carolina. On August 12, 1987, COC along with local hardcore legends Sacred Hate and a few others played a benefit “concert” for the Youngstown Peace Council in the ballroom of the Stambaugh Auditorium building. Yeah, that’s right… they played in a room essentially made for hosting upscale weddings.

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NOFX at the Penguin Pub

NOFX are probably one of the more universally popular Southern California punk rock acts around, so it’s not all that surprising to find out that early in their career they stopped off to play a gig here. Of course, in their fliers for the 1988 Gigan-Tour (including the one above), they mistakenly labeled this Youngstown as being in Pennsylvania (there is a Youngstown, PA, but it’s really, really small). The gig was August 2, 1988 at the Penguin Pub. NOFX had only one album to their name at that point, but a few years later the band would garner a decent amount of success with the Punk in Drublic album on Epitaph Records.

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Jello Biafra runs his mouth

Jello Biafra is best known for his antics and stage presence with the legendary San Francisco punk rock act The Dead Kennedys from 1978 to 1986. I’m fairly certain that band never set foot in Youngstown, but following the DK’s demise Jello did become a fairly popular spoken word artist in the same vein as his old band. On October 25, 1990, the 32-year-old Biafra did a spoken word performance at Youngstown State University’s Kilwawley Center for about 900 people. Known for talking for up to five hours (I sat through one of these marathon sessions once in the early 2000s), Biafra railed against government censorship of music for the majority of his speaking engagement at YSU according to published reports at the time. This was some four years after he went toe-to-toe with Tipper Gore’s PMRC on the Oprah Winfrey Show and three years after the Dead Kennedys avoided jail time with a hung jury verdict in the Frankenchrist obscenity trial. I’d venture to guess most of the material at the YSU performance was from the 1989 album High Priest of Harmful Matter: Tales From the Trial and what would be the 1991 release I Blow Minds for a Living.

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A journey to the dark side with G.G. Allin

G.G. Allin and the Murder Junkies at the Penguin Pub video link

G.G. Allin might not have been anywhere close to the galaxy of being a strong tunesmith, but during the time he was on the planet he was the living embodiment of the dangerous side of rock ‘n’ roll. On May 12, 1993, Allin and his Murder Junkies played a gig at the Penguin Pub. The above linked video (NSFW audio) is believed to be from that show. It pretty much speaks for itself, but what’s not shown is how the gig ended in fights, trashing of equipment and smokebombs. Police had to come to break up that little party.

Allin, who lived on the edge for many years, died of an accidental heroin overdose at the age of 36 just a few weeks later.

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