Coachella 2012 Part 1 – PreHistory
Contributed by Dave Travis
Back when I was in college in the late 80’s, one of my jobs was as a roadie for the band Celebrity Skin. My boss was their manager Rick VanSanten. I met Rick when I was 16. I had met Paul Roessler and he asked me to tape his band Twisted Roots. They were playing at the Music Machine in West L.A.
After Twisted Roots played I was escorted back stage and told talk their manager. I was scared that I was in big trouble like when ReRun got in trouble taping the Doobie Brothers in What’s Happening. Their manager was Rick VanSanten and when he determined that there was no malice involved he asked me to make him a tape of the show which I did and brought to his house two days later. He then invited me to video tape the other band he was managing at the time 45 Grave
and on the beach in 1984. By 1986 it was to much of a bust and Mario Lalli suggested I come out to the desert and try. I started bringing my generator out to the desert and doing shows with Mario and Larry Lalli. Then they got their own generator and I drifted out of it. Rick asked me to to a generator show out in the desert to help promote Celebrity Skin. I asked Mario and Larry Lalli to do the show with me and they did.. For the original generator shows we just brought a p.a. and some lights and the bands brought their equipment and the audience brought whatever supplies they needed. Rick wanted to do something bigger and also bring in some bands that were doing Goldenvoice shows. Rick also brought in Rat Sound. Rat started doing sound for punk shows and then created the awe-inspiring Black Flag Rat Touring PA System.
They did the sound systems for a lot of Goldenvoice shows notably at Fenders Ballroom in Long Beach, where Goldenvoice was booking punk melees with bands like Black Flag, Flipper, Bad Brains, Adolescents, Husker Du, 45 Grave, Saccharine Trust, Redd Kross, Corrosion of Conformity, Firehose etc…There would usually be 4 or 5 bands and a lot of mayhem. So now (1991) we were doing are biggest generator show that had yet been done with “Goldenvoice” bands Celebrity Skin, Liquid Jesus, Pygmy Love Circus, and Haunted Garage + Mario and Larry’s Sort of Quartet , The Rails (early Abby Travis band), Porno Songes (proto-Backbiter), Texorcist (Texacala Jones with Jonathan and Heath from Backbiter and Dave Catching from Queens of the Stone Age / Eagles of Death Metal), DC3, The Stains, The Jack Brewer Band, and Weird Skull Control (with Kidd Spike and Karla MadDog). This was before mass internet communication and information on the event was only by flyer.
Splattering of Tribes flyer
The Rails, The Porno Sponges, Celebrity Skin and Liquid Jesus got to play and then there was a mass response from law enforcement agencies that ended the show. Mario and Larry got fined, we did a benefit concert at Rajis.
Splattering of Tribes benefit Rajis Flyer by Dave Travis
The two people who called and wrote checks and donated were Rick VanSanten and Greg Ginn. A few weeks later Rick put together a big combo show as a benefit for Craig Lee , that featured the who’s who of punk survivors like the Circle Jerks, Redd Kross, Firehose, the Go-Go’s (with Exene Cervanka singing), L7, The Zeros, and El Vez among others. After this he did other extravaganzas but this one had a pretty heavy line up.
Critical Mass set times
I graduated college, Celebrity Skin broke up. Dave Markey returned from the 1991 Sonic Youth / Nirvana European festival tour and I spend much of the next few months editing what became the movie 1991 The Year Punk Broke. I did some more work for Rick and Goldenvoice sporadically in the early 90’s. I would do stuff like sell tickets in the Hollywood Palladium box office with Pat Smear before he moved on to the SST Superstore and Nirvana, delivering flyers and equipment, I even painted the Hollywood Palladium dressing rooms. But I drifted off doing less and less with Goldenvoice and more and more with video and later recording. After my wife got pregnant I went back to school and got a teaching credential became a teacher and was out of the “music business” for almost a decade. Rick and Paul started doing Coachella festivals with Rat Sound in 1999 near where the Splattering of Tribes and other desert shows took place. I don’t know if the Spattering of Tribes was any inspiration to Coachella but Rick was there and now the Coachella festival is. Rick Passed away in 2004.
After my teaching days were done I went back to music and video. Many people were gone and many more did not remember me. I made the movie A HISTORY LESSON which I screened across North America. One of the screenings was at the Desert Rock at the Indio Performing Arts Center that Mario Lalli was putting on. Besides having the movie screened I was also the projectionist and stage manager of the stage. Mario had me and my projector come back to stage manage and project for the final Desert Rock at the IPAC show in March 2011. Paul Tollet of Goldenvoice / Coachella came down to the show to check out the venue. We talked for the first time in years, re-connected and he invited me to Goldenvoice 30 and then to Coachella. Of all the people who forgot me Paul Tollet was one of the people who remembered me, which is appreciated.
This was originally supposed to be the first paragraph of my review of Coachella but it became an article in itself. Hopefully it was interesting and taught you something, and if not, why did you read this far? People were wondering why I had a pass so I was just trying to explain. Since I have already exceeded my 1000 word quota I will put the actual review as another article or articles.