Now, don’t freak out! I’m not giving you a hair-metal review. My intentions for seeing these bands come from a very punk state of mind. I had a chance to see the ex-members of Sham 69, The Clash, Generation X, Lord Of The New Church and Hanoi Rocks. Bear with me . . . here’s the story:
I remember when I first heard about Hanoi Rocks it was in 1984 or early 1985. I was in my post-punk phase, hair grown out a bit, and clothes, kind of looked like I robbed a gypsy (or rolled a bum). Anyway, I was out on a date with a punk girl from Pasadena named Meredith. And she decides we should go downtown (Los Angeles) to a place called the Fetish Club. I’ve been to a lot of rat holes in my time, but this place really was one of the worst places I had ever been to. We paid to get in, and I excuse myself to go to the bathroom, I go in, and the bathroom has no doors, and the stalls have no doors. Basically, everybody in the club can see you. So, I’m standing at the urinal doing my business when I hear “Oh my god, look at these sexy men!” I turn my head to see a six foot 4 inch black transvestite in a blonde wig. He . . . or she comes running over to get a better look so I turn as much as I can, and when he gets too close I stick my leg out to keep him at bay and he says “I like them feisty.” I finish up and leave the bathroom for the night. I meet up with my date, and explain what I just went through, and she just laughed and said “this is the Fetish club.”
So, we hang out a bit, and discover one of the rooms in this place is a rundown bar with a wall-sized video screen that was showing all the stuff that I normally didn’t see on MTV, like Black Flag, Suicidal Tendencies, Bauhaus (you know, “Undead, Undead”), and Hanoi Rocks. The first video on was Hanoi’s cover of Up Around The Bend, corny video, but cool song. I remember saying to the girl I was with “I wish I had seen these guys live.”
Another weird part of the evening is when we entered the “video room” is over in the corner was a guy I went to High School with, I didn’t know his name, dressed in a Misfits type style complete with the “devil-lock.” Which is fine, but in school I remembered in Polo shirts. I did a double take when I saw him, and he ends up giving me the casual “what’s up” nod. How cool?!
After an hour, or so we stepped outside to smoke a clove or two, in the 1980’s this was still cool, and a block or two down I heard what sounded like a brick go through a window, then an alarm going off. About three minutes later a black guy comes running up to me with an armful of dresses, and asked me if I “wanted to buy a dress for my woman?” I thanked him for his great offer, but I passed.
A year or two later my friend Chris, from around the block, comes by to tell me that some of the remaining members of Hanoi are going to be playing up the street from us, did I want to go? Definitely. Somehow, Poison was headlining the show, they didn’t have an album out at the time, but they had a decent following in Los Angeles. Cherry Bombz had their album out, and were reasonably established – but they opened. Anyway, we get there and the place is full of the type of people you would see in Decline of Western Civilization II. After sitting through an opening act that I can’t remember I push my way up front to check out the Hanoi boys, this is where things get bad, I’m amped and the band comes out and . . . nothing. No energy, no charisma, nothing. The guys just stood there doing Pete Townshend poses. Most of the show there was no movement, then at the end of their set the did Loverboy’s Hot Girls In Love, and then they exploded, jumping all around, running from one part of the stage to the other, fricking bizarre. I was heart broken; I figured with this line-up how could you go wrong?