The Spines were Ross, Wendy, Neill and me that night and we were up for it. We were like a huge rhythm engine in those days playing in odd funky time signatures with intense and sometimes insane vocals. We had toured the country together and were in the process of recording our fifth record – Idiot Sun for Flying Nun. We would have been really tight and energized.
We always had the best soundman (it would have been Brent, Whare or Andy that night) and so we didn’t suffer that support act flimsy sound problem. We road-tested the new songs we were recording in front of a huge crowd hungry for the Violent Femmes.
We got an encore.
There was another band on next and in my head I’m sure it was the Drongos (Richard Kennedy doesn’t remember it and says it wasn’t them though they played with the Femmes many times in the States) and we were given this big backstage area as our playground.
We wound up on a mezzanine overlooking the stage where all the beer for the rider was kept on a bed of ice and we just helped ourselves. The show was great and we just buzzed away out of our trees watching it all unfold from above.
What made Milwaukee famous…
By the time it all finished we had polished off most of the beer and went down to meet the band and they were very friendly – Ross joked with Victor about his little kit, Wendy talked to Gordon and I asked Brian about his acoustic bass and feedback – he said he liked our set and my Gretsch.
Apart from that I don’t remember much so I put out a request to anyone who was there and it seems I’m not alone in not remembering much…
An Oral History:
Johnny Mills: I was there, was a great night. I’d seen Femmes in London 1984, at the Lyceum Ballroom, glorious! Went again the following week for REM. Power to you Jon, for being there, and still being here!
Belinda Webster: I was there and stood on the tops of twi beers cans so I could see them. Room was packed and sound was incredible.
Lisa Noble: I was there, but like you I can’t remember much about it. Only lasting impression I have is of the crowd being surprisingly blokey and mainstream. No rugby on that night, maybe?
Gillian Lolesi: Brought back some memories of seeing them at the gluepot in Auckland- god knows when 1984? They played so long the staff turned the lights on to make us all go home.
John Kingston: I remember it was awesome!
Charles Mabbett: Yes, I remember this gig. Not well but I think they were very enjoyable. PS I saw The Spines many times, Jon. But the memory of that night is hazy at best.
Mick Frawley: I was there but munted but had a goodtime, seem to recall they opened with Children of the Revolution but don’t hold me to that.
Phillip Simpson: It was good. They played all the classics faithfully which was gratifying at the time, but not particularly memorable…which is I guess why people are hazy on it. This was in contrast to say The Birthday Party, whose show at the same venue was right on the edge and utterly memorable.