By Chris Gray
By Corey Deiterman
By Jef With One F
By Chris Gray
By Rocks Off
By Rocks Off
Singer Matt Kelly of Middlefinger was on stage at the Blue Iguana, and the place was rocking out. It was the late 1990s. Clouseaux singer Thomas Escalante was in the crowd and remembers that Kelly, known for his sly use of props -- he'd slip into a coconut bra at a moment's notice -- had pulled back from the stage and was looking at his wrist.
"Blood is spurting in huge arcs towards the ceiling. It was like a hose pointed up. We all thought it was part of the show, but what had happened was this guy was rocking on the front row, pounding a beer bottle on the table, and it broke, and Matt's wrist scraped right over the broken glass, and he sliced some of his arteries.
So he starts going all pale, and I'm like, 'Dude, you're really taking this to the next level!' Until he fell down, only his wife seemed fazed. That was when the music stopped. Luckily, someone in the audience happened to be a nurse-in-training; otherwise he could have died."
When you get right down to it, live music is as much a contact sport as it is one of the performing arts. Whether you buy a ticket to a football game or a concert, you have similar expectations: You're hoping to be entertained, hoping to get the adrenaline surging, but you're also expecting something more than what you would get from a movie at the local googolplex, where no matter the odds, you expect the hero to prevail in the end.
At any given show, the people who are there first and foremost to hear the music and commune with the band compose probably no more than half the audience. For a lot of people, hooking up is the primary reason to go. For others, and this is all too common, they go so they can say they were there.
But there is another reason people go to shows, and that is to see some real, live, good old-fashioned mayhem. Will the singer be sober enough to get through all his songs, when you know for a fact he's been drinking since noon -- yesterday? Will the equipment fail? Will a fight break out?
This story is about those anythings that can and do happen when you couple music and egos with drugs and alcohol. We've got people peeing, puking, and drinking whiskey filtered through urine strainers and crapping where they shouldn't. We've got clueless Canadians and creepy Californians. And we've got lots and lots of violence, not to mention Malcolm X dancing with Richard Nixon while getting whipped by a dominatrix with an I Dream of Jeannie fixation. Here's a look at some of Houston's most dangerous live bands and the most anarchic shows of the past couple of decades.
In November 1985, when the Replacements rolled into the Lawndale Art Annex on the Tim tour, they were the hippest young band in America. Paul Westerberg, Tommy Stinson, Bob Stinson and Chris Mars had welded punk spirit to Neil Youngian songcraft and come up with a mix that was as vital, if not quite as popular, as Nirvana would be five years later. Their live shows were always memorable -- they generally followed a pattern of drunken train wreck one night and a hungover beauty the next. Houston got the business end of one of their down nights. Cactus Music and Video general manager Quinn Bishop was there.
"Before the show, I remember, the guys were just sitting near the stage in a kiddie pool with no water in it, just drunk off their asses. Alex Chilton opened for them, and they were sitting in that kiddie pool heckling him. They were all wearing women's clothing -- some costume-type stuff they had found somewhere. And after Alex gets done there's this long break before the Replacements came on. When we first got there, we noticed that there was this guy asleep on the floor in front of the stage, and we thought, 'Hey, no big deal, he must have really tied one on.' So we forget about him, and a few minutes later the crowd parts and this guy lurches up and stumbles toward the back of the room, projectile-vomiting in all directions. It looked like he had eaten a bellyful of spaghetti -- there were millions of one-inch noodles all over the place -- and he slipped in it, stumbled and fell in it. It was terrible. Later, we found out it was Michael Corcoran."
(Reached at the Austin American-Statesman, veteran Texas music critic Corcoran disputes sleeping at the show, and doesn't remember if he was one of the two or three people in his group who puked.)
"So later I ran into Tommy in the bathroom before the show, and he was so wasted he could not speak, and I was like, 'Okaaay,' and as I finished up talking to him I heard this banging on the stall door. Paul had basically locked himself in the stall. And then he climbed over the top of it and fell in the water, or urine, or whatever it might be on the floor there. Remember, he was in a dress. Bob was in a tutu and flashing the audience with great regularity. Penis, ass, the whole deal.