On October 17th, 1997 Chrome Cranks and White Hassle played at CBGB’s! Chrome Cranks were an American punk-styled blues band that originally formed in Cincinnati, but after a brief hiatus, reformed in New York City in 1992. Bob Bert joined the band on drums in 1994. In 1997, around the time of this show, the band released their final studio album, Love in Exile, before disbanding in 1998. White Hassle, the opening act, released their debut record in 1997, National Chain.
On October 14th, 2000, Mike Watt and his back band The Pair of Pliers returned to Mercury Lounge. Watt and his group played Mercury Lounge again one year to the date and threw in some fun surprises in their set. The band even played some Minutemen songs, including “I Felt Like A Gringo!”
On October 14th, 1999, Mike Watt played with his back band the Pair of Pliers as part of the “Searchin’ the Shed for Pliers” tour behind Watt’s 1997 punk opera, Contemplating the Engine Room. The Pair of Pliers backing band included Tom Watson on guitar and Vince Meghouni on drums. Tom Watson also played with Watt in The Missingmen and like Mike, was in a 1980s SST band, Slovenly! Some highlights include a cover of Wire’s “The 15th,” a few Minutemen songs, and Watt taking a dig at “that singer of Limp Bizkit!”
On October 4th, 1986, True Believers played at Maxwell’s! The group was the Austin based project of brothers Alejandro Escovedo, formerly of the Nuns, and his brother Javier, formerly of the Zeroes. The band only released two albums, a self-titled record, which was released shortly prior to this gig, and Hard Road, a compilation which was released in 1994, seven years after the group disbanded. Although the group broke up in 1987, they reformed for a well-received one-off performance in 2012 at SXSW.
On September 29th, 1990, Superchunk played at CBGB’s! The McKenzie Tapes contains a few records from early in Superchunk’s career, but as of today, this is officially the earliest. The band had only formed a year prior and had just released their self-titled debut album, four days prior. This is the very beginnings of a legendary band! Although Laura Ballance and Mac McCaughan founded Merge Records in 1989, Matador released the band’s debut record.
On September 28th, 1990, The Aquanettas played at CBGB’s! I recently discovered this wonderful band after I found their debut album, Love With a Proper Stranger, in the “Hoboken and Related” section at my local shop, Iris Records. Since then, I’ve been a fan, and I was quite delighted to discover a live recording of one of their early performances in The McKenzie Tapes archive!
Shortly before this gig, the band played the New Music Seminar in NYC, and signed a deal with Canadian record label Nettwerk Productions, who distributed their albums through IRS Records in the U.S. The band would release two more EPs before disbanding in 1995.
On September 28th, 1986, Mojo Nixon and Skid Roper played at Maxwell’s! Prior to their set, Mojo and his band were interviewed by none other than Dave McKenzie (this site’s namesake) and his college pal Jim McGuiness. Mojo’s set is well over an hour and even though Mojo mentioned at the start of that he didn’t have a ton of time, he chatted with Dave and Jim for about 45 minutes! This is quality stuff that you can’t hear anywhere else!!!
On September 27th, 1986, Jonathan Richman played at Maxwell’s! In 1986, Jonathan released his sixth studio album as Jonathan Richman and The Modern Lovers, It’s Time For.
On September 25th, 1998, Bob Mould played at Irving Plaza. Bob was originally only scheduled to perform on Friday the 25th, but due to high demand, a second gig was added for Saturday the 26th. Two years prior to this show, Bob disbanded his highly renowned post-Husker Du project, Sugar, and resumed his solo career. He released a self-titled album (referred to as Hubcap due to the cover art) in 1996, and then released The Last Dog And Pony Show about a month prior to this show at Irving Plaza. The album was named as such because Mould decided that the tour that followed would be his "last electric band tour." Subsequently, Bob took a hiatus from music to pursue his other passion, professional wrestling! He’d release his next solo album, “Modulate,” in 2002.
On September 23rd, 1999, Son Volt played at Tramps. When I took this tape out of its case, I discovered that the reel was cut. Thankfully, I was able to patch it back together with some scissors and scotch tape. You can hear the weird-ish scotch tape-y part in the beginning, but aside from that, the rest of the tape was salvaged!
This show was a part of Son Volt’s final tour before the band’s first hiatus. Right after the conclusion of this tour, Jay Farrar announced that he’d be pursuing a solo career. Farrar would release two full-lengths in 2001 and 2003 before resurrecting Son Volt with a new backing band in 2005.
On September 17th, 1988, Dinosaur Jr. played at Maxwell’s! This power-trio from Amherst, Massachusetts was still a relatively young band, just on the cusp of releasing one their most well-known records, “Bug.” Their set included several songs from this yet to be released album, such as “Budge,” “Freak Scene,” and “Yeah We Know.” The group also played several favorites from 1987’s “You’re Living All Over Me,” such as “The Lung.” A really fantastic early set by Dinosaur Jr.!!
On September 17th, 1997, Grifters played at Tramps! The band originally formed in the late 1980s as A Band Called Bud, with vocalist/guitarist Scott Taylor, bassist Tripp Lamkins, and drummer Dave Shouse. After being renamed the Grifters by 1990, Shouse joined Taylor on guitar, with Stanley Gallimore taking over on the drums. Songwriting duties were shared between Shouse, Taylor and Lamkins.
The band released its last record Full Blown Possession, about a week before this gig. Thereafter, the band disbanded to pursue other projects.
On September 12th, 1998, Royal Trux played the second of two nights at The Cooler in New York City. In April 1998, the band released their seventh studio album on Drag City, “Accelerator.” In October 1998, Stephen Garnett penned a nice review of the gig in Ink Magazine:
Veterans of disorder may apply to Royal Trux, but Jennifer Herrema and Neil Hagerty seemed at-ease, well-adjusted, charming, focused and relatively healthy performing before a packed Cooler in NYC. Spillout into the bar was inevitable, where thankfully, the somewhat muddy sound mix in the main room was given space to dissipate, and so the bass/percussion-heavy rock songs were revived by clearer fuzzy guitar and the dual vocal stylings of Jennifer and Neil.
Opening with the two and three-minute songs that make up much of their latest Drag City release, Royal Trux kept rocking with minimal chatter, maximum time spent playing. “Waterpark” could have been louder, sure, but the tribute to splashing around seemed a fitting opener as summer fades. “Witch’s Tit” features the penultimate Trux riff, “The Exception” was likewise slight of guitar, and “Yo Se!” was mantric. Do they make Spanish language typewriters? I know.
The Cooler was located in the Meatpacking Distrct and the club was well-known for it’s eclectic bills. Specifically, in addition to Royal Trux performing on September 11th and September 12th, the final months of 1998 say several, Beck and Thurston Moore performed on September 21st, and Michael Karoli and Damo Suzuki of Can played the following weekend.
On September 10th, 1989, Redd Kross played at Maxwell’s. At this point in their career, the band completed the transition from playing hardcore punk to power-pop. Case in point, their 1987 album, Neurotica was inspired mostly by breakfast cereal. The band was about a year removed from releasing Third Eye, which was considered by many to be their power-pop masterpiece. Redd Kross played with The Embarassment (from Kansas) and The Pussy Willows (from New Jersey) on September 10th at the Rapp Arts Center in the East Village. Both groups also played this gig at Maxwell’s!
On September 6th, 1996, Claw Hammer and Helmet played at Coney Island High! In 1995, Claw Hammer released their first major label LP, "Thank The Holder Uppers," on Interscope Records. The band would release their final LP in 1997, "Hold Your Tongue (And Say Apple)." For this show, Claw Hammer was joined by their Interscope label mates Helmet. Helmet was in the midst of recording their 1997 album, "Aftertaste." Originally, this record was scheduled for release in the Fall of 1996, but the band aborted the release, and reassigned final mixing duties from Dave Sardy to Terry Date. The album was eventually released in March of 1997.
On September 4th, 1985, Alex Chilton played at the legendary Folk City in the West Village. Alex had just released a six track EP entitled "Feudalist Tarts." 1985 was a pivotal year in Chilton's career, as while spending time in New York, Chilton was connected through a journalist with Patrick Mathé, founder of the Paris-based record label New Rose. New Rose released "Feudalist Tarts," along with two other EPs and an LP in the 1980s
On August 29th, 1991 Helmet played at Maxwell's! The group was about a year removed from releasing their debut album, "Strap It On." Jawbox opened the show, but unfortunately their set isn't on this tape.
On August 29th, 1986, Jodie Foster's Army played at Maxwell's! The group was formed in 1981 and their name alludes to John Hinckley, Jr., who attempted to assassinate Ronald Reagan in order to impress actress Jodie Foster. The original members include Brian Brannon on lead vocals, Don "Redondo" Pendleton on guitar, Michael Cornelius on bass, and Mike "Bam-Bam" Sversvold on drums. The band was pivotal in the development of the Southern California skate punk scene, receiving significant coverage throughout the 1980s in Thrasher magazine. Brannon appeared on the April 1987 cover of Thrasher riding backside at the Love Bowl in Phoenix, Arizona.
Around the time of this gig, the band released "Nowhere Blossoms."
On August 24th, 1987, Tom Waits was interviewed on the ‘Snap’ program on KCRW-Santa Monica shortly after the release of Waits' ninth studio album, “Frank’s Wild Years.” The interview primarily focuses on the recording of the songs on the record - including Waits’ use of instruments he found in pawn shops and the record’s stage play adaptation. This record features several memorable songs from Waits' catalog, including “Way Down In The Hole,” which was used as the theme song for the hit HBO show, “The Wire.” The majority of the songs played on the show were recordings from the album, but Waits did perform a few songs live on the air, including “Cold Cold Ground” and "Way Down In The Hole."
Notably, before the year before this album was released, it was adapted for a play at the Steppenwolf Theater Company in Chicago.
On August 20th, 1988, Naked Raygun continued their tour with a stop at Maxwell's!