Recently I unveiled a complete list of all the bands, venues, dates and photos from a decade of Sean Carnage Monday Nights in Los Angeles. I’m so proud to share these with you.
It feels great to finally document all the thousands of collaborations that were the backbone of Monday Nights. I love what we do together.
But the documentation—not to mention the Mondays—where did that all begin?
Halloween 1993, if you can believe it. Ohio. Cleveland.
That was the night that Nirvana played the James Rhodes Arena in Akron, Ohio. They were at the height of their fame, and they even brought along two of my all-time favorite bands—Meat Puppets and Boredoms from Japan. Even Courtney Love and Frances Bean were there. It turned out to be their final Ohio gig.
But was I there? NO!
I made a big bet on the future and skipped my one and only chance to see Kurt Cobain.
That’s because I had had a revelation: the things that are important and meaningful to us are the things we choose to make important.
I chose doing my own thing—booking a show for the first time—with the two best bands I had ever heard up to that point—Boulder and Craw—over being a fanboy to someone who, while great, was already very obviously on a sad death trip. Sorry, Kurt. “Radio-Friendly Unit Shifter” bad irony and heroin were not the altars I wanted to worship at. (Nirvana actually sounds really good in the bootleg above.)
I’ve never regretted my decision.
And now I present to you the recordings from the first show I ever booked. WHAT?! Yes! Check it out.
First up: Boulder, whose lead dude Jamie Walters (“Athenar” of Midnight) was at Nirvana and barely made it in time for the gig. He walked in the door and right up on stage. Rock ‘n roll. Never before released.
The purpose of the show was to honor—and perhaps throw some dollahs in a meager and modest way—to Derek Hess. Derek was the part-time security guy and chicken wing chopper at the Euclid Tavern in University circle, a block from my dorm at Case Western Reserve University. Derek brought all the cutting-edge bands to town—people no one had heard of before, like The Jesus Lizard, Cows, Melvins, Helmet, Don Caballero and of course Craw.
Derek’s trailblazing noise rock shows every Monday night (aha!) were a lifeline for music lovers at the dawn of the ‘90s. But the life of a concert booker is not easy. On top of that Derek was an incredible artist—that’s whole story in itself—and as he switched more of his daytime to making art and away from dismantling chickens, the poorer he got. We were all concerned. Derek was pretty much the center of our world at that point in time.
Thus, this benefit show. I think the first time Derek was mentioned in the newspaper was in connection with this event (thanks, Jane Scott). Craw and Boulder headlined, along with Drill Kitty, Screwtractor, and Eric’s Mother. It became the afterparty for Nirvana. Everyone came over afterward—they said the sound was better at the Tavern!
Ron Kretsch, Anastasia Pantsios (who took the Craw photo at the top of the page), Rich Masarik and Mason Boor all helped out majorly. See the credits on YouTube. I decided to drag along an extra soundboard and the (at the time) high tech DAT recorder from WRUW 91.1 FM (thanks x1000) where I was a programmer to document the headliners.
Why? I’m telling you, this was and is important stuff!
“Wear a pumpkin on your head—be ridiculed by your friends!” was the caption on the poster. Craw singer Joe McTighe was the only one who dared. He sang from beneath an enormous pumpkin for the entire set. I have no idea how he was able to do that. It was a real pumpkin too—those ain’t light!
I wish I had photos of this. Do you? If so please contact me.
Seems funny now, but getting these two bands together on the same bill (Boulder was metal, Craw post-punk/math rock) was a bit controversial at the time. And it worked—I’m super proud we were ahead of the curve joining the peanut butter and the chocolate here. It took the rest of the world until the 2010s to catch up.
It also started my love of challenging, disjunct concert lineups—exposing music fans to things outside their comfort zone, and giving everyone a chance to reach across the aisle as it were to make new friends. This served me well in Los Angeles 20+ years later.
The music speaks for itself—Craw and Boulder have stood the test of time.
Thanks eternally to Mr. Hess.
For more Craw and Cleveland bands from the mid-’90s, watch my SXSW documentary released earlier this year: