Archive for July, 2009

Danceland/Bonkers/Illusions Photos, The Cynics Show, and The Battle of the Bands

Thursday, July 23rd, 2009


The pit at a Danceland gig

Below are some Danceland/Bonkers/Illusions photos I thought I would post (and one great photo above). I want to give a huge thanks to Lisa Evancho and John P for sending me these photos. I think these particular photos showcase more of the physical space and the people that use to hang out there.

1988 was a great year for shows at Danceland with the summer months being especially good. But in addition to the 1988 summer Danceland shows I have already posted about on this blog, I think the Cynics also played sometime that summer. The Cynics have been a great Pittsburgh’s garage punk band for many years. They have put out a ton of music over the last twenty years or so and had several different line-ups. We got to play with them when they had a keyboard player and the bassist who played with his back to the crowd the entire set. Here is a video of the Cynics from 1986. I think this was the same line-up that played at Danceland in 1988.

I don’t have any photos or a flyer from this show but I think we (Direct Action) played with them and maybe one other band. I remember Rob jumping off the stage into a parting crowd and almost ripped the mic chord out of the PA (he didn’t let go of the mic when he jumped!). I think the sound guy was pretty mad at him and I believe Rob got hurt because he landed directly on the floor. Good times!

After all the summer shows at Danceland in 88 I remember several all local band shows at Danceland later in the Fall and Winter of 1988 and early 1989. Can anyone remember some of these local shows? The one I remember vividly was “The Battle of The Bands” show around Christmas of 1988. There were a lot of different types of bands that played. I seem to remember a heavy metal band playing along with bands like Deep Six, Decadence (or maybe it was the Murr), Direct Action, and several others I can’t remember. I think there was about seven to eight bands that “battled” it out that night. There were three judges and I can not for the life of me remember who they were or why they were worthy to be judges. The winning band would get free recording time at Gamut Studios in Latrobe. This was a pretty sweet prize considering that no one had enough money to record on anything but a 4 track at the time. Winning this prize would enable your band to record in a “real” 16 track recording studio. Many local bands went on to record at Gamut in the following years (I will probably talk more about Gamut in later posts).

For some reason, there was no stage for this particular show and I thought it was kind of cool playing at the same level as the crowd. I remember that there was a ton of people at this gig since a lot of bands were playing that night (they brought all their ‘fans’) and this was over Christmas break so everyone was on break from school and was looking for something fun to do.

Direct Action did a hardcore version of Silent Night since it was around Christmas. I think there is a recording of this somewhere but I know I don’t have it (Rob? Derek? Tom?).

Deep Six ended up winning the prize that night. I have been trying to get some recordings, and photos from the Deep Six guys to do a post but I have not received anything yet. But I plan to keep up the pressure. :) That Deep Six stuff needs to see the light of day!

So there are some random photos of Danceland/Bonkers/Illusions. I think most of these photos are from a show in early 1990.


Gino of Rugburn surfing the crowd



I think this is the only photo I have of Harry Latanzio (and it is of his back!). I think he is the one to the right under the “check” sign.


Crowd in front of the stage.


The Illusions ‘bar’ area (serving Pepsi to the kids). Willis of Rugburn to the left.


Jeremy and Chunk from Rugburn sitting at one of the booths at Illusions. This was when there were strange “fantasy” paintings hanging on the walls at each booth.


Here are some random Direct Action photos from Danceland in the summer of 1988. I don’t remember what shows these are from.





NOFX at Danceland (and then again at Bonkers) UPDATED!

Monday, July 20th, 2009


So I found the original 1988 NOFX flyer!


NOFX playing somewhere in Europe, 1988.

I have no idea of the exact date, but I think sometime in August of 1988, On Aug 3, 1988, NOFX played Danceland. Again, I have no idea how this show happened or how it was organized but I am pretty sure that Dave Roman booked this show when a member of NOFX contacted him (I could be completely wrong about this).

It seems crazy now, but I don’t think any of us in DA even heard of NOFX at that time (I think Rob was the only one who knew of them). To us, it was just another chance to play live (of course Dave Roman put us on the bill). It is hard to believe that a huge band like NOFX who plays in front of thousands of people now, was totally new and unknown to us and many of our friends back in 88 (and playing to much smaller crowds. Just look at the video from 1988 that I posted at the end of this post). If you do a search on YouTube for “NOFX Live” and you will see a ton of live footage of NOFX playing in front of HUGE crowds in every place imaginable. Crazy!

I am pretty sure a couple of us got a chance to hear NOFX before they played this show but I don’t think I was one of them. I believe I heard them for the first time when they played live at Danceland.

I can’t remember who was on the bill for this show but I think it was Direct Action, Battered Citizens, Half Life, and NOFX. For awhile, I think we were bumped off the bill when Mike LaVella from Half Life asked Rob outside a show at the Banana (don’t remember the show) if we would not mind giving up our spot to let Half Life play since this would be one of his very last shows with Half Life before moving to San Francisco. Rob asked me outside the Banana if I was cool with that and I very reluctantly said yes, I guess. Don’t get me wrong, I am a huge Half Life fan but a gig is a gig and we wanted to play that show. In the end it didn’t matter because Dave Roman and Harry put us both on the bill and it made playing that show even cooler in my opinion.

I really wish I had the flyer for this show but I have not tracked one down yet. Does anyone have one they can scan and send me?

Anyway, if I remember correctly, there were a good number of people at this show from Pittsburgh since this was one of Mike LaVella’s last shows. I remember seeing the NOFX guys and their entourage and thinking to myself, wow, these guys are totally different from the punks I was use to seeing in West PA. They were, of course, west coast punks (in style and attitude). More like skate/surf punks with wild shorts and sneakers (not ripped up jeans and boots) and wild messy hair (long at times with dreads). After seeing them just hanging around Danceland before they even played a note, I thought their set might be interesting. I think I did get a chance to hear their sound check and I thought they were great. I am pretty sure they did “Shut-up Already” from their great Liberal Animation LP that they were on tour promoting. This was before they released it on Epitaph (it was self released and they were selling copies at the gig). I thought they sounded like a lot of the bands that were on Mystic Records compilation albums (I thought they sounded a lot like RKL) and we were really into a lot of those Mystic Bands. I can’t remember how this happened but I remember talking to one of the NOFX guys (I think it was Fat Mike) and he mentioned that the one guitarist in the band was in Stalag-13, a band that we loved from the Mystic Oxnard compilation. If I am not mistaken, I think Mike also said their guitar player was briefly in Dr. Know as well (I could be imagining this though). Then Mike said that he was in a band called False Confessions, another Mystic compilation band that we thought were great. After I heard that, I knew NOFX was going to rock the place. And of course, they did.

The guys in NOFX were so hilarious. They were more jokey and less angst punks (contrasting the west cost and east cost punk again). They seemed to be having a blast. Totally goofy on stage. They cracked up the crowd with their bantering.

NOFX ended up playing Danceland the following summer (when Danceland changed its name to Bonkers) when they were promoting their S&M Airlines LP. Here is the flyer from that show.


I think they remembered us from the summer before and were very cool to us. The entire band and a bunch of Battered Citizen people from Pittsburgh ended up crashing at Tom Jagger’s house that night after the show (I think Tom’s parents were on vacation or something). It was a blast, minus the fact that at one point in the evening, my ex girl friend was there popping zits on the bare back of the drummer in NOFX. Didn’t really know what to make of that, but I knew it was probably not a good thing. Not cool. Regardless, the NOFX guys were hilarious and seemed to dig hanging out with us locals. I left very late that night but I think Tom or Doug Evancho told me a funny story the next day about what happened that morning. Apparently there was a guy there from Pittsburgh who got really drunk and annoying at Tom’s place. Eventually, I think he ether passed out or just feel asleep somewhere in Tom’s house. The drummer of NOFX then took a black magic marker and wrote a bunch of crazy stuff all over his face while he was passed out or asleep. Later that morning the guy wakes up and is just hanging out talking with everyone not realizing he has all this writing on his face. Apparently he never even went to the bathroom that morning and noticed it and every one at Tom’s house just went along and never told him that he had this on his face. He was getting in the car that morning to leave, after telling the NOFX guys goodbye, and he still has all this black magic marker on his face. The drummer of NOFX was like “see ya later man. Take it easy.” We never heard when this guy actually discovered the marker on his face but I would think he probably felt pretty stupid after he did.

I guess the NOFX guys also had a good time crashing at Tom’s after that second show in Latrobe PA in 1989 because the following year NOFX played the Upstage in Pittsburgh (we did not play with them this time) and I will never forget when Fat Mike pointed from the stage at Tom Jagger, who was standing in the crowd, and said “Hey, I know you!”

Here is a video of NOFX playing in 1988.