how jimi hendrix got me in to the punk scene

by Steven Roden

how jimi hendrix got me in to the punk scene by Steven Roden

sometime in 1979, i went to the whiskey a go go with some friends to see randy hansen, the jimi hendrix impersonator. while i liked music as a kid, but hendrix was the first music i really dug. i can’t remember how many of us were there, maybe 3 or 4 kids, age around 14.

the show was amazing. randy came out in a coffin with purple dry ice, and he did a good job of impersonating hendrix hits. while i’d been to a number of big venue concerts, this was the first club gig i’d ever been to.

a few weeks later, we went back to the whiskey to see another show…

Listen to the album while reading the text.

the impact of a moment

we were expecting to see a rock band, but we were confronted with the screamers – a seminal art-punk band who offered, on that night, something like a punk version of a “revue.” i can’t imagine how out of place we must’ve seemed to the regulars: skinheads, art punks, misfits, and all.

how could i possibly describe the impact of that moment?…

in terms of the actual gig, i have very few concrete memories of what went on. i remember: “tomato du plenty” with spiked red hair, singing and body moving in ways that felt totally berzerk… i remember a woman with greased-back hair, white makeup and black lipstick like a vampire. and i remember geza-x with a flying V or thunderbird guitar, wearing red long johns. and the whole place going fucking crazy.

it wasn’t just that we had no idea what kind of music we heard. or that the performance consisted of weird actions, costumes, affectations and music for which we had absolutely zero context for at all. but the energy, the absolute newness, and for whatever reason, it felt like a refuge from everything we’d already known.

on that night, the place was maybe half full. a lot of people were just standing around on the walls. but there were folks in the middle of the floor in front of the stage who were jumping up and down like maniacs, jumping into each other like robots (that’d be dancing the pogo).

everyone’s some sort of misfit

certainly, it was clear – even to us – that everyone there was some sort of misfit (and i don’t mean that negatively). but so many of the people there had some aspect of creativity in their look or way (clothes safety-pinned together, colored hair, etc.) – this was not the glamorous spectacle of a band like kiss; but something a little more “real”, and somehow less of a pose. of course we felt we had entered some secret culture. and even though we clearly did not belong, we didn’t feel threatened and no one gave us crap. in fact some people talked to us, someone gave us beer, and we felt part of something different than anything we knew before.

what still amazes me about that night was that an acne-faced kid with hair down to his shoulders wearing a jimi hendrix shirt and no one gave me and my friends didn’t get  shit, for being geeks. fortunately seeing the screamers at the whisky once more that year, as well as at the roxy. there were better gigs, and stronger memories of great shows. but that first gig was a life changer – not metaphorically, but truly a life changer… and weeks later, me and my friends started a band, in 1979, called the seditionaries. and in fact, as ironic as all can be, our only release – a 7” record “wherewolf, which has just been repressed… on a label in spain, a minor miracle.

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Artist’s Note
Pasadena, California
Ambient, Electronic, Experimental
Punk, whiskey a go go, fieldrecording, minimalsim, lowercase, lofi, jimi hendrix

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