22 years ago tonight. Can it be? Yes, October 14th, 1987. Husker Du at the Spectrum in Montreal. Somewhere tucked inside of a book of poetry, is the ticket stub. I’m sure it’s faded beyond recognition. Luckily my memory hasn’t.
We were hanging out in Chris’ dorm room after dinner, when Mike Lebowski came in and told us that Husker Du was playing at the Spectrum in Montreal that very evening, and that Chris needed to drive him there. Montreal was a 2 hour drive from Clarkson, and we had no idea where the hell the Spectrum was. I had never been to a real show before, just big arena “rawk”, and I was barely into the Huskers before that. But it seemed like an adventure, and after a lot of goading from Lebowski, Scott and I, Chris agreed.
We made the drive, and found the place after some frantic searching and got in the door just as they were finishing their first song. Bob Mould was doing the whole “eyes rolled back into his head hopping around in circles on one leg thing”, Grant Hart was beating the crap out of his drum set, and Greg Norton was just pogo-ing the whole time. (Coolest handle bar mustache on any punk bassist ever! OK, the only handle bar mustache on any punk bassist ever.) Having only heard them on tape before that, I had no idea what to expect. I was blown away. Here were three ordinary looking schleps up there on the stage in jeans, t-shirts, and sneakers blasting away on their instruments with a fury that I had never seen before. This was the 80’s fer cryin’ out loud. Bands wore spandex and had big hair! Who were these guys? In my mind I can remember thinking, holy krep, Minneapolis must be the coolest place on earth.
Ice-Cold-Ice, Friend You’ve Got to Fall, Terms of Psychic Warfare, Powerline, they leaped from one song into the next, the distortion ringing in my head like a circular saw, as waves of kids, punks, and respectable looking folks flailed away in the pit. Scott and I just hung out at the edge of the pit, our jaws open, while Chris and Mike dived right into it. For their encore they played Sheena is a Punk Rocker by the Ramones. I think the feedback finally faded from my head somewhere around Cornwall Ontario when we crossed back into the US that morning.
We had no idea at the time that it was to be their last tour. They broke up just a few months later. Fate ended up bringing me to Minneapolis about 5 years later. Husker Du was so tied to my idea of Minneapolis I expected them to have a statue on Main Street. Not only didn’t they have a statue, but few of the people I met knew of them, or were into them No, they were never as big in their home town as the Replacements were.
I can remember the shock and awe when I found myself standing next to Greg Norton in the line to get into a Saints game, and when I snuck into the upstairs of First Ave early one evening before a Nova Mob show, and saw Grant Hart at the buffet table. Never had the courage to say anything to either one. What could I possibly say, “uh, I was a 19 year old kid and I saw you in Montreal and you quite literally changed my musical tastes forever.”
About 4 years after that Warner Bros. released a live album recorded on that tour. It has several songs from that night, including Sheena. Sigh… those were the days. If you fell down in the mosh pit people helped you back on your feet. Now they just kick you in the head.
If you never experienced it, or even if you did, check out this link to some footage of them from “back in the day”. Put on your headphones, turn the dial to “eleven” and remember.
alas, the Spectrum exists only in memory now. I am proud to say “I remember”.