New York City
March 2, 1996
by Dan Chaques
I can't decide if I'm tired of waiting in the cold or if I'm just tired
of waiting. All I know is that I want to go inside. I'm at the Home Alive
benefit concert in New York City, the last stop on a three city tour. I'm
waiting outside a door that has the words "Westbeth Theater" stenciled
in Black paint. The line I'm on has about thirty people on it, half of whom
are wearing Pearl Jam tee shirts. There are Alive stick men as far as the
eye can see. I can hear the people in front of me reminiscing about the
Neil Jam show in Denver. My anticipation starts to grow, as I'm not the
only one with speculations.
The door finally opens and me and my friends stride through. One of my
buds flashes a cryptic ID and gets stamped, insuring drinks for the evening.
We're directed into a low lit room with a bar, a few tables and a table
of Home Alive memorabilia. Behind the table I notice the face of the woman
on the cover of the Home Alive CD talking serenely with people and selling
stuff. I don't have the CD, but I've seen it in stores. In one corner of
the room, there is a stage.
After a while and a few beers, the room starts to clear out and we follow
everyone across the hall to the theater. Small stage and a small room, but
they managed to squeeze a bar into the back of it. We went to the far side
of the room and took seats and waited. After a few minutes Bobby Miller,
the illustrious spoken word author of Self Pollution's "Keep your hands
off my sister," bounds on the stage wearing an array of leather and
green velvet. In that well-known voice of his, Miller instructs that this
room is where the bands would perform and the other room would be for spoken
The first band to play is Spilth. Imagine Korn with a redneck for a drummer
and you've got Spilth. They played fast, loud hard-core. The bassist was
doing some real interesting stuff, and so the bassline was the best part.
The room is very crowded by now. There's no moshing, but the crowd pulsates
a little with the music. There are people sitting on the ends of the stage
behind the amp stacks. When Spilth was finished, a twenty minute set change
started up and we sat down again. A large scruffy man with a horse voice
and an ugly baseball cap comes over to me.
"Hey, you guys heard anything about Soundgarden or Pearl Jam being
He left and one of my compatriots suggested that he was a roadie with one
of those bands and he's just toying with us.
"Shut the fuck up," I said to my bud, but nursed the idea for
the rest of the night.
The next band to play was the Bush Tetras, a recently reunited band from
the eighties. Miller introduced them as being the standard for all bands
during the eighties. Funny how I never heard of them, I thought. They played
fast, eclectic rock that reminded me of the Velvet Underground. For the
first song of the set, no vocals could be heard, which was fixed when the
vocalist told the soundman that she thought she was in another room during
the song. During another long set change, a few kids stumble over to me
and ask about Jim Carrol.
"Isn't he the guy from the Basketball diaries?" I said. The guy
I was addressing looked confused.
"The basketball diaries, the movie. You know. He did a song with Pearl
"Huh?" The kid looked up at me through bloodshot, watery eyes.
Then he looked to his friends for support. They looked at me with the same
"Nevermind. Is he here?" I asked
"Umm......... I think so....but who is he?" I walked away.
Combine hit the stage next, after distributing a load of stickers to the
crowd. The singer shared with us that he believes in armed citizenry and
that if you shoot someone, make sure you kill them so there aren't any witnesses.
Thanks for sharing, I thought. Their songs were a nice combination of pop
and punk and I decided they were the best band yet. There first song which
started out "Is there too much wind on you kids" had a nice riff
to it. After a long set the singer held up Combine tee shirts and CDs and
said he would be in a corner selling them.
By now it was about midnight and we had been there for about four hours
already, and me and my amigos had other places to get to. As we got our
coats from the coat check Mr. Miller got on stage saying "Sorry kids,
Eddie Vedder isn't coming" which was perhaps a rebuke to his earlier
comment that there would be a surprise at the end of all the sets. We missed
Ruth Ruth and Seven Year Bitch, but that's OK since neither of them were
really what we were there for anyway. I heard later that Jim Carrol was
in fact there, but that he didn't perform. We left the theater and trailed
along the streets of the west village to the subway.
"Maybe next time," I said.
John S. Hall
7 Year Bitch
Jim Carrol was supposed to perform as the "surprise guest" that
night, but he backed out at the last second.
copyright 1996 Tickle My Nausea / Dan Chaques