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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 word.
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 here?"
"No."
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.
"Huh?"
"The basketball diaries, the movie. You know. He did a song with Pearl Jam"
"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 tranced look.
"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.

The Line-Up
SPOKEN WORD:
M. Doughty
John S. Hall
Bobby Miller
Vita Pup
Benna Cohen
Andy Horwitz
MUSIC:
Splith
Combine
Greta Harley
Bush Tetras
Cristien Storm
Sexpod
Ruth Ruth
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