July of 1991 was a good month for concerts. Meat Beat Manifesto and Consolidated kicked things off, followed by Xymox and My Life With the Thrill Kill Kult. I'm pretty sure that I spent at least some time each week at the Ritz Theater that month--Tampa was a great place to like weird music if you were a teenager because almost all of the shows were all ages. There were even several teen nightclubs that served soda and played Skinny Puppy where we'd all congregate on the weekends if there wasn't a show. I remember there being an Information Society gig at one of the only clubs that carded around this time too, but I didn't make it to that one.
Part of the reason I spent so much time in Ybor was the fact that my friend Steve (who later went on to become the pineapple-headed guy located here) lived in an apartment literally right across the street from the Ritz and I spent a lot of time hanging out down there regardless of what was going on. We'd have lunch at Ybor Pizza and Subs, kill time at the Blue Funk, or I'd just tag along as Steve worked on whatever weirdo art project or movie idea he and Dave had going on at the time.
One of the most anticipated tours for us that summer was the Meat Beat Manifesto/Consolidated ticket. In fact, we decided to trek out to Orlando to catch the show before the tour came to Tampa. The show itself was noteable for two things.
- I saw my first vegan.
- I got on the mic to fire off a question to Consolidated.
Of course item one there is probably a little bit facetious, but the kid sitting at the animal rights booth at the Meat Beat/Consolidated show in Orlando gave me my first encounter with a pale, sickly-skinny, obviously under-nourished vegan wearing Chuck Taylors and a nylon belt. This image stuck with me for some time and always represented to me what happens when idealism runs away from common sense. I'm happy to know lots of healthy vegans now who know how to make that lifestyle work (hell, I've even done it in stretches,) but that guy was enough to turn me off to the idea for years.
The second noteable moment came in the customary question/rant session that followed each Consolidated gig in those days. I had heard all the comments spliced onto their records at that point so I knew what the process was about, but I still felt like no one was representing a reasonable position from the audience. Of course there's not much drama in leaving the reasonable arguments on the record, so it's likely that all of the folks who ever disagreed with Consolidated's politics who didn't come off as jackasses were just left on the cutting room floor.
I wiggled my way to the front of the stage and managed to grab one of the microphones that was floating around in the audience and I asked about abortion and how the band felt about people using it simply as a form of birth control in the absence of making other responsible choices. I got heckled by someone telling me that abstinence was the solution, to which I kind of agreed and felt made my point for me, but I don't remember much about Pistel's answer.
Over a year later I would have the chance to open for Consolidated as they came back on tour. I got to meet the guys backstage and hang out with them during the soundcheck and I mentioned that I had been at that show in Orlando a year before and to my utter amazement Pistel remembered my question and we had a nice chat about that and veggie trays.