Edie Brickell - 03/20/1991

Edie Brickell 1991

By this time, I was becoming a regular at the Ritz Theater. On my first trip there, my Dad had driven me and had waited outside to pick me up. My friend Dave drove for my second show there, and we'd been going out to clubs on most weekend since, so when tickets for Edie Brickell went on sale I naturally assumed that Dave and I would be making a trip of it once again. Instead, I found myself in the somewhat unenviable position of being the guy who was tagging along on the girls' night out.

Dave and indeed none of my male friends had any interest in hippie music in general and Edie Brickell in particular. Luckily though, Dave's girlfriend and her friends DID, so I wrangled up a ticket and piled into the car with the girls for a thoroughly sissy experience.

I had a huge crush on Edie Brickell at the time, which helped to make the night seem less awkward. I was wearing out copies of her albums around this time and somehow seeing her squat and sing along with her nine piece band was thrilling. Edie Brickell was one of the first women on stage to steal my heart, though she wouldn't be the last.

There's a weird thing that happens sometimes when I have an emotional reaction to music and to the people who make it. I can't say that I've ever been the kind of person who collected photos of actresses or singers or that I've ever had a gym locker full of cut-outs of bombshells, or that I've ever considered a subscription to lad rags--no I've never fantasized about getting together with a celebrity. But sometimes being at a show and knowing that a woman who writes songs that I love is right there performing melts me. As a 15 year old audience member (and let's face it, this doesn't change with age,) it's completely irrational to think that because you have such a strong connection to someone's music that you must have things in common and therefore that a relationship must be, though slight, a real possibility indeed.

Nevertheless, I remember feeling kind of ill when I found out that Edie had gotten together with Paul Simon, especially after all we'd shared that night at the Ritz! Though I haven't listened to an Edie Brickell record in years and in fact I never got the album after the Ghost of a Dog one, to this day I can't see a Paul Simon record without thinking: Dick.

Front Line Assembly - 01/31/1991

Front Line Assembly 1991

I was back at the Ritz a few weeks after the NIN/Die Warzau show for the second of what would be many shows at Tampa's premiere venue for the music I liked in the early 1990's. The few friends I had made at school hadn't been too keen on seeing Nine Inch Nails since they'd all seen the band less than a year before, but Front Line Assembly was one level deeper underground and so they were less jaded, so I had a ride and I didn't need to drag my dad along.

While I was a mopey, self-absorbed mess at this show, it marked the first time I'd seen a band use film loops over their set to create an ambiance and I found that pretty cool. Obviously this idea would wear off on me later on!

Front Line Assembly was touring for Caustic Grip at the time and I remember thinking that the dirt around the edges of the Front Line sound was far more appealing to me than the more polished Front 242, Nitzer Ebb, or even Nine Inch Nails for the simple reason that it still felt dangerously undiscovered. I don't think there were even 300 people at this show, so that feeling that FLA was still a fledging act was keenly accurate. I would see Front Line Assembly a few more times later on, but this first show before Nine Inch Nails broke the world of industrial music open to a larger audience was probably the best show they put on, even if it was murky, covered in parachute netting, and filled with long mixes of songs I'd never heard before.

Nine Inch Nails - 01/14/1991

Nine Inch Nails 1991

While I can't really claim that I was there from the very beginning of the NIN saga (give me a break--TVT didn't exactly have bang up distribution to Camp Zama, Japan when Pretty Hate Machine was released), this ticket at least proves that I was there long before most. I spent most of my high school years 'finding' new bands that were still small enough to play clubs with a couple hundred people, tops. These were bands who sold < $20 t-shirts and who's records you had to go a little out of the way to find. That sense of discovery would be almost completely lost after I started MAKING music on my own, but for a few years there, it felt pretty exciting to be at the leading edge of a cultural something. I think it says something that I never saw Nine Inch Nails again after this show, and I can't imagine that will ever change.

My dad dropped me off at the Ritz theater around 6:30 PM since the ticket listed 8:00 PM. While I wasn't the first in line, I was among the first and I was so new to Tampa that I didn't know anyone at all. It didn't matter--I HAD to see Nine Inch Nails and it helped that one of my other favorite bands at the time (Die Warzau) was opening. Die Warzau was an unknown quantity to most folks in Tampa, but I had seen them with Dessau a few months earlier just before leaving Virginia (a ticket I don't have for some reason,) so for the first time I got to lead the charge for the opening band!

Little did I know that 8:00 doors really meant that someone would probably open the club after 10:00, and that the show might get started around 11:00 if we were lucky. My poor dad had instructions to come back to pick me up at 11:00 and of course NIN probably wasn't hitting the stage until closer to midnight. In those days, Ybor city wasn't exactly the kind of place you'd want to sit around in a car waiting for someone, but at least you COULD park right on 7th and do that if you had to!

Since I was in early and I was keen on getting close to see Die Warzau, I wound up in the precarious position of being the human shield for all of the cute proto-goth girls who wanted to be close to Trent but didn't want to be crushed by the raging mob of skinheads, meatheads, and angry punks. As it turned out, this wasn't such a bad place to be.

For the majority of both sets I found myself intimately pressed up against four or five cute girls in white v-neck t-shirts and jeans shorts (THE outfit of the time). They all took a liking to me immediately because I was big enough to keep the circling throngs of mosh kids at bay. We all developed a kind of system whereby they would hang on to the stage barrier for dear life and I would do my best to shield them. A bunch of horny teenagers dreaming about Trent Reznor but settling for winks at me wound up making the night more memorable than the music.

By the time we got out of the club at some time after 1 AM, my dad had to have been furious but he didn't show it. He was quiet and I could tell that he wasn't happy about spending the better part of his night parked in the then-shady Ybor city, but in a rare moment that I can't remember seeing too often in my teenaged years he took one for the team, asked me how it was, and just drove me home.