California, Beta Test State, Part Four: Have a Beer with FEAR
The question, "Why does every fad, trend and social movement come from California?," was quickly being answered.
The Whisky A-Go-Go. I would read the name in Circus magazine articles about Van Halen and Motley Crue. As I got older and developed an interest in earlier bands like The Doors and Led Zeppelin, the name was there again. Any rock n' roll bar you ever walked into had some spiritual connection to the Whisky. Despite that I read that it was also the Ground Zero of the shitty pay-to-play movement, and had become the home of bands with dubious talent but the $1,000 to buy their "pre-sale" (pay-to-play) tickets, and had killed the Hollywood music scene, I had to see the space where the Lizard King once ruled the stage!
I researched the bands that would be playing that week, and am pleased to say I found one that was actually fantastic. More on them on a future podcast.
After the band I came to see, who played first, the other bands were miss-miss-hit-miss, in that order. As I was preparing to leave, I saw an older gent in the crowd, and immediately thought I recognized him. But there was no frenzy around him, no one was even taking a second glance, so could I have been wrong? Should I approach him and check if I was correct, or would I be bothering him? Hey, the guy got into show business to be recognized, so maybe if someone knew him, it would make his night!
I approached. "I don't want to bother you, but I just have to confirm, are you...," he smiled in anticipation of the question as it rolled off my lips, "...Lee Ving?" He proudly said, "Yes I am!" I was right, it was Lee Ving of FEAR, the very band I saw on USA back in the `80's that made me wonder what the hell was going on in California! "What's your name? Where are you from?," he asked, extending his hand. When I told him I was from Atlanta he even offered to get me tickets for his next Atlanta show!
That was the perfect end to my trip, I determined, and left the Whisky to prepare to fly back to Atlanta the next day. Everything had come together. I had "gotten" California. Final conclusions to come in the next post.
After some YouTube searching, I realized my memory of what I saw on Night Flight that night was fuzzy. Since our story opens and closes with FEAR, I feel it's important to get this right. Plus, you may get a big kick out of the videos.
The clip of Lee Ving brawling with the audience was from the movie The Decline of Western Civilization, which did air on Night Flight, but not that night. The segment below is what aired. The band plays "New York is Alright if You Like Saxophones," "Fuck XMas" and the romantic ballad "Mengele." The quote I remembered, "God exists, but he's gay. He lives in a Jaguar on Santa Monica Boulevard," is at 6:10.
That was immediately followed by the Dead Kennedys playing "Holiday in Cambodia." Note the same "vengeance is FEAR" line in both clips, and it looks like it could have even been the same show, or at least venue.
Really I had heard FEAR even before this. I was tuning around on my radio and found college station Album 88, the student station of Georgia State University, the highest-powered college radio station in the country with 100,000 watts. They played Saccharine Trust, Black Sabbath and "Bomb the Russians" by FEAR. I taped it and played it for my friends. This just sounds funny now, but in 1985 or `86, it sounded scary!
"Have a Beer with FEAR" was a song on FEAR's second album, thus the title of this entry.