Concert Reviews

My First Show: The Posies' Jon Auer Saw Jimi Hendrix--Sort Of

Welcome to a new feature here on DC9 called My First Show, where we give bands a chance to talk about the first shows they ever attended -- no matter how uncool and embarrassing those tales may be.

Jon Auer and Ken Stringfellow have (save for a couple years apart) kept The Posies alive before and after the 90s grunge gold rush. Releasing their seminal work on DGC Records, the pair have always had a flair for the noisy and sweet. Proudly showcasing their influences from Big Star, The Beatles, and The Hollies in their music, their audience remains particular and devoted. You'd be hard-pressed to find a casual fan of the band at this stage of their career.

The band, currently backed by its fourth rhythm section, plays tonight at the Granada. You can definitely expect classic tunes from albums like Frosting on the Beater and Dear 23, as well as their latest, Blood/Candy.

Both Auer and Stringfellow were interviewed for this week's edition. Auer in particular remembers seeing Jimi Hendrix . . . sort of.

What was the first show you saw? Were you with your parents?

Ken Stringfellow: For some reason, my dad took me to see Don McLean and Juice Newton at the Ravinia Concert Stage, near Chicago, in like, 1978. I mean, he's not a fan: he likes Sinatra and he hates lines, crowds etc. I never did figure that one out.

Jon Auer: Jeez, this question is almost impossible for me to answer because my parents were musicians and took me to rock concerts and folk festivals pretty much from the moment I was born. Apparently my mom saw Jimi Hendrix with me still in the womb.

What was the first show you paid your own money to see?

KS: I remember it well. At the peak of my fanboy love for The Who, they announced their show at Seattle's Kingdome, with The Clash and, oddly, T-Bone Burnett as supports. Oct. 20th, 1982. I remember going to the mall to the ticket outlet, and buying the ticket, and just staring at it like, That's it, you can just pay money and be in the same room as your heroes? I was living in a pretty small town, so this was a big, big deal. In the end, I went with my bandmate at the time, my stepdad, and my bandmate's dad. We all got a contact high from the pot smoke. The sound was pretty terrible but it so did not matter. The Clash were awesome, I'd just gotten into Combat Rock, and The Who...come on! Like, major wet dream.

JA: I remember the cheesiest show I paid my own money to see: The Power Station and OMD at the PNE in Vancouver, B.C., Canada being so close in proximity to the small town Ken and I were living at the time, Bellingham, WA. I'll have to say we were really excited to see OMD; they were the reason we made the journey, crossed the border. OMD were interesting and unique and played well considering most of the crowd were there to hear "Some Like It Hot" and "Bang A Gong." The Power Station provided the cheese and even Robert Palmer had the good sense to stay home and not be involved. In fact, The Power Station had recruited Michael Des Barres (yes, Pamela Des Barres' ex-husband) to fill the recently vacated frontman slot and it was pretty damn atrocious. There's just no way you could convince me they were a real band.

Do you remember the first Posies show as a four-piece? What do you remember about the show?

KS: Very well indeed. When we made our cassette (which became our first album, Failure), as a duo, and handed it around. In one week we had major rotation commercial airplay, a glowing review in the local music paper, and offers for a gig - the latter two coming from Scott McCaughey (now of the Minus 5, R.E.M., etc). The gig was kind of a headlining gig: Scott's wife's band, the Power Mowers, wanted to play early so we were playing last. Like being an opening band, but closing, really. People were already really curious about us due to the buzz on our cassette. We'd only found our rhythm section (Rick Roberts on bass and Mike Musburger on drums) a couple of weeks before and we'd practiced like mad in the basement of the house where Rick and Mike (and soon, Jon & myself) lived. We had a lot of acoustic guitar on the record, so Jon brought his beautiful '60s Martin and put a Dean Markley pickup in, the kind that snaps into the soundhole. I had a Schecter Tele (a la Pete Townshend, you see) that I played thru some kind of Peavey amp, I think it was Rick's, and Jon played a Strat thru a Super Champ! Super motley set up. I guess we did OK, our friends came, and curious friends of Scott's, etc. and by the end people were jumping up and down, really happy. I was May 15th, 1988.

JA: By the way, the name of the club was The Attic. It was in the Madison Park neighborhood of Seattle. Also of note: what we looked like at the time. I believe I was the last holdout of some kind of quasi-goth/Robert Smith look I'd been rocking since my junior year in high school and I still was abusing Aquanet hairspray on a daily basis. I've seen a photo or two from this show and even I am impressed with just how big my hair was at the time. I mean we are talking big, like early Skinny Puppy hair. Also, and I just realized this looking at the date of the show: I was only 18 when we played the first four-piece show, and, due to Washington State liquor laws, I couldn't even hang out in the club. I was only allowed in when it was time to play. In fact, I had been out of high school less than a year at this point, graduated when I was 17. Jon Auer, Class of '87.

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Eric Grubbs is a Dallas-based writer who has published two books, Post: A Look at the Influence of Post-Hardcore 1985-2007 and When We Were the Kids. His writing has been featured in Punk Planet, Popdose, Fort Worth Weekly, The Dentonite and LA Weekly. He supports Manchester City and will never root for Manchester United.
Contact: Eric Grubbs

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