The Mardi Gras club was the first formal coming together of two very different groups of Phoenix posers. I could be wrong, but memory tells me it was a gay club. It may have merely attracted a gay clientele. Regardless, both subcultures preened proudly at the Mardi Gras during the summer of 1981. And after the gig, both the punks and the queers cowered together in the back booths of the all-night eatery up the street when fixed under the withering eye of the redneck gangs seated nearby. In fact, that's how we bonded.
"Punk Rock Tuesday" only lasted for a month and a half, but I attended most of them. The Meat Puppets headlined twice. My other group, Victory Acres, opened for Killer Pussy on July 7th and for the Feederz on July 22nd. Victory Acres featured Dan and Mary Clark on bass and vocals. Danny's brother Doug played guitar. The Clark brothers handled most of the songwriting while Cris Kirkwood and I held down keyboards and drums respectively. I stuck it out with the band for a couple of years before increased Puppets activity made it impossible to juggle dueling rehearsal schedules.
Thanks to the Puppets' regular sound man Darrell DeMarco, who also worked occasionally for Victory Acres, and who never showed up to a gig without a cassette deck, I've got great soundboards of both Killer Pussy and The Feederz from those nights. Both groups were arguably in their prime at the time, and both featured punk rock drumming legend, John “Johnny Precious/Art Nouveau” Vivier, who (as far as I was concerned) was always in his prime.
Dan "Clear Bob" Clark had recently relocated to Phoenix and reclaimed his position as the Feederz's bassist, a spot Cris filled in his absence for about a year. This was one of the first newly-reformed Feederz shows, and it was a rat-killing riot -- one of the first to include front man Frank Discussion's rat-and-ball-peen-hammer schtick. The tape starts up shortly after that event, with the club manager freaking appropriately out. The band goes on right on the attack, not letting up until a local takes the stage, puts his hand on the vocal mike and demands that Frank apologize to the waitress who got hit by the rat carcass. The show resumes shortly without any serious incident, but the mix improves noticeably after that point, the bass finally emerging from the din for the rest of the performance.
By the summer of 1981, most of Killer Pussy's initial novelty value had worn off, but their devoted fan base continued to grow, and they retained their reputation as "the filthiest band alive." They began to work new material like "Lemon Concentrate,” “Light My Reefer,” “IUD” and “Rockabilly Earwig” into the set. Their popular E.P. and album haven't been released yet and their most successful period is still ahead of them, but they sound confident and relaxed here -- clearly ready to take the next step. The intimate confines of the Mardi Gras allow the band's good natured humor and warm rapport with their audience to stand out on this recording. The only incident during the show was the lighting of a few firecrackers during “Pump-Rama.”
A fire at the Mardi Gras cut our summer fun short in late July. Afterwards, the Phoenix punk scene clung to a few other night spots before finally consolidating at Tony Victor's Mad Gardens for a couple years. Killer Pussy flirted briefly with notoriety in Los Angeles, reaching their apex with an appearance on Peter Ivers' "New Wave Theater." But I started avoiding John's house once the freebase crowd took roost there. Frank Discussion moved to San Francisco and recruited a new rhythm section. And before we knew it, John was dead and his bands were no more. The Kirkwood twins had arrived by that time, the Puppets graduated to the national circuit and we all stopped going out. I'm sure a younger group of kids picked up where we left off, but I wasn't there to see it.
These days, I like to get to bed no later than nine-thirty. But I still remember the days when the coming of sundown represented a world of possibility and when my favorite bands were also my best friends. By the way, the building is still there if anyone wants to attempt a revival: