Photos In The Links: Athens, GA - 40 Watt Club

by Derrick Bostrom in

Our previous post about the rigors of major label life garnered a lively and lengthy discussion. One of the highlights was this anecdote by Kevin, which he has been good enough to augment with some Flickr photos (taken by either Ken Kelly or Patti Torno; he wasn't sure which).

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The stories of end of gig mayhem reminded me of one of my favorite Puppet shows. It was the “Forbidden Places” tour in Athens Ga at the new big 40 Watt Club. This may have even been the first big show there. They came out blazing, absolutely tearing it up. Everyone in the place seemed to be knocked back by the force of the music, literally. I’d already seen them many times before and this was shaping up to be the best show I’d ever seen.

Unfortunately the new PA could not handle it and it cut out completely. As the soundmen worked frantically to fix the problem the Puppets tried to soldier on, playing instrumentals with their amps turned up. Maybe “Six Gallon Pie” or “Flight of the Fire Weasel,” those kinds of guitar solo pieces. After a few minutes they realized it wasn’t working (no drums!) and completely devolved into noise. Curt threw his Les Paul into the crowd, turned up his amp and went to work on his Morely echo pedal. You know the sound. Cris, of course, went crazy throwing his bass around and eventually smashing it on the ceiling, shattering the flourescent lights above the stage. At that point he gave up on the bass and shakily climbed his amps, ending up swinging from the stage lighting truss directly above our hero Derrick. Derrick had been pounding out a nice beat behind the noise, but at this point he saw Cris dangling above him and ran out front. Smart considering what happened to Curtis Mayfield. If I remember correctly Derrick then grabbed the guitar or operated the pedals, he continued to make a contribution at any rate. At some point a couple of streakers ran out, hugged the band and then dashed off. The crowd was screaming the whole time, completely caught up in the chaos.

Finally the club workers ushered the band off stage to deal with the problem. Cris came back out with a cooler from backstage and started to hand out the contents. Eventually the PA was restored to a semi functional state and the band came back out, playing a more standard set ending with an “I Wanna Be Your Dog” jam with the openers Scrawl onstage.

Not a bad way to usher in the start of the major label Puppets, at least for fans like us.

Attending that particular Athens show was famous actress, local celebrity and girlfriend of Batman, Kim Bassinger. She was also friends with one of the owners of the club, REM’s Pete Buck. I introduced myself to her before the gig and thanked her for coming. However, she was forced to flee the premisis in the ensuing mele. As Kevin remembers it, "She took off in a hurry. I was at the side of the stage (stage left) and saw her being ushered out like it was a terrorist attack."