For my next two contributions to this blog, I will be counting down my 10 favorite shows featured at Drop Shop during its years of existence, 1995-1998.
(I’m also breaking with the previous entries’ format by including this playlist at the top of this blog so that you can sample some of the acts I mention below while you read, if you so desire.)
While hundreds of shows were held at the venue during its 2 ½ years of operation, I’ve attempted to highlight the 10 that hold the most significance for me personally.
I also felt this to be a model way to emphasize the achievements of those involved with Drop Shop, but I would also ask you to share which shows you deem as your favorites, not only from Drop Shop, but Gumby’s as well, in the comments section below.
In order to do this in the most economical way possible, I will be separating this entry into two parts, the first of which will include shows #10 through #6.
So, without further ado…
SHOOTYZ GROOVE W/ TREE
(Wednesday, September 24, 1997)
This show was not one of particular interest and I wasn’t even present for three-fourths of it, but an important moment in the history of 1318 4th Avenue would occur on this night.
In fact, on this same night, Priority One Productions (Allen Dean’s business venture for talent booking) was hosting George Clinton & the P-Funk All-Stars at Huntington’s Civic Center and Quiet Riot performed simultaneously at the Wild Dawg Saloon.
My friends and I actually spent the bulk of that evening reliving the glory days of hair metal by taking in Quiet Riot, while I walked the short distance across the street to periodically check in on the Clinton show.
It was a given that everyone would reconvene at Drop Shop later that night after George Clinton’s performance had concluded, and my friends and I arrived midway through Shootyz Groove’s set.
It was only mere moments later that Dean and a host of others showed up, with none other than George Clinton himself in tow.
Those of who were lucky enough to have been there, which, if memory serves me correctly, was probably no more than 25 people, witnessed Dr. Funkenstein leisurely walk through the venue, make his way to the stage and join Shootyz Groove for an impromptu number.
Trust me when I say that the expression on the faces of each of the band’s members would have been worth the price of admission alone, that is, if I had paid one.
THE SMOOTHS W/ CRETIN HOP
(Saturday, November 30, 1996)
Strangely enough, I recall very little of The Smooths, who headlined this show.
The draw for me was that this was to be the last show for Huntington’s Cretin Hop, as two-thirds (vocalist/guitarist Brian Lusher and drummer Mark Harlan) of the band would soon relocate to Nashville, Tennessee.
By this point, I had been a fan of the band formerly known as Electric Lullaby for quite some time, actually since the release of their first album, ‘Kindred to the Snake,’ some four years earlier.
In many ways it was that album which had initially sparked my interest in local music and, by the time this show occurred, I had developed a musical kinship with the band’s bassist, Russ Fox. (The fact that both of us were Bob Mould fans only made it inevitable.)
My fondest memory of Cretin Hop’s performance that evening, which drew equally from that debut album as well as their latest release, ‘High on Gas,’ transpired near the end of the band’s set.
A friend of mine, whom was well aware of my affinity for the band, suggested to Lusher that they dedicate the first track (“One Man’s Island”) from their debut album to me and, like clockwork, they did.
I don’t know who was more animated during that singular performance – Fox, who appeared highly amused that a solitary song could generate such excitement from one person, or me.
SPEED MCQUEEN W/ SUPAFUZZ
(Friday, February 7, 1997)
This show marked the return of Dave Angstrom to 1318 4th Avenue after a brief hiatus.
Angstrom had been absent from the venue since the collapse of his previous band, Control Freak, and this was to be the Huntington debut of his new outfit, Supafuzz.
Although second on the bill, Supafuzz, in what would be customary of every one of their performances that I attended, exhibited an energy and enthusiasm that bands performing in venues 20 times the size of Drop Shop would do well to match.
The band’s set list pulled from their as-yet-to-be-released debut album, ‘Pretty Blank Page,’ and featured soon-to-be crowd favorites such as “Superstar,” “Push” and “Mr. Policeman,” amongst many others.
Although Supafuzz would go on to perform multiple times at the venue, this performance would be unrivaled in intensity as they clearly had something to prove, and that something made a lasting impact but, more importantly, earned them a wealth of staunch supporters in the years to come.
The pleasant surprise about this show, however, was my introduction to the New York three-piece known as Speed McQueen.
The band would be releasing their full-length, self-titled album the following Tuesday, February 11, and celebrated its release with this appearance at Drop Shop.
Speed McQueen combined an equal love of power-pop and punk to form an ideal musical brew that effortlessly complemented the riotous onslaught by Supafuzz.
It was an auspicious debut of two bands that would soon become venue favorites.
JERRY CANTRELL W/ ZEKE & CHUM
(Wednesday, June 17, 1998)
Many people will recognize this show as the final one at Drop Shop, and that alone earns it merit on this list.
The mere fact that the former Alice in Chains guitarist had the distinction of being the last to perform at the venue left many in attendance (and some even to this day) scratching their heads.
With a band that also featured Alice in Chains drummer Sean Kinney, former Queensrÿche guitarist Chris DeGarmo and Fishbone bassist John Norwood Fisher, it begged the question, “how could this possibly be a venue’s final show when it had to be financially successful in the first place to book it?”
Unfortunately, to many, that’s a question that still remains unanswered.
Cantrell was touring in support of his recently released solo debut, ‘Boggy Depot,’ of which his set heavily favored, but he did manage to mix in such Alice in Chains standards as “No Excuses” and “Got Me Wrong.”
Regrettably, I spent the entire duration of this show in the sound booth doing lights for all three bands, one of which, Zeke, was none too appreciative of my skills, or lack thereof.
The after-party more than made up for the evening’s uncomfortable moments and even included Drop Shop bouncers John Dempsey and Robert Farley power-bombing an inebriated yours truly through two strategically placed pieces of plywood.
Ah, to be young, dumb and careless again, and besides, the venue was “officially” closed by that point, never to open again.
KARMA TO BURN W/ LIKEHELL
(Friday, February 28, 1997)
I was the music columnist for the Huntington Herald-Dispatch for almost the entire period in which Drop Shop was opened.
One of the obvious perks of the job was receiving promotional copies of CD’s each day I checked my mailbox at the office, and none was as exciting as when I obtained an advance copy of Morgantown’s Karma to Burn’s debut album in the fall of 1996.
I would have to wait, however, until this show, the band’s album release party, before I could hear the bulk of it performed live.
One interesting aspect of this show was that the band’s performance featured vocalist J. Jarosz for a few songs (as had the album), much to the chagrin of Huntington loyalists, who had grown accustomed to Karma to Burn’s trademark instrumental interplay.
Fortunately, the band, which by then included former Chum drummer Chuck Nicholas, opted for an instrumental-heavy set and would eventually sack Jarosz before leaving to tour Europe just three months later.
Although the band had, essentially, been strong-armed into hiring Jarosz by their record label, Roadrunner, this decision would lead to the label parting ways with the Karma to Burn later in the year.
It’s also worth noting that opening act LIKEHELL was fronted by Nick Eldorado, who would later guest on Queens of the Stone Age’s ‘Rated R’ album, and appear on Volumes 7 and 8 of The Desert Sessions.
You can expect the second part of this blog to appear in the coming days.