Cloaca Melodia

My life in concerts, by Mike Sauter.


King Missile

Fastlane, Asbury Park, NJ

This was the first of many times I saw King Missile live. We had been playing "My Heart Is a Flower" as a single advance of the band's Atlantic Record's debut CD The Way to Salvation, and I loved the song but didn't know anything about the band. When the full CD arrived around it's mid April 1991 release, I looked at the pictures of the band and release that I had seen frontman John S. Hall do spoken word performances in the East Village when I lived in Chelsea in 1990. So I was even more intrigued to see the band perform.

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At WHTG, a summer intern named Kathy just started and it turned out she was enthusiastic about King Missile as well. By then we had started to play a dance remix of "My Heart Is a Flower" (by Ivan Ivan). She told me that she had seen people dancing to the song in a club with their arms held high up in a sort of a "U" shape so that they looked like giant bouncing flowers. (I know: very 1991 in a way, very rave scene)

On the day of the show, John S. Hall and Chris Xefos of the band came in to 'HTG for an interview and we told them about the "flower" dance. After they left, Kathy and I made a pact. At the show, when they started playing "My Heart Is a Flower," we would both make our way to the front of the stage and do the flower dance. Since we just told the band about it, we thought they'd get a kick out of it.

Of course, things got odd when we arrived at the venue. There was no one there. If you eliminated club staff, WHTG personnel, and band members, I think there was probably about a dozen, maybe 20, people. The band still played a good show, but it was embarrassing for everyone concerned, I think.

When "My Heart Is a Flower" came up in the set list, I remember Kathy and I exchanging glances, like "Are we still gonna do this even though there's no crowd to cover our actions?" We meant it to be a private joke between us and the band, but now with a nearly empty house it could just seem weird. I said, "C'mon, let's do it!"

So we did. We walked all the way to the lip of the stage and did the flower dance. We felt like idiots (or at least I did) but one thing I had learned in my comedy experiences was that you have to commit to your gags, you know? At least it helped the band remember who we were later on.

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Elvis Costello/The Replacements

Madison Square Garden, New York, NY

Elvis had just released his Mighty Like a Rose album (which kicked off his '90s "wandering in the wilderness" period) about a month prior, and we were playing "The Other Side of Summer" quite a lot at WHTG. I had seen Elvis live before in two very memorable concerts (on the spinning songwheel tour in '86, and an outdoor show on Elvis' birthday in '89), so I was psyched to catch him again. The tour was dubbed the "Come Back in a Million Years Tour 1991," and it would feel like a million years before I was to see him live again.

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As icing on the cake, The Replacements were, somewhat oddly, the opening act for the show. I had just seen The 'Mats back in March, and they were terrific, so seeing them yet again would also welcome. I had no idea that drummer Chris Mars had already left the band (replaced on tour by Steve Foley, who later worked with Tommy Stinson's Bash & Pop as well as Brenda Kahn) and that within a week and a half this group which helped to define my late '80s existence would be no more.

In retrospect, Westerberg and Co. concluded their show quite appropriately (since they would break up after a concert on July 4th). They pulled out the title song from 1983's Hootenanny as their final number, and, conjuring the spirit of the original recording (despite only two band members remaining from the album version), they swapped instruments while playing to finish off the song in wonderfully clunky fashion.

And so--for me--ended an era.

My friend Kathy and had decided to head into Manhattan, catch this show and then cruise downtown to hopefully see some of King Missile at their Marquee show opening up for Bongwater.

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Bongwater/King Missile

The Marquee, New York, NY

Me and my friend Kathy scurried over to this show after catching Elvis Costello and The Replacements at Madison Square Garden, making this quite the music-packed evening. We, unfortunately, missed most of King Missile's set due to this two-show gambit, which was a shame since we were both big King Missile fans (we attended six KM shows together in four different cities throughout 1991).

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Bongwater was terrific, though, and the packed house was fully appreciative. I seem to recall Kramer playing bass with the instrument loose, no guitar strap. It seemed rather unwieldy.

One of the most memorable moments in the show was when Ann Magnuson addressed the crowd. "Let me introduce you to my friends. This here is Thelma," she declared, pointing to one of her breasts as the audience wildly cheered the reference to Geena Davis' character in the just-released film. She indicated the other one. "And this is Louise." Pause a beat. "And this," she declared as she jabbed a finger toward her crotch, "is Harvey Keitel!" The crowd roared.

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