ON THIS DATE IN CITY GARDENS HISTORY: TRANS AMS AND TROUTBUTTS - DEAD KENNEDYS/AOD/FLIPPER JULY 18 1983

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Dead Kennedys/Flipper/AOD/Autistic Behavior – July 18, 1982

Nancy Petriello Barile: I just never got the whole Flipper aesthetic. I think I was supposed to like them… I appreciated what they did, and I respected what they did, but it just didn’t appeal to me as much as some of the other bands that had come through.

Craig Surgent (Autistic Behavior bassist): Playing with the Dead Kennedys there… it was like fabled times. I was very young—I guess I was 17— and playing on a stage was something I never thought I’d do. I remember seeing Jello Biafra out in the audience, watching us. We actually played with them the very next night in Kensington in Philadelphia, at the Starlight Ballroom. And it was the second time within a year that we had played the Starlight and witnessed a riot. The Kensington locals were not happy about any bands playing there.

Dave Schwartzman (Adrenalin O.D.): The first show I can remember playing there was opening for the Dead Kennedys in 1982. I actually have a soundboard cassette recording of the show. I remember most of the crowd hanging in the back, and we were coaxing them to the stage area to watch us. Once we started playing it filled up quick. At the time that was one of the most crowded shows we had played.

Jello Biafra: Playing with Adrenalin OD was a very different experience. The audience had changed, and the music had gotten more extreme.

Dave Schwartzman: Randy, back in the day, was not very local-punk-band-friendly. He had an ongoing rivalry with a New Jersey scenester-musician- writer named Paul Decolator. If Paul came to one of our shows, Randy would get pissed off. I was still a high-school kid back then, and sometimes Randy would come across as an angry camp counselor. I personally got along with Randy, but I was the straight edger in A.O.D. and never had to argue with him about the free beer we were promised. As time went on, we all mellowed. Randy also had that annoying habit of talking over the PA from the sound booth while we played. Hey Randy, did we ever go out on your mail route and hand out priority letters? I think not!

Photo by:    Ken Salerno

Photo by: Ken Salerno

Jello Biafra: Adrenalin OD was an interesting reaction to the same kind of moronic behavior of the herd that now gets kind of glorified and satirized at the same time in programs like Jersey Shore. Some of the bands were so extreme right-wing politically and racist they make the Tea Party look like nice people. There was U.S. Chaos with their We Got the Weapons release. Of course, Dave Scott of Adrenalin OD said, “Yo, watch out for Stormtroopers of Death and their anti-immigration bigot anthem, “Speak English or Die.” I mean, people are just loving that here.” That’s what A.O.D. was up against. The Circle Jerks satire skewered the more absurd way people behaved in L.A., and Adrenalin OD did the same for New Jersey. It does not mean every single person in New Jersey is stupid or moronic, far from it. But there is that element, and, of course, some of them went to City Gardens shows.

Bruce Wingate (Adrenalin O.D.): It took us a while to work through our initial mutual distrust. In the beginning, the relationship between hardcore and the typical NJ “rock” venue was adversarial. To us, [City Gardens and other clubs that size] represented everything punk was diametrically opposed to. To them, we were those assholes with shaved heads that trashed their bathrooms and called their stage lights “Pink Floyd shit.” The camp counselor comparison is pretty apt. Randy was forever rounding up rag-tag groups of incorrigible punks and hoping against all odds that they could beat the kids from fat camp.

Jello Biafra: So, imagine [the audience’s] reaction during the jazzier, “We Got a Bigger Problem Now” version of “California Uber Alles.” I had a chance to talk and talk and talk if I wanted to, so I thought; “Aha! These are still the people with the Trans Ams. I am going to go off on Bruce Springsteen.” So, I made fun of Bruuuuuce Springsteen and his fans, for what seemed like 15 or 20 minutes; maybe it was only five, I don’t know. The crowd was getting more and more riled up, more and more annoyed, and even if I was just distancing myself from a mainstream artist to them, I was insulting their very New Jersey soul, which is what I was trying to get people to get away from. They were throwing everything they could find at me, but on we went. We played the song, and then they wanted another song.

Nancy Petriello Barile: [Philly punk promoter] Chuck Meehan decided we were going to stage dive together. We were sitting on the side of the stage during the Dead Kennedys and Chuck was like, “Nancy, we’re gonna’ do a double stage dive together.” And I’m like, “Cool.” But I didn’t realize he meant right that second! So, before I had the time to set up and get ready, he grabbed me, and we ran across the stage—and that stage was high! I jumped and landed head-first, and I ended up with two black eyes. Again! This was after two black eyes at the gig at the Starlight. I was working for a law firm in Philly at the time, so after the second round of black eyes, the lawyers were calling me in to their offices and asking if my boyfriend is abusing me! How could I possibly explain to them stage diving and riots and hardcore? They just totally did not get it.

Bruce Wingate: I remember Jello catching us doing impressions of him and calling us “trout butts.”

Photo by:    Ken Salerno

Photo by: Ken Salerno