The following is an excerpt from the book No Slam Dancing, No Stage Diving, No Spikes: An Oral History of the Legendary City Gardens by Amy Yates Wuelfing and Steven DiLodovico. All photos by Ken Salerno.
Cro-Mags/Mentors/Suburban Uprise/Legitimate Reason – April 12, 1987
Some names have been changed, but not to protect the innocent...
Jamie Davis (City Gardens regular): I actually went to see the Mentors. El Duce was still playing drums. That was the best era of the Mentors, when he was still playing drums. He stopped playing drums after that and just sang.
Harley Flanagan (Cro-Mags, bassist): The gig that really stands out in my memory is when we played with, of all bands, the Mentors. That in itself is a ridiculous bill if you think about it: the Age of Quarrel-era Cro-Mags playing with the Mentors… Of course, El Duce was still alive, and that shit was ridiculous. I had met those guys once before back in’82, out in California.
Jamie Davis: The Mentors were hilarious. They had this other big fat guy—who was three times the size of the rest them—on stage wiping things with his ass and throwing them at people. He was wiping bumper stickers on his ass and throwing them. He was wiping sweat off his chest and flinging it at people, and he berated anybody close to the stage. Any girl who was up front really got it.
Jonathan LeVine (City Gardens regular): I heard a story about a friend of ours, Ivo, getting into some stuff with Harley at that show. Ivo was a gnarly dude, and I was sort of afraid of him back then. I heard that at this Cro-Mags show, their roadies caught Ivo in the bathroom and knocked his teeth out or something.
Karl “Hard Karl” Hedgepath (City Gardens regular): I know that Ivo had a confrontation in the bathroom at City Gardens. That haunted him for a long time. We went to DC once and a dude—I won’t say his name—came running up to the van. He was looking in the van trying to find out if Ivo was there. He kept asking about somebody named Ivo, and we were all playing dumb, like, “I don’t know who you’re talking about…”
Dave Franklin (Vision, vocalist): My bass player, Ivo, was banned from City Gardens for life for fighting. He was one of the guys in The Family. He had a HUGE conflict with the Cro-Mags way before he was in Vision.
Harley Flanagan: One of our roadies and his younger brother got into some kind of an altercation during one of the opening bands. I don’t know what the fuck happened. He got into some shit with one of the local tough guys of that era, of that scene. Every scene has the tough guys who gotta flex at every gig…
Jim Norton (stage manager/security): Ivo… good guy. I think all these years later it’s okay to say it: He was a troublemaker. He was that guy. He was one of the few regulars who would take a swing at you, and he had a chip on his shoulder about getting thrown out for doing dumb stuff. He was the guy who would try to convince you that—whatever it was—whatever he was being accused of doing this week, he didn’t do it.
Carl Humenik (City Gardens security): With Ivo, every time I would see him do something, he’d say, “I didn’t do it. It wasn’t me.” And I’d be like, “I SAW YOU DO IT!”
Dave Franklin: At an earlier Cro-Mags show, there was a confrontation where The Family had beaten down a Cro-Mags roadie so severely that the next time the Cro-Mags came to town, they were looking for some kids to beat.
Harley Flanagan: Me and my roadies used to get into so many fucking fights…
Dave Franklin: Ivo was there early in the men’s room, taking a leak, and he turns around and Harley and another dude were standing there, waiting for him. Harley had a baseball bat in his hand.
Harley Flanagan: Well, I guess he fucking flexed on my buddy and, I don’t know what happened, but I walked into the bathroom and there was this dude crumpled up on the floor with blood running down his head. And my buddy Rich was standing over him, and his brother was standing next to him, and his brother had a baseball bat… When I walked in on that one, I was like, “Geez, I can’t fucking go anywhere with you motherfuckers!”
Carl Humenik: With some people who came to shows, you couldn’t believe a word they said. Ivo was one of them. That night, he came out of the bathroom, holding his tooth, with blood coming out of his mouth. He told me that Harley just beat the living shit out of him. I went into the men’s room, but there was no one there. So, either Harley came out before him…but I don’t understand why Harley would be in that bathroom unless he followed Ivo in. I only have what Ivo said to go by.
Harley Flanagan: Actually, from what I understand, he didn’t even get to hit him with the baseball bat, because we all used to have—well, me and my roadie—we had these sack gloves. They’ve got eight ounces of powdered lead in the knuckles. So, he just cracked him.
Dave Franklin: Harley actually handed the bat off to the other guy and punched Ivo in the face and knocked his front teeth out. The story got around that Harley beat Ivo with the bat, but he actually just punched him in the mouth.
Harley Flanagan: But I don’t know exactly what happened; I just know the guy fucked with him on the dance floor, and he might have really laid him out, and there was some situation where all the guy’s friends wanted to jump my roadie. Then I was out in the audience with a huge circle of people around me. I always carried this big tanto, which is like a Japanese knife. I kept it in my sleeve. I remember being in the middle of a circle of people and being like, “Yo, I will fuck people UP…” It was just one of these tense situations where you’re surrounded by people and everybody is waiting. Like, is shit going to start any second? [It was like] I go to take a piss, and you’re in here with a baseball bat, and some fucking guy is laying on the floor! I mean, Jesus Fucking Christ, can I take a piss in peace, man? I mean, what the fuck? What happened this time? What did you do? What did he say? What? Did he fucking bump into you? Was he fucking… Jesus Christ… Anybody who used to go to Cro-Mags shows back then will tell you that it was always intense, and we knew it. You could feel it. For weeks leading up to us coming to town, all my friends would tell me, “Yo man, when you guys had a gig coming up, for two or three weeks leading up to the show, everybody would be getting themselves amped up.” So, by the time we’d come to town, shit would fucking go off. There was always some kind of madness. It was a great time.
Jamie Davis: When the Cro-Mags came on, I was up at the front. They did the count-off and the fucking place blew up. I’d never seen so many bald heads fucking go off. To me, everyone was humungous. I just remember being smashed into the amps and thinking, “This is GREAT! This is the best band I’ve ever seen!” And that was without ever having heard them before! When you say that about a band, you knew you saw something incredible.
Harley Flanagan: The thing that stands out from that show for me is that was the last gig I ever played my Guild Starfire bass, the semi-hollow body that I played on the original demos. It stopped working at the end of our set. We came back to do some encores and it didn’t work anymore. We couldn’t figure out what happened, so I borrowed a bass. When I opened it up afterwards, [I realized] that I had sweated so much that the pickups were corroded. It died. It’s sad [because] it was a beautiful bass, and it had an amazing sound. It was a fucking vintage, fucking beautiful instrument. That was the night that that bass died, and I had to buy a bass. It was the first time I ever got a new instrument.