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. Photo by Ron Gregorio.
Flipper/Scornflakes – (Two Shows: All Ages and 21+) December 29, 1984
Amy Yates Wuelfing (author): At the time, I was interviewing a lot of punk and hardcore bands for the magazine Hard Times. Never had a problem, except for the Butthole Surfers, who were tripping balls so hard they could barely talk. Even so, they were still nice about it. Then, I met Flipper. Even among fellow punks, they had a reputation for being a bunch of assholes, and on this night they lived up to it.
Keene Hepburn (City Gardens soundman): I never liked Flipper, and, at that time, it was cool to be into Flipper. They were obviously talentless. They couldn’t play their instruments. They were like the Sex Pistols’ retarded brothers. They were awful.
Sim Cain (Regressive Aid/Scornflakes drummer): We started Scornflakes because we loved Flipper, so we put together an improvisational, slow punk band. We heard that Flipper was coming to the east coast because they had a bunch of [criminal] court dates, so they decided to turn it into a tour. It just so happened that I knew the booking agent at all three shows in the area, and I called each agent and said that we were opening for Flipper on the other two shows. It worked! We opened for Flipper on all three shows, and over the course of the three shows, they successfully stole most of our backline [equipment] and sold it for drugs.
Keene Hepburn: The first time Scornflakes played with Flipper, I was sick, so I wasn’t there. They played with Flipper at City Gardens and then CBGB. Sim called me after the City Gardens date and asked me to go back to the club and search for the missing stuff. Some of Sim’s drum kit was gone, a guitar pedal board that I built for Billy was gone, and some other stuff. And Flipper stole it. I knew they did. They stole it for drug money.
Sim Cain: A year later they came back to City Gardens and we opened for them again. Someone vandalized their truck, and they tried to steal our amp.
Keene Hepburn: Scornflakes opened for Flipper and they blew them off the stage, because Flipper was awful that night… not that they were good any night. I was in back trying to wrap stuff up, getting my gear packed, when someone came running up to me and said, “You have to help [Scornflakes bassist] Andrew Weiss out.” I looked up and saw Andrew and Bruce Loose from Flipper throwing punches. And sure enough, Bruce is trying to steal more of our equipment. I had to pry the equipment out of his hands. It was like they prided themselves on stealing other bands’ gear.
Amy Yates Wuelfing: After the show, another woman and I were sent to the dressing room to do the interview we had arranged earlier. The band seemed okay, if not totally drunk, but then something set them off. I believe we asked them, in a joking way, about the alleged equipment stealing. The next thing I know I’m in a shoving match with Bruce from Flipper. He grabbed me by my hair and attempted to push me down a flight of stairs. I punched him in the balls, which had shockingly little effect, but it was enough for him to let me go. My friend and I got out of there, went to car and looked at each other like, what the hell just happened?
Sim Cain: In retrospect, it was messy and fun. After that, if they came to City Gardens, on their rider it specifically said that we were not allowed to open for them. And when they did the Public Flipper Limited album, the cover graphic has a map of the U.S. and they put Trenton out in the Atlantic Ocean.
Amy Yates Wuelfing: Hard Times editor Ron Gregorio saw them at Maxwell’s in Hoboken two nights later. They were adamant that they did not try to steal anyone’s equipment at City Gardens, but that they had “put it to the side so they wouldn’t accidently kick it.” The band also had no memory of anything that happened with me and my friend. Surprise, surprise. Even weirder than the fight with Flipper was the lack of commiseration I got from everyone about it. My own mother told me I should have known better then go to a drunk band’s dressing room— which was probably true—and the magazine’s editor told me to toughen up. There’s no whining in punk rock.