April 18, 1981: Dead Kennedys/The Sick Fucks
The Dead Kennedys show was the first performance in “the big room” with the big stage that most people remember.
Jeffrey Lubbers: We worked all day trying to get the stage and the front room ready in time. We were still building the stage the day of the concert. The front room was a mess, just crap lying around, junk everywhere, and we had to scramble to try and get everything ready. The stage was already partially built, because we planned on moving bands to the front room anyway, but we knew there was no way we could have the Dead Kennedys in the back. I guess we were dragging our feet getting it all ready, but we were working right up until the band showed up.
Anthony Pelluso: That whole thing was ridiculous. We weren’t quite sure how many people were going to show up. We figured it would be busy, that we’d get a good crowd, but it ended up being total chaos. It was a great atmosphere to be around… something that was so new and so much cooler than anything any of us had ever experienced.
Jello Biafra (Dead Kennedys): Compared to clubs New York and other big cities, City Gardens was just a big old warehouse… a barn painted black inside. It was punk and rock-and-roller proof.
Tom Christ: I worked at City Gardens until the first Dead Kennedys show. Before the show, they sent all this really cool promo stuff—posters and whatnot— so I stole it. Tut caught me, took all the stuff back, and fired me. I kept hanging out at the club, though. There were no hard feelings.
Jello Biafra: In those days, it wasn’t all split up into the booking agent, the manager, and the tour manager. Usually, if a band had a manager, the manager was booking the shows on the road via phone booths at gas stations, because cell phones weren’t invented yet, nor was the internet or email. The manager booked the shows and did the accounting and traveled as the tour manager with the band. The manager, agent, tour manager, den mother, you name it. It was all that.
Randy Now: All the power to the front room was going through a little piece of wire the size of a spaghetti noodle. Tut’s uncle, Sam, did the electrical work. He took these two pieces of wire, tied them together, and, voilà! it was lights and sound. We had over 1,000 people come for the show, and it was the first time we had to turn some away. We had to give the band a $2,500 guarantee, which was unheard of then, and we could only charge $6 a ticket. The band wouldn’t let us charge more. To get the show, I kept in touch with them and sold them on the fact that this was the place to play. People came from far and wide to see them, because it was the only date outside of New York and Washington D.C. The Sic Fucks were the opening act and they had this mystique about them because they were Tish and Snooky from [legendary punk-rock store] Manic Panic.
Jello Biafra: I’d never seen so many Trans Ams at a Dead Kennedys show as I saw in the parking lot of City Gardens. We noticed that every single time, which told us a little bit about the demographic we were dealing with.
Sim Cain (Regressive Aid/Rollins Band): It was an unbelievable show and so exciting to be at. It was before slam dancing became really violent, when it was more like rough-housing with your buddies. We invented the term “regression” at that show. We wanted to start a band so that we could get people to do the same thing we saw the crowd do that night.