April 21. Not what you expected

#aprilconcertchallenge Not what you expected: Butthole Surfers Sure, I had a couple of their albums by this time, but nothing could prepare me for the first time I actually saw the Butthole Surfers in concert (the Los Angeles Variety Arts Center, November 7, 1987). The dry ice, the strobe lights, the painted naked dancer, the slow motion background films of electroshock therapy and penis surgery, the cymbal set on fire with lighter fluid, the two-drummer assault,"SATAN! SATAN! SATAN!" @murkijee and I used to joke about dropping out of college and following the Butthole Surfers, only to laugh uneasily at the prospect of losing all touch with reality for quite possibly the rest of our lives. I don't have the official bootleg "Double Live" album for which this album is the cover. But it freaked out the first time I saw it, as it did most everyone who ever laid eyes on it, especially in a pre-Photoshop world. That's what the Butthole Surfers were like in their prime. #ButtholeSurfers

A post shared by Leonard Nevarez (@noelzevon) on


April 22. Exactly what you expected


April 23. Saw them before they were big

#aprilconcertchallenge Saw them before they were "big": Guns N' Roses I saw G'n'R open up for the Red Hot Chili Peppers (then the favorite up-and-comers of the Los Angeles underground) and the Dickies (Ramones-inspired joke punkers) at the ballroom of UCLA's student center on Halloween 1986. This was my first encounter with the bands of the Hollywood Sunset Strip, at a time when "hair metal" was not yet a globally recognized term, the early success of Motley Crue and Bon Jovi notwithstanding. Guns N' Roses were in their moussed-up Live ?!*@ Like A Suicide look. It was evident they were not of the punk/underground background of the other bands, but they had a musical intensity and aggression that distinguished them from other hair metal bands. "Kind of interesting," I thought, and then I soon forgot about G'n'R until Appetite For Destruction began its world domination the next summer. #GunsNRoses

A post shared by Leonard Nevarez (@noelzevon) on


April 24. Got an autograph

#aprilconcertchallenge Got an autograph: Debbie Gibson (and Tiffany) This story continues from my post a week ago — Auditorium/big show: Michael Jackson, "BAD" Tour, 1989. The house lights at the LA Memorial Sports Arena were still on, and Michael had yet to hit the stage, when I noticed a small commotion at the soundbooth at the back of the arena floor. A group of kids were excitedly surrounding a celebrity behind the gated platform. Was that… teen singer and shopping mall performer Tiffany of "I Think We're Alone Now" fame? Yes it was. As a 21-year-old long-haired dude attending a concert that seemed to target teens and tweens, I thought she would appreciate the attention from a real man for a change. So I tore off a piece of popcorn carton, borrowed a pen, and got her autograph with little difficulty: "Tiffany." At that moment I heard a slightly bigger commotion on the other side of the soundbooth. Was that… teen singer-songwriter and Long Island Madonna-wannabe Debbie Gibson?! It was!! You see, Debbie Gibson had become a subject of my conspicuous ironic appreciation that year — my old roommate @oculardelusion should recognize this poster from our apartment wall — so I was genuinely excited at the prospect of getting her autograph. When my turn came, Debbie smiled and shouted over the clamor of the arena, "What's your name?" "Len," I answered. With a smile she handed me back her autograph: "Dear Glen, nice to see you, Debbie Gibson" And that's why ever since I've introduced myself to people as "Leonard." #DebbieGibson #Tiffany

A post shared by Leonard Nevarez (@noelzevon) on


April 25. Once was enough


April 26. Reunion

#aprilconcertchallenge Reunion: Pulp Three bands I was bucket-list level excited to see reunited on stage were Roxy Music (2001), the Stooges (2003, the pre-James Williamson line-up), and Pulp (2012). I've given Bryan Ferry and Iggy time on the #aprilconcertchallenge, so let me praise Jarvis Cocker and band. I was allergic to Britpop in the 90s, so I missed Pulp in their heyday. They were triumphant at Radio City Music Hall, with chops undimmed by their inactive decade. I'll always remember a spotlit Jarvis vamping across the entire theater for an electrifying version of "This Is Hardcore" (find it on YouTube). @huahsu took a picture of me having my picture taken by a woman who said she was blogging about people who look like Jarvis Cocker. In truth, I was just wearing my long-distance glasses. #Pulp

A post shared by Leonard Nevarez (@noelzevon) on


April 27. Saw them before they broke up

#aprilconcertchallenge Saw them before they broke up: Grateful Dead I saw the Dead twice in 1988, first at the Long Beach Arena, then at one of their New Year's Eve shows at the Oakland Coliseum. @silverinsf posted a photo awhile back of us, probably both age 20, at my aunt's house before departing for that second show. Can't say I've ever been really into the Grateful Dead, but I respect their phenomenon. For one reason, these shows were the first times I ever dropped acid — a mellow, amenable setting for which I will always grateful (ar ar) to the collective hospitality of the Deadheads. In my years of musical fandom, a few friends gave up their various musical interests for a concentrated devotion to the Dead. I remember when one such friend, previously a Southern California punk girl, confessed she was gravely worried about "losing Jerry." And of course, eventually we did. #GratefulDead

A post shared by Leonard Nevarez (@noelzevon) on


April 28. Memorable for a reason unrelated to the music

#aprilconcertchallenge Memorable for a reason unrelated to the music Man, I really racked my brain on this one, but I can't think of any concerts where I was introduced to some important person in my life, for instance, or where a freakish event happened. (Unlike someone I knew who was at the concert where a lightstand fell and paralyzed Curtis Mayfield). If anything, all the memories that the #aprilconcertchallenge have stirred illustrate how, for me, concerts are *always* memorable for reasons unrelated to the music. Concerts are where I re-imagine who I am, where I came from, and what I aspire toward. Concerts are how I connect with strangers, engage with places, and create a common history with friends. At even the most dull events, concerts are where I create the stories to share with friends, family, and strangers, and in that way help me narrate the arc of my biographical narrative. Even when those stories seem to be just about the music.

A post shared by Leonard Nevarez (@noelzevon) on


April 29. Solo artist

#aprilconcertchallenge Solo artist: Jeffrey Lee Pierce I never got to see the Gun Club, a favorite band since I was a virginal 15-year-old leading my high school garage band through "Sex Beat." (A recording exists on Soundcloud.) I missed one of their shows because I told a girl I would take her to her high school prom. I missed another show because I was under age (see my story from the pit: the Godfathers). Curiously, once they became cult legends, the Gun Club never played Los Angeles all that much — something I've written about at musicalurbanism.com — and when they did, they didn't make much of a fuss about their return. Around Christmas 1995, Los Angeles punk supergroup the Ringling Sisters held their annual holiday concert at the Palace, supported by the usual array of cool bands and OG side projects that bandmembers Pleasant Gehman, Iris Berry et al could bring together. Did I know that Jeffrey Lee Pierce would be playing? All I remember is that Possum Dixon, then darlings of the Silverlake scene, hit the stage, started playing Gun Club chestnuts like "Ghost on the Highway," and the singer suddenly began whooping it up like a man possessed. That was Jeffrey Lee, in his final performance before he died a few months later. #GunClub #JeffreyLeePierce #PossumDixon #RinglingSisters

A post shared by Leonard Nevarez (@noelzevon) on


April 30. One show you would go back to see again if you could time travel

#aprilconcertchallenge One show you would go back to see again if you could time travel: Jeff Buckley The most musically gifted performer I've ever seen was Jeff Buckley in 1995. His album Grace revealed he was a triple-threat: superlative singer, innovative guitarist, great songwriter/arranger. But seeing him perform was a whole other thing. At the American Legion Hall in Los Angeles, he began by casually approaching the microphone and quietly undulating a beautiful wordless vocal for about a minute, immediately commanding the audience's entire attention until his band transitioned into "Dream Brother." Yes, you can hear him do this on the posthumous live album Mystery White Boy, the track sequence of which closely follows his live set, but in person Buckley was all about presence and charisma. The audience feels there will never be another moment like this, so focus carefully and joyfully. It's hard to forget being part of an entire room, women and men alike, drawn together in their almost physical attraction to the performer on stage. Admittedly, I chuckle now at pictures of Buckley, whose death froze his persona as a grunge-era cherub. Even those who discover Grace can consign him too easily as "the 1990s." But I still feel transformed by how generous Buckley was with his talent to those who saw him. #JeffBuckley

A post shared by Leonard Nevarez (@noelzevon) on



Part one
1. First show
2. Most recent
3. Festival
4. Favorite venue
5. Band you’ve seen the most
6. Road-tripped to the show
7. Met the band
8. Hard to score tickets
9. Went solo
10. Went with someone special

Part two
11. Awesome opening band
12. Mellow show/crowd
13. Wild show/crowd
14. Bought tickets but didn’t go
15. Friend’s band
16. Best band to sing along with
17. Auditorium/big show
18. Story from the pit
19. Basement show
20. Show you traveled farthest for