If you could time travel to see a band in 1984, what band would you see?
July 4, 2016 6:58 PM   Subscribe

Hey Me-fites, I'm dipping my toes into the pool of time travel novels. My main character is going back to 1984--because I want to write about 1984 Vancouver, pre Expo, pre Olympics, when it was a hick town on the far edge of the world. When my characters back in time, he's going to check out some bands, preferably pre-famous, you know, $5 cover, one of three acts, tiny clubs, etc. So, oh wise ones, what band should he find himself seeing?
posted by drinkmaildave to Writing & Language (40 answers total) 8 users marked this as a favorite
 
Skinny Puppy formed in Vancouver in 1982 and played their first live show there in 1984.
posted by LobsterMitten at 7:07 PM on July 4, 2016 [8 favorites]


If you could go back to December 1983, you could catch The Talking Heads on the Stop Making Sense tour, just 12 days before the movie was filmed.
posted by fings at 7:10 PM on July 4, 2016 [14 favorites]


1984 is when Green River started playing.
posted by Thorzdad at 7:15 PM on July 4, 2016 [1 favorite]


The quintessential band in 1984 in Terminal City would have to have been DOA, although they were in a sort of in hiatus that year.

54-40, another band the represents the long-lost rainy Vancouver of the 80's (totally erased by the post Expo '86 condo boom) were just starting out in 1984.

The Payolas, another quintessential band from the Vancouver of the 80's that no longer exists, released a hit single in '82, and Bob Rock would become a major talent as a music producer.

Bryan Adams released Reckless in late 1984, and I remember going to see him at the Colosseum at Hastings Park the following summer. For me, Cuts Like a Knife from 1983 really says "1980's Vancouver" to me. I'm pretty sure his drummer, Pat Steward, was from Victoria.

Doug and the Slugs was another quintessential Vancouver band back then.
posted by My Dad at 7:20 PM on July 4, 2016 [4 favorites]


It's also possible that Victoria's Nomeansno, probably the greatest band in the history of Canadian rock and roll, played some gigs in Vancouver in 1984.
posted by My Dad at 7:21 PM on July 4, 2016 [7 favorites]


Duran Duran played in Vancouver on February 1, 1984. Maybe not exactly pre-famous. Certainly not $5.
posted by tomboko at 7:25 PM on July 4, 2016 [1 favorite]


The Cure played Vancouver in 1984.
posted by cabingirl at 7:26 PM on July 4, 2016 [2 favorites]


Sonic Youth is the correct answer.
posted by mdrew at 7:46 PM on July 4, 2016 [5 favorites]


Sorry, won't meet your five dollar pre-fame thing, but I'd still want to be there:

Thursday 31 May 1984
The Clash live
The Clash
Pacific Coliseum, Vancouver, BC, Canada
posted by clone boulevard at 7:48 PM on July 4, 2016 [3 favorites]


R.E.M. They played a date in Vancouver in June 1984.
posted by tafetta, darling! at 7:48 PM on July 4, 2016 [3 favorites]


Prince was already famous by then, but if your character is an able-bodied adult it would strain credulity for them not to go see Prince.
posted by witchen at 7:49 PM on July 4, 2016 [2 favorites]


Definitely 54-40.

In June of '83 New Order played The Commodore. Close, probably awesome.
posted by GuyZero at 7:49 PM on July 4, 2016 [2 favorites]


Like a virgin, Dirty Laundy, Van Halen Panama, Boys of summer
posted by Amalie-Suzette at 8:03 PM on July 4, 2016


Coming in to suggest the Cure and New Order.
posted by onecircleaday at 8:03 PM on July 4, 2016


CanCon aside, I paid $5 each to see the Plimsouls and The Bangles in 84.
posted by rhizome at 8:12 PM on July 4, 2016


I think you should get in touch with someone at CiTR and see if anyone has any dusty playlists, because there were loads of big stadium shows in the 1980s but you seem to want indie stuff that isn't googleable. Wikipedia says they hosted the National Community and Campus Radio Conference in 1984, so they might just have something you can tap.
posted by gingerest at 8:19 PM on July 4, 2016 [2 favorites]


Another plus for Skinny Puppy. That's a great suggestion, as they are from the city in question and would likely have been playing to small crowds at that time.
posted by galaksit at 8:26 PM on July 4, 2016 [4 favorites]


Zen Arcade came out in 1984, so I'm going with Husker Du. They toured relentlessly, I know they came to the Northwest a few times in 84/85 so I'm pretty sure they would have gone to Vancouver as well.
posted by pdb at 8:27 PM on July 4, 2016 [6 favorites]


Spirit of the West released their first album that year. They would have likely been playing with the Payolas and maybe 54-40. Definitely the Commodore.
posted by Chaussette and the Pussy Cats at 8:44 PM on July 4, 2016 [1 favorite]


I was going to say A-Ha on the strength of "Take On Me," but I see that was released in October of 1984. Pre-famous though, that may work, although they are from Norway.

If you want a pre-famous band that becomes famous, I'd look at the top singles of the following few years.
posted by AppleTurnover at 9:22 PM on July 4, 2016


Violent Femmes released albums in 1983 and 1984 and was touring in 1984.
posted by salvia at 9:27 PM on July 4, 2016 [8 favorites]


The Violent Femmes were not only touring in 1984, their opening band for that tour was the unknown and as yet unsigned 10,000 Maniacs.
posted by frumiousb at 10:11 PM on July 4, 2016 [8 favorites]


I think you should get in touch with someone at CiTR and

I was doing radio there at the time. Still am.

Somebody already mentioned NoMeansNo in this thread. Best band on the planet on any given night. And yeah, I saw them in venues smaller than some kitchens. They were ALWAYS great.

Also DOA, of course. The two of them on the same bill always guaranteed eruption.

Definitely 54-40.

Other local bands that come to mind:

The Enigmas were great. Bolero Lava (all girl outfit, great party band). Slow wouldn't really hit until 1985. Art Bergman + Poisoned were a force. Go Four 3 were solid power pop fun. No Fun were hilarious, a two piece.

In June of '83 New Order played The Commodore.

terrible show. they stunk out the joint ... and I like their records.

The Cure played Vancouver in 1984.

They lost their drummer two days before so the set was mostly one long dirge, thick with smoke. I loved it but they didn't exactly play the hits.

Other out of town acts that were memorable live: Violent Femmes, Minutemen, REM, Laurie Anderson, King Crimson, Linton Kwesi Johnson, Frankie Goes to Hollywood, The Clash, tho that was without Mick Jones, so arguably not even the actual Clash, but I liked it, helluva songbook.

Much more I'm sure.

And as for the actual clubs and venues. Commodore, Savoy, Luv Affair, SUB Ballroom (UBC), various speakeasys and after hours joints. I recall seeing DOA at a place called Stalag 13 that was basically the back of an autobody shop -- dirt floor, a real bunker.
posted by philip-random at 11:00 PM on July 4, 2016 [35 favorites]


The Violent Femmes were not only touring in 1984, their opening band for that tour was the unknown and as yet unsigned 10,000 Maniacs.

Don't think 10,000 Maniacs made it to Vancouver, tho I may be mistaken. The Femmes were great in 1984, much stronger than they had been in 1983 -- Hallowed Ground is just such a powerful album. If memory serves (and it sometimes doesn't) I'm pretty sure they played Vancouver twice that year (Commodore and Luv Affair).
posted by philip-random at 11:03 PM on July 4, 2016 [2 favorites]


... and drinkmaildave, feel free to MeMail me if you want anything more specific.
posted by philip-random at 1:20 AM on July 5, 2016


Here Dave, have some mother lode:

http://www.library.ubc.ca/archives/pdfs/ubyssey/

The files that start with "SUBYSSEY" are the summer issues. You want to plow
down to where the files start with "UBYSSEY_1984_" and take your pick of
concert reviews. In those years the paper published on Tuesday and Friday --
Friday featured the "Page Friday" arts section, but I can see more newsworthy
reviews getting published on Tuesday if space allowed, so I'd read through all of them.

If you find any that look interesting, you might even be able to find the review author
hanging out in the Facebook Ubyssey alumni group.
posted by morspin at 6:43 AM on July 5, 2016 [2 favorites]


How come no one's mentioned the Town Pump? I don't remember who I saw there, but it was one of my favorite places to see live music in the early 80s.
posted by morspin at 6:44 AM on July 5, 2016 [1 favorite]


A geographic digression, but I recall seeing some fun mid-level English touring bands at The Masonic Temple in Toronto in the early/mid 1980's: Shriekback, The Stranglers, Gang of Four, etc.. I didn't see but heard about gigs there by Public Image, New Order, etc..
posted by ovvl at 7:31 AM on July 5, 2016


Town Pump, of course, but for some reason I don't recall seeing gigs there as early as 84. Some history here.

And also The New York Theatre on Commercial Drive. There was also The Waterfront Cafe (I think), corner of Hastings + Clark. John Barleys (Gastown), Faces and Gandy Dancer (more for dance but not exclusively).

And, of course, The Railway Club.
posted by philip-random at 9:56 AM on July 5, 2016


I'd relate more if your character expressed a total lack of interest in the mid-80s Vancouver scene and went back another 17 years so he could catch live shows at the Retinal Circus (now Celebrities on Davie) featuring, among others, Jefferson Airplane, the Poppy Family, and local heroes My Indole Ring. After all, he's got a time machine.
posted by morspin at 9:59 AM on July 5, 2016


Meanwhile on Facebook ...
posted by philip-random at 11:13 AM on July 5, 2016


What about Slow?
posted by Hoopo at 11:42 AM on July 5, 2016


Hanoi Rocks right on the precipice of stardom, before drummer Razzle died in December.
posted by Gable Oak at 12:53 PM on July 5, 2016


You all are great! I'll drink my fill of your ideas and see what spews out :-)
Probably for my go at NaNoWriMo this year.
I'm leaning towards creating a band for the main plot points but hide them within all the bands mentioned here.
Thanks again! especially phillip-random for the Facebook assist!
posted by drinkmaildave at 1:53 PM on July 5, 2016 [1 favorite]


If you were in Vancouver in 1984 and following the punk scene, you would have attended at least one Free the Five benefit. The band I would see again if I could, in all their 1984 greatness, would be Animal Slaves, and not just because Elizabeth is dead now, but because on a good night they were dark and harsh and beautiful and everything and Rachel was the greatest bass player in town. There were other bands on local label MoDaMu (ModernDanceMusic), such as Bolero Lava noted above, as well as the Moral Lepers.
posted by jokeefe at 4:18 PM on July 5, 2016 [1 favorite]


And argh, what was the place upstairs in Gastown, philip-random? With the brick wall behind the stage. I'm blanking on the name.
posted by jokeefe at 4:21 PM on July 5, 2016


Here Dave, have some mother lode:

I'd recommend the Discorder archives rather than the Ubyssey... the Discorder was the magazine published (and is still being published) by the University radio station. And now I'm off to look for that excellent band photograph of Junco Run (another MoDaMu band)... Also, don't forget their offspring, Work Party. Oh, and Red Herring, too.
posted by jokeefe at 4:25 PM on July 5, 2016


And argh, what was the place upstairs in Gastown, philip-random?

It had a few names, but mostly The Savoy ... if memory serves.
posted by philip-random at 5:16 PM on July 5, 2016


Til Tuesday, being that I am a huge Aimee Fann.

see it's funny because her naimee is Aimee Mann and... I'll just see myself out.
posted by ostranenie at 7:10 PM on July 5, 2016 [1 favorite]


The Savoy! That was it.
posted by jokeefe at 7:18 PM on July 5, 2016


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