Opening act: The Nymphs
Back of ticket ad: Fox Photo, once again trying to entice me with a now-failed business model.
One reason why I liked actually local shows like this — fairly uncluttered tickets. Goldenvoice presents Redd Kross and there ya go.
And the Nymphs opened. Herein a tale or three.
I’d see Redd Kross already by this time and it had slowly sunk in over the moons that pretty much one of the greatest bands around was not only local but also barely older than me. (A slight exaggeration but not by much — Steve Macdonald is the younger of the two brothers and he was born only four years before me.) What’s always interested me is how simultaneously near and distant their seventies-fantasy popculture approach feels, it’s a case where I just missed out on a lot of it directly but have vague images of it in my head, an audiovisual smear — by the time they were starting to record and perform and refer back to their own not too long departed youth-as-such I was still going through mine, and it was less AM rock radio than it was disco fallout. Fine points but relevant ones, it can really come down to just that much difference sometimes, invisible in the moment but gaping later on down the track.
So I was up for a show at the Palace with the Macdonalds, I figured it would be a blast and it was — no new album would come out for a full year, hometown crowd, play a show just because (there might have been a tour but I wouldn’t know). And the Nymphs were opening…
I’ll have more to say about the Nymphs in a later entry, I figure, but while this wasn’t the last time I saw them in concert, neither was it the first. In fact, I’d seen them in much the same circumstances I’d first seen Redd Kross — at a free noontime show on the UCLA campus. But where I’d more or less just passed by Redd Kross back in 1989 thinking “Huh, wonder who these really hairy guys are,” the Nymphs show I was there for right from the start, because I figured it would be entertaining at the least.
I honestly don’t remember how I heard about the Nymphs the first time through — it could have been in the same round of seeing their name listed in local club shows in the LA Weekly or the like over the previous couple of years, much as I had seen the name Sons of Kyuss listed and thought, “Nice D&D reference there.” (They shortened their name soon thereafter and the rest is stoner rock history.) By this time, though, they’d been signed in part of the Geffen/DGC kinda-sorta alternative orgy, though if anything the Nymphs were more of an amalgam of a lot of different things from the past few years in LA. Whether it was in the sound or the dress sense or more, there were Jane’s Addiction connections, flecks of Celebrity Skin’s junk-glam goofiness, plenty of goth, and of course Inger Lorre.
Not sure how I would have viewed Inger at the time beyond the lens of general bad attitude craziness or whatever was written up in local stories (and increasingly UK press ones). There was definitely some sort of press-driven lumping of her in with Courtney Love and while the word frenemy hadn’t been invented yet to my knowledge it would seem to have applied. I think Johnette Napolitano would have come to mind as well — three different musicians with their own preferred form of goth/classic rock damage at play, admittedly, but there was a vague sense of generational connection or something in my head.
The resultant self-titled album via DGC is something I should really get back to at some point here, just to see if it holds up, but I remember playing it about as much as I did things like Nevermind and Bricks Are Heavy and the like, so quite a bit. The show itself was great fun because she so rapidly got pissed off — most of us there were either sitting or standing around and after a song or two she concluded one performance with a steadily paced “ASSUME — THE — POSITION!” and sat down herself for a bit. That actually charged up some people as a result and I definitely remember my friend Jason B. getting into the resultant pit that kicked in to full when they did “Revolt.”
Two other things I remember about that UCLA show — at one point Inger swung the microphone stand over her head and shattered it on the ground. I know this because I picked up a shard of it and I have it around here still. The other thing was that after it was over I ended up going up to her and wondering if she wanted to record a station ID for KLA. She was totally friendly and up for it and we ended up going up to the station, in the building right next to the plaza, with two others — Donnette Thayer of Game Theory/Hex and Falling James of the Leaving Trains, who also joined in. I really don’t remember much about the recording, but they were all very cool and Donnette was a kick, calmer than Inger but equally funny and friendly.
So I figured I’d want to start catching real shows by these folks, so this show and I was there early with whoever I was with. There was some sort of slow buzz burn happening with the Nymphs at this time — the album wasn’t any kind of Nirvana level sudden breakthrough but something was definitely happening, and I remember the crowd being a decent sized turnout for the Palace. What I just can’t be sure about is where I was when it came to watching the Nymphs show — I almost want to say I was near the front dead center but I could be totally wrong, somehow I think I was further back. But it could just mean I did both, maybe pulling back if/when it got too crazy up at the front — 1992 was definitely when the whole idea of the moshpit became the thing to expect at every show, no matter what. And I do remember it being good, if not as many stick-in-the-moment memories provided as UCLA.
Redd Kross I figured I could easily get up front for and not have to worry about being slammed in the head — which given their punk start seems a little foolhardy but that was a long time back, after all. So it proved — that remains one of the few shows where I’ve literally been dead front and center at the stage (or the security barrier) pretty much the whole time. I don’t remember any sort of momentous start or the like — Redd Kross showed up, got ready to rock and did just that. This is how it should be with them, after all.
Being up there meant that Jeff Macdonald was pretty much singing almost right in my face — I remember he almost seemed to be, not slouching down as he sang, but almost sliding down, like he was always cascading downward. Which sounds goofy but think of “The Slider” by T. Rex, that whole glam descend thing as physically portrayed, like he was lost in the music and just letting it flow. It wasn’t that the performance was sloppy or he was off — anything but, that was the point, it was all an intrinsic and well handled part of it. It could have been the angle I was looking at him, maybe, the stage at the Palace being a bit on the tall side, though it wasn’t like I was looking up his nose the entire time.
The one strange/weird/wonderful detail I remember from the show was that at one point Jeff said something about…it wasn’t that it was Steve’s birthday or anything but that there was something that needed to be said to Steve about something goofy and we all had to join in on a call of “Fuck you, Steve!” I remember Steve rolled his eyes and seemed more amused than anything else so I think it was some private band joke nobody would have known about until that very moment.
And so a good night out. The thing that surprises me a bit still is that I didn’t end up with a T-shirt from this show. I usually got one every time I went to a concert!