Detroit Rock City

guitar

I’ve had more than my fair share of jobs. I’ve been working since I was 15 and honestly I don’t have a good excuse for why I’m not a millionaire after nearly 30 years of employment. I’ll chalk that up to questionable choices and poor planning.

I suppose in time I will write about all of the hats I have worn. For now it’s suffice to say that my varied experiences have made me a well-rounded guy and that certainly helps with my role as an educator as well as my writing.

Recently a friend (and former boss) posted something on Facebook that took me back, back to my early 20s and my time at Detroit’s State Theater (now a Fillmore Theater, rebranded and absorbed by the Gelatinous Cube known as Live Nation).

It will always be The State Theater to me. A 1925 Renaissance Revival style movie house, this beautifully restored theater provided the backdrop for many of my misadventures. It was a pirate ship of sorts. I have a love for architecture and old buildings, and I can point to my time at the State for stoking that fire. The sub-basement was right out of Frankenstein, with huge belt driven fans for an ancient air conditioning system and the projection booth still had the original projectors. They were behemoths. So many hidden rooms, passageways, and secret places. I’m fairly certain there was a ghost or two. Just take a look at these nifty pictures and tell me you wouldn’t want to LARP a Cthulhu horror mystery there.

I began as a doorman/bouncer but eventually made my way backstage, working as a stagehand and also serving as the video director for a good chunk of my time there. My time as a stagehand has ruined me for live shows. I spent too many shows watching from the side of the stage or the soundboard. Standing out in the crowd, just a regular dude, is something that I still have difficulty with. I am a spoiled, petulant man-child.

Below is an almost complete list of shows I crewed (thanks to my friend’s post…he called them up via this database). I have a story for every one of them (another book to write). I’m sure that I am forgetting a few (+/- 20). For now, I just like looking at the list and keeping those adventures to myself.

Any favorites of yours on my list?

I look at this list and think, DAMN I LUCKED OUT.

311
7000 Dying Rats
Alanis Morrisette
Aphex Twin
Archers of Loaf
Bad Religion
Barenaked Ladies
Bass is Base
Belly
Ben Harper
Big Head Todd & the Monsters
Biohazard
Björk
Black Sabbath
Blind Melon
Blues Traveler
Branch Manager
Bush
Candlebox
Chris Isaak
Cocteau Twins
Collective Soul
Come
Concrete Blond
Counting Crows
Cracker
Crash Test Dummies
Crowded House
Cypress Hill
Danzig
Dave Matthews Band
Dead Can Dance
Delinquent Habits
Demolition Doll Rods
Dinosaur Jr.
Dio
Dream Theater
Ellis & Branford Marsalis
Eugenius
Face to Face
Failure
Faith No More
Fear Factory
Flaming Lips
Foo Fighters
Frank Black
Fugazi
God Lives Underwater
Godflesh
Goldfinger
GWAR
Harry Connick, Jr. & His Funk Band
Helium
Hootie & the Blowfish
House of Pain
Iggy Pop
Jackyl
Jethro Tull
Jewel
Jill Jack
Jimmie Vaughan / James Cotton
Joe Jackson
John Hiatt
Johnny Cash
Juned
Keb’ Mo’
Kid Rock
Kim Weston
King Crimson
KMFDM
Korn
Limp Bizkit
Live
Local H
Lou Reed
Love/Hate
Luna
Lunachicks
Machine Head
Magnapop
Marilyn Manson
Material Issue
Mazzy Star
Meat Loaf
Mike Watt
Ministry
Moist
Monster Magnet
Morbid Angel
Motörhead
Mudpuppy
My Dying Bride
Nil Lara
Nine Inch Nails
Oasis
Ozzy Osbourne
Pantera
Paula Cole
Peter Frampton
PJ Harvey
Primus
Prong
Psychotica
Rancid
Redd Kross
Rollins Band
Rusted Root
Samiam
Seal
Sebadoh
Sheryl Crow
Silverchair
Siouxsie & the Banshees
Slayer
Sonic Youth
Speedball
Spiritualized
Sponge
Steel Pole Bathtub
Steve Earle
Supersuckers
Tesla
that dog.
The Allman Brothers Band
The Amps
The Cows
The Fatima Mansions
The Howling Diablos
The Jesus & Mary Chain
The Lemonheads
The Make-Up
The Murmurs
The Obsessed
The Offspring
The Pharcyde
The Pretenders
The Ramones
The Ramones
The Skolars
The Wallflowers
Therapy?
They Might Be Giants
Toad the Wet Sprocket
Todd Rundgren
Tom Jones
Tool
Tori Amos
Type O Negative
Tyrone’s Power Wheel
Urge Overkill
Velvet Crush
Weezer
White Zombie
Wig

Photo Credit: Tiagø Ribeiro via Compfight cc

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19 thoughts on “Detroit Rock City”

  1. Fugazi? GWAR? Concrete Blond? So many others…nice!

    LARPing a Cthulhu horror story sounds awesome, and I don’t even LARP.

      1. OK, I just got a picture in my head from “Ed Wood” where they are trying to film the monster squid scene. That’s about how it would go if I were to try it 🙂

  2. Well, that is quite the list! Here are the ones I’d love to hear about…
    Barenaked Ladies
    Crash Test Dummies
    Jethro Tull
    Johnny Cash
    Ozzy Osbourne
    Peter Frampton
    Todd Rundgren
    …I know…I am so showing my age here.

    1. Ha! Being old just means you’ve seen great shows. I’ll highlight these on my list for a future post. I have a fun little Ozzy story that should get a laugh from ya.

  3. Hey Tom, it was a great job wasn’t it ? Learned a lot there & seen a lot of great bands. Happy I was there to meet everybody I worked with too. You were the best !!! I can’t forget the Sea foo gum boy !!! GOD BLESS bro.

  4. Wow! You lucky thing you! Type-0-Negative!!! You know he was my greatest muse — Peter Steele — RIP. I got to talk to him on the phone even, we exchanged letters before email and all that. Wow — but Black Sabbath, 311, Cypress Hill, PJ Harvey, Motorhead — Jesus!

    1. Type O…no other like them. Truly unique and that’s tough to pull off. I don’t go to nearly as many live shows any more but I can’t recall a day I didn’t listen to music.

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