Tuesday, June 12, 2007

Question Number 1, Will They Still Serve Beer?

That was the first imaginary question I asked the imaginary manager of the new Fillmore Theater here in Detroit... in my imagination!

I imagine the answer is yes, so basically I'm really not concerned that the State Theater is being renamed as part of a Clear Channel/Live Nation plan to build a national concert venue brand on the equity of the classic Bill Graham venues. Imagine that!

While the State Theater has hosted it's share of great shows, it does bare noting that the venue has only been called the State Theater since sometime in 1991, prior to that it spent a short time as Clubland, primarily a large nightclub that began hosting shows during alternative rock's grunge filled MTV explosion years. Previously, it was vacant for many years before Little Cesar barron Mike Illitch began the slow resurgence of the neighborhood by restoring the Fox Theater complex next door. The venue, like the Fox, was originally a movie palace known as the Palms.

So, as much as I've enjoyed the State over the years, it's not as if the Clear Channel bozo's were renaming Carnegie Hall, I'll get over it.

But changes are a good time for reflection and based on the suggestion of one of our contributors, the legendary Nummer, I've asked a few people to share their memories of the venue formally known as State. It was such a good idea that one Detroit News Pop Music writer that I'll refer to only as A. Graham to protect his identity, blogged about it today over at the detnews.com -- I've decided to republish his response in it's entirety because I want to work on my cut and paste skills.

The first show I ever saw at the State Theater was in November of 1992, about a year after it took that name full time. My Dad took myself and three friends to see Jethro Tull. The funny thing was, while my Dad is a big classic rock fan, he really was never into the flute fueled blues-prog rock of Ian Anderson and company. Nor has he ever to my knowledge, owned, worn or much less befriended an Aqualung.

Dad was simply doing his fatherly duty, showing his kid and some friends a good time involving live rock n' roll (and probably looking over our shoulders to make sure we didn't "accidentally" get some beer or weed from old stoners who had basically been high since the real Jethro Tull was drilling seeds.) In the event I ever have children, would I, could I endulge said children's burgeoning interest in vintage rock by ac
companying them to a Collective Soul or god forbid, Bush reunion tour?

I think I may have to buy him TWO ties this father's day.

I've since seen many shows at the State (but not nearly as many as other contributors), Beck, The Strokes, Tenacious D (a couple weeks after 9-11 when everyone was still coming out of their cable news hibernation) and recently a fantastic and horribly attended set by Mastodon that I mentioned on this blog previously. But honestly, none of those shows had as many memorable flute solos.

T. Wicks

My 5 most memorable State Theater experiences (thank you for asking):

1. An on-their-last-legs Replacements. Bob and Chris were both MIA by this point, but I still wish I could go back in time and re-live this one.

2. Urge Overkill, riding high on “Saturation,” wearing gold medallions and shirts that spelled out U-R-G-E, left to right across the stage.

3. Sneaking onto the main floor for the Beastie Boys after the just-released Check Your Head. They opened with “Slow and Low,” and a guy promptly jumped off a railing and flattened me.

4. Red Hot Chili Peppers/Smashing Pumpkins/Pearl Jam. Ned Coho bought a Chili Peppers T-shirt and lost it minutes later in the main floor melee’.

5. Chris Isaak goofing on the names of Detroit automobiles, particularly the Ford “Probe.” Late in the show, he exited the stage and reappeared in the upper balcony with a spotlight hitting his disco-ball suit.

Nummer's Top Two State Theater Memories

10/12/94 - Live/Weezer/Fatima Mansions: I was 16 and this was my first show without parents. Went with my junior year high school girlfriend Heather and our mutual friend Kristin. We took Kristin's car (which featured a NIN bandana safety pinned to the ceiling) and listened to Greta's "No Biting" album on cassette during the drive down. Legendary.

That night also marked one of my first ever encounters with the homeless. As we approached the entrance (we parked in a vacant lot where Comerica Park now stands), a grizzled street person giving out plastic jewelry for money came up to us. He looked our group over, reached into his bag, and gave me a gold colored bead necklace explaining I deserved it at no cost because I was "a pimp with two ladies on my arm". Welcome to Detroit, and true or false: I wore that necklace under my shirt the next day in school?

7/11/00 & 7/12/00 - Limp Bizkit/Cypress Hill: I'm not a Limp Bizkit fan and I was only there because I worked for 89X's Promotions Department that Summer, but man o' man, talk about NUTS. The shows were free, people camped (some for 40+ hours) in lines wrapped through dozens of city blocks, MTV was out in full force and I got mobbed for running out of free 89X t-shirts that said "I Waited in Line for the Nookie".

The scene inside was even crazier: crowds in the balcony and mezzanine sections were jumping around so much you could literally see the upper level moving up and down out of its foundation. And downstairs? The main stage was surrounded by a 20-foot-tall chain link fence so nobody could mob Durst and Borland. Adding to the entertainment were morons attempting to scale said fence only to be shaken off by security guards forcing a free fall back to the floor. Thank God for the boosted up medical staff with all those stretchers.

The music may have sucked, and I definitely got sick of red baseball hats, but those shows will never be forgotten. I even still have my bottle of "hot dog flavored" water - unopened.

Top 5 Honorable Mentions:

3/30/96 - Foo Fighters/that dog.

8/15/97 - Radiohead

2/23/00 - Kids in the Hall

5/10/02 - Belle & Sebastian

6/3/05 - Kraftwerk

Adem "Shoosh, he's the Greatest Grizz in the World" Graham
, as originally published on the Detroit News Music Blog.

With tomorrow's concert from the Fergalicious one herself, the State Theater officially becomes The Fillmore Detroit.

And What's in a name? Not much if the fact that everyone still calls DTE Energy Music Theatre "Pine Knob" is any indication, the State Theatre isn't really going anywhere.

Still, it is the end of an era of sorts for the 3,000 seat theatre that has consistently ranked as one of Detroit's best concert venues.

The State plays host to bands that are on their way up or huge bands looking for a retreat from the spotlight, craving a more intimate setting. I've seen dozens of shows there from bands who've gone on to great things and bands who've gone on to nothing.

And that will continue. Still, now is as good a time as any to look back at the good ol' State Theatre, a venue that's always been there for concert fans and will continue to be there even in its new, super-corporate incarnation.

With no further ado, here are my first-ever State Theatre Awards:


3. Hole, 2000. Remember when Hole went on tour with Marilyn Manson? Yeah, that didn't go so well, and Hole dropped off the bill a few weeks into the tour and came back on their own, which is when Courtney and the crew came through the State. She was a hot mess on this night, pulling kids out of the crowd and on to the stage and at one point climbing on to the knights that flank the stage and grinding on them as if she was giving them a lap dance. Crazy awesome.

2. Wu Tang Clan, July 30, 2000. Chaos, tons of dudes on stage, each with their own towels. I remember after this show I wanted to always carry a towel with me but never got around to it. I can't remember if ODB was there, but I know Method Man dove into the crowd. Probably the best rap show I've ever seen.

1. Smashing Pumpkins, June 30, 1996. At the time, the Pumpkins were the biggest band in the world -- but not big enough to sell out two nights at the Palace. The second show was moved to the State Theatre at the last minute, and the Pumpkins raged for what I swear was at least two and a half hours and no less than three encores. I may have embellished these facts in my head, but that's the way I remember it. Perfect, and to-date the best concert I've ever seen.


Travis, Oct. 29, 2003. The normally lovable Brit-poppers were touring on their atrocious "12 Memories" album and put on a dead-boring set puncuated by a 4-years-past-cool cover of Britney Spears' "Baby One More Time." Awful.


Missing Bjork, 8/5/95 and missing Britney Spears, 8/24/99. Also, hanging out at the bar and talking through Sigur Ros on 11/9/02. I don't remember the conversations I had, but I remember missing one of the most majestic show's I'd ever been to. Rats. One last regret: Getting to the Green Day show on 11/20/97 almost halfway through the show. But even though I missed half of it -- my buddy and I got lost on the way down from MSU -- it was still killer. Solo electric "Good Riddance!"


When I met Fiona Apple in 1999 and asked her, "How's Paul?" (She was dating "Boogie Nights" director Paul Thomas Anderson at the time.)


Velvet Revolver, 5/20/04. Before their first album came out -- which significantly lowered everyone's expectations of the band -- these refugee rockers put on a blistering show, which peaked with Slash rocking out a guitar solo from the top of a stack of speakers.


Audioslave, 2/28/03. As I recall, my wife (then girlfriend) and I got there at 8 p.m. and the band had already been on for 30 minutes, and they were done by 9 p.m. What, Chris Cornell's got an early bedtime now? What would Kim Thayil say?


Motley Crue, 10/23/98. Or maybe I was just overly excited because I slapped Tommy Lee's hand at the end of the show.


Toad the Wet Sprocket w/ Hootie and the Blowfish, 3/28/95. Dude, give me a break. I was in high school!


Mastodon w/ Against Me!, 5/13/07. Epic, even though everyone fled after the openers.


Liam Gallagher of Oasis, who pretty much stared down audience members the entire concert both times I saw them, on 3/3/96 and 3/19/00.


Radiohead, 8/15/97. People talk about this show in legendary terms, but I was only so-so on it. They were much better at the Sanctum on 4/5/96.


Limp Bizkit, 7/11/00-7/12/00. The free, Napster-sponsored show unfolded behind a massive chain link fence that practically begged audience members to climb on to stage and to throw bottles at Fred Durst. And few would have blamed them.


Marilyn Manson, 9/14/98. The Antichrist Superstar prowled the stage on stilts for part of the show on this "Mechanical Animals" tour stop. I can't remember if he had the fake boobs or not, though.


Garbage, 11/12/98. Shirley Manson still owns.


Shady Bowl Super Party, 2/4/06. Hey now! Yes, that's a pen in my pocket, I'm a reporter. Twice as intense as the pat-down at the actual Super Bowl.


Nas, 4/19/07. Only show I can remember being at, ever, that didn't have a merch table.


I saw the Insane Clown Posse at the State Theatre twice, in 1997, at the height of the "Great Milenko" controversy and at their Hallowicked show in 2006. In between, little evolved except the flavors of Faygo being kicked around. Happily, some things never change.

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Anonymous Anonymous said...

I say true (that Nummer did wear that necklace under his shirt the next day in school). It was high school, so concert merch, or the like in this case, was almost always worn the very next day at school.


10:15 AM  
Blogger Dmitri Jr. said...

1. The Barry Lutz Show
2. Taco Mail
3. Chicken Sandwich, Carl!
4. Porcupine Racetrack
5. "Personal State" Confessions

12:52 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

No merch shows. Worst. My first encounter with this practice was Morrissey's 1997 stop at Hill Auditorium in Ann Arbor. Luckily, I was able to buy a bootleg XXL one outside for $10. Thing was like a dress, but I had to have it.


12:53 PM  
Blogger Gorilla said...

I know the Moz has a big following among Mexican gang members, but does he also have a following among the morbidly obese?

3:00 PM  
Blogger Yale Bloor said...

maybe if you quit going to shows with your dad you wouldn't remember them anymore! jeez did you copy this out of your journal? enough said, great post it even provided me with a few flashbacks...thanks for them... on the side I can't see anything that Clear Channel is involved in being good for the consumer....Its like turning the Landing Strip into a Deja Vu

5:55 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

The absolute worst is when a band doesn't have a money clip for sale at the merch table. Curse you Hinder.


7:08 AM  
Anonymous Steve said...

Agreeance with A. Graham about the Pumpkins show in '96. That one was ridiculously great. They ended the show with a mindblowing 30+ minute "Silverfuck" in the 3rd encore, complete with double drumming between Chamberlin and Melvoin (who would be dead from an overdose less than 2 weeks later). Plus, I got to meet Shirley Manson before the show. She smelled good.

My second-ever concert was at the State on 2/12/93: Extreme, with opening act, Saigon Kick. Awesome.

5:12 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

March 17, 2004 - Bob Dylan when he played Ball & Biscuit with Jack White

9:56 PM  

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