Front Row, Surrounded by Pals, Lost in Music

++ Front Row, Surrounded by Pals, Lost in Music ++

Whalley-ite and publisher of the fanzine Terminally Stupid and Vancouver hardcore music historian of sorts Dan Walters shared this snap. Can ya spot me? I’m always front row and smiling – i like it loud and music was escape. Note middle part hair.

Anyhow, Dan writes, “York Theatre Feb 17 1985 TSOL headlined. In the photo with you, Brad, Kamel, Kai, Kelly, Tim is Judas Goat onstage- Dave and Brian from DOA with Andy Graffiti on drums.”

Kameljit Gill was a force of nature (it was early days for the Indian influx to Surrey), tall, fearless and creative and always stirring up trouble – also an asshole but it was Whalley, you sorta had to be – i havent seen him since these olden days. Kai (another big guy) and him would make me be the first stage diver at shows to get things going. They’d toss me up there and sometimes even catch me when i leapt – pain tolerance was higher than. Brad Rees and I were pretty inseparable and i snuck out and stayed at his house often cause his Mom was cool (still is) and we could play music in the basement (until a grumpy step-dad would get liquored and angry).

Lots of the punk bands (which to me were already legendary superheroes) had “Fuck Bands” where they’d switch up instruments and wear ridiculous costumes and adopt other personas (I recall Chainsaw Running with Dave Gregg on drums being another).

Our little squad of Whalley misfits were all very different but hung out cause we were punks in a land of metal hessians. We made fanzine and bands. Notably AOT (Abortions on Toast) which the aforementioned Mr. Walters digitized the cassette “Music to Eat Lightbulbs by” (which i’ll make a soundcloud for one of these days and share some snaps). Dan Barney has a tshirt. I don’t.

The York was such a great place as shows were all ages and, importantly for us suburban skid kids, *NOT* downtown. Busses were tough (this is pre-Skytrain when we rolled the 312 or 316 in) and sometimes we were stuck walking all the way to Hastings/Refrew PNE to catch a bus back to Surrey. This night, we got as far as Whalley Exchange which was a shit place to be at 1AM or so. Dayton boot clad Whalley Burnouts ruled Surrey then and you’d get stomped if not careful. I hated living there and music was my escape.

These few years (83-85) were halcyon times for me seeing dozens of bands. Saving my money from delivering Real Estate Weekly newspaper to see shows from Bowie at BC Place to Clash at Coliseum to Dead Kennedys at York and Ramones at Commodore (at 14) and dozens more including loads of California-based punk bands and DOA a few dozens times. Bill of Rights, Death Sentence, House of Commons, Shanghai Dog seemed to open up so many shows (hence the fuck bands to bring variety). Plus Bag O Dirt, Slits, I Braineater, Spores….

On a personal note: This night, my Mom picked me/us up at Whalley Exchange (called from a payphone at Mac’s), the 17th was her birthday and Dad was not thrilled i went to the show and out late and all that. A couple months later my parents were split and i moved to Utah. Life changed a lot. These were golden times for me and the only shows i regret are the ones i didn’t go to.

The York turned into the Raja cinema and then was evidently saved from demolition by East Van Cultch.

Did you see shows at the York? Were you a suburban kid escaping for music? Did music save you? Define you? Tell me about it.