Returning once again to the theme of favorite concerts, we have here a piece penned by David Hintz, who used to live in the area (Dayton and Oxford) who is now writing a blog in the DC area, DC Rock Live. Here Dave writes about seeing the Ramones at Bogart’s in 1978, when Bogart’s and punk were both new:
I had just turned 19 and was starting my sophomore year at Miami University. It was legal to drink in those days, thanks to development of 3.2 (% alcohol) beer. Ergo, nightclubs were calling. But there was another more important calling that I had discovered one year earlier: punk rock. Most music fans understand the importance of the punk movement, but it is hard to believe how dangerous and daring it was back at its outset. From the streets of London to CBGBs, punk band members and fans were stabbed, beaten up and constantly hassled for looking different from both the norm and the ‘normal outcast’.
I had gotten into punk about a year earlier and had bought a few records as I searched for faster and better hard rock records, along with something more interesting in the lyrics. The Sex Pistols, Damned, Stranglers, Jam, and many others were filling that bill. And there was this little bootleg tape my brother and I made from ‘Don Kirshner’s Rock Concert’ which was our first showcase into the world of the Ramones. The brutally short and fast (for the time) stripped down rock music was just the jolt we needed in our mostly safe and secure lives.
Finally, the opportunity to take in a Ramones show at Bogarts arrived. I alone left from Oxford, as I did not discover anyone at Miami University into punk until a couple years later. I got in early, which gave me a chance to visit Moles Records and find some imported punk rock. While thumbing through the Imports, a couple of guys with safety pin jackets walked in and had an animated discussion with the clerk (now as unusual a scene as seeing someone in a telephone booth). They were playing cuts from the forthcoming Great Rock’n’Roll Swindle which were pretty cool at the time. These were some serious punk rockers here, so I kept my distance.
Then I got in line for the show and got to chatting with a guy named Jeff from Dayton. I came from the Dayton suburbs so we had lots to talk about and he was a super friendly guy. He introduced me to the serious punk rockers who were old high school buddies of his. They were both named Greg and were quite cool. Finally, there were people who shared the extraordinary passion that punk rock was capable of creating in real music lovers with a desire for the heavy or the unusual.
So I had some new friends to stand with close to the stage. By the time the Ramones hit, the atmosphere was charged and the crowd was ready. If you have seen the Ramones once, it was not that much different than that time and I really do not need to describe it in any real detail. But this was revolutionary in the early days of punk rock and we all felt it. Dancing was crazed pogoing without a lot of real danger, just crazed enthusiasm. Four guys from New York just blasted away their simple songs with the great hooks. They only knew how to play one way, but they had the magic that shook the world and had us gasping that night. I was now a punk rocker in my heart.
The other major change that hit me like a sledgehammer was how much more intense a live rock experience is when in a club. Prior to this, I had mostly hit arena shows. The only bands I saw in clubs were cover bands or solo folk artists. To this day, I would still rather share communion with a few dozen people in a club, seeing 3-4 unknown bands for $8-$10 rather than see a famous major band (even if they are great) in an arena for $80-$100.
The punk rocker still lives in me. I am still friends with Jeff and one of the Gregs was a great friend as he became bass player for Toxic Reasons, who I worked with. He also roadied for the Ramones for a few years and I was able to chat with Dee Dee and Johnny on a few occasions. Listening to punk rock records was stunning and wonderful. Seeing a real punk rock band live in the flesh, was a rite of passage and a commitment to involving myself with a diverse mix of people I still commune with to this day.