What was the best punk gig you’ve even been to? Did you see L7’s stomach-churning performance at the Reading Festival in 1992? Were you at Rock Against Racism in Victoria Park? Punktuation reviews some of punk’s most significant gigs…ever!
We’re all missing live music right now. The tingly anticipation of being queued up outside waiting to be herded into the venue. The sweaty crush of the mosh pit. The sticky floors of the toilets….oh and the music as well.
But with the exact future of live performances still under a bit of a question mark, we may not be able to scratch that itch anytime soon. So, in the meantime, let Punktuation! take you down memory lane to revisit some of the most pivotal, significant and downright notorious punk gigs of all time!
The Clash – Bonds International Casino, May -June 1981
The band were originally only due to play eight shows in the city but due to the New York Fire Department declaring the number of tickets sold as unsafe, they had to double the amount of shows to play to the number of fans who had bought tickets.
This incident demonstrated the integrity and morality that made the band such punk heroes. They denounced the greed of the promoters and vowed to play however many shows were needed to make sure every fan got to see them. Strict interpretation of the fire laws meant that audiences were relatively small, resulting in a sense of intimacy between the band and the audience. There was a real camaraderie and sense of collaboration between the Clash and the gig goers with many fans being encouraged to climb onto the stage to singalong.
There was a new opening act for every night which showcased the developing tastes of the band as they run the gamut from hardcore punk to innovative hip hop with acts such as Dead Kennedys and Grandmaster Flash.
Sex Pistols – Winterland Ballroom, 14th January 1978
This was the last gig played by The Sex Pistols with the line-up of Cook, Jones, Vicious and Rotten (they would of course re-form in 1996, with original bass player, Glen Matlock, replacing the late Sid Vicious).
The writing was clearly on the wall for the band prior to the 1978 gig as relations fell apart – Rotten barely on speaking terms with the other members and Sid in the grips of the heroin addiction that would ultimately lead to his death less than one year later.
“At Winterland, I had a cold. Sid wasn’t playing a note, and he wasn’t even plugged in half the time. Me and Paul just wanted to play. I kept cutting out, strings breaking left, right and centre”.STEVE JONES
The choice of venues throughout their US tour was unconventional – manager Maclaren felt there would be more of a spectacle to have the band play across small venues in the conservative Southern states. The sound was awful, the audience bemused, Rotten’s voice about to give up. Steve Jones said in Jon Savage’s book England’s Dreaming; “At Winterland, I had a cold. Sid wasn’t playing a note, and he wasn’t even plugged in half the time. Me and Paul just wanted to play. I kept cutting out, strings breaking left, right and centre”.
Footage is available of the final moments of the band’s performance of the Stooges’ track ‘No Fun’ where Rotten utters his famous last words: “There’s no fun in being alone. This is no fun. It is no fun at all.” When the song ends, he famously asks the crowd, “Ever get the feeling you’ve been cheated?” It would be 18 years before he performed as a Sex Pistol again.