PIL "Public Image"

[youtube=http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ylOCIP54PIQ] After the Sex Pistols broke up, John Lydon formed Public Image Ltd. I saw them in Los Angeles at the Olympic Auditorium on May 4, 1980. The Olympic back then mostly housed rollerderby (very popular back then) and professional wrestling. It was a strange place for a rock concert. It was one of the most horrible, but nevertheless, one of the greatest rock and roll shows that I have ever seen. This was at a climax of the punk movement in Los Angeles. There was a punker chick with a leather jacket that had the words stitched on it, “Southern California Anarchist Death Squad” on it. I thought that was a nice touch! As we were moving through the front door, there was a LA cop leaning back up against the wall with a huge smile on his face. His eyes were gigantic saucers. I thought at the time he had to be on LSD. A performance art duo named The Kipper Kids opened. One of them later married Bette Midler. It was two guys, completely naked, who mostly just threw paint on each other. The crowd hated them, but that was the whole idea. Next up was some traditional mariachi band (WTH?) playing traditional Mexican mariachi music. The crowd spit at them the whole time. I went with a friend of mine who had very long hair. He got up near the front of the stage and the insane punkers started beating him up because he had long hair. There was also a very frightening “crush” phenomenon where the crowd was so tightly packed together that it swept you off your feet and moved you along. The idiot LA punkers were spitting at the band when they came onstage and they kept it up for the whole show. There were these rain shower like waves up spit coming out of the audience and up onto the stage. The band, but especially John Lydon, were soaking wet with spit after a while. The bassist turned his back to the crowd for some reason (maybe the spitting) and the stayed that way for the whole show. It was very strange. he was giving all of us the finger really, but it was the right thing to do. At one point in the show, these two idiot punkers, a young man and woman, a couple, both drunk off their asses, were careening through the crowd. They were so drunk, they were crashing into everyone. That made me really mad. When they came careening towards me, I grabbed both of them and threw them both really hard right into the crowd in back of me. They knocked a bunch of people over and they fell down themselves. At some point, everyone picked themselves up. Everyone looked at me like, “That guy’s psycho!” and they made a circle around me. For the rest of the show I was sort of alone. I had this circle of space around me with no people. Everyone was giving me a wide berth. My friend had the car keys and I think he lost them in the fighting, so we had no way to get home. We took a bus from LA back to Long Beach where I lived. Then we ran and jogged the whole way back to my place. In downtown Long Beach, the faggots yelled at us and whistled at us as we ran by. We shouted back at them, “Fuck you fags!!!!” We got to a park in the Broadway district and things got even weirder. There were bushes all through this park and it seemed there were humans hiding in every single clump of bushes. The unseen figures were whistling at us and saying nasty things as we ran by. There were faggots hiding in every clump of bushes in that stupid park at 1 o’clock in the morning. We yelled, “Fuck you fags!!!!!!!!!!” and kept on running. Then a cop car picked us up. It was 1 AM. They said you should not be running around this neighborhood this late at night. The cops were totally cool and they gave me a ride back to my apartment. Some of the coolest cops I have ever met in my life, and I don’t even like cops!

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0 thoughts on “PIL "Public Image"”

  1. I remember being told that when The Clash came to New Zealand in 1981 people were still trying to gob on them – even though that style of punk was at least 4 years out-of-date in the UK and The Clash themselves were well into their Dub Reggae & everything else period. Was interesting to hear your story of a similar experience at a similar time. Fans unable to keep up with innovative musicans.and/or unaware of changing times.

  2. Ahhh…concert stories…we all got ’em. Saw the psychedelic furs in Ft. Lauderdale in ’81, a small art theater, they were late and we could hear them being dropped-off by helicopter, like in apocalypse now.
    a friend gave me and my co-worker friend a joint and it turned out to have “something’ in it…I don’t know what, but i’d done every drug known to man and could smoke an ounce and not be nearly as toasted as just before the concert. I still wonder wth that was..we grabbed vacant seats in the front even tho’ our tickets were cheap seats, and the furs were in top form, but playing with full volume, our ears hurt. All my friend and I could do was stand there catatonic, like zombies, the girls behind us put their arms around our necks and hung their shoes on our chests. The furs and Richard butler kept bending towards us and beckoning the 2 of us to rock and dance, but the muscles wouldn’t respond. Richard finally waved us off like saying “it’s useless”.
    Afterwards we got lost and drove to the edge of a swamp, where we heard bad rock music in the woods. We had to see what was going on. wwe walked into an isolated clearing full of bikers who’s set up a stage with a generator and were listening to a drunk biker band playing the worst grateful dead covers we ever heard. no one would talk to us, they looked belligerent and unfriendly. So…we left.
    I still have ringing in my ears to this day, from that furs concert.
    I still consider “the ghost in you” to be one of the best songs ever. Something abt the furs makes me think they went to the crossroads.

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