Whew, Fitzpatrick's "Rainbow", what a place for memories. Somehow the Backdoor Men convinced Fitz to start booking punk shows there, 78 or 79, I guess. The place might have been the biggest dump in the flats, back when every joint in the flats was a dump. There was a trough urinal in the men's room that, in lieu of actual plumbing, emptied out into a 5 gallon bucket underneath. On a good night, the piss would spill out from under the door and into the club. A literal pisshole.
One particular Kneecapper night, things got out of hand. At the beginning of the set in front of our usual sparse crowd, Russell's amp got smoked. The logical reaction for Russell was to smash his bass (a real cool Mosrite that would probably fetch enough to pay for an entire CD today), and the games began. Yarmock began ripping the 2x4 railings off the stage and tossing them around. The half blind violin player who we called "Jean Luc Wally" crawled under the stage and was throwing his clothes out. The band let loose with an all out verbal (and in Yarmock's case, physical) assault on the "crowd". Pieces of bass and the stage were flying everywhere and some guy with a big red afro was picking up tables and chairs and hurling them around the club. A river of piss streamed from under the shithouse door, washing away bits of wood and broken teeth. At the end of this very successful evening, Fitz accosted us and was yelling "I run a nice place here, you'll never play in the flats again!" We reminded him that the bucket needed changing and left. On the way out I saw Big Red Afro guy and said "Nice job, man, next time bring your friends." He said "I would, but I tend to repulse most people." We had the greatest fans.
As a postscript, a couple of years ago I saw Fitz waiting tables at an Indian restaraunt in Cle Hts. We've all come a long way.
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I went out to see the Kneecappers in the late seventies. It was my first trip to the Westside Phantasy nightclub where there was a big pirate ship on the floor.
Whose Lakewood phantasy was that? Friggin' in the riggin', indeed.
There wasn't very many people there. Lead singer Chris Yarmock kept leaping from the stage punching and kicking this chubby, short-haired chick; this was years before anyone ever heard of a mosh-pit.
Chris would then return to his spot in front of the band, and this fat girl would move to the fore of the "dancefloor" spitting on him and pelting him with beer bottles, which prompted Chris to jump down and knock her to the floor with fists and feet.
This contiued for most of the show and was great fun to witness. I couldn't make out most of what he was singing about, but I guess it was offensive to this young woman.
Gary Lupico contacted me soon after we started booking other bands at Fitzpatricks. Gary was a lot like me; a journalist who was a musician at heart. Anyway, we booked them often at Fitz and I always loved playing with them.
Gary was a fun-loving guy whose band played really well together.
Anyway, years later (like last year, to be exact), I'm browsing through the vinyl collection (yes, I'm still into vinyl) at a little hole in the wall record store in Portland when, lo and behold (to quote Dylan), I see they have a Kneecappers record. And the dude wants like $18 for it! So I started talking to the owner.
When he finds out I'm from Cleveland and had a band that once played with Hammer Damage in Kent, he flips. (Why Hammer Damage? Who knows? Why do some people love the Holy Modal Rounders?)
Anyway, he tells me the Kneecappers have always been one of his favorite bands. Gary, you're national, man, and West Coast to boot! Whoda thunk it?
Recalling the halcyon days in LaPorte where the locals heading to the small convenient store were welcomed by the experiment eminating from the basement quarters of the former 18th century fur-trading structure... it was always the cheapest beer by the case that powered the practice sessions of Kneecappers.
The crude stone and cement foundation sped sound back and forth efficiently and incoherently at best. Wooden planks and steel support posts kept upstairs from joining in.
There were few opps to play out in those days. The Cove, Fitzpatrick's in the Flats, an occasional record store offering on the West Side and the journey to America's farmland where local hayseed boys and girls smashed off walls at the local V.F.W. hall.
A late winter Thursday evening performance by the band was captured live with audience participation revealing a decidely preference for Kneecappers over headliner Ubu. While no money was exchanged, one avid supporter did profit handsomely by scarfing a partially burnt remnant from the band's "Money to Burn" theatrics.
Recent searches of the web reveal the far-reaching effect this group has had on techological change in the world... After the release of it's "Urban Kill" lp in 1996, top request radio playlists at MIT and similar schools on the west coast were peppered with tracks from the album for weeks.