Memories of TT The Bears
Memories are hazy. Some of this stuff happened so long ago, some of it feels like myth. Some of it I wonder to this day if I was even there. I went through my ticketstubs and there are shockingly few from TTs. I know that often I would just walk up and walk in — especially when I lived next door from 2002–2008 or so. There were a couple years I didn’t collect ticket stubs — I bought into that whole nonsense about not having any posessions. Whatever. These are my memories, and I will love that place forever. Godspeed, you gorgeous club.
I played TTs in three bands, most often in Rockets Burst from the Streetlamps and The Texas Governor. The Rockets shows I cherish the most, and the bands we would always play with — Curtain Society, Charlene, Lockgroove, The Choice of Tragic Wives, Charlene, Skating Club, The Fly Seville.
Best Shows from Touring Bands
- Daisy Chainsaw (1993): This show still stands out as one of the craziest shows I have ever seen. The singer Katie Jane Garside was in a baby dall dress (de rigeur at the time) but had a strange tea set, like a children’s tea time set with her, made out of pewter or something. She dumped the teapot over her head, which covered her in glitter, but in throwing the the tea pot aside the spout cut into her head, I think? Suddenly she was covered in blood. I thought it was part of the act. She played three or four more songs. Eventually she passed out. I still thought it was part of the act right up until the paramedics carried her offstage.
- Tony Conrad (1995): I went to see Gastr Del Sol (who were really astonishingly good in their own right). But Tony Conrad was unlike anything I had ever seen. He played behind a white scrim, in silhouette. It was him and one other musician. They each played violins (or violas) and they each played what sounded like one note for a whole hour. My friend Mike and I sat there in awe. There were maybe ten people. We were all sitting. The guy next to me lost his mind and started screaming — saying out loud how we all felt. I thought I understood minimalism before that but that changed my life.
- His Name is Alive and Swell (June 15 1993): His Name is Alive had already reached mythic proportions for us by the time they finally played Boston. We had never heard Swell. They were both fantastic. Difference Engine opened, featuring my now-friend Aubrey Anderson. I had never heard them before. Bought a 7"s. Met him later that week when Mike and I went to New York to see this show again.
- Swervedriver (1992): My Alaska girlfriend was in town. We went early. Place was packed, height of their hype. It was overshold. The cops came, said the show would have to be cancelled unless 80 people left. We hid in the back. 80 people left. Show went on. It was a glorious wall of noise. I amazingly still have a photo to this day.
- Medicine (1993): Somehow still have the ticket stub for this one. One of my only old TTs stubs. I thought the first Medicine album was the greatest thing ever. And they delivered. Just wonderful wall of noise. Opened with “one more.” After the show we talked to them and they said they thought there would be more people there because Boston was the city in which they sold the most albums. There were maybe 50 of ius.
- Brian Jonestown Massacre (2002ish): There was only one pre-Dig! show at TTs that was worth seeing. They were super hit or miss. But when they were on, they were stellar.
- British Sea Power (2004ish): They played there in 2 years back to back I think it was 2004 and 2005. They were both spot on but the first one, I had never heard them and they blew me away, especially with “Lately”
- Catherine Wheel (1993ish): They came for Ferment and it was so, so good. Many people forget this show because they came back with House of Love before too long, but this one was solid. Mr. Cranky opened.
- Lungfish (March 7 2005): I know the exact date for this one because the TTs calendar back to late 2002 is still online. Went with Mike Ruby. It was so gloriously dirgy and noisy. The glorious Thalia Zydek opened.
- Stars of the Lid (2005): “Hi We’re Brian Eno” one of them said before they started. How can minimalist music be so intense, so rocking? An emotional roller coaster. Astonishing.
- Kevin Drew (2007): The Broken Social Scene shows @ TTs from 2003 on were all so great, but this one holds a special place in my heart. It was free, Kevin shook every one of our hands in line earlier that day, and I hadn’t heard his solo record yet. Pure joy.
- The New Year, The Music (so overwhelming), The Gloria Record, Black Rebel Motorcycle Club(I sat at the bar, but boy, it sounded good. My friends Cannibelle opened.), Cinerama, Broken Social Scene, Stars, Mark Gardener, Mark Burgess, Arcade Fire, Au Revoir Simone, Manic Street Preachers, Twilight Singers, Silkworm, American Analogue Set, Giant Sand, Album Leaf, Azure Ray,
- Oh and Laika. 1995. One of those great shows where the band doesn’t have enough money to bring the whole band over. So it was a drummer and two keyboardists playing all their music through sampled loops. Sounds silly but was awesome. I still wear the shirt from this show.
My local faves
- Veronica Black Morpheus Nipple: 1998 ish? They played the entire Candy trilogy which I had never heard. I’d seen them a ton before and after, but this show was sublime.
- Sunburned Hand of the Man (2005ish): John and the rest of the band basically terrified the audience into submission. Everyone loved it but it held on by a string the whole time. A profound sense of imminent danger.
- Big Monster Fish Hook (many times, 1995–1997 or so): There are three Boston bands that 4AD should have signed if Ivo had still been on his game in these year: Mistle Thrush, Difference Engine and Big Monster Fish Hook. Lisa and Mark created something truly special, and you could tell be the crowds at their shows. Drawing in people from the goth, folk, boston rock and LGBT scenes. Everyone loved them. I miss them something fierce, and still listen to them constantly.
- Mistle Thrush (1996–1999 or so): Yes there was the one they opened for the Strokes. The Strokes were pretty good. I thought the Thrush was better. More honest. And, honestly, tighter live. I will always miss them.
- The Texas Governor: I was in the band for the first t-gov show ever. It was at TTs.
- Ad Frank: He really was the house band, and while I loved each and every show, this last week’s was probably one of my best TTs experiences ever. Thank you.
- Freezepop: My best friends, label mates, label partners, roommates through five houses. Love forever.
- The Cyanide Valentine: Monstrously underrated, super fun live. I still miss them to this day.
- Helium (1994?): Record release party for an early 7" (I think Bill put it out?) My sister and I each bought a copy. I became a lifelong fan, seeing her dozens of times through Helium, solo, Wild Flag and Ex Hex. But that first show. Also this may have been one of the first times I really got who Billy Ruane was other than that dude I see out every night.
- Syrup USA (1994–1997): Who wasn’t in love with Seana? My girlfriend and I certainly were. Who didn’t try to go to every. single. show. Swirlies? Yes. Syrup? Oh yes.
- Opium Den (mid 90's): I was so obsessed with this band. I was that young kid fan that you dream of having that goes to every show and also doesn’t bother you with their problems. In later years, I realize I could have just talked to them, and I did get to know them a bit, but. God. I loved them so much.
- Victory at Sea, 27, Dear Leader, QuickFix, Den Mothers, Thalia Zydek, Mishima, Quintaine Americana, Rock City Crimewave … So many great local bands. Too many to list. But finally:
- Lifestyle (May 2001): The other side of the bears series (what a great series!) where they played all of Rio. Life was good, we were all young and happy. I took a photo from that night and you all just look so young and happy. I will hold that memory in my heart forever.
Goodbye old friend, you will be missed.