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April 12, 2006

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» My adolescence on the Web from The Contrarian
Much of my free time and money during my high school and college years was spent seeing punk and indie bands play in New Jersey. Running a close second to Maxwell's on places I used to visit often was City Gardens in Trenton. Until I worked in the ... [Read More]

Comments

sorry_jen

back in college, my roommate's friend got completely hammered on lynchburg lemonades in the parking lot of city gardens, and had to be carried out of the (mudhoney) show we were at, after mysteriously losing one of her doc martens, which was last spotted on stage being kicked around by the band. good times!

The Contrarian

Wow, thanks Mike. One of the last shows I saw there was Soundgarden, which I think was in 1988 or 1989 after their first major-label release. Singer Chris Cornell - in all of his shirtless, longhaired glory, jumped up from the stage and started hanging on some pipes sticking out of the drop ceiling. Then he proceeded to kick out a few acoustic ceiling tiles with his boots, raining the crowd with cardboard or whatever they are made of.

I also saw some fool stage dive off of a 10+ foot-high wall of speakers at a 1988 Ramones show there.

Ah, the memories...

mister_k

last show I saw there was Gwar, the Dickies, and the Meatmen. Somebody came out of the crowd and socked somebody in the Dickies. I think it was the singer, but I wasn't anywhere near the front. This was the tour where Gwar was decapitating OJ Simpson, and sodomizing Frank Sinatra. Good times.

I think the club was shut down very shortly after that show, but maybe my memory is distorted.

K.

Benj

ha, great post mike...now that it's been closed for over 10 years and people are starting to feel nostaligic, i have found myself in more frequent conversations about the club and the strange combinations of bands that it put together. think about it - who would dare have ween open for fugazi now? if only someone had enough footage to put together a documentary.

mike

Amazing site for those of us who grew up in '80s NJ. But will Randy elaborate on his infamous war with the late Paul Decolator?

The Contrarian

Speaking of Paul Decolator, has anyone listened to these unreleased 1994 demos by his old band, Loose, that were posted on the Internet?

http://www.latke.net/loose/

SKM

In the odd pairings department, does anyone else remember the Jesus Lizard show with Tsunami opening? Dave Yow refused to come on stage for 45 minutes b/c Randy apparently stiffed them out of a case of beer called for in the rider.

Also, I happened to hear "Go For It" by Stiff Little Fingers the other day and immediately started mumbling "it's time for the WPRB concert calendar..." After we switched the music bed, Randy would occasionally run ads for the "City Gardens Concert Calendar" using SLF... good times for all.

impboy

Shows you how long it's been since I've read this blog that I only comment on this post now.

I used to go to Lawrenceville Prep, and even those kids knew about the club we referred to fondly as "Shitty Garbage" - it was only 10 miles away, after all. I can remember hearing Ween's "Flies On My Dick" there for the first time, as well as a show there by Ministry in their prime. And I can distinctly remember going to a Sunday afternoon rave there in '96 or '97 - really!

Honestly, you'll never have a club like that again. A club like this could only exist back in the pre-Nirvana, pre-gentrification days of indie rock and punk. The kids nowadays will never know really what it was like to have the biggest bands in your scene still be only a foot away from you in terms of money and accessibility. That's what City Gardens means to me.

Domenick

damn I miss thursdays and sundays in trenton in the late 80s. Good times.

Mike Lupica

Question: I am curious as to why so many people who've commented on this post have employed the phrase "good times". Is that some kind of regional Trenton thing?

mk

wow, just checked out randys site, i rember the soundgarden show in which cornell went on the ceiling, also a skinhead riot in which the exploited's van was trashed after the show, and one of the most memorable shows of high school: gwar,mentors,murphys law. it was weird attending these killer all age hardcore shows on sunday afternoons then going back to my catholic high school on monday, it was like a secret society that only a small handful of kids knew or cared about.

Allan Kemler

My first or second punk show ever was at City Gardens. It was Flipper and I remember the place was only maybe half full. I also saw Black Flag there in 1985 on thye Slip It In Tour. That was amazing. They played with St. Vitus and Tom Troccoli's Dog. I also saw DRI and GBH together, Agnostic Front, MDC, 76% Uncertain, Scorn Flakes, Bodies in Panic, Circle Jerks (Keith Morris in a leg cast), Toxic Reasons, Tesco Vee and the Meatmen, DOA (about a million times even though I never liked them; they were always on the bill, wtf), Government Issue, Ween (during the two-men and a boombox years) opening for Henry Rollins' spoken word performance, the Residents, Burning Spear, Toots and the Maytals, a reformed version of the Wailers, and on and on. A Great Club. We used to get all amped on cheap Bucks County meth and tear up the junk yard behind the club before shows. At the time we made fun of Randy Now and the club, but really we loved it because the Philly scene kinda sucked once the Longmarch closed (Broad and South) in 1984/85? I remember a bunch of watching as Brian Baker (sporting bright red hair) ,argued with the bouncer to let him and insisting that "he was with the band." We all knew wqho he was but no one would vouch for him because he was sort of regarded as a heavy metal sell-out since splitting Minor Threat. I remember him doing a one-handed guitar solo while throung stickers into the crowd with the other. Anyway, I miss City Gardens. Thanks, Randy! Allan Martin Kemler

Rich

I can clearly remember Ween opening up for Fugazi. WTF, right! Somewhere in the drowning sea of punks, skags, skates, and just plain nutballs, someone threw some gum into the lead singers hair from Ween. He stopped playing, asked the person to apologize, paused, guy replyed: "You Suck", and they went on playing. Damn, that place was both ghetto and strangly beautiful. And being in the pit during the early 90's before faux punk made it's way to mtv and the rest of the world,.... that music during that time was above anything else. And hold shit could that place get hot from all those bodies swarming to distortion, steam was lifted high..'''1,2,3,....repeater..." I also saw Jello spoken word, what days what memories!!
thanks

MzLilee

Huh. City Gardens. I googled it and this is what I came up with. I always found it ironic that I was the one giving directions to and through Trenton from Cherry Hill: you see, even though I grew up in that particular suburban hell, my mother's family migrated to Trenton from South Carolina. So my icono-classic (yes, I meant that), Black Ndn ass was showing my dear white and Asian friends how to get to the Sonic Youth show. I don't remember any other Black folks there. My last "underground" rock show was a Sunday all-ages show at Dobbs. After getting punched in the ear by a skinhead, and having two other erstwhile friends tell me I was being "oversensitive," I realized that I would stick with all-ages' fetes in safer, yet decidely more vicious venues: the Nile, Woody's and the 2-4. Oh, those were the days. Where the hell is Mark Coleman? (WPRB "Sounds of the Underground" DJ)

John Spatola

I normally don't post comments, but I was the fool that dove off the 10' Marshall stacks at the Ramone's show along with my brother and his friend. When I landed I got up and ran like hell. City Gardens booked so many bands that got huge. I saw Nirvana in 1991 for the Nevermind tour and there was only 100 people in the crowd. Dead Kennedy's, Black Flag, Slayer, DRI, Faith No More, The Dickies, Chili Peppers, Ice-T, The Meatmen, and Butthole Surfers were all memorable shows for me. I can remember telling my freinds in the late eighties during the hairband crap on MTV that hardcore would become the next big thing and I guess I was right. JGig

Markv

It was the only place to be - did not make into the NYC for all the greats, but CG had TONS of great shows. Sam Kinison, Killing Joke, Bad Relegion, Dayglo Abortions (all 10 of us) and way to many to remember. The Ramones was just hilarious especially during gaba gaba ha when no of the tools had a clue and Joey lost his mind and stormed off - it was too funny. One night I got so destroyed and slept behind one of the row homes in my car - would not want to do that today! Even got my spurs confiscated, but got em back after one of the shows. I really miss that place - more like missing my youth which has since shut down very much like CG. I was there so many times and it was amazing that the place never burned down, no roits, it was just fun. Back then you started acting crazy and then ran like hell - nowadays its' not a party until there is a full blown city roit or White Snake ending.

dave

wow!just found this site! it's actually upsetting! i was stationed at mcguire from 84-88! i remember some awesome shows; butthole surfers(twice), the fall, crucifucks, dead milkmen (twice), peter murphey...!!!! but looking at all the punk cards, i realize how many awesome shows i missed, because i wasn't there, didn't know about or had to work!! i would have loved to have seen skinny puppy back then!!! did anyone see that and can comment on it?! is that the butthole surfers on the right hand side of the randy now site?!

Toby Record

Damn. I remember best big Jim Norton from Crucial Youth (giant grin red flushed face) try to break up numerous fights with the 'family'.

The Replacements drunker than hell, with floor fans everywhere dressed in moo-moos playing songs from the alphabet. They would shout out 'gvme usongthyat begins witheletter ffff' and the crowd shouted songs out, they went all the way down. They got to the letter X and someone shouted "Xanadu" by Olivia Newton John and they played it.

I miss A.O.D. and Pleased Youth. All the Jersey thrash bands were top notch. Best sense of humor too. Nationwide.

I remember the Dickies puppet getting stolen off the stage and held for ransom. (ask Randy).

I remember the Ramones w/ Dee Dee playing when I was sixteen and literally the entire place was one giant mosh pit.

benoit armand

I remember the first (out of only two) time i ever went to city gardens. i was a freshman at Stevens Institute of Technology in Hoboken. I think it was november or december of 1989. My fraternity brother, John Menoche, and i hopped into my 1972 pontiac convertible (with no heat) and headed down there. i think i saw seven seconds, or maybe it was the toasters and bim-skala-bim. whatever. it was great show. during the show i was at the bar, and all the sudden the lights come on and the band stopped playing and they're saying to call an ambulance. well i was an EMT at the time, so John and i are pullin people out of the way to get to the front, i'm yelling "im an EMT!" and i get up near the stage. some kid was lying on the floor having a siezure. i made sure he was breathing and checked his vital signs. i had a pen light , so i looked at his pupils, which were a mess. the ambulance crew took himm away and the crowd gave him a cheer. then it was back to the show. i danced up a sweat and we froze our asses off driving back home in the winter with no heat. awsome days. i cant believe that place closed.

'noit

Stark-Arts.com

I grew up almost dead center between CB's and City Gardens and there were days we'd go to both...
I know it's heresy to some but CG was better in lots of ways - more room and easy free parking...
the bills were insane...
having it shut down (i can never remember why it did) was a sad time for me...

Bad Brains with Leeway in 88 one of my faves
Faith No More with Helmet one of my fave "non-hardcore" shows
Rancid OPENING for Sick Of It All

just so many - wish there was a list of all the shows somewhere rather than having to read through the flyers ...

JC

SlashR

City Gardens closed? WTF? Who let this happen? I was in Princeton in the late 80's and CG had the best music scene going in NJ: Ramones, Toasters, Pogues, and a sh*tload of other bands that let me escape from the soulless pop music belched out on the radios in those days (with the possible exception of WPRB). It wasn't just the shows - CG's Thursday club nights were always a blast.

SJ

F**K you.
The only reason at all that City Gardens was awesome was because of the Skinheads! They made the f**king scene till the losers and poseurs ended up listening to that suckassed garabage metal and metal crossover sh*t that sounded worse than some kind of suckassed Mentors crap. I will tell you dweebs a story. It was a Sunday night. All ages show. Only those were the f**king best! Only bands that attracted people to shows who gave a damn. Or maybe it was people who were at the shows....anyway, I remember that The Mentors and Agnostic Front played a show. I remember vividly that I was 16 years old. I had heard rumors of the lead vocalist of The Mentors saying he wanted to have someone bring a 15 or 16 year old girl up onto the stage so he could rape her. I also remember that the Skinhead guys wanted to let him know that they weren't going to let him rape any of the teenage girls at the show. How so?? They were standing there shoulder to shoulder crammed against each other so tightly that if you were standing there, you couldn't have moved. They weren't letting anyone get too close to the stage. There was this guy, the lead vocalist of The Mentors, who was overweight, fat and was talking about wanting to rape a teenage girl at the show on that night. I knew he'd have to get past the Skinhead guys at the show if he had wanted to do that. The reason that guy didn't rape a girl at the show was because of the Skinhead guys being there. Had they not been there, a teenage girl would have gotten raped.
I can only say it like this, because of the Skinhead guys going to City Gardens they helped keep the scene safer and better. For everyone. Without them, there was and would be no scene.
Reason you guys are saying you danced?? WTF is dancing? I never danced. I slamdanced and was the only girl in the Skinhead pit slamdancing and getting knocked down, falling and then eventually being helped up again. Then taking a rest, going back into the slamdancing pit.

SJ

Two nazi boneheads did do something stupid to me once. They tried recruiting me to try and convince me to turn racist and be White power. That's not for me, it isn't right for me. Racisim sucks and is lousy as f**k. I was trying to convince one of the guys not to be racist....instead, one thing led to another, these two guys called me up on the phone and they pissed me off. Both of them were talking about doing a drive by shooting,and killing my dog. Or even my cat that I had at the time, and having people come over to where I live to kick my ass....I basically told them if they felt lucky or wanted to fucking die....to show up where I live. Nobody showed up. They weren't going to get away with harming my dog or cat. No motherfucking way in hell. If either of them would have shown up where I lived, I'd have fucking killed them myself.

joey

saw nico there, john cale, johnny forgotten from the other side, the fall, flipper, tsol, gang of 4 a couple of times, many stupid bands, and, oh yes, danced the night away!! saw the dumb assed ramones at least twice there, gosh damn, livin' on the sledge. X. and then, gun club, stupid. bye! go JOHN CALe

balls mcgee

city gardens was the delicious punk rock chocolate that coated the peanut butter of my wild teenage years. i lived across the river in yardley, pa. and spent seemingly every weekend in this big ugly concrete building in the badlands of trenton in the late '8os seeing everyone from the ramones, GWAR (smoked weed with them in their van when i was like, 15..hilaious), bad brains, yellow man, an unknown NIN, LOTS of pun-heavy ska bands and some wonderfully bad early ween shows. i also remember early soundgarden, prime ministry, what i recall as the first danzig show, henry rollins spoken word, peter murphy, countless hardcore bands and a pretty bad ass "modern rock" night after we graduated high school in 1990. it was the only place to go to meet "alternative" chicks back then! (you know, black bobs, plaid skirts, doc martens).


it felt like real rebellion in a pre-lollapalooza world, where you'd go home drenched in sweat, with ringing ears, an adrenaline buzz and maybe a busted lip or at least a bruise or two from misjudging a stage dive or getting punched in the pit. but we were so proud of our CG souveneirs: some kids would wear their lamb jizz-encrusted gwar shirts to school the next day, back when everyone was either into def leppard or paula abdul or ronnie james dio. it really DID feel like you were in a secret society.

i remember sniffing "rush" in the bathroom before a day glow abortions show, puking up rotgut rum from the parking lot pre-show party on a bar stool and, perhaps my proudest macho adolescent moment, fighting back against a bullying skinhead during a special beat show and beating his ass in front of everyone. there i was, with my new wave haircut and baggy 80s suit jacket, pounding on this goon as rankin' roger pleaded "no violence, man!" payback for being menaced by the skinheads as a kid there for years. think i might have witnessed the infamous skinhead riot at the exploited show too, when they flipped the tour bus over and stomped out the windows...it was on action news that night! "But the big story..."

city gardens was just incredible, especially in retrospect, and seeing the "punk cards" reminds me of the days when my teenage bedroom was littered with 'em. just as good as CBGBs and amazing to have as a suburban kid in your backyard.

city gardens, when you shut your fabled doors, you made baby jesus cry!

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