More Melody Memories

My little review of the Feb 17 Melody Reunion generated a hefty amount of traffic and correspondence – which I would consider surprising except that it only confirms how much the now extinct bar-club meant to its regulars. (The traffic is also not unrelated to the link from the altrok radio site; coming right back atcha.)

Pete Santiago wrote to let me know I must have missed most of his DJ set, given that he opened the nightwith ‘Blue Monday’ and played two Wonder Stuff tracks – ‘Circle Square’ and ‘A Wish Away’ – back to back. He’s right: we did miss most of his DJ set. Having driven down from the Catskills and set Noel up with Campbell in our hotel room, we managed to head out without a bank card or more than a $20 bill between us. My wife’s assertion that the Loop Lounge would take credit cards proved to be inaccurate, which made for a fun 17th Anniversary argument and a round-trip back to the hotel for a bank card, so that we could get our own drinks in and not look like a couple of down-beats out on the scrounge. Thanks, Pete – I know that if Matt had shown up, we’d have heard those Wonder Stuff cuts again. As for ‘Blue Monday’ – best to get it out of the way early so that, while it’s been played for posterity, nobody has to go through the process of actually hearing it for the 1,000,000th time.

Frank Gibson, aka Stiffy Biceptz, corrected the date of my first visit to the Melody: the Echo & The Bunnymen show at Rutgers was in early 1988, not 1989. This makes sense, because I was living out of a suitcase in an unused elementary school on the fringes of Princeton at the time; the Bunnymen show was therefore more or less “local” for me. The concert almost did not take place: the band had had a fight coming off stage the previous night, and their management had to fly out from the west coast for a lengthy dressing room meeting before the group agreed to play together. Les Pattinson wore shades on stage to disguise the black eye he’d received 24 hours earlier but, as is often the case with bands that thrives on tension, the show was staggeringly brilliant. Anyway, on the recommendation of many local fans, Mac and I attended the Melody after the concert, where we were both blown away by the bar’s hipness (in the best sense of the word). After making friends with Matt at the end of the evening, I frequented the Melody many more times from Princeton before I moved up to the City. (Matt helped me make that move.) As it turned out, Posie was on the Melody dancefloor that night back in ’88 (I was too cool to shake a leg back then, or not a good enough dancer, or both), as she was on many of those subsequent visits. Somehow it took us two years of missed opportunities Melody to actually hook up. So much for love at first sight!

Frank Gibson collected an unbelievable number of photos and fliers from Melody days, and not only put them into a slideshow that was projected on the back wall for the Reunion, but archived that slide show on Photobucket. (It can be accessed from here under the Feb 24 post.) This picture brought back smiles and fond memories, though I have absolutely no recollection whatsoever of the meal at which it was taken. (Blame the margheritas!) It was at a Mexican restaurant in Asbury Park in early 1991, prior to a Pop Will Eat Itself gig. The girl on the left is called Ciera (so the slide indicates); the girl on the right is Monica, Matt’s wife at the time. The girl in the middle, with the cute face under the purple hat, is Posie. As for the boy on the right, with the long hair and the sideburns (there may even have been a soul patch!), his son Campbell says he looks “weird.” Great days indeed.

Frank also felt duty bound to state that the photo of our friend Gary Kaplan and others was taken in Manhattan at a bar opposite The Ritz. That would be the Ritz that had moved into Studio 54 on 54th Street, not the one on 11th Street that is now Webster Hall. To go off on a healthy tangent, New York music fans of a certain age have only the fondest memories of the “original” Ritz, which hosted some of the best post-punk concerts the city ever saw (think Sunday night London Lyceum, several nights a week) in a room with fantastic acoustics and a great atmosphere. I only witnessed a few shows at that venue before it closed (The Ramones among them), but I saw plenty more at the “uptown” Ritz, and there was no reason to complain about that venue either. Some of the loudest shows I saw in my life took place at the old Studio 54 location: My Bloody Valentine, The Catherine Wheel, Lush and Bob Mould all come straight to mind. Patrick, who am I missing?

Pat Pierson, one of the Loop’s resident DJ who helped segue out of the Melody reunion night (with the only Bunnymen cut of the evening; how quickly people forget!) assures me that he was a regular at the Melody, “specifically between 1985-1986 and then 1988-1993,” but admits that he never DJ’d there, which is what I meant to imply when I mentioned him in that particular paragraph.

And Sean Carolan wrote several times and signed up at the iJamming! Pub to let us know that he had recorded all the DJ sets from the Reunion party and was broadcasting them via altrok radio this past week. I had fun listening back, noting all the other great acts that I didn’t mention in my original review (James, Ride, The KLF and the Dandelion Fire among them), but of course, it’s not the same hearing it on your computer as being there with all your middle-aged mates. The general conclusion among attendees and online habituees has been sadly but accurately contradictory; that while everyone would like to see more Melody reunions, doing so would only water them down, and that none will likely match the vibe of this first one. I concur.

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