Tuesday, April 18, 2006

Record Recollections: Underdog EP

The third show I ever went to in my life was in the winter of 1988. It was February, there was snow on the ground, and this was going to be my first show at a club in Bethlehem called Wally's Place.

Back then, the Lehigh Valley (as Bethlehem, Allentown, and all of the little hamlets surrounding it are commonly referred to) was a mix of punks, skins, nazi skins, skaters, straight edge kids, and metal heads. Such diversity made for an awesome scene. The Lehigh Valley scene was like a live action tapestry of the cover art for Walk Together, Rock Together (the OG version, ofcourse). Wally's place was one of three popular clubs in the area, the other two being Oliver J's and Airport Music Hall, both in Allentown.

My first show at Wally's was at the club's orginal location in The Goodman Building, located on 3rd Street. The following year, the club moved down the street one block, and then eventually closed a few months later. Last time I drove by it, it was a parking lot.

Anyway, the bill that night was Underdog, Pagan Babies, Warzone and Mugface. The show was on the 3rd floor of the Goodman building. It was an old building, and when they built the place I doubt they had slam dancing in mind. As the crowd danced for each band throughout the night, it felt like Wally's Place was going to fall through the floor.

Memories of the night:

-- Richie Birkenhead handing me three Underdog EP's on blue and telling me "there you go, kid. The last three Underdog 7-inches in print. Enjoy." At that time, Underdog was one of my favorite bands, and I was so relieved to finally get a 7-inch.

-- While I was flailing around on the dancefloor during the Pagan Babies set, I accidentally punched one of the dudes from Warzone in the face. The second I whacked him, I stopped dancing to see who I hit and to decide whether to go running out of the place screaming like a little girl or not (hey, I was 17 years old, there by myself, and the crowd was a fine shade of "sketch"). I glanced around the pit to see who was holding their face, and sure enough it was one of the dudes from Warzone (a guitar player, I think). He held his eye, pointed at me, and said something that I couldn't hear, but I was pretty convinced it was a bounty on my head or a death warrant. I held up my hands and very emphatically mouthed the words "I'm so sorry! Please don't kill me!" He laughed from across the pit and waved me off. Whew! I saw him outside after Pagan Babies set. His eye was swelling shut, so I gave him the frosty carton on OJ I had just bought at the Wawa to put in his eye. He was really nice about it.

-- I kept one Underdog 7-inch for myself, and gave the other two records to my girlfriend Charlene and a girlfriend of hers. Charlene and her friend didn't want the Underdog records because they dug the band's gnarly brand of skate rock. Noooo, they wanted the records because, like every hardcore girl at the time that I seemed to bump into, they wanted a piece of Richie Birkenhead, even if it was only on a slab of vinyl. Man, I was so stupid for giving her those records.

-- A year later, I gave my beloved Underdog on blue to a friend for his birthday because he really wanted a copy of it, but could never find it anywhere. I felt like I was being a good friend by offering it up to him. I'll never forget when he opened it at the lunch table at Central Bucks West High School. His jaw hit the table. Our friend Steve was equally impressed, and asked Jay if he could take a look at the lyric sheet, since his copy of the record was missing the lyric sheet. Jay took it out of the record and handed it Steve, who in turn placed the lyric sheet into his book bag, said "thanks," and bolted. Steve was the largest and toughest of the guys I hung out with in high school, so he laughed when Jay asked for it back. Jay never saw it again, and the incident basically ended their friendship. Man, record collectors are assholes.


If you'd like to share the story behind a record in your collection, please email it to me at bareboneshc@hotmail.com

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