Saturday, September 18, 2004

When I first saw the Ramones...

Subject: Music
This seems like an opportune time to chime in with my "me-too" Ramones reminisence, as I'm sure most everyone on the internet has done by now.

It was around 1988 or '89, spring quarter of one of my many sophmore years at RIT. They played in the hockey rink, an absolute chamber of horrors in the acoustics sense.

Before the term "mosh pit" was coined, the group front and center on the floor would engage in what was quaintly called "slam dancing". I discovered that quite to my surprise a year previously when I went to see The Dead Milkmen.

This time I was prepared. And willing. As was the gal I was with at the time.

So the Ramones come on stage, the lights come up, the drummer clacks his sticks the customary 4 times, and then...

...It was just a wall of solid noise. Loud, distorted, screeching noise. Ear-bleedingly tangible sound waves assulting every exposed surface.

And mind you, I'm not speaking metaphorically about the musical qualities or the band's talent -- you literally could not hear anything remotely resembling a rythym, tune, baseline, anything! There were no vocals, guitars, drums. Just noise. You could see them playing instruments, mouthing into microphones, but...

Of course, once that assault started, the individuals in the little crowd in the center began their assaults on their neighbor, as tradition so warmly dictated. Pick a target, body-slam them, pick another target, repeat. All the better if you catch their eye ahead of time so you simultaneously try to knock each other silly.

Good clean fun!

Anyway, after it was all over, we emerged from the concrete cavern with ears ringing about as loud as the wall of sound had been (a ringing I think I still hear to this day), our torsos bruised and aching, drenched with sweat, and hoarse from all the screaming.

So to wrap up, isn't it odd that dinosaurs like Aerosmith or the Stones still wander the earth, but a perpetually underated band that was probably a purer rock act than any of them has dwindled away one by one into extinction. A toast to you and your brothers, Johnny! Rest in peace.


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