Alibi V.23 No.41 • Oct 9-15, 2014 

Music History

Where You Been, Stranger?

Annals of Albuquerque aural history

Albuquerque map circa 1972, Arrow Map Co.
Albuquerque map circa 1972, Arrow Map Co.

So I made a list of the concerts I’ve seen in Albuquerque over the years. It’s only interesting because everyone has a list like that. I’m only going to tell some about what I experienced because I want to know about your experiences—where you’ve been is history too. So post your stories as comments on alibi.com. Let’s begin.

Sometime in the early ’80s, I saw Ozzy Osbourne on his Diary of a Madman tour. He opened with “Mr. Crowley,” and Randy Rhoads played lead guitar. I wanted to venture down to the floor at Tingley Coliseum (300 San Pedro NE) to get a closer look, but I was prevented by a fear of lighters and marijuana fumes.

On Sept. 10, 1984, R.E.M. played at the Student Union Ballroom at UNM. My brother and all our friends went. I was supposed to go, but a piano student named Lillian asked me out to dinner, and I did that instead. We went to Gyros. I had spinach pie. She had the falafel sandwich and told me she was leaving me for a Situationist with a beard. I still can’t believe I missed that show; when I finally saw R.E.M. on their Green tour a few years later, I was summarily disappointed.

After Don Pancho’s Art Theater closed in the late ’80s, Joey Abbin took the place over and remade it as the Atomic Theater. I heard a band called Coffin Break play there in 1989. That band blew my mind, and the scene was as vibrant as it’s ever been here. But I kept glancing back to the projection booth at the rear of the auditorium, wondering if the concession booth was still operational.

New Mexico map circa 1936, Rand McNally.
New Mexico map circa 1936, Rand McNally.

In either 1994 or 1995, there was a David Bowie cover concert at the Golden West Saloon (622 Central SW). I can’t remember the names of the bands that played, but whoever covered “Five Years” killed it. The afterparty was somewhere on Monte Vista, and it went until 6am the next morning; just about everyone there went home alone and forlorn, like it was the end of the world or something.

Stereolab plus The High Llamas performed at Launchpad (618 Central SW) in 1997. Before the show, Laetitia Sadier wandered upstairs in a faux-fur coat and walked around the edge of the balcony, surveying the audience. As she passed by me, reclining on a couch, she cocked her right eyebrow and took a massive drag off of her long, thin cigarette.

Six years later, I was at Launchpad again. It was early spring. I took a date to see the rock ensemble known as Mistletoe. My friend didn’t get it, and she was uncomfortable at the gig. I really dug the band even as she wondered aloud why they weren’t more “listenable.” Later I also found out she intended to vote Republican.

Eleven springs later, I found myself at Low Spirits (2823 Seond Street NW) experiencing sets by Raven Chacon, Alchemical Burn, Uranium Worker and Bestial Mouths. That night, sounds drawn up through circuitry—with antlers, knobs and electric fire combined with raw Cubist-style punk rock plus damn fine dark wave—served as a great reminder that Burque makes musical history on a regular basis.

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