On March 5, 1977, the Ramones played the Rocker Tavern in Aberdeen, Washington. The bar, like Aberdeen itself, was populated by hard working and hard drinking loggers.
Stephen Rabow, then a student at Olympia’s Evergreen State College, attended along with several friends.
A cover band opened, playing the popular songs of the day. Bands playing Rocker’s had a very specific between-song procedure: they were expected to stop for a minute or two after each number. During this time, couples would leave the dance floor to refresh their drinks and/or look for a different partner. This ritual was repeated after each song.
The cover band finished its set and the Ramones began setting up their equipment. Rabow and his friends braced themselves. “Just the hiss of the amplifiers…[we are] like looking at each other in fear,” Rabow remembers.
The Ramones took the stage, leather-clad punk rockers fresh from New York City. Joey announced, “Wuh the Ramones! Glad yah heeah!” in his thick Queens accent. Then the band did their standard ‘one-two-three-four’ and launched into a two-minute blast of deafening noise. As was the Ramones’ style, they finished up the first song and Dee Dee immediately counted off ‘one-two-three-four’ and the band lurched into the next tune. The Ramones continued at their frenetic pace, not allowing patrons off the dance floor.
For the audience, the scene became surreal. “They’re stuck,” says Rabow. “These people are stuck on the dance floor. They don’t know what’s going on. It’s louder than hell. It was like an alien invasion. They didn’t know what had happened to them.”
The entire show made it onto a 1979 bootleg recording called At Your Birthday Party.