Green River Plays CBGB’s, 1985

Posted: September 20, 2011 in Miscellaneous

In 1985, Green River consisted of Mark Arm (later in Mudhoney), Bruce Fairweather (Love Battery); Stone Gossard (Pearl Jam); Jeff Ament (PJ); and drummer Alex Shumway.  Green River was one of the few Seattle acts to make it all the way to the East Coast.  A highlight (or lowlight depending on whom you talk with) was a visit to NYC’s legendary CBGB’s.  Shumway recounts that evening (a much more summarized version ended up in the book).

Despite these tensions and guitarist Steve Turner leaving the band, Green River did tour the country in 1985.  Their travels led all the way to New York’s CBGB’s, the legendary punk club that launched the Ramones and Talking Heads.  They played to an almost non-existent audience on a Wednesday night, yet drummer Alex Shumway remembers the show fondly.  A legend developed that the band’s audience consisted of a handful of Japanese businessmen.

“I don’t quite remember [the Japanese businessmen,]” says Shumway.  “I do remember some jocks.  It was almost like a bachelor party kind of thing….They came in, ‘Hey, where are you guys from?’  These guys are all dressed up in tuxes.  ‘Oh, we’re from Seattle.’  ‘Alright!  Where’s that?’  ‘Seattle, Washington.’  ‘Oh, like by D.C.?  Around in Virginia?’ ‘No, ALL the way across the country…all the way across the United States.’ “Oh, cool! Ehhh…’”

“The first band was this band called Les Techno.  And the singer looked like an even dorkier version of [Talking Heads’] David Byrne….We were all sittin’ there in the back, and these guys came out, they started up and the bass player’s like clapping his hands in the air going, ‘Les Techno!  Les Techno!  Les Techno!  Les Techno!  Okay, we’re not gonna get going until we hear you all clap your hands and say Les Techno! Les Techno! Les Techno!’  And nobody did SHIT.”

“The second band got ready to play–set up all their stuff, and we waited for them for about 45 minutes until they eventually figured out that their drummer’s not showing up.  So they took all their stuff down and we eventually set up and I think we played around midnight.”

 “And we just ripped the place apart….got paid nothing, but the only people [that] were there to see us I believe were probably the same Japanese businessmen and the staff.  And the staff thought that we were great, so they gave us all the free beer we wanted.  ‘Hey, you guys are great.  Here.  You’re not getting paid shit, but you can have beer.’”

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