Acid Heroes

October 14, 2015

The Sound of Music

Punk1 Mostly forgotten today, the Sound of Music was a funky, dirty, little San Francisco punk rock club in the 1980s.   Located at 162 Turk Street, deep in the heart of the Tenderloin.

I guess you could call the Sound of Music an “entry level” club.  Just about anybody who could print up a bunch of fliers could land a gig there.  Bottom of the food chain in that grand world that is Show Business.

I remember one show I went to at the Sound of Music in 1982.  My friend Neil Anderthol was playing with his band the Geeks — this art-damage band.  Eight people on stage — drums, guitars, saxophones, trombones, god knows what else.  Everybody playing at the same time, non-stop, for an hour, everyone wailing away at top volume, all the amps cranked up to 11.  This mind-wrenching, incomprehensible white noise.  Feedback on top of feedback. . .   The Geeks completely cleared the club in 5 minutes.  Ha ha.  The only person left in the club was the guy running the sound board.  Because he had to be there.  And he was gritting his teeth and cursing the band under his breath the whole time.  I guess it was art.  But it was painful to listen to.

Neil Anderthol (we all had cool punk rock name back then) later went on to acclaim as a member of Polkacide — this punk polka band.  Go figure.  Me and Neil were both madly in love with the same punk rock chick at the time — Mary Mayhem — so we were always running into each other.

The other thing I remember about the Sound of Music.  It was a transvestite bar when they weren’t doing punk shows.  And some of those trannies would have knife fights outside the club on the streets of the Tenderloin.  You had to be pretty tough to put on a dress and lipstick back then.  1982.

The other thing I remember about the Sound of Music.  The guy running the sound board showed me the recording studio he set up in the basement.  He was supplementing his income by offering to record the bands that played there.  I salivated when I saw his set-up.  Because you could record a pretty high quality demo on his equipment.  And, like a thousand other idiots, I had this dream of being a rock musician and recording my genius rock album.

Across the street from the Sound of Music was this rehearsal space where hundreds of degenerate rock’n’roll wannabes jammed non-stop in their individual, semi-sound-proof cubicles.   And that was a scene.  You’d walk down the halls and hear the muffled sounds of every genre of music imaginable.  Half the people dressed like rock stars or Keith Richards.  People laying around smoking pot and drinking and doing drugs.  It was Dante’s Inferno.  It was like stepping into Rock’n’roll Hell.

There used to be what they called a “thriving underground artist community” in San Francisco back then.  The rents were still cheap enough that you’d get these pockets of weirdo bohemian types, pursuing their mad dreams to be musicians, painters, poets, performers,  and what-not.  I don’t know if such scenes still exist nowadays.  It could just be that I’m old and out of the loop now.

The hills are alive with the sound of music!

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