[The following “Gigs from Hell” excerpt by Adam Turkel of local band The Beatings recalls the Baltimore music club scene of the late ’90s, name-checking the city’s bands and venues like Memory Lane, The Cultured Pearl (1984-1998), and the then-new kid in town, the just-opened Ottobar (where The Beatings had their first show). I love his description of SoWeBo! – Tom Warner, Baltimore Or Less]
By Adam Turkel of The Beatings
excerpted from Gigs From Hell: True Stories from Rock and Roll’s Frontline
(Edited by Sleazegrinder, Critical Vision, 2003)
“When we formed The Beatings in 1997, the musical climate in Baltimore was dismal at best. The legendary Memory Lane had recently closed down. Bands like Jakkpot and The Reprobates had become a fading memory. There were a few clubs catering to underground music, but on a local level most bands were doing the rockabilly thing (Glenmont Popes/Johnny Love and Speed), angry noise shit, art rock, power pop (The Put Outs) or punk-by-numbers…
Other early shows were held in Southwest Baltimore, a run-down ghetto area, which despite attempts by locals to turn it into a sort of haven for the Balto Bo-Homo sect, it remained merely a place for art fags to go and cop heroin, be pretentious and live in fear. It’s also the location for Baltimore’s annual SoWeBo festival and the former home of the now defunct restaurants The Akira and The Cultured Pearl. The Pearl was a grimy Mexican joint which hosted occasional indie bands, poetry readings, a great happy hour buffet and short order cooks who hustled dope. The Pearl became like a clubhouse for the few Baltimore City degenerates in the know. I feel the urge to vomit just thinking about the place, though it has nothing to do with their food or the lovely clientele. It was only a matter of time before the Pearl was going to shut down and The Beatings had the privilege of being the last band to play there. It was our third gig…There was no stage or lighting except for the ceiling fans that brightly lit up the garish paint job of the restaurant. The turn-out was great, due to the buzz after our first two gigs and the fact that everybody’s friend Tim Put-Out [Tim Conder, Put-Outs bassist] was acting as guest bartender…
…Inspired by the New York Dolls notorious residency at the Mercer Arts Center in the early 1970s, I decided that it would be cool to book a similar regular weekly gig for us during the bitter winter of 1998/99. The venue I chose was a cocaine-infested scum hole/heavy metal dive located in the Highlandtown section of East Baltimore called Hal Daddy’s. I initially loved the place, primarily because they had seventies 70s LP covers bordering the walls and the ceilings, including both Joe Perry Project albums…
…[The Beatings and former Child’s Play bassist] Idzi first got us a gig with our friends Johnny Love and Speed that was booked about an hour before we played…The bar was called EJ Bugs on Broadway in Fells Point. Broadway is the main drag in Fells Point and on the weekend, every yahoo-frat-boy-meathead goes barhopping and hunts for some girl to date rape…Our next gig, also set up by Idzi, was at a hard rock club in the redneck blue-collar area of Baltimore called Dundalk. The club was called the ZU (no umlauts unfortunately…) and none of us had ever heard of it…” – Adam Turkel
Continue reading The Beatings’ “Hellish Gigs” at books.google.com.
Besides playing in The Beatings, Adam Turkel (aka “Adam T.”), originally from Baltimore but now based in St. Petersburg FL, is well known as a rock artist whose work has been exhibited in galleries and clubs across the U.S. His paintings and designs have appeared on record covers, books, skateboards and t-shirts.
Watch The Beatings play “Bad Feeling.” (YouTube)
Watch The Beatings play “Rollercoaster Girl.” (YouTube)
The Beatings (CD Baby)
The Beatings (MySpace)