BY JONATHAN VALANIA [CLICK HERE TO READ PART 1] Admittedly it was hard to evangelize about a band called Butthole Surfers — the name itself took a lot of explaining. (“Yeah, I know, I know ‘stupid name’, but…not gay, no, nothing gay about them…well actually I guess the drummer is gay…but there is a naked chick dancing most of the time.” And that was just with my mother! It didn’t go any easier with the family pastor, let me tell ya.)
But evangelize we did, because brothers and sisters, friends of the revolution, after 20 epileptic minutes under those strobe lights we had quite literally SEEN THE motherfucking LIGHT! [artist’s rendering, above] I guess the one thing I had failed to mention explicitly is that every time we went to see the Butthole Surfers we were blitzed out of our gourds on lysergic acid diethylamide. (Now, I would never recommend that anyone experiment with dangerous hallucinogens, especially under such circumstances — it is against the law, you never know what you get, and psychedelics are wildly unpredictable under even the most experienced of tongues — but at the risk of sounding like every other annoying gonzo-wannabe burnout that reads too much Hunter Thompson, I have to confess that it always worked out for me. Big time, as the vice president would say.)
We weren’t alone. I am pretty sure just about everybody in the audience had made similar preparations for the Butthole Surfers show. All of us were young and mad because of it and all too willing to roll the dice with our psyches, flip our chemical switches and mutate out of the matrix of ordinary lives and make the ancient heavenly connection to the starry dynamo in the machinery of night, as Allen Ginsberg used to say. In some cultures that would called an ‘epiphany,’ in this country we call it a felony. But that’s a discussion for another day.
More to the point, this shared sacrament was one of the first great breaches in the divide between the hippies and the punks, an unprecedented intersection of alt-rock’s ascendant trajectory and and the emerging jam band nation. It was the time when it first became readily apparent that hippies and punks had the same basic endgame in mind, just different means to reach those ends. Mostly, it just came down to different haircuts and the music and surrounding subculture that went with those haircuts. And when the hippies shaved their heads and the punks grew their hair long, well, things got interesting. Finally, nobody had to keep pretending that music only started after Never Mind The Bollocks. This might seem self-evident now — and I would submit, this simple change of the rules was responsible for a nearly all the great music you have heard in the last 20 years — but back then it seemed like there was always some hulking asshole in a mohawk ready to beat your hippie ass for even suggesting such a thing. And I am not just talking about Henry Rollins.
END OF PART 2