MAY 17, 1981RETURN TO 1981
VENUE: HOLMS Hall, San Jose, California
ACTS: Black Flag, Onslaught, Happy Death, the Ghouls, Los Olvidados, Lewd
EPHEMERA: Review from Forget It!.

Everyone except Black Flag got to play.

Memories of this show? Flyers? Live audio or video? Photos? Interviews?


On May 17, Black Flag was scheduled to play at HOLMS Hall in San Jose. The Lewd, Los Olvidados, the Ghouls, and two new bands, A Happy Death, and Onslaught, were to play support. The show got off to a little bit of a late start (about 1/2 hr.), but once it got started, it really moved along. Bands played short sets and set up fast. About two hours into it, the security guard the hall hired showed up and made an absolute pest of himself harassing everyone in sight. At about 11:30, he said that the show was to be over at midnight. But the person the papers were signed with had said that it could go to 12:30 if it ran a bit late. The cop decided that noone was going to get to call any of the owners to tell them it would go a little over. So, right at 12, just as Black Flag got onstage, he went and pulled the fuses out of the wall. Then he told everybody to leave. They all yelled at him, so he did what all good security officers do when there is a threat that they might lose control of a crowd: he turned the lights off. This resulted in chairs being thrown through windows, etc. etc. Basically general destruction. He called for more cops and in about ten seconds, there was 21 cop cars outside. SJ cops just love a riot. They chased people yelled at them and were pretty fucked, although they decided to arrest only one person. San Jose's first punk rock riot----bitchin'.... H. Etc.

And here is some commentary from Lisa: I just want to say a big thank you to all you lovely youngsters who broke the windows... you charming ladies with the red pens... the guy with the fire extinguisher... Oh, yeah, and I don't want to leave out that ton of blubber of a guy with the mustache and the authoritative flashlight, you're a real gem!

Thanks, honestly, it couldn't have happened without your support, really.... Lisa House

This is for those who were at what would have been Black Flag's concert at HOLMS Hall. Basically, the police turned off the the power, and suddenly they were (pardon the pun) powerless. All Black Flag could do was wave their arms angrily from the stage. And that is why I say electricity is punk's Achilles' Heel. Without it, punk bands can't do anything. It has to be said and punks have to be aware of it in order to prevent a repeat of HOLMS Hall (not that it's the first time it's happened). Punk is crude, grating, and loud--the culmination of everything electrical. Punk guitar at concert volume is very close to white noise, and that's great. But without those volts and eatts surging through the circuitry, all punk has is the look and the attitude. That is what happened May 17: the music was eliminated and the attitude took over. Nobody can take away our attitude. I have a couple of suggestions that might allow punks at future shows to continue after fascists have said "NO!": one is gasoline powered generators as backup. Maybe that sounds real hippie-ish, like they used at Woodstock or something, but here the intent is different. It's not just to generate power, but to generate power in the face of lack of power due to fuses being yanked from the building. Then it becomes a statement of sorts, another way fo saying "FUCK YOU!!!" to an establishment that won't let a band play 35 minutes after midnight. A gasoline powered generator allows bands to play regardless of whether the power has been turned off; thus it puts the power back in the hands of the bands and punks, instead of the fascists. The other suggestion concerns the drummers of punk bands, the one instrument thatisn't tied to an electrical umbilical cord. Punk drummers should take on a political role if power is turned off for the rest of the band. They should start drumming wildly until they are dragged forcibly from their sets. Since the turning off of electricity is presumably for the elimination of sound, any loud sound is going to defeat the purpose. Punk drummers have got to realize this and engrain it into their psyches so they can take over. If Robo had started drumming on the 17th, things might have been different. We have to show them we will stand up to them, 27 squad cars or not. When the drummer drums it draws support from the crowd, and it shows the band is as unafraid of the consequences as the audience presumably is. Electricity may be punk's Achilles' Hell, but its effect can be minimized by adopting my two suggestions and possibly others. If anyone else has any suggestions, write them in! We're all in this together and we've got to make sure this shit doesn't happen any more!!! Paul M.

MAY 17, 1981RETURN TO 1981