As mentioned in a former post, whilst at Berkshire college of art I spent a lot of my time shooting on location, photographing my friends and gigs. From the mid 80’s to early 90’s me and my mates we went from BMXing to the alternative music scene to raving. These transitions crossed over to a certain degree, my mate Clive in his lounge (pictured above and below) - was ever present.
Clive had some mad skills on the BMX he had that magic ingredient you needed with BMX free styling - no fear. As was the case back then in the alternative music scene we were all into slightly different bands, but always alternative. Clive was into The Mission, whilst The Dead Kennedys was one of my favourite bands. In our small town we used to get a lot of shit for the way we dressed. The main pubs in town were full of casuals so we drank in one of the old men's pubs or round each other's houses. Our main escape though was going to gigs.
In the Summer of 1989, aged 18 me and my mates went to Reading Rock Festival
“1989 was the first year that the Mean Fiddler took over running it. The year before was supposedly a disaster where ‘bottling of the acts had reached almost epic proportions. They decided that Donington catered for the headbangers, they were going to model Reading along the lines of Glastonbury”
It was our first time going to a festival, my older sister and her punk mates were also there. Some of our favourite bands were playing including psychedelic rock bands; Gaye Bykers On Acid, Pop Will Eat Itself, Crazyhead, The Butthole Surfers; ‘KUNTZ’ still a favourite. New Model Army, The Mission and The Wonderstuff were also on the bill as were Anglo-Irish Celtic punk band The Pogues. My nan came over from Ireland when she was 16 to be a housemaid in North London, The Pogues formed their band in Kings Cross. I don't know if my Irish roots helped me tap into their music. ‘Rum, Sodomy and the Lash’ I listened to on a loop at that time.
We arrived at the festival site on Thursday with 6 bottles of poppers and no booze - rank amateurs! We laughed a lot but I went to sleep with a banging headache. One night my tent collapsed, so I crashed in my older sister's bigger tent. A small group of us left the festival on another night, we got hold of some microdots. We’d heard about an Acid House night in Reading town centre and wanted to check it out. Clive recalls “We went into Reading to a wine bar called Nino’s for their Acid House night….that is where it all started for us”. Even though there weren't many people there, this small wine bar in Reading was the beginning of our transition to dance music and eventually - raves.
Later that night back at the festival lying in my tent, I listened to Adamski’s N-R-G on my personal stereo. When I closed my eyes I experienced my first psychedelic dance show inside my eyelids.
Resin print of me aged 18 with my GBOA / PFX badge
A few years ago at my sister's birthday party I was introduced to this chap called Mary by our friend Anna. I said “Mary! I remember a guy called Mary from ‘Gaye Bykers On Acid’ Mary replied “That’s me”. We proceeded to have a lovely chat, I told him “I photographed GBOA 30 years before when I was at college and I’ve got the negatives somewhere in a lock-up. When I get a chance to scan them, I’ll share them with you”. So I did. I knew they were shot between 1988-90, but couldn't remember where, I thought Windsor maybe? I recently got in touch with Mary and asked if he could shed any light on this for me - so he did.
Gaye Bykers On Acid live in Reading & Mole (bottom right last image)
“I’m trying to figure out in the dusty corner of my mind where and when these photos were taken. The problem is that my memory from that time is almost non-existent! Those were heady days of reckless abandon and industrial scale substance abuse, so it’s no surprise my recollection is a tad hazy! Looking at the photos and at what I’m wearing the first thing that comes to mind is that I can’t even remember owning a Deathbox skateboard T-shirt! We’d been touring the US in late 1988 and had been given lots of clothing by the skate label Vision streetwear, we’d played to lots of pro Skaters including Mark Gonzales and Todd Swank in Huntington Beach in California they loved the band and got us swagged up!”
“The fact that Mole is in the picture suggests that the gig was not in Windsor more likely is that it could have been in Reading and would have been around 1989. Mole, I think, went on to be a roadie with Menswear! The Bykers by that point were past the flavour of the month stage that they had been in 1987 and we were touring our second album ‘Stewed to the gills’. The Stage backdrop I remember was fluorescent camouflage netting and we had acid house style UV lights and strobes. We all still had plenty of hair and were having lots of sweaty fun making lots of noise! The shots capture the vibe very well! Ah the good old days when you could actually go to gigs! This is probably just before we started dabbling with ecstasy and getting into dance beats. We eventually had enough of each other and called it a day in 1990, when Madchester was on the rise and Grunge was in full swing. Great photos and great memories!”
I was inspired by Mary's words and 'now' knowing that they had fluorescent camouflage netting on stage (yep I cant remember it either). I had a little play and hand painted a black and white print with fluorescent acrylic paint
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Until next time..