Get In The Van And Head To The Channel

by Bill Brenner on October 25, 2011

A friend from the Point of Pines, Revere shared a memory yesterday. It involved getting in my brother Michael‘s van and going to see a rock legend perform at the Channel in Boston.

Mood music:

Julie Doyle Frascino┬áread my post “Lost Brothers” and posted this on my Facebook page:

“Michael was such a good kid! I remember one time we all piled into that van he had and went to see the Joe Perry Project at The Channel rock club in Boston. It looked like a Cheech and Chong movie when we all pratically fell out of the van in the parking lot! Kids! We were all crazy back then!”

That van was quite a site. The paint was peeling off and the body was covered in rust. Exhaust fumes rose through tiny holes in the floor and into the back. It probably wasn’t good for his asthma.

But that van shuttled kids to a lot of shows at The Channel, which used to stand at 25 Necco St. in Boston. It’s where I first saw live Rock ‘n Roll and I would go on to spend a good chunk of the late 1980s there, usually with Sean Marley, Dan Waters and an assortment of others.

Bands I saw there included Gang Green, The Neighborhoods, Kix, King Diamond, Flotsam and Jetsam, Extreme, The Circle Jerks, Slapshot and The Ramones.

The place had a bar called The Cage for the obvious reason that it was caged in. I couldn’t go in there for the first few years because I was under 21. There were a lot of 18-plus shows there, but I did manage to sneak into one 21-and-over show, which was The Ramones. I skipped the senior prom for that, and never regretted my choice. I couldn’t find a date for the prom, anyway.

They used to have Sunday afternoon shows that I loved going to because they were more lightly attended. It was also typically when the more obscure bands got to play, though one of those shows was The Neighborhoods, which Dan took me to see. Before that day, I had never heard of them. It wasn’t the type of band Sean was inclined to go see, because his tastes by that point were veering off to industrial metal, which wasn’t popular yet.

Dan shared his passion for that stuff, but he also had a deeper appreciation for the more melodic, pop-driven bands.

I spent a lot of angry nights heading to The Channel. I had a chip on my shoulder the size of Texas and I could slip through the front door, become invisible and shake my fist all night to whatever band was playing until I was exhausted and felt like I’d been kicked in the gut. Once I reached that state, I would feel better. That kind of pain is perfect for pushing the anger out a young kid’s pores.

Since my brother was five years older, I didn’t get to go to any shows in that van. But like him, I would shuttle a car full of friends to The Channel in a beat-to-hell, putrid green 1983 Ford LTD station wagon I bought from my aunt after I got my driver’s license. The radio didn’t work so I kept a portable radio in the front seat; one of those big cassette players we used to call ghetto blasters. That car also made a lot of packed runs to the Worcester Centrum to see the bigger bands, including four Metallica shows in 1989 alone, during that band’s “And Justice for All” tour.

But the trips to The Channel were always a lot more fun. They were short runs from Revere, which meant less opportunity for the car to break down en route.

In the worst of times, those were some of the best of times.

{ 3 comments… read them below or add one }

Greg October 25, 2011 at 7:11 am

LOVED The Channel. Saw Ian Hunter and Mick Ronson play there in 1989 — a week before Huck 2 played that very stage (on a Wednesday night, but the stage was nonetheless the same).
My brother saw Black Flag there. I remember seeing The Hoods, Shake the Faith, Hot Dates, John Entwhistle’s band .. list goes on and on. Thanks for the memories, Bill.

Rick Christoforo October 25, 2011 at 7:26 am

It is much too late (see; wife is sleeping) for me to start slaming around the apt!! Great memories! Gang Green??? Holy crap Bro! Used to hang with the skins & lock arms then drive the stage!!

stu January 22, 2012 at 7:16 am

i promoted over 25 shows there. my fondest memories are too many to write except it closed 2 times funny thing was that each time the same band was playing and each time it was my show. the last time it closed all can say is i never saw a club get stripped so fast before the yellow tape made it around the entire building a truly sad day but that placed launched my career in that dept. all the fore mentioned bands i got to see. but when i did the meters return to Boston after 17 years i can remember the celebrities and rockstars come in droves i had to set the 2nd dressing room up just for them. from smokin hash with members of many bands like the stones,bowie, areodudes true was a glorious part of my life. today i can recall the throbbing gristle show wasnt mine but i came to work and saw the sold out show dancing naked people having sex everywhere! a frozen staff didnt know what to do or say except say um thats puke your laying in and thats where someone got stabbed the night before LOL ooh how i miss that layer of unknown slime that coated the room. that stench of ocean pollution and death. and oh yes the hidden bed

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