Matthew T Grant


Tall Guy. Glasses.

The Mosh Pit’s One Foundation

The other night I saw Bad Brains at the Paradise.

“These guys were gods to us,” I told my friend Ken. He and I had played together in a band that was inspired by the Bad Brains and even had one song, “Our Savage God,” which was very much “in the style of.” I’d been listening to them since ’88—my kid brother saw them some years before that, so I’d heard of them way before that—but had never seen them ever.

A pit started jumping as soon as they fell into “Rights Brigade” and I was getting crushed against the people in front of me. I did find it was easier to deal with the moshers when I was aggressive, shoving them backwards en masse (I’m big-ish), but I soon tired of this (being old and frail as well), eventually drifting back to the other side of the pit where I could see and deflect what was coming at me (admittedly, with some remorse and self-criticism that I had chosen not to endure the up front intensity as my more stalwart friend did).

Before the show, my assumption was that the band (Dr. Know, guitar; Darryl Jenifer, bass; Earl Hudson, drums) was still going to rock—which they unequivocally did—but that HR might not be all there. The last time I had seen him was in Ithaca in 1993. He was touring with his reggae band but by the time he showed up at The Haunt that night, the band had quit. He had the club play his latest album over the PA and sang along and I left.

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Homage to Saccharine Trust

Until the appearance/Of a lone ocean bird/Skimming over the choppy water/Airily eyeing after anchovies/And occasionally glancing at the people/Who had come to be at the beach/On the winter solstice – from “Estuary,” by Saccharine Trust

I think it was in the late summer of 1981 that I jokingly suggested to my friends that we go see a concert at the Whiskey A Go Go featuring the Minutemen, Saccharine Trust, and the Meat Puppets. I had not ever heard any music by these groups and was probably just amused by their names, especially the Meat Puppets.

Who knew, then, that some four years later these would actually be among my favorite bands?

Indeed, it was in the spring of 1985 that I went to see the Keystone Palo Alto installment of what SST billed as “The Tour.” The bands involved? SWA, Saccharine Trust, The Meat Puppets, the Minutemen, and Husker Du. I had gone mainly to see the Minutemen, having had my mind blown over the preceding months by their magnum opus, Double Nickels on the Dime.

The Minutemen totally rocked, as they did every single time I saw them. SWA was forgettable. The Meat Puppets, oddly enough, left no impression (though later in my life I devoted significant turntable time to Meat Puppets II and Up on the Sun, and, in fact, if I were inclined to recommend any band from that era now, it would probably be them). Husker Du were a white noise blur and my rock concert companion (Eric!) and I left during their set.

The band that ended up haunting me, however, was Saccharine Trust. Jack Brewer, the singer, was dressed in a banana yellow leisure suit; Joe Baiza, the guitarist, had a piece of spin art taped to his guitar. They produced a very angular and spastic kind of punk noise with Baiza given to hacking out long, experimental lines while Brewer—curly haired, baby faced—spit his beat-inspired words. At one point, Brewer hit himself in the forehead repeatedly with the mic until it drew blood. Later, he took off his belt, tied it around his neck, and awkwardly jerked himself into the air with it over and over again.

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