I’ve been a bit hung up on trying to get to the truth of exactly when and with whom Untouchables were playing their first shows in Portland. Chris’ memory was really good but not perfect, and in fact he was also pretty suggestible so I witnessed for myself that it was possible for his memory to be changed by stress or suggestion.
Here’s Chris’ story:
It’s interesting because he told two stories in his memoir having to do with the earliest shows, that I could not corroborate but not exactly confirm with primary source material, the first having to do with the Untouchable’s first show, which he claimed was on the day of the Mt St Helens eruption, which most people consider to be May 18 (a Sunday) – though the volcanic eruption process actually lasted months – and the other story has to do with meeting Greg Sage of the Wipers, which he indicated happened at their next show, and that it was at the Long Goodbye the following June. I can’t find evidence of either show having happened. It doesn’t mean they didn’t happen – but it’s frustrating to have so little information to go on.
“The Untouchables felt triumphant May 18, 1980. We had blown the roof off of the Long Good-bye club and they asked us back. Mt. St. Helens blew her top off that night too. We were driving back to Longview feeling great about everything. I was driving Mark and Terry in my non discript beige Ford Falcon. We had all crashed at Koenigs rental house and woke up to a giant plume of ash billowing above Mount St. Helens! It was a mere forty five miles away. We hadn’t heard the big news and were shocked at the sight of millions of logs and trees clogging up the Cowlitz river. It was like an atomic bomb had been detonated over the mountain. People in the immediate vicinity were killed instantly. Some took advantage of the situation and disappeared, never to be seen again by loved ones. Changing idenities, moving somewhere else. Starting over. A common fantasy I’m sure. Eventually the whole area was covered with a blanket of grey ash. Like an unpure snow. It covered everything with pulvarized glass-like particles. Cars were stalled. People put nylon stockings over the manifold intakes of the carberator. The cars were choking on the ash. Some clever old ladies like Grandma Newman saw an opportunity to make some cash selling ash souvenirs. Some even fashioned ash sculptures.
“Our next gig in Portland was a real impressive one. Not a Thursday opening for a lame-ass Longview band. This was a Saturday. The Rats were headlining the Long Goodbye. A punk trio, led by handsome guitarist/singer, Fred Cole. His rockin’sexy wife Toody was on bass. Rod Rat was the spectacled punk drummer. Fred had some real rock history. No one really knew about that yet. The Rats were a raw and honest punk rock band with a hillbilly flare. Fred and Toody were a little older than their audience. They owned a cool music store downtown called Captain Whizeagles, and we all hungout there.
Strings were $3.00 a pack. They repaired musical equipment, the “Fred Cole way.” Fred could jerry-rig anything to make it work. Usually for no charge.
“That June night in 1980 the Long Goodbye featured four awesome bands. Opening was young Tom Roberts band the Imperialist Pigs. Eighteen and enthusiastic, Roberts went on to form Poison Idea with Jerry A as frontman.
Next up was the Untouchables. I had my (self painted) pink Fender Stratocaster guitar. Pink wrap around shades and pink converse tennis shoes with a crazy suit and a skinny tie. Nelson was in full black leather regalia with his signature three belts hanging off one narrow hip. Chon decked out in Zebra pants and fushia jacket was ready for his clowning drum style the people loved. Koenig bearded and slumped over his bass in full battle camoflauge layed down the bottom sounds.
We hit ’em hard and fast with a whirlwind of modern new visuals and sounds! The crowd responded quite favorably. It was a packed house, and all of us were celebrating a new musical movement. It belonged to us. We began to be a regular fixture at Long Goodbye.”
It looks like the Untouchables opened for Alost on Thursday May 29, 1980. That could be the gig he was thinking of, but Chris indicates that they drove back to Longview, Washington unaware that the volcano had erupted. I find it almost impossible to believe that someone in this part of the world could have been unaware of the eruption by May 29, 1980 as it was all over the news, and ash was blanketing the ground, especially after May 26. So possibly there was an earlier show on May 18, or maybe Chris’ memory was mixed up. I know that before they played in Portland they were driving down to check out the live music scene.
Chris indicated that the next show after that was a show featuring the Wipers, the Imperialist Pigs, and the Rats as well as the Untouchables, and that it was at the Long Goodbye the following June. So far, I can’t find this show listed anywhere else. However, if the May 29 show was their first show, such a show would likely have been their second show as I can’t find any other Untouchables shows listed before August 1980.
A similar (though not the same) line-up is advertised September 5, 1980, not at the Long Goodbye, but at a place called The Pacific Academy. On Friday, September 5, 1980 The Oregonian wrote:
“The Pacific Academy, located at 1532 SW Morrision St, will be the site of two concerts Friday and Saturday night with New wave rock and avant garde music the subject.
Saturday – Bop Zombies, Anesthesia, Spaztics, Untouchables, Chris Tense, Jungle Nausea – $3 sponsored by Alternative Art Association.
Friday’s 9 p.m. show will feature Sado Nation, Rat$, Imperialist Pigs, UHF, the Preps, and Government Surfers For Saturday the Bop Zombies will play along with Anesthesia, Spaztics, Untouchables, Chris Tense, and Jungle Nausea. Tickets for both concerts are $3 and the acadmey is open to all ages. Concerts are sponsored by Alternative Art Association.
This is an old brick building on the west side of the river, next door to the historic Scottish Rite Center. I This location doesn’t come up much as I research show dates. It looks like it might have been one of those venues that punk promoters would rent out specifically to put on all ages shows. Often they were Masonic Halls, VFW buildings, Granges, etc.
This would have been the Untouchables fourth and fifth shows in Portland, or assuming Chris’ memory about the June show with the Wipers is correct, their fifth and sixth.