All Choked Up

I’m just going to say up front that this post has it all. Violence, celebrities and a killer soundtrack. Plus it takes place in the big city. Do I smell the makings of a cult indie film? I think I… oh wait. No, that’s just my socks.

Suede at the Supper Club, May 15, 1997. Photo courtesy of Karena Bernard.

I left off my last post talking about how I was lucky enough to have seen Suede, one of my all-time favoritest bands, the last time they toured the States in 1997 on their Coming Up tour. It turned out that after the band left New York City, they were scheduled to play two gigs up in Boston, where through no coincidence whatsoever I happen to live now. Anyway, after the first night’s sold out show, all their gear was stolen, forcing them to play an all-acoustic gig the second night. I’m guessing that was pretty intimate and special to the people who came out for it, but the grand theft of their instruments might have been the last straw for the band. They never came close to playing in the U.S. again. But enough of side notes and sidetracks, let’s roll back the dial in the DeLorean to the summer of 1997 for my little vignette from The Night I Saw Suede…

I can’t remember how I heard Suede were playing New York City. I may have heard the news on that savior of a radio station for disaffected suburban Long Island youths, 92.7 WDRE, I’m not sure. But aside from The Cure, this was the one band I was determined to get tickets for, regardless of the obstacles!

As it turned out, the only obstacle involved me driving about 15 minutes from my home in Smithtown to a Ticketmaster distributer on Jericho Turnpike in Commack. Sweet. Tickets in hand, I proceeded to the neighboring town of Nesconset to inform my best friend at the time, Jon (still my best friend, still named Jon) that on May 15 we were gonna have our collective minds blown. Little did I know at the time that fate’s, and by extension, Jon’s hands were poised to choke the life out of me!

May 15th comes and we hit the city. The hour-long train ride into Manhattan was filled with giddy excitement usually reserved for seven year-old kids walking into Disney World for the first time. Walking up the streets and avenues that early summer evening, I was alive, electric. I was no longer on Long Island. This wasn’t Chicago and Styx at Jones Beach Theater. This was fucking Suede. In New York Fucking City! (Oops, that’s two f-words. Looks like we just jumped from PG-13 to R. Fuck it).

Our next task was to find out where The Supper Club, the venue for that night’s show, was located. As a couple of Long Island boys, we’d have been hard-pressed to locate the Empire State Building by looking skyward, but eventually we figured it out. West 47th Street right off of Broadway. Got it.

Jon and I were making our way up 46th Street when things got a little crazy. Maybe we were getting a little too hyper being so close to the venue, maybe it was that extra Coke, I don’t really know. I do remember seeing this very pretty blonde girl get out of a cab in front of us and start walking our way.

From Hey Dude to now

Christine Taylor, seemingly innocent, yet the reason I was nearly choked to death!

But this wasn’t just any pretty blonde girl. This was Christine Taylor, Marcia Brady from ‘The Brady Bunch Movie,’ Vince Vaughn’s love interest in ‘ Dodgeball’ and wife of Ben Stiller. Of course, this being 1997, none of these things had happened yet. There was only one way I would have known who Christine Taylor was: the cheese-tastic Nickelodeon show ‘Hey Dude’.

You’re confused, I can tell. ‘Hey Dude’ was this cheesy comedy on Nickelodeon that featured a bunch of teens working at a dude ranch somewhere in the southwest. It was a guilty pleasure, much like ‘Saved By The Bell’ or ‘California Dreams’.

I have an uncanny ability to recall faces, especially faces from obscure television shows, and clearly I knew who she was as she made her way in our direction. My eyes may have temporarily lit up with recognition, but I told myself to play it cool. Don’t make any big scenes here, just smile and keep walking. Jon must have been telling himself something completely different because the moment she passed, I felt a hand grab the back of my shirt and pull back – really hard. I was being choked to death by my friend!

Somehow I managed to get myself free before all circulation was cut off to my brain. Jon turned to me, unconcerned with my crushed windpipe, and asked with a wild look in his eys, “Do you know who that was?”

We answered in unison: “The ‘Hey Dude’ girl!!!”

My neck today. Luckily, the only scars are on the inside!

I’m not sure how Suede managed to top that encounter, but they did. Like I said last post, it was one of the best shows I’ve ever seen. I have only images in my brain of that night, but they’re my images. Brett Anderson bounding on stage with tons of energy, igniting the crowd, Neil Codling staring blankly into space while playing keyboard, standing in awe as the band stopped time during ‘The 2 Of Us’. I think I’ll keep those memories.

Interesting fact from that night: The opening band, Longpigs, featured a guitarist named Richard Hawley. Richard Hawley went on to tour as part of Pulp and has become one of the most treasured singer/songwriters in the UK. His songs have this magical ability of seeming to come from another era, yet still sound timeless. Do yourself a favor and check out his work. You won’t be disappointed.

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