The Pyramid Club / A hardcore-fanatic’s guide – Part V.

Originally released in Chiller Than Most fanzine, issue 5. (Click the picture for bigger size.)

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In the late 80s New York was still dangerous and not yet gentrified. East of Avenue A was still a wasteland. The Pyramid Club was (and still is) a nightclub in the East Village, located at 101 Avenue A in Manhattan. The institution named for a pyramid motif in the building’s original tiling, opened in 1979. What made this club unique was that the inclusivity across all cultural lines, mixing disco and hardcore/punk, pop culture and high art, straight and gay. The Pyramid Club shows were organized by many members of the NYC hardcore scene. It was the first time in NYC during this era that the bands actually made up the bills. The shows ran on a semi regular basis from 1987-1989.

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Alex Brown, Sammy Siegler, Chris Burr, and Dylan Schreifels in front of the Pyramid Club

You can check out a video about what the place was like between 1983 and 1988 on youtube: “Drag Queens, Skinheads, Artists and Some Girls: the Pyramid Club of the 1980s.” In this video Raybeez and Jimmy Gestapo attempted to describe what made the Pyramid special (5:51)!

– Pyramid matinees were some of the best hardcore shows, Absolution, Warzone, Side By Side, Youth of Today, Underdog, Collapse, Sick Of It All, Token Entry, Hogan’s Heroes, Judge, Gorilla Biscuits, Krakdown, Life’s Blood, Killing Time, American Standard, Project X, Under Pressure, Uppercut, Our Gang had a couple of very memorable gigs there.
– Security included Jimmy Gestapo, Raybeez and Richie Birkenhead, while doorman Bernard Crawford kept out the yuppies and junkies.

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Raybeez and Jimmy Gestapo

– The Pyramid Club is the place where Ray Cappo and Raybeez were booking shows together, most of these shows were Saturday matinees. The first matinee gig was a benefit show for Some Records. “Starting April 11th at the Pyramid Club, 101 Avenue A we’re gonna have hardcore matinees between 2:00 and 5:30 every other Saturday, starting April 11 so you gotta check it out! The first show is with Sick Of It All and Token Entry and you know, we’re headlining, word up! Check out the Village Voice!” – Warzone interview on WNYU’s Crucial Chaos radio show.

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– The Pyramid Club is the place where Sean Penn and Madonna got into a heated public argument in 1986. A fight erupted into violence as an obviously inebriated Penn shoved his wife up against a wall, then carried their shouting match out into the street.
– The Pyramid Club is the place where Nirvana and Red Hot Chili Peppers played their first New York City concerts.
– The Pyramid Club is the place where Into Another performed their first show.

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– The Pyramid Club is the place where Warzone cameout with a fog machine, and they used so much dry ice that you couldn’t see your hand in front of your face in the pit. Warzone was playing and the smoke machine went off while Ray Cappo was on stage about to do a stage dive, it burned his leg.
– The Pyramid Club is the place where Warzone played a show with a go-go dancer on stage, which was very likely an influence from the “Licensed To Ill” era Beastie Boys.
– The Pyramid Club is the place where Djinji Brown (Absolution) broke Jules Masse’s (Side By Side, Alone In A Crowd) nose during a show.
– The Pyramid Club is the place where the really underrated Altercation played a gig with Death Before Dishonor on May 23, 1987. Shortly after that Jay and Paul left Altercation to join Warzone so the band broke up.

WNYU’s Crucial Chaos / Chris Wynne

Originally released in Chiller Than Most fanzine, issue 4.
Chris Wynne runs the In Effect Hardcore website which grew out of his old fanzine called In Effect. The fanzine started in 1988 and although was not a continuous effort ran from 1988 to 1999 and had 12 issues total.

What are your memories of this classic radio program?

Chris: My memories of this show come in two waves. When I first found out about Crucial Chaos it was hosted by Spermacide. Johnny Stiff was up there too but Spermacide’s voice is what I and probably most other guys remember from that era of the show. They helped me find so many new bands as well as out of state hardcore bands and punk bands that I probably would never have heard of. The show would come on at 9pm and from 10pm till 1030pm they would almost always have a live band play before the show ended at 1030pm. I was a total fan boy and would sit there at home listening for the first hour and then have a blank cassette tape ready to record whatever band it was that would come on to play live on the air at 10pm. The second wave for me was a more in person experience as going to the WNYU studio in Manhattan at the time was something me and a bunch of my friends liked to do. This era was hosted by Rachel Rosen (who would later go on to play in Indecision) and Dave. I don’t know Dave’s last name but they all called him Kentucky Dave. I assume it was because he had a raggedy type of beard and not that he was actually from Kentucky but what do I know? Glen from Billy Club Sandwich and No Redeeming Social Value was a big part of this era as well doing the soundboard. A great dude who I am glad to say is still a big part of the scene in NY.

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Chris Wynne (left) and Grandpa Nick, Fit Of Anger (right) late 1980’s in the subway going to a show.

So when we started going to the studio at WNYU it wasn’t like we had a problem getting in. The studio was in a big building and part of a college so they had a security guard at the front door and at first you would just walk in and get in the elevator and go up to whatever floor the show was on. Once you were in that elevator you were good because you could be going to any floor of this big building. As time went on I guess they thought there were too many kids who didn’t go to this college coming in on their property so they started telling us to show ID that we went to school there. It became almost comical on how we would get in to the studio. Some people would distract the guard while some snuck in and if memory serves me right on at least a few occasions I would not wear like camouflage pants or an exposed band shirt to try and look more like a student. I don’t think there was ever a time where I didn’t get in but it was challenging at times.
There was this one time when Fit Of Anger played on the air. The live sets were always from 10pm till 1030pm and around 1020pm or later the people from the next show would come in and start setting up. At the time Fit Of Anger played there was a hip-hop show that followed Crucial Chaos and on this particular night this group called Royal Flush caught the tail end of Fit Of Anger’s set and when they were coming out of the studio it was pretty cool and also funny to see Royal Flush sweat Fit Of Anger saying “that’s the dope shit right there son” and things along those lines. I remember them saying the word DOPE a bunch of times. They only caught maybe 10 minutes of their set but they were really excited and everyone took pictures afterwards. The two bands never connected again after that though.

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Favorite Crucial Chaos sets:

Chris: Supertouch doing it live on WNYU… Saint Patricks Day… Climbing Aboard! I think this was March 17th, 1988. A lot of people loved Supertouch but to me their recordings were average at best. With this set they came out playing with such intensity. The drumming on this was incredible. You could just feel the energy during their instrumental intro coming through the speakers and to this day if that intro comes on shuffle on my i-Pod I start punching things. I do believe that on this same set that they handed off their instruments to Murphy’s Law who played for about 10 minutes before the show went off the air. They were very strict with the 1030pm end time as there was another show on right after them. For years I went without having this set and would ask a lot of people if they had it and luckily I found it a few years back.