Grindcrusher…I mean, Grindcutter Tour

Godflesh
April 20, 1991
Grindcrusher Tour
Country Club : Reseda, Ca

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(This photo and many others now available for sale.  Email: IamKevin@fairwarning.com)

At this point in my life I was heavily involved in three music genres – the underground L.A. Rock scene – in which Jane’s Addiction was leading the pack; the early stages of what came to be known as Grunge – I was seeing bands such as Soundgarden and Mother Love Bone and of course Nirvana; and my new love at the time – Grindcore. Grindcore was a new movement in metal spearheaded by hostile bands such as Napalm Death, Terrorizer, Bolt Thrower and Godlflesh.

At the time, I was still struggling to establish myself as a rock photographer, trying my best to have my images and my name printed in as many publications as possible. There was a lot of anticipation for this L.A. area show as it approached. I don’t know where they come from, but there would be masses and masses of death metal Latinos that would come to these shows – I’m talking hundreds of them. The violence inside and outside the venue started even before any of the bands hit the stage as three of the most notorious gangs in Los Angeles were in attendance. And to make things worse, they were all rivals. If that was not enough, add handfuls of concert-goers high on PCP / Angel Dust. I’m not kidding, this show was out of control.

As each band played their sets and the night progressed, so did the level of violence. I began to notice that there were less and less photographers as the night went on. Just before Co-Headliner Napalm Death hit the stage, there was just me and the photographer from the Los Angeles Times left in the barricade. As soon as Napalm came out, a horde of kids rushed the stage…the stage was filled with dozens and dozens of crazy, violent kids, you could barely see the band – and they were using us as stepping blocks to get on the stage.

At one point, during Napalm’s first song, the L.A. Times photographer started freaking out, totally panicking. He started grabbing me and pulling on me. Then he started screaming that we needed get out of there. The venue was way out of control and he feared for his life – and mine. He must have thought I was nuts, because I was getting off on the chaos, my adrenaline was so high, I did not want it to end. I looked at him with a crazed smile and screamed back at him that I wasn’t going anywhere. He grabbed his gear and ran…I never saw him again.

By the time Godflesh hit the stage, I was the only photographer left. I was either the bravest photographer that night, or the stupidest. I am sure it was a fine line between the two. My passion for the music just took over, and I was in it ‘til the end. I noticed that the PCP usage really kicked in during the Godflesh set. There were people freaking out, hallucinating and hurting people right behind me.

As I was snapping Godflesh, I began to feel a cold, tingling sensation on my back. Every once in a while, I would need to scratch or rub my back as the sensation grew more and more frequent. A few songs later, I again rubbed my back, this time I noticed that the top of my hand was smeared with blood. I had no idea what was going on. Was it my blood? Was it someone else’s blood?

Then I saw it. One of the kids, out of his mind on Angel Dust, had an exacto knife and had been slicing my back. The back of my shirt was in strips and I had about eleven bloody slices on my back. I started screaming at the kid and I knocked the exacto knife out of his hand with my camera. Just then, one of the other PCP freaks started biting the kid’s cheek. He then ripped a handful of hair out of his head and pounded him in the face until he was in a bloody daze. The whole scene was surreal to me…it was almost like Godflesh was playing the most amazing soundtrack music to the most out of control, violent, drug induced movie that I had ever seen. But this was not a movie, it was real, and it was exploding right in front of my face. Godflesh finished their set at about 2am and I was still standing, camera in hand. I went home, feeling like I had been run over by a bus, but I knew I got some killer photos.

The next morning, my telephone woke me up. It was the publicist at Earache/Relativity Records – Godflesh’s record label. It turns out that the Los Angeles Times heard how out of control the show was and they wanted to do a story on the show and on the Grindcore movement – but they had no photos because their photographer bailed. I was the only guy with the photos that they needed. I tried my best to negotiate with the L.A. Times – I got a whopping $60 – I was lucky to get paid at all. Nevertheless, my photo and my name made it onto a full page in the Sunday Calendar Section – the biggest entertainment section that the L.A. Times runs. It was a huge success for my career and me. I might not have been paid very much, but this photo and this story gave me street cred that you just can’t buy. Talk about having to pay your dues.

Photographed under the blade with my lethal Canon F1 and a cheap, no name 28mm-80mm f5.6 lens. Shot on Kodak Ektachrome film.

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8 Responses to “Grindcrusher…I mean, Grindcutter Tour”

  1. Superb Ass story Kevin.Brilliant one.I am a huge Grindcore fan myslef,but seriously you get jokers everywhere.But your story is just beyond that.

    Was it passion that made you not feel the pain or were you on PCP too?
    (kidding!)

  2. Kevin..any chance of putting any up any Mother Love Bone shots??

  3. Norm in Ohio Says:

    Sweet mother of mercy, that’s one of those stories which won’t be repeated any time soon.

    I’m really fascinated by the Latino gang element to the show. Who knew? Really gets to what I like saying about Godflesh–they are the sound of oppression.

    I was fortunate enough to see them on what would be their last U.S. tour in ’96. The crowd was enthusiastic and rough but nowhere near the levels you described.

    Cheers!
    Norm

  4. […] I read a crazy story about a 1991 gig in L.A.where this photographer was being sliced by a kid with an exacto blade who was high on Angel Dust. […]

  5. […] I read a crazy story about a 1991 gig in L.A.where this photographer was being sliced by a kid with an exacto blade who was high on Angel Dust. […]

  6. So you’re the guy that got cut up at the show? I was at this show and I heard that someone got cut up with an exacto knife after the guy got stabbed. That’s definitely in my top 3 for craziest shows I’ve ever been to.

  7. man, they must have been alternating the headline spot because napalm death headlined the night i saw them. i’m pretty sure. i know that it’s not revelant but the show you saw reminds me of a wendy o williams show that i tripped balls at.

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