Great Southeast Music Hall
The Sex Pistols played to about 500 people at their first American show. In attendance were fans, journalists, onlookers, and law enforcement agents. Future R.E.M. guitarist Peter Buck snuck into the concert, but was kicked out after only a few songs. Many in attendance had heard stories about British punk rock but were unfamiliar with the Sex Pistols themselves. There was a rumor that the band killed hamsters onstage, among other far-fetched suggestions. A good number of people expected grubby street punks with mohawks to walk onstage. Only Sid lived up to most people's expectations, and even he was relatively well-behaved tonight.
"I thought you were all cowboys down here," said Rotten as he waited for Steve to tune up. "Well my name's John, and this is the Sex Pistols." With that, the band ripped into "God Save the Queen," introducing the Georgia crowd to British punk. "See what kind of fine, upstanding youth England is chucking out these days?," Johnny said about himself and his band. "You can all stop staring at us now. We're ugly and we know it."
"Johnny Rotten's stare was demonic, his expression sneering, and his shoulders ominously hunched," reported Tony Schwartz in Newsweek. "Sid Vicious, pasty-skinned and anemic-looking, seemed more catatonic than cantankerous, rousing himself only to blow his nose stage right. Guitarist Steve Jones and drummer Paul Cook looked clean-cut enough to have played in the '50s style band that opened the show."
Overall, the first show of the tour was seen as a disappointment. Steve's guitar refused to stay in tune, and his playing was less than spectacular. Johnny sang most of lyrics during the wrong parts of the songs, and he occasionally resorted to muttering. During "Anarchy in the U.K.," he asked the audience, "Do any of you know the words?" The crowd also remained quite contolled, nothing compared to what was in store for the Pistols later in the tour. To some, the show represented exactly what punk was all about: raw and vulgar rock 'n' roll, played with plenty of volume and little musical skill. Others couldn't understand how this band spearheaded a musical revolution.
God Save the Queen, I Wanna Be Me, Seventeen, New York, Bodies, Submission, Holidays in the Sun, EMI, No Feelings, Problems, Pretty Vacant, Anarchy in the U.K.
Friday, January 6, 1978
Over 900 tickets were sold for the Memphis gig. Unfortunately, the ballroom's full capacity was only 725. A small riot ensued outside the venue when fans were denied seeing the Sex Pistols.
Sid went on a search for drugs hours before the band was supposed to play, and the show was delayed. When they did go on about 11 PM, the band gave an average show with minimal violence and verbal abuse. "I hear you all listen to Dolly Parton down here," John Rotten remarked. "Are you still celebrating Elvis's birthday?" During the show, audience members began throwing various objects onstage. Johnny responded: "I'm not here for your amusement, you're here for mine. So behave yourself and don't throw things at me. I don't like it."
Dave Schulps gave the performance a glowing review in Sounds. "The Sex Pistols gave what I consider one of the best rock 'n' roll shows I've ever seen. Most of the audience seemed to agree, reacting wildly to every move they made. Johnny Rotten leered manically into the mass before him and danced spasmodically, at times resembling a chimp swinging from vine to vine. Sid Vicious constantly spat on the stage and occasionally jumped up like a kewpie doll in shock treatment. A few shook their heads and left quietly. There was no violence. Not a single person was injured... or corrupted."
At the end of the show, a SWAT team invaded the ballroom to control any possible outbreaks of violence. Again, a relatively controlled show, downright tame compared to the next performance.
Interestingly enough, the Taliesyn Ballroom is now a Taco Bell.
God Save the Queen, I Wanna Be Me, Seventeen, New York, EMI, Bodies, Belsen Was a Gas, Submission, Holidays in the Sun, No Feelings, Problems, Pretty Vacant, Anarchy in the U.S.A., No Fun
Sunday, January 8, 1978
Monday, January 9, 1978During their show at Baton Rouge, Louisiana's Kingfish Club, Vicious starts to have sex with a
Baton Rouge, Louisiana
New ORLEANS PUNK Girl who gets on stage. The crowd showers the band with money!
Sid even got some play from a female fan during "New York."
Most of the audience seemed fairly interested in the Sex Pistols' music, and "EMI" even uninspired sing-along. Nonetheless, apathy plagued the band. Steve seemed particularly bored tonight,
introducing the songs without a shred of enthusiasm. The put-downs exchanged between Sid and members of the crowd sounded forced. Instead of throwing food and trash, the audience threw money.
After getting hit with a handful of coins, John said, "If you're gonna throw money, throw dollar bills."
During the encores, Sid and Johnny collected over 15 dollars.
The show was all about spectacle; music was secondary.
Kingfish Set list:
God Save the Queen, I Wanna Be Me, Seventeen, New York, semi bodies, Nelsen Was a Gas, Submission, Holidays in the Sun, No Feelings, Problems, Pretty Vacant, Anarchy in the U.S.A., No Fun, Liar
Tuesday,January 10, 1978
SEX PISTOLS: LONGHORN BALLROOM (DALLAS: 1.10.78 - 22 min. Whole Show by Mrjyn)
"They said no one could be more bizarre than Alice Cooper, or more destructive than Kiss...They have not seen the Sex Pistols. Tuesday night, Stone City Attractions presents live, the Sex Pistols. Banned in their own home country, England's Sex Pistols, denied admittance to the United States, the Sex Pistols bring the new wave to the Metroplex this Tuesday night, in the Longhorn Ballroom. They said it couldn't happen, but it happens Tuesday night: the Sex Pistols, live."
--Dallas Radio Promo, 1978
Tuesday,January 10, 1978
God Save the Queen:
By this point, Sid's receiving most of the attention onstage. Other members of the band are getting fed up with his narcissistic attitude. Before the show, Steve threatens to punch him for focusing on himself and not the music.
I Wanna Be Me:
Sid hits the bottle hard before the show. Being in Texas again, he and Johnny mock the "Cowboys" in attendance. About half of the 1,800 in the crowd are fans; the other half are Country & Western fans defending their territory against these British punks.
John wears an ugly pink shirt and black glove for most of the show, while Steve wears all black, including boots, spurs, and a Sheriff's star.
Although he contributes nothing musically, Sid knows he's stealing Johnny's limelight, which is more important to him.
Belsen Was a Gas:
With "Gimme a Fix" on his bare chest, Sid barely played his bass and seemed more interested in jumping around instead of performing music. Plastic cups and other assorted objects flew toward the stage for the duration of the performance. (No glass bottles were sold.)
belsen was a gas
Holidays in the Sun:
holidays in the sun
At the end of "Holidays in the Sun," Sid gets head-butted by an overzealous woman and receives a bloody nose. Instead of wiping up the mess, he lets the gore flow down his torso. After smearing it on his face, he spits into the crowd, yelling off-mic and over the din,
"All cowboys are queer!"
Johnny remarks, "Look at that... a living circus."
There are about 100 police on hand.
During "Pretty Vacant," Sid takes a broken bottle and carves his chest. He removes the pus-soaked bandage from his arm and throws it into the crowd. The other band members continue the show. With his newly carved chest, Sid isn't playing bass as much as using it, while jumping around and staring, like the heroin-deprived, schnapps zombie he now is.
Anarchy in the U.S.A.:
anarchy in the usa
After a blistering version of "Anarchy in the U.S.A.," the band left the stage, and, surprisingly, the crowd yelled for more. As the band reappeared for an encore, Sid showed the audience an obscene gesture and Steve yelled,
"You must be mad to want more of us!"
In the middle of "No Fun,"
Steve confronts a heckler by throwing a couple punches and jabbing him with the headstock of his guitar.
The next morning, the Dallas newspaper read:
"Most of the people last night came to see the people who came to see the Sex Pistols."
*I was a 15-year-old 11th grader when the Sex Pistols came to Baton Rouge, the day before this concert in 1978.
There is no video of The Kingfish Show [But you can read 'Six Days on the Road'], although I'm still looking. [I'm also desperately looking for the Sex Pistols, Kingfish T-shirt. If you have one, LET ME KNOW.]
Local bands in Baton Rouge [The Shitdogs and mine, Jett Rink and the Solar Skates] were just starting to 'be PUNK.'