This weekend Charlotte’s Antiseen - internationally known originators of “Destructo Rock” - celebrates its 30th anniversary. Each day this week I’ve asked someone who has witnessed the controversial Southern punk stalwarts for much longer and more intimately than I have to share their thoughts, memories, and impressions of the band.
Antiseen’s Antiversary show returns to Tremont Music Hall Friday and Saturday. The group headlines Saturday with fellow veterans the Meatmen and Kentucky’s the Hookers. Doors at 8 p.m. both nights. Tickets are $10 Friday and $15 Saturday.
Photographer Marty Thomas talks about what it was like seeing the band’s very first show on Oct. 1, 1983 and how the group evolved over the years. She'll be there Saturday with her camera.
“It was at a place called The Barn in Boone. It was a whole bunch of bands that everybody knew. I think Fetchin Bones (also from Charlotte) played at The Barn that night. And NRG. Antiseen came on and I had no idea there was any kind of band like that in North Carolina. When they were getting ready to play, I spoke to Joe and I didn’t know he was in the band. He said, “Have you ever seen thsese guys?’
I said, ‘No.’ He said, ‘Then you better hide.’
They tore it up. We were all standing there with our mouths open. They were so good, but they were a lot different than they are now. They do a lot more stage show now than they did back then. Then it was just cut and dry. They didn’t have all the theatric they have now, which is pretty fun actually. I became friends with them very shortly after that because I knew some of their friends. I was going to Montreat-Anderson College in the mountains at the time and lived in Hickory. We used to drive from Montreat to Charlotte almost every weekend to see them.
(The first time singer Jeff Clayton cut himself on stage) it really, really shocked me. I didn’t know what to do or what to think. I don’t know if he meant to do it the first time. I remember saying, ‘What are you doing. You’re crazy. Don’t do that anymore.’
From what I remember - and I can’t remember it real well - he used to take the microphone and he would bang the microphone into his head. It left the little hash marks on his forehead. If I’m not mistaken it was a glass bottle that he cut his head open with. Everybody just thought they were the greatest thing since the Ramones.
We’d never seen anything like that in North Carolina. You had to go to Los Angeles and New York. A lot of us were in shock - ‘Oh My God, they’re from Charlotte. How’s that?’ We were in shock over it.
Their music is not stuck in any time period. It’s not completely `80s music. It’s as good now as it was in the `80s. They toured so much that they’ve got fans all over the place so whenever they play it’s like a big party. They’re a fun show and the crowd they bring out is very very interesting.
When Jeff took up playing the washboard, I was kind of like, ‘What?’ I think of him standing there bleeding profusely with a washboard set on fire. It is pretty out there. It’s them though. It’s a great show.”
(Photo from The Barn courtesy of Jeff Clayton)