I was just out of high school that summer and had been digging the scene. There was a ska explosion taking place nationwide and techno hadn't become anything to pay attention to yet.
I pull up to the 404 and see the usual crowd of punks and rudies hanging outside. The smell of pot thick in the air as the homeless wandered aimlessly around. The homeless didn't bother us because none of us had any money to give and they knew it. I remember this one guy who had only one leg and tried to sell everyone Communist books out of his shopping cart.
After going inside and seeing who was there that I knew, a friend of mine and myself decided it was time to go get some booze. There was a party store a block away that sold to minors. Hell, just about every party store in Detroit sells to minors. (Michigan kids pay attention now...) My friend and I settled on a 40oz of Mickeys, apiece. Now, nobody will sell booze to a minor so there is this trick that you have to pull off to get it done. You give the booze to the people behind the counter, and the owners tell you to go outside. A man will follow you outside the store. You give him the money (you get no change so make it exact.) So there we are, two young kids in the middle of the ghetto, gunfire being heard in the distance, who just handed our money to this mean looking guy and we're standing outside the party store all alone, waiting, and waiting.
The man suddenly comes back out with a bag containing your beers. WHAT A DEAL! Now back to the 404.
That night there were 3 punk bands playing, Catfish, Broken Spoke, and Old Spice. The inside of the 404 is one room. It's about 15' x 30' with space at the front for a "stage". In the back is a couple of nitrous tanks. Balloons are $5 and $3 per refill. An assortment of other drugs are always available at any punk show. Naturally, I get a balloon to enjoy with my 40oz of Mickeys.
Then the show begins and it's kicking ass. Packed inside this tiny room, about as big as the living room combined with the kitchen of my parents house is about 60 people give or take the ones coming and going to puke or what have you. The 404 is ear splitting loud, with two towers of speakers to the ceiling standing on each side of the bands like bookends. It's so loud in there, that if you want to talk you have to go all the way outside, like by the street just to hear through the ringing in your ears.
Some of the craziest time in my life passes before the this older man walks in with a BABY on his shoulders! This kid was probably a year and a half at best. Young baby. So they're standing in the back of the place throughout most of the show, the kid is screaming, ears probably bleeding, or taking some serious hearing damage no doubt. You don't hear the kid crying through the music, it looks like a mouth open wide and closing like some demented silent German art film. Up front the mosh pit is causing a lot of comotion and people are flying into the band members. I think to myself, "Awesome"
Before anyone knows it, someone has picked up a metal garbage can that was full of God knows what and it begins bouncing around up front. This starts some trouble and as soon as the next event took place the show came to a Screeching Weasel halt. Somebody took the garbage can and hurled it to the back of the 404 where I was standing. The man holding the baby on his shoulders stood in a direct path of this huge metal garbage can and the baby stood no chance. The garbage can didn't even lose momentum as it bowled the baby over and off the mans shoulders. They both clattered to the ground.
Now this is where things get fuzzy for me. Could be because of the balloons or the alcohol, or it could be because all Hell broke loose and reality started to bend. There we all stood, (those who were paying attention or cared) looking at what had just happened, the band stopped playing and somebody up front began stabbing people with a switchblade. With out the music, the only sounds were screaming feedback, people screaming, a baby who shouldn't have been there in the first place screaming, and sirens screeming in the distance drawing ever closer.
It was a blast and one of the craziest punk shows I've ever been lucky enough to attend. And that's the story of just one punk rock show in Detroit.
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