My Friend Jay Goes to Reading – August 1993

So, back in the day we used to have usenet, which was a social part of the internet before we had a gui interface.

My friend Jay and I met in some alt.music subform, bonded over music and shared stories for years, he in the UK, me in the US.

I didn’t keep all our emails, but I kept more than a few. This one includes Jay’s review of  the Reading Festival in 1993.

email, reading review

Summer, 1993  – Jay emails me his Reading Festival review

SILLY BANNERS PRESENTS……..

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READING REVIEW FOR HEATHER
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Well I guess you wanna hear how Reading went !!!

Five of us went down in my car just for the Sunday and it was totally cool. I got some really terrible news when i got to see a program as The Posies and The Lemonheads were billed at the same time on different stages 😦 I was totally depressed by this as they are my two fave bands at the moment 😦 😦 After a lot of discussion myself and Tony decided to watch The Posies and miss out on the Lemonheads 🙂 and 😦  Isn’t that just typical Festival bad luck. Couldn’t miss The Posies first UK gig though 🙂

The Posies were due to be on at 7.00 so there were a lot of good bands to see before then.  In the afternoon, we just sat about and heard Jesus Lizard (Very dull, not my kinda thing really!), Primus (who were totally cool), The Juliana Hatfield 3 (who were good and Juliana was looking rather nice 😉 ) and Fishbone (totally funky and sounded great). During the afternoon we also took ages to put up a couple of tents !!!! What a mess!! hee hee

As soon as the band before The Posies went off (Grant Lee Buffalo) my friend and myself rushed in and got right at the front. It was quite easy to get there as hoards of people were leaving to see The Lemonheads on the main stage. The tent was definitely full though by the time The Posies came on.

Now for the review……… I was totally blown away. I don’t think I have enjoyed seeing a band play that much in a long time. The thing I really liked was how much the band seemed to enjoy playing. Ken Stringfellow was just so cool (as were the rest) and he was smiling for nearly the entire show. I was also surprised at how young Ken looked !!! How old are the band? ? As for the music….it was really flawless. The vocals and harmonies were totally excellent. I was also surprised to see Ken and Jon sharing the vocals as I was sure it was just one of them singing on their albums.

The band came on and started with “Definite Door,” which was excellent. The only old stuff they played was “Golden Blunders” and “Any Other Way” from ‘Dear 23’ and they didn’t do anything from ‘Failure’ at all 😦 I think they played everything from ‘Frosting…’ except for “20 Questions” and “Coming Right Along.” My particular faves were “Flavor of the Month” (where is the “u” in flavour!!) which was great to sing my head off to, “Love Letter Boxes” and “Lights Out” which was totally excellent and very eeries (Indiana?!!!). Another one of my friends jointed us at the front during the set and was a bit “under the influence” hee hee. I got him to shout SURRENDER at the end for a joke and I think one of them laughed…..I also enjoyed all the witty little remarks the band came out with …. very amusing!! One other funny thing that happened was that the band started one of the songs while the bassist was changing basses. They had a bit of a laugh about that and the bass player was really funny!!

Overall I absolutely lovvved the show and was so excited and singing my head off!!!!! I can’t wait to them in London on Thursday. The club they are playing at is billiant and it’s gonna be excellent 🙂 🙂 🙂 can’t wait!!! Oh yeah, if you speak to Ken soon tell him they were great and I loved the show!!!

After The Posies, I went down to the main stage and watched Dinosaur Jr. As usual they were very good and J Mascis actually spoke to the crows “WOW”!!After Dinosaur Jr finished, we all met up and went to watch Big Star in the smaller tent. When I met two of my friend who went and watched the Lemonheads they also told me they had just seen Evan Dando and Juliana Hatfield and got their autographs. I think someone didn’t like me that day! I was down the front for Big Star and they were all excellent as well Ken and Jon were absolutely brilliant as all the songs sounded like it was the original line up. It was really nice that the other two Posies were watching down the side. All the classics were played, like “September Gurls” and I had a great time all around. Alex Chilton didn’t smile much though!! Cor, I got to see the first UK dates for The Posies and Big Star in one day!

After Big Star, it was back to the tent and open a bottle of wine!!

Well, there’s the review … I hope it’s OK.

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The Posies, Dear 23

In the fall of 1990, I was the sole employee for an independently owned record store located in an unglamorous suburb of Akron, Ohio.  We were located in a long and slender shoebox-shaped space in an unremarkable strip mall located across the street from a televangelist headquarters that had a giant concrete tower and an all-you-can-eat buffet as defining characteristics.

One afternoon, I was opening the mail. We had received the usual miscellany — some invoices, some promotional material, some padded envelopes from labels. I used to open the padded envelopes first. Padded envelopes meant music – usually promos or advanced copies of artists that I could throw on while I opened the rest of the mail.  I opened an envelope from Geffen Records, selected an album by a band called The Posies, stuck it in the player and hit “play.”

Dear 23 was the name of that album, and it was played by me not just once, but repeatedly for hours and then days on end. I worked at the store from 11am til 8 or 9pm daily. By work, I mean “sit around all day, listening to music and turning people on to quality music.”  Dear 23 qualified as quality music (amazing music! genius music!) in my book and everyone needed to hear this. I think I played that album at least six hours a day every day for a month at least. I was in love with this album.

I wrote a review of the album for a local music newspaper:

Is there something in the water in Seattle, Washington?  Many bands from the Seattle area have recently found themselves releasing debut albums on major labels. One of the most promising of these new bands is Geffen recording artists THE POSIES.

Their album, Dear 23, is reminiscent of the music of The Hollies from the sixties. Lush guitars and striking harmonies are found throughout the album, and they sound extraordinarily good.

However, it is not only the music that makes THE POSIES sound so good, they have have a talent for developing dynamic lyrics. The lyrical diversity ranges from the frustrating hopelessness of “Help Yourself” to the gentle admonition in “You Avoid Parties.” Kenneth Stringfellow and Jonathan Auer have been able to unite the intesity of the music with lyrics that are equally intense.

So, if you’re looking for something new, check out this four-man band from Seattle. THE POSIES are a band that has captured the sound of the sixties, while adding a nineties flair.

The Posies came to town in December 1990. My editor called me a couple weeks before the show: “Hey, that band you like is playing at The Empire – do you want to review the show?” Do I?  “Yes, I do!”  I got the name of the label guy and reported to the venue the night of the show.  “Hey, do you want to meet the band?”  Do I want to meet the band? “Yes, I do!” And away we went to the green room, where I encountered four Posies and a deli tray.  And copies of the newspaper with my review in it. I believe the conversation started like this: “You’re the one who wrote that review!?” “You’re the ones who made that awesome album?” and then continued into one of those magical moments that happen when music lovers bond.  The time quickly came for the show to start – “We have to go play – are you going to stick around after the show?” Am I? “Yes, I am” and off we went, the boys headed to the stage while I positioned myself front and center. It was a fine show.

My review  follows:

I must admit, after listening to The Posies Dear 23 I was a bit apprehensive about seeing them live. Visions of Milli Vanilli were haunting me; I could only hope that The Posies were real.  With notebook and pen in hand, I stepped into The Empire Monday night, silently hoping The Posies wouldn’t let me down. As those of you  who saw the show (or heard it on WMMS) know, The Posies are no Milli Vanilli (THANK GOD!). The Posies are, in fact, one of the most powerful, energetic new bands I’ve seen in a long time.

Opening their set with “My Big Mouth,”  the band jumped into some of the more aggressive songs in their repetoire, including “Under Easy” and “Any Other Way.” In case anyone thought that the Posies are a one-dimensional band, Jon Auer and Ken Stringfellow reassured the crowd that there is indeed “a kinder, gentler Posies.”  With this said, bassist Rick Roberts and drummer Mike Musburger left the stage, allowing Auer and Stringfellow to show their vocal and instrumental talents on “You Avoid Parties” and “Apology.”  The only disappointment was the lack of the acoustic guitars on these songs, which were used on the album. The electric guitars caused a bit of feedback on “You Avoid Parties,” but it was quickly fixed. The other band members returned for the rest of the set.

It was evident that The Posies really enjoy performing together as they joked and kidded around both with each other and the audience. They seemed as excited to be on stage as the audience was listening to them.

Afterwards, I sat and talked with Ken and Jon for a long time, and promised to keep in touch.