since opening a little over 10 years ago, The Antenna Club at 1588 Madison has pushed the limits of what is loosely called artistic expression in punk rock music. It's a place where a guy with a spike haircut and an earring or a girl with combat boots can feel at home.
Last Saturday night, November 16, it either nudged the standards for shock rock considerably lower or exceed them.
According to various accounts, this is what happened. (Club owner Mark McGehee said the details in this synopis are "pretty accurate.")
The headline performer was New York punk rocker G.G. Allen, formerly head of a band called G.G. and the Scum F--s. Allen's wilder antics include physically assaulting patrons and, at a Milwaukee concert in 1989m throwing human feces at them.
To put it bluntly, Allen grossed out the audience at The Antenna Club. He defecated on the stage, then appeared to eat it and spit at the patrons. Allen, who is the lead singer, also beat his forehead bloody with a beer bottle and put a microphone up his rectum. The drummer performed naked.
Patrons, who paid a $7 cover charge, stormed out of the club onto Madison. A witness who had been at the P&H Café nearby said he saw "three burst of 15 to 20 people come out the door" around 10:30 p.m., forcing cars on Madison to brake or swerve to avoid hitting them.
Someone called the police, but the band had already left by the time a squad car arrived at 11:42 p.m. According to McGehee, "the show pretty much ended at 11:30. "
McGehee said G.G. Allen in its milder forms is reminiscent of other punk shock groups as the early Sex Pistols. He said other punk groups, including the Red Hot Chili Peppers, also sometimes do a nude set, although they didn't do one last time they came to The Antenna Club.
G.G. Allen will not be invited back to the Antenna Club, McGehee said, although "people would pay for them to come back. He's got everyone talking. "
In addition to punk rock, the Antenna Club features a variety of musical acts from reggae to rock. On December 3rd, for instance, the featured band View includes three major league baseball players.
G.G. Allen's show was shut down last Friday night in Nashville, but there were no efforts to prevent it from going on in Memphis. According to The Tennessean, Nashville's morning newspaper, police were tipped that Allen's show was sometimes scatalogical and violent. After police and building inspectors searched unsuccessfully for code violations at the club, The Pantheon, the fire marshall finally closed it before the show could go on.
That may have left Allen and his band in a mood to let it all hang out, so to speak, in Memphis the next night.
Said McGehee, "You should have been there. It was history."
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