Adapted from some not very good thing I wrote six years ago.
The picture was taken – no one really knows by whom – on August 21, 1991 at 202 Samford Ave., a house over 100 years old currently occupied (I think) by several Tri-Delts that call it the Corner House (as in “The Corner House Hearts Auburn”), just across the street from The Amsterdam Cafe, on one of those awesome 30-second stretches of Gay that look and smell exactly like it did when your parents drove it.
It gets forwarded around every few years to people who care about this stuff and ‘saved as’ and posted in Yahoo Groups file folders, and it was likely the holy crap hit that made any new scenesters in attendance think that the Auburn house show history photo exhibit in that basement at Ford Ct. a couple of years back was actually worth their time.
“Whoa… is that…?”
Yep, that’s Billy Joe Armstrong. He might have hooked up with someone’s friend that night, or maybe he was the dude that bought beer for all the Auburn High kids, or maybe everyone is just remembering everything wrong.
Yes, that guy with the mullet is Tre Cool. Story goes that he ate a God knows how old M&M off the floor at WEGL when they dragged the band down there for an interview on the station’s perennial punk show Mystery Playhouse and that it really freaked out some of the more mainstream DJ types who had actually been convinced to play some of their 45s and were actually diggin’ it and who had been planning on coming out to the show (but no, not now).
Yeah, the other guy is the other guy, Mike Dirnt.
No, the first time Green Day plugged into Alabama Power wasn’t at a Birmingham concert hall in the mid 90’s, or the Huntsville armory or Montgomery or Mobile or freakin’ Tuscaloosa. It was a full four years before Dookie came out, one whole year even before Kerplunk. It was 19 years ago at an Auburn house show, a Wednesday night, and they played twice, in Stuart Ellis’ back bedroom.
“It was a week night, and we didn’t want the cops to show up so we started the show early,” says Ellis, class of ’92, he of the Flaming Lips shirt, and the world’s foremost expert on Ethiopian jazz and Khmer pop. “At first, there was only a handful of people. I’d say maybe thirty, max. They got up, played their set. ‘Welcome to Paradise’ is the only song I remember. They played for about 30-40 minutes and they were done. Then, as they headed outside to get some fresh air, a whole mob of people showed up to see them. We were like, ‘Um, they just finished’. So, we talked them into doing another set. By then it was pretty crowded.”
The band’s van had been broken in to two nights prior in New Orleans, their clothes and cash stolen.
“They called and said they were driving to Auburn a day early,” says Ken Sanderson, who booked the show. Sanderson grew up in Auburn and eventually started his own record label in L.A., Prank Records.
“My parents are originally from New Jersey and I’ve never had a thick southern accent but for some reason I left a thick, drawled out message with directions for them on my answering machine as a joke. Tre Cool later said ‘man-that freaked me out… I didn’t know punks talked like that!’”
“They needed a place to crash and some food, and Mike Dirnt needed some clothes,” says Ellis. “So Ken called me, and I said sure. They stayed for a few days and Ken and I fed them.”
Tre Cool recalled the southern hospitality in a 1995 interview with the Birmingham Post-Herald (the band was playing Birmingham on tour in support of Dookie).
“It was cool,” Cool said. “We didn’t have no money or clothes, and everyone was donating clothes and, uh, and basically money.”
The Camper Van Beethoven shirt Dirnt is wearing in the photo was borrowed. The band got just over $200 bucks for playing, a lot of it tips to help them out. They stayed another day and hung out.
“They sat on Stuarts porch, Billie Joe playing acoustic guitar,” Sanderson says. “I think they completed a couple songs from their second album Kerplunk there.”
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It’s a combination of Chi O’s and ADPi’s in the Corner House.
Wow! They must have enjoyed being here more when they weren’t as political as they are now. So many good musicians come thru Auburn or at least stop by for a little while
Hah….i was there….fun night!…
Cool, cool story. However it’s there (not their) when they were dragged (not drug) down to WEGL.
Un-related but I had a shift at WEGL the first year it was on the air. Used to play a lot of early Springsteen, Quadrophenia and Eat A Peach-(new at the time.). Got suspended for a week for making my own Station ID cart that the GM didn’t like much.
“Broadcasting with less watts than the common household lightbulb, this is WEGL in Auburn, Al.”. ( not sure about now but when we first signed on we only had a 13.5 watt signal).
Great way to meet ladies though (as long as they lived close enough to campus to pick up the signal)
When I was in school, a buddy of mine produced a photo someone had taken at that show. My friend was in the picture. So there’s more than one floating around somewhere.
Van P in Southern IL says
What ever became of Earth Beat?
This is our house!!! I lived in that house from 2004-2006 with 8 girls. And yes, we were Tri-Delts who named it the “Corner House.” After we left, we passed it down to some ADPis. The house was empty a few years prior to us living there as the owners completely gutted and remodeled the inside. We put up quite the fight to get our hands on that place. This article is awesome…Thanks for sharing!!!
Yes Auburn has hosted many great bands on their roads to bigger venues. I remember a decade before this seeing R.E.M at what is now the skybar, Living Color (which in their video Cult of personality is a quick shot of Jordan-Hare scoreboard) at the old tiger theatre (now the Gap).
Corner House!!! I was one of the Tri Deltas’ that lived there from 2004-2006. What a great article. So cool! War Eagle!
I also lived there from 2004-2006 and it was two of the best years of my life!!! This is so great! War Eagle!!!! Thanks for sending me this link, BWW, and I hope all is well with you, SHP!!!! I miss you all!!!!
What year did schlong play at that house, 93 or 94, anyone anyone? Lotta good shows there. Mystery Playhouse R.I.P.
Ken Sanderson says
Hilarious this story still pops up. Those were fun times in independent, underground music when the booking / tours / labels / everything was a lot smaller and all fan-driven, so to book a band you’d largely just call them up as opposed to an agent. Two years later when I’d left Auburn and was booking 924 Gilman Street in Berkeley, that was all changing and I booked some of the final shows there for bands like Offspring, Rancid and Green Day before they exploded in mainstream popularity. There’s Still lots of Small, independent bands worthy of support and it’s easier than ever to find out about them.
We had shows in virtually every room of 202 E. Samford, including a really memorable one with Posi-Hardcore band AVAIL in the packed kitchen with their two male Cheerleader/ crowd rouser / whatever dancing on the countertops while the band blasted fast punk songs….or the time Stuart got almost jailed for a noise complaint the week before the absolute LOUDEST band we had play showed up- Metal thrash band RORSCHACH from New York City. This all got started by the time in 1990 I had now legendary Underground Metal band NEUROSIS play in Haley Center….aw, college was fun.
It’s “Billie”, not “Billy”. Great article nonetheless.
“Tre Cool later said ‘man-that freaked me out… I didn’t know punks talked like that!’”
“I think they completed a couple songs from their second album Kerplunk there.”
Call me crazy, but…on Kerplunk, there’s the song “Dominated Love Slave”, which is a faux country song, and which (according to Wikipedia) was written and performed on the album by Tre Cool himself.
Can we rightfully assume that Auburn was the place where, or at least the place that inspired, “Dominated Love Slave”? Can someone call Tre up really fast and confirm this?
I live in the Corner house right now with six of my best friends and I think we should relive the memory and have them play again!
Britt Thomas says
This never happened. Green Day has never played in Auburn, and I will send you an email with verification.
Britt Thomas says
This picture was taken in 1987 at Rod’s Hickory Pit in Vallejo, California.
Britt Thomas says
^^The picture of the band.
Ken Sanderson says
Britt! You’re completely welcome to contact me via my label Prank Records if you have any questions about the Veracity of this story.This is Auburn, in 1991, in Stuarts Bedroom. I booked the show in Auburn, as well as Green Day’s Final 924 Gilman show in 1992 before leaping to the majors when I moved to California. Stuarts house /202 E. Samford hosted a lot of shows, East Bay Feminist punks SPITBOY clipped it with their van driving around the back, Sam McPHeeters of BORN AGAINST spent his entire day there reading the marvel comics Adaptation of Frank herbert’s DUNE., Oakland’s FILTH rolled into Auburn days early for a show with ANTISCHISM, hilarious considering they were all super super punk with mohawks looking. SCREECHING WEASEL, though, played a different house on East Glenn!!! We hosted many of the great small bands touring at that time, partly because the Metroplex in Atlanta went out of business after a hosting an expensive alternative democratic convention down the street from the actual democratic convention in ’88 that the police wouldn’t let anyone attend, making the punk venue situation there really uneven for a few years. No one in Atlanta seemed to really had their nose to the ground for up and coming bands and because of WEGL and MYSTERY PLAYHOUSE- one of the longest running punk radio shows in the southeast, I did and figured out a way to fill the gap.