The first time I got tossed out of a bar was when a cover band named “Seattle” came to The Ivory Tusk, an 18-and-over watering hole on the University of Alabama Strip. After a year of ‘Bama bangs and their Grateful Dead, Widespread Panic, or Phish covers at every bar and band party within a 10-mile radius, I’d just about given up on hearing live music in Tuscaloosa. That changed in October 1994 when I learned from an advertisement in The Crimson White that a cover band playing the type of music I liked was coming to town. The fact that it was also “50-cent Lite Ice night” took me from excited to giddy. I donned a checkered flannel and ROTC boots, grabbed my friend Jim Bob, and arrived for the first set.
I was appalled. There were maybe twenty patrons. They were standing around looking at each other while the band covered “Black Hole Sun.”
“What a bunch of pussies,” I thought out loud. I plopped a dollar onto the bar and guzzled my first pair of beers. “I’m gonna learn these Alabamians how it’s done.”
I approached the stage and jumped into a random kid with a corduroy “Breckenridge” cap just as the band hit the opening chords of “Smells Like Teen Spirit.” He stared at me. A skinny, tattooed redhead I recognized from the dorm the previous year jumped into me. It was on. Our mosh pit was poorly populated but trying to get it right, and gradually, the corn-fed locals figured out what to do.
Until the bouncer walked up and told us to stop. So, we did. For about 10 minutes.
I believe I’d drunk $3 worth of beers when the bouncer came up to me again and told me to stop “trying to relive Lollapalooza.”
Me: “Have you ever even been to Lollapalooza?
Bouncer: “No, but you can’t do that shit in here.”
Me: “You’re being a dick. Lighten up.”
Bouncer: “Okay, buddy, come with me.”
He grabbed my shoulders and forcefully pushed me towards the back, out the door, and onto the sidewalk; he slammed the door behind me.
I continued walking around to the front of the bar, into the front door, and up to the bar for another dollar’s worth of beer. Ten minutes later, I was starting another pit as “Territorial Pissings” began. I jumped as high as I could, rotated in mid-air, and swung my right elbow across the head of some dude who resembled Bull Hurley from Over The Top. Surprisingly, he laughed and jumped back into me. I climbed onto the stage, leaped, and landed onto the outstretched hands of my new friend before getting passed around over the heads of the now enthusiastic (and large!) crowd as I headed for the back of the bar and was dropped at the feet of the bouncer.
Bouncer: “What the hell are you doing back in here?!”
Me: “What’s your fucking problem, man?”
He then picked me up by the seat of my jeans and the collar of my flannel shirt, carried me to the door, rared my kicking body back, and threw me onto the sidewalk. One of my classmates was outside taking a smoke break.
Smoking Friend: “Holy Shit! I have never seen someone get literally thrown out of a bar before! You okay?”
Me: “Neither have I, and yes.”
He helped me onto my feet, and we walked back to the front entrance, where the bouncer was waiting for me next to the girl checking IDs.
Bouncer: “Don’t even think about it.”
I listened to the remainder of the set from the sidewalk and managed to avoid getting thrown out of bars for the next five years. Stay tuned for the sequel, The Muskrat Strikes Back (and nearly gets pummeled).
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This post is dedicated to Punk Rock Dad, who, I guarantee, has had his fair share of good mosh pit memories, A Free Man, who wrote this week of his living in Seattle (so I’m going to assume he too has spent some time in the pit), and The Figurehead, who’s been with me in the pits of Lollapalooza.