This is my article for the 'zine about my days working at the club.
I remember seeing the want ad that read something like “unnamed club looking for somebody to work the door”. On a whim, and never suspecting it to be a job at my favorite club, I called. Many persistent phone calls and interview later, I had the job working at the Pterodactyl Club and the 13-13 Club that were jointly owned by Jeff Lowery (publisher extraordinaire) and Tim Blong. I would have the job until 13-13 closed its doors for good in September of 1993.
I started the job in August of 1989, working the door (taking money & checking ids) at the Pterodactyl. Anyone who is in his or her thirties and forties now and lived in Charlotte at the time went there at least once if not every weekend. I was a patron myself long before working there. Dancing with my friends every Thursday night to the Cure, the Smiths, Ministry and the Cult. Also, seeing bands such as the Ramones where the crowd was so packed that my friend, Scott, looked over at me and said, “Lift your feet”. I did and let the crowd move me along. Then there was the Stray Cats, Iggy Pop, a Flock of Seagulls, Robyn Hitchcock, Poi Dog Pondering, just to name a few.
I would say that one of the best parts of working at both places was being able to see tons of bands, both known and unknown. I was one of just a few dozen people to see the Flaming Lips fill up the Pterodactyl with fog machines and strobe lights. They were one of the many bands on their way up. Dave Matthews Band, Hootie & the Blowfish, Blues Traveler and Widespread Panic all made regular stops at 13-13 over the years.
Being able to meet my idols was also something I will always cherish. When Peter Buck played with Kevn Kinney (from Drivin’ n’ Cryin’), I met him and he was genuinely nice and patient with this REM fan as I completely lost the ability to form a coherent sentence. Mark Lanegan of the Screaming Trees smiled and had a fun conversation with my drunk self. To this day, I still brag that he bummed a cigarette from me. Trent Reznor sat at the bar after closing when Nine Inch Nails opened for Jesus & the Mary Chain. I remember him being pretty approachable and pretty damn sexy. George Clinton used the women’s bathroom after performing for a sold-out crowd of appreciative fans. He was very cool.
There were unexpected moments. Plenty of those. Pearl Jam canceling at the last minute. Quite a bummer since their first single off “TEN” was very hot. During Robert Fripp’s concert, he came all the way into the bar area and played the guitar while his devoted following trailed him. The Afghan Whigs were shooting off firecrackers after a show and had our off-duty sheriff pull a rifle on them having mistaken it for gunfire. Lux Interior of the Cramps climbed all the way up to the d.j. booth next to the stage and drank a glass of liquid that somebody had put out their cigarette. Some nights would drag on and on if the crowd was light and the band unexciting. But most nights, there was always something happening. Always a band to enjoy. From the huge bands on their way down (Blue Oyster Cult put on a great show) to the regional bands, like Johnny Quest and Dillon Fence, it was always a good time.
Some people ask what my favorite concert was during that time. That is very hard to pin down. I can say however that my most enjoyable and surprising, at least to me, concert at 13-13 was when Warren Zevon played. I only knew a few of his songs but that did not matter at all when you had a masterful songwriter, performer and just plain funny guy on the stage.
There is plenty that I miss about those times. It was my twenties and being surrounded by music for most of my days (I also worked at Milestone Records) was the epitome. I really wouldn’t trade them for anything.
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