amazing live videos from Talking Heads, Dead Boys, Elliott Smith & more to watch while every show is cancelled
Basically no shows are happening due to the coronavirus outbreak (though some artists are doing livestreams instead), but if you're already jonesing to see a show, or just need a brief distraction from the insanity of the world right now, thankfully there's YouTube which has an amazing array of live footage from throughout the history of pop music, from clips from concert films, TV performances and other pro-shot footage, to tons of fan-shot video from shows. If you're looking for a place to start, we've been picking some of our favorites. Here are five more:
Dead Boys @ CBGB, 1977
Dead Boys' live show earned the title Young, Loud and Snotty even more than their album did, as immortalized by this legendary show that the Cleveland band played at CBGB in 1977. It's loud, rude, and punk af even by today's standards, let alone 1977's, and it's literally snotty. When punk split between new wave and hardcore in the '80s, the latter might've been pulling from the Ramones' power chord simplicity, but the attitude came straight from the Dead Boys. At this show, they were wild, reckless, and sometimes genuinely gross, and Stiv Bators (RIP) is pretty much everything you want from a punk frontman. (The sneering Cheetah Chrome on guitar is no small part of how intimidatingly cool they look either.) Stiv's feral performance obviously took some notes from Iggy Pop, so it couldn't have been more fitting that they closed this set with a red-hot cover of "Search and Destroy."
Steel Tips @ CBGB, 1977
A little known but legendary chapter of CBGB history for those who experienced it, Steel Tips were known more for their shocking and violent live show than they were for their recorded output. This means they're mosty forgotten, except by those who were there like Sonic Youth's Thurston Moore who is known to bring them up. Footage is rare, so this firecracker-filled "Crazy Baby" clip from 1977 at CBGB is only 5 minutes, but it's action packed and unforgettable. They often shared bills with the equally unforgettable Dead Boys, and this was possibly filmed at the same show as the Dead Boys clip above because we realized while writing this that the Steel Tips video is also included as a bonus feature on a DVD of that Dead Boys show (both bands played Hilly Kristal's club many times that year though -- as did the Ramones, Talking Heads, Blondie, the Cramps, Televison, Suicide, Misfits, Richard Hell and the Voidods, The Dictators, Alex Chilton, The Shirts, Screamin' Jay Hawkins and Patti Smith). In a blurb about Steel Tips' self-titled 1991 EP, Trouser Press wrote that "at a time when sado shock was an easily marketable commodity, this New York group trafficked in genuine physical assault, attacking their jaded tuff punk audiences... Frontman [Tom] O'Leary [was] a sociopathic biker with little but contempt for the thrill-seeking crowds..." Also in the group: painter, illustrator actor and performance artist Joe Coleman who was attending SVA (the School of Visual Arts) in NYC at the time.
The Cramps @ Mudd Club, 1981
The Cramps were a unique, primal beast, seemingly born from some schlock horror primordial libido goop (but actually mid-'70s NYC), with lanky frontman Lux Interior oozing menacing charisma that was part Hazel Adkins and part Lon Chaney. Here they are in their 1981 prime, not too far from the release of their second album Psychedelic Jungle, playing Manhattan's storied Mudd Club. This was shot for public access show Paul Tschinkel's Inner Tube and their set includes classics like "Goo Goo Muck," "New Kind of Kick," "TV Set" and "I Was a Teenage Werewolf." Pity the person that had to use the lead microphone after Lux.
Talking Heads @ CBGB, 1975
Talking Heads played their first show in June of 1975 opening for the Ramones at CBGB. This video is not that show, but a few months later, still playing as a trio (Jerry Harrison didn't join till 1977). The sound on this is a little rough but it's still awesome to see David Byrne, Tina Weymouth and Chris Franz (all in thier mid-20s) playing tense and nervous takes on "Psycho Killer," "Tentative Decisions," "With Our Love" and more.
Elliott Smith @ Knitting Factory - 4/9/1996
This intimate, beautiful show from the year before Either/Or's release has a nearly perfect setlist and is full of unforgettable between-song commentary; did you know, for instance, that Elliott Smith wrote "Between the Bars" while watching Xena: Warrior Princess?
For more of our favorite live videos, go here.