TALES FROM THE ROAD: Dad drives the getaway car

Grapes of Wrath's Tom Hooper reflects on his punk roots

When I was 15, I used to book gigs for my band The Gentlemen of Horror.

We lived in Kelowna and back then, being a punk band meant there were not too many options for concerts. So I would rent little halls and our friends from around the Okanagan would drive to the shows. Usually there would be 15 people at the most. But in August of 1981, I booked the band shell in City Park which was rented to musical groups throughout the summer.

In the weeks leading up to the gig we excitedly postered the town: “Punk Rock Concert! August 7!!!” A couple of days before the big show I got a phone call from city hall asking to me to come and meet them, which I did. They told me they weren’t told it was a “punk rock concert.” I explained that it was just Rock and Roll etc. They warned me that they didn’t want trouble but allowed the show to go on.

The night of the big show arrived. The park was packed with about 500 people, curious about the punk rock show. My mom was there. The mayor was there. Lots of hippies and long haired biker types were there. The opening band featured my future Grapes of Wrath mate Kevin Kane on guitar. Their female singer was intoxicated and screaming. Their quirky unusual music started to upset the crowd. Soon the crowd was booing and screaming and beer bottles were flying towards the stage. We were anxious to get on stage fearing the event might be stopped.

If people thought the opening band was bad they were in for a real shock. We started roaring through our 100-mile-an-hour hardcore punk songs. Each song was less than a minute long. Between songs, my older brother Chris, who played drums and would later play in The Grapes of Wrath, would start ranting into his mic about hating religion, old people and other topics which enraged the crowd, who now were chanting threats as they threw more bottles and garbage. And then the police showed up. My brother started arguing with them as well. As the crowd wailed, we cut the set short.

Suddenly our dad pulled up in his big red sedan and told us to get our gear into the car and get the hell out of there, as things seemed to be getting out of hand. So we did. It took a while to get out of the park due to all the traffic leaving – all because of me I thought smiling to myself.

Dad dropped us off at our bass player Donny’s house. We drank Pop Shoppe pop and talked excitedly about the night. Then we got a phone call from the local music writer Bruce Mitchell who couldn’t believe what had just gone on.

A great night was had by all – but mostly us.

 

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