For a number of years I worked at a record store in Boston, and at the time I was living with my girlfriend. A year or so before we broke up we decided to move to Providence and we started looking for a place down there. Around that time, I was waiting for the subway after work one evening and got into a conversation with someone who was waiting outside the rock club near the platform. It turned out he was a cook from Providence and we had a nice chat that somehow got on the topic of Spinal Tap.
Now to fully understand what happened next, you need to know that for over 20 years there has been a fairly regionally successful sort of band/performance art/thing in Providence that involves people in big, foam latex suits. They're actually pretty impressive now but back in the early 90s they were... less technically refined. http://www.bignazo.com
Anyhow, I was talking to this guy about the city and my plans and life in general and we got on Spinal Tap. I actually saw Spinal Tap live at Great Woods in 1993 and was talking about that, and how they had this weird awkward opening band that was guys in big foam rubber suits and I had no idea where they came from. The guy I was talking to got all excited and told me he was actually at that show watching from the wings, because the opening act was Big Nazo and some of them were his friends.
So the point?
THEY HAD NO IDEA SPINAL TAP WAS FAKE. The tour manager or label or whoever was handling booking opening acts had found them and thought it would be funny to have an all puppet band open for Spinal Tap, so he asked them and they accepted. None of them had ever heard of Spinal Tap. They played the show and had no idea that it was a joke.
There's not really a conclusion to the story but it's relevant and fuck it, I was pretty amused.
Spinal Tap played Great Woods with a puppet show in 1993; puppet show didn't know Spinal Tap was a joke.
I think I recall seeing a marquee with that around then and just thought it was a clever nod to the film. Great story.
They write & compose & perform songs, they have albums out, they tour, they are more real than a lot of bands.
MY parents took me with them to see the Crosby Stills & Nash reunion tour the weekend before at the same venue and Tap were much better from a purely musical standpoint (and I like CSNY).
Also saw a dude wearing a Billy & the Boingers "tour" shirt that I'm still jealous of two decades after the fact.
Seriously though, it was easily one of the best shows I've seen in my life, on par with Link Wray, Neil Young & Crazy Horse, Scratch Acid, and Sun City Girls at the Knitting Factory.
I saw Sonic Youth one time and they didn't even come close to the majesty of Tap.
Plus (as far as I could tell unbeknownst to the band) someone hired two skanky, Worcester-looking topless dancers to come on stage during Big Bottom, which is pretty awesome when you're 14.
The fact that, at the time, Big Nazo's puppets looked more like a low budget, acid-deranged version of Barney and Friends than the impressively well made things they have now (they're on permanent display in a window downtown when they aren't using them, and regardless of what you think of their actual performances - I'm not a huge fan - the costumes are very well crafted pieces of art now).
If you've got to blow on a VHS tape (or maybe it's on bittorrent, I couldn't find it last time I checked) this is the concert video from that tour and it's the best Spinal Tap related thing apart from the original movie:
I still have it in the basement someplace, looks like maybe I should dig it up and keep it somewhere safer until I get a new VCR and can digitize it.
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