This is a unique episode of The RFC MINI SHOW. It features archival footage of a band that hasn’t played together since shortly after this was recorded, back in 1990. No reunion will happen because at least three of the five members have passed away.
The band is FNG, which stood for a more blunt variation of “Freaking No Good,” which, as the drummer explained to me, was the first reaction the band got when they auditioned for a club owner. There were four core members of the band, Rick Stiles on guitar, Kevin Lancaster on vocals, Anton Robertson on guitar and Joe McComas on drums.Rick is the only surviving person of the core members of FNG.
This recording includes a bass player that I couldn’t identify, and just as we were going to press, Jon Steele was able to fill in some information on him: “I think it was “Skele” on bass, can’t remember his real name, but he liked to walk over the top arch of the south side bridge after drinks at The Levee.”
Since Jon mentioned the bit about the South Side Bridge, I do remember a guy who used to do that, so it might be the same person. If he did stuff like that, it’s very possible that four of the five musicians on this episode are no longer with us.
Usually when I pull a video out of the archive and slap it on the show, I talk about how I was good friends with all the folks on the tape. I can’t really do that in this case. Some members of FNG had a habit of bad-mouthing Radio Free Charleston back when it was a radio show. They said I played favorites and had blacklisted them and wouldn’t play their music because I was friends with two of the band member’s exes.
The truth was that they never gave me anything to play. I’d run into them and ask for a tape. They’d promise to get me one, and never did. This recording was made a few months after my radio show ended. It was the first time I’d seen the band outside of an open mic night.
By this point I was on much friendlier terms with the guys in the band, who were thrilled that I showed up to videotape them that night. I was happy because the band had a raw punk energy and put on a hell of a show. A few years back I ran into Rick Stiles at Budget Tapes and Records, and he asked me if I had any video of the band. I remembered this tape but couldn’t remember where it was. I’ll be burning a DVD of the whole show for him this week.
I was always on good terms with the band’s drummer, Joe McComas, and two or three years after I recorded this show at The Empty Glass I worked on Brian Young’s film, “FootLucy,” which starred Joe. You can see that film in episode 65 of Radio Free Charleston. Joe was a hell of a performer, as a musican and an actor and we showed Brian’s film shortly after Joe passed away in 2009.
Some of you might also be a bit surprised by the location of the stage at The Empty Glass. At this time, it was in the front of the bar, where the sound booth is now. The wall to the old kitchen had not been torn down yet, and there was a pool table in front of where the stage is now. Its cool to see how the place has evolved over the years.
Back on that night, in the summer of 1990, I recorded almost fifty minutes of video of the band. Probably forty minutes of that is pure music. There’s a lot of between-song chatter and other stuff. There were some technical issues to overcome. The sound was tinny, being recorded on the primitive camcorder mic I had at the time. I had to do some major audio surgery just to get it to sound as good as it does. I felt the historical value offset the low-fidelity audio.
I also had to do a lot of work on the video. My first camcorder had a strange feature. There was a button on the side that, when hit, would make the camcorder record negative images. For some reason I thought this looked cool back then, and kept switching back and forth from positive to negative. It’s supremely annoying, and after going in and fixing as much of that as I could (a few brief flashes come through), I now rank using the negative button on my camcorder as second on the list of mistakes I wish I could go back in time and smack myself for making.
You may also notice that this episode of The RFC MINI SHOW is in the old Standard Definition “Fullscreen” aspect ratio, as opposed to our usual Widescreen look. In the past I have zoomed in and cropped vintage footage to keep the show in Widescreen, but this footage was too up close and intimate to allow any room for that. So instead we squoze the opening of the show and cropped the sides of my intro, making this the first ever RFC MINI SHOW to not be in Widescreen.
In the coming weeks you’ll see more music from this tape on Radio Free Charleston, and I might play the audio of the entire show on the podcast. We shall see. In the meantime, enjoy this trek back in time to hear some vintage Charleston punk music. Special thanks go out to Libby Rojas for a major assist in identifying members of the band.