In the Winter of 1997 I got into the habit of bringing a cassette recorder and a little microphone with me to shows. Only once did I have any problem with security – at the release show for the Enclave edition of Sloan’s ‘One Chord to Another,’ at the 7th house in Pontiac, Michigan.
My general technique was to clip the microphone to the collar of my jacket and keep the recorder in a coat pocket. In this particular instance, I had taken the cassette recorder out of my pocket to check the level it was recording at, and one of the back-to-the stage security guys caught a glimpse of the red LED. As soon as I looked up, I saw the guy point at me, and as I turned around, thinking I could just walk back through the crowd, another security fella grabbed my arm and said “Come with me.” He took me up to the balcony and into a back room.
After closing the door behind us, the security guy turned and walked into the room. Directly across from the door was a greasy, overweight gentleman sitting at a low table. The man was in the process of opening confiscated cameras, removing the film canisters, and then yanking the exposed frames out from within the canister. He would then throw the streamers of ruined film into a wastebasket that sat next to the table. Across from him on the table was a fleet of neatly organized cameras. In retrospect, this break in the action was a blatant “Pause for effect.”
Seeing that I had adequately taken in the scene before me, my ‘escort’ demanded the cassette from my recorder, and I gave it to him. He handed it to the man at the table, who began pulling the magnetic tape from the cassette. As he did this, he addressed me. Exactly what he said is lost to my 17 year-old memory, but the general sentiment was that he was both incredulous and angry that I thought I could get away with taping a live show. He expressed deep concern for the lack of respect I was showing for both the band and his crew’s abilities. When he finished with the tape, I asked for my cassette recorder back, armed with the enthusiasm of a high school junior and the knowledge that I had another 90 minute maxell in my sock. He refused, telling me that I could pick it up after the show.
I watched the end of the set and the encore from the balcony, and once the house lights came up, I knocked on the door. No answer. A crowd of the recently de-camera’d gathered at the door, and still nothing was heard from within. After about 20 minutes of dead silence on the other side of the door, it opened, and one of the beefy security dudes poked his head out. He began the laborious process of taking the description of one camera, closing the door and disappearing for at least five minutes, and then reappearing with the camera and a warning – ‘Don’t ever bring a camera again.’ I finally got my cassette recorder back and joined my friends outside.
A few months later I got a great audience recording of the show via a tape trade.
I recently found a shoebox full of these recordings. One of them was unlabeled, and upon playing it back I found that it contained 45 minutes worth of Zumpano’s 1997 show at the Shelter in Detroit. For those who aren’t aware, Zumpano was Carl Newman of the New Pornographers’ previous project – they released two albums on SubPop in the 90’s. Since I had recently put up a page to share the Zumpano B-sides that I’d acquired, I decided to convert this tape into mp3’s and share them, too. You can download them at behindthebeehive.com. The quality leaves plenty to be desired, but I’ve never seen any other live Zumpano material pop up online, and there are a few unique songs in the set, so I’d say it’s worth it.