Wednesday, March 31, 2010


This performance was recorded shortly before the ambitious double-full length “Zen Arcade” was released in 1984 on SST. Having already released "Everything Falls Apart" on their own label Reflex and "Metal Circus" on SST, the Huskers were making titanic leaps forward. If "Metal Circus" was a collection of anthems both slow and fast, "Zen Arcade" was the "Tommy" of underground music. As a themed record about a kid leaving home for the first time to run away to the big city where he finds strange (and often disturbing) adventures, it covers more ground than a Greyhound bus over it's four sides of wax. The songs alternate from raucous angry assaults (nearly all of side 2) to psychedelia to unrepentant pop songs to straight up rock classics. Of course there's some some self-indulgent filler (thirteen and a half minutes of "Reoccurring Dreams") on the record, but nearly every classic needs such a throwaway for good measure.

Goofy’s Upper Deck is a defunct hardcore punk club that was situated in downtown Minneapolis. This venue lasted for only 2 years and shut down in October ’83. The bar was a working class drinker’s den and strip club until the owner employed a broad-shouldered bouncer named Dan Cotlow who was a nascent hardcore punk. Fred Gartner began booking hardcore punk shows on the second floor while Cotlow managed the strip club downstairs. The six-inch stage at Goofy’s Upper Deck hosted such classics touring bands such as Black Flag, Minutemen, Discharge, DOA, Code of Honor, Social Distortion, and Battalion of Saints. Bob Mould was setting up shows at Goofy’s by November of ’82. Goofy’s saw it’s end as a hardcore venue when Final Conflict played there in August ’83 when a full-scale riot ensued. A toilet was ripped out of the floor and thrown two floors below to the floor.

This Husker Du show is almost certainly the preeminent live document of them during their “Zen Arcade” phase in trading circulation that I’ve heard. This performance is also one of the most commonly circulated Huskers shows out there. This soundboard recording isn’t perfect, but the band’s performance is enormously sweltering. Mould’s fervent vocals are equals parts talking, shouting, and singing. His masterful guitar work is laden with feedback that it’s a striking jolt of cacophony. The only word to describe Grant Hart’s drumming on this recording is excessive. Greg Norton’s straightforward bass playing (and Rollie Fingers moustache) rounds out the sound.

John Clegg plays saxophone on “What’s Going On” and “Drug Party”. He was a jazz musician who was on the periphery during the early days of Husker Du. He worked at a record store with Grant Hart in St. Paul and would occasionally jam with the band. Clegg’s saxophone wail adds a psychotic edge to these two tracks that adds to already existing sense of sonic supremacy.

Track list:

1. Something I Learned Today
2. It's Not Funny Anymore
3. From the Gut
4. Wheels
5. Everything Falls Apart
6. Chartered Trips
7.Sunshine Superman (Donovan)
8. Eight Miles High (Byrds)
9. Broken Home, Broken Heart
10. What's Going On?
11. Newest Industry
12. Pride
13. I'll Never Forget You
14. What Do I Want?
15. Data Control
16. Drug Party/ Punch Drunk
17. Out On a Limb



  1. oh man, i totally thank you!
    also theres some bits of shows on my site that you might want full versions of for MTAW (always loved that inspiring Flipside scribble).
    look here:

  2. Thanks! I'll be sure to check out your site right now.

  3. I used to hang there in downtown off Hennipen Ave. by Goofy's Upper Deck near Target Center side o' tha' spending some time here . thanks

  4. thanks for taking the time...

  5. Thanks so much for your work, this looks really awesome :)

  6. Awesome! Just came across your blog. I saw them in Sept of 87.