The Last Days of the Beach
The Beach, September 26 & 27, 1986 Aww, mamma, can this really be the end ... The Beach, after more than two years of faithful service to the, uh, seedier aspects of the Austin music scene, took its last bow, fittingly, with two nights of shows in which about a dozen bands participated. For some of them, as for some of the hundreds that came to watch, it was a dubious homecoming. The cast Friday featured Beach originals Zeitgeist, Texas Instruments, and Guardez Lou, who worked over the dancing feet and memory cells of all of us who watched them there so many times before. Singer Paul Horsey of Guardez Lou kept the crowd amused, as he always does, with various stunts -- most involving unnatural acts with a porcelain Mardi Gras mask and Vampire Blood -- and, this time, with Silly String as well. Well done, Horsey, but the band was also right on cue as it always is, despite guitar problems. Zeitgeist really tore that night, with a fine combination of melodies -- like "Freight Train Rain" and "Things Don't Change" -- that helped take them from the Beach to bigger and better things two summers ago, plus new favorites from their forthcoming album. By the time they played, around 2am, the crowd had largely evaporated, leaving behind a small but highly dedicated core of rapt fans, reminiscent of days of yore. The last band to grace the stage of the Beach Saturday was the Hickoids -- as obscene, manic, and uncontrolled a group of mutants as ever whopped a geetar. They played on and on and on until finally leaving, by ones and twos, trailing epithets, probably to puke, at 4am ... to be "stuck inside of Austin with no Beach to go to again"? -- not Bob Dylan ... well, almost. But that's not the point. Neither is it the point to balance the "bad" of the Beach with the "good," but rather to consider something else. That is, where will the next shows be? Where, indeed? But think back, who ever went looking for the Beach in the first place? I didn't. One day I just ended up there -- maybe it was to read a book or to brood, or to have a beer. But I went back another night. And another. Pretty soon I was hooked and, I suspect this is how many other people came to know the Beach. Hell, I was frequenting the Beach before the fountain was hooked up, and when there was sand on the deck outside. I remember when they put up the Carta Blanca card tables out there, and I remember times there weren't half enough people there to even need them. I saw Zeitgeist, Texas Instruments, Glass Eye, and scores of other no-longer-existent bands play there for their first time. So I know what I'm saying -- the Beach was, and is, in the memories of a lot of people, one of the best. But it's worth no more than the people, the music and, most importantly, the spirit that was there -- things fortunately that can be packed up and shipped out to any place at all that can hold the folks to make it happen.