Black Flag (in its Rollins-fronted version) also played their last show in Detroit, although not so spectacularly. They didn't have an onstage breakup, with Greg Ginn deciding that he was done a month later.
Neither of these were large affairs in large venues, but if you ask around the Detroit scene, it seems as if everyone was there. A friend once quipped that if everyone who said they were at either of these shows were actually there, they would have been stadium performances.
I was just thinking of this after I read that Screeching Weasel bassist Dave Klein had announced that he was leaving the band to play bass with the new Greg Ginn-backed version of Black Flag (more on both of the Black Flag reunions is here). Klein was a recent addition to Screeching Weasel, part of the new lineup created in 2011 after another famous dissolution - Ben Weasel's band unanimously decided to leave him after his violent outburst at 2011's SXSW music conference, where he struck multiple women at the performance, including the club's owner.
I wasn't at any of these performances. I was a bit too young for the Detroit events, and I was across town at another show on the night of the Ben Weasel incident. I had planned on attending the Screeching Weasel show, but got kidnapped by the Mighty Stef and his band, and instead ended up drinking beer on a trampoline with none other than Bob Geldof before catching a performance by John Grant in a church and almost getting kicked out of our hotel. That's just a hint of what happened that night, but it's all the details you'll get out me, because as Stef himself sings in "John the Baptist Part 2," you don't talk about what happened in Texas.
Where am I going in all this? I'll get to that now.
The Ben Weasel show was one other colossal affair, like the Black Flag and Misfits shows, but like those shows, it became a colossal affair after the fact. I spoke with someone who saw the show, and he said that it wasn't very good to begin with, and that Weasel was sullen throughout the performance and said some very harsh things about SXSW and about how little he was being paid to be there. He also said that there really weren't that many people at that show either. And yet, days after the fact, the buzz on the webs by all the people who said they were there escalated it to another show that would have been at a much larger venue.
Over the years, I have been lucky enough to witness some amazing performances on large and small scales. I was at the infamous Cokie the Clown performance at SXSW where he fed the crowd shots of tequila that were later to revealed to be mixed with his urine (and later yet revealed that was not the case). I saw Bauhaus frontman Peter Murphy play a solo show where he finished his set and left, only to return almost a half hour later after the house light had come up to play one more encore because he was having a good time. I stumbled into third row tickets for Tom Waits in Detroit, and second row in the same venue for Beck when the Flaming Lips were his opener and backup band. And on the inverse end, I have caught tiny bands in tiny places all over the world that will most likely be forgotten due to their small scale.
I have been so fortunate to see so many amazing and sometimes infamous shows, but it's never occurred to me to fabricate being at shows that I actually wasn't. It's enough to say, "it would have been cool to be there," and hear the story from those who were. Inventing your presence demeans the event and its precious nature, and really, what's the point? Fabricating your presence at the show will never change the fact that you weren't there, and it gets in the way of hearing how things actually went.
I wasn't at the show at Detroit's Magic Stick when Jack White struck Von Bondies frontman Jason Stollsteimer , but I've talked to people who were, and again the show has over the years escalated in size by virtue of all the people who said they were there. In a music scene that values credibility so highly, I find it amazing that fans demean the same credibility by magically allowing them to witness events after the fact.
Seriously, if you weren't there, saying you were won't change the past.