R.I.P. Mississippi Nights

The lights go out at a fabled club — but only after one hell of a party.

Quotes compiled by Roy Kasten and Annie Zaleski.

"Most of my memories of Mississippi Nights were from when I was a kid, going and seeing bands, when the venue was half the size and the stage was in the corner. It's funny, I saw the Replacements open for X there, which were my two favorite bands at the time. I was fourteen; Tommy [Stinson, then the Replacements' bassist, now Fortus' current Guns N' Roses bandmate] was fourteen as well. It was pretty amazing. That was a really influential show to me."

Original Mississippi Nights house band Big Fun (Ken 
Krueger's second from left).
Original Mississippi Nights house band Big Fun (Ken Krueger's second from left).
Stage-diving at an Urge show in their Mississippi Nights 
Stage-diving at an Urge show in their Mississippi Nights heyday.


See also the accompanying story, The Final Jam.

— Richard Fortus, Pale Divine/The Eyes, now in Guns N' Roses

"Love it or hate it for many reasons, but Mississippi Nights was a venerable institution that consistently served up live music in St. Louis that no other venue could match. Maybe the stage was too high or the ceiling too low or the bouncers too surly. Sure, the sound system couldn't overpower the people drinking and talking near the bar — but Mississippi Nights, with its abundance of old brick and wood, had character. Mississippi Nights was like a portal to a musical world that existed outside the Midwest. Some shows I'll never forget: The Replacements opening for X, Wall of Voodoo, Sonic Youth, the Ramones, the True Believers (with Alejandro Escovedo and Jon Dee Graham), Hüsker Dü (with Chuck Berry and Joe Edwards in the audience).

— Jay Farrar, Son Volt/Uncle Tupelo

"When I came back from Seattle (in the mid '80s), those people were really nice to me. It felt like home. I played some shows with Richard Thompson and Roy Buchanan, who I knew growing up, and it was really nice to sit around all afternoon and play guitar with Thompson. The sound system was always good. Favorite concert? Oingo Boingo. They were the best band on the planet at that time. Pavlov's Dog sold out the Kiel and the Ambassador; we weren't really playing clubs, but we did play Mississippi Nights, which was good. And I played there with my acoustic guitar for fun."

— David Surkamp, Pavlov's Dog

"Favorite shows were Red Hot Chili Peppers, on the 'Uplift Mofo' tour, with Thelonious Monster and Fishbone. I'd never seen anything like that. To see all three bands literally jump in your face. When they started, the lights were down, and then it was, "Ladies and gentlemen, please welcome FISHBONE!" and by the time they got to BONE the lights came on, they had jumped in the air, off the stage, right into the people. I was probably about twenty at the time, '87 or '88. The other good one from that time, I saw Ministry on the 'Mind Is a Terrible Thing To Taste' tour. That was the first time I was at a concert and was afraid. They had a fifteen-foot chain link fence bolted into the floor around the stage. All my friends saw Ministry at Lollapalooza in the sun. No, no, no. You gotta put them in a room with 1200 maniacs. That's fun. This is my last one, I promise: The best show, the very best show I ever saw, was Patti Smith. I was thinking, maybe I'm getting too old to be doing this, and then this 50-year-old lady comes out and kicks your teeth in. She was so on fire."

— Jimmy Griffin, King of the Hill, Neptune Crush, Nadine

"The one that stands out is a show that we had when I was with Fragile Porcelain Mice. An hour or two before we went on, Jay [Robertson] and I were sitting across the street enjoying a smoke after soundcheck, watching the line of excited youth file in like cattle, when a woman and her two teenage kids approached us and asked if the kids could take a photo with us. Jay and I had just joined the band in replacement of Tim O'Saben, so we had no idea that anyone had a clue as to who we were — or even cared for that matter. We accepted, took the picture, shook their hands, signed some things and took off. Later that night, while standing near my monitor during the show I felt a hand going up the inside of my thigh, straight-up caressing my shit, trying to go for the glory! I look down and it's the mother! I politely removed her hand, shook my finger in a 'naughty-naughty,' back-and-forth sort of fashion and went on with the set. I guess she wanted to take some pictures of her own after the show!"

— Chandler Evans, Ghost in Light

"We used to have some railroad cars parked [in back]. And the Ramones had a song that went, 'beat on the brat with a baseball bat.' We went with the Ramones road crew, we went chasing rats through the cars with a baseball bat. [And] there was a band called the Beat Farmers. [Singer/drummer Country Dick Montana] almost had his head taken off by one of the ceiling fans. For part of the show, he'd quit playing the drums and go sit in the audience. He stood up there and started singing — and didn't know there was a ceiling fan behind him. It took off his cowboy hat and maybe a piece of scalp."

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