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Pete Surfs

Twenty-five years ago today (8/14/83), Peter Gabriel performed at SDSU’s outdoor amphitheatre with the Call as opening act.

Though battling marital problems and dealing with financial trouble due to his failed Womad festival, Gabriel pulled off a set that I cited for years as the best concert I’d ever seen. During one song, Gabriel approached the front of the stage, turned his back to the crowd, and fell backward into the audience, not even looking to see if he’d be caught (he was). Then he was passed around by the uplifted arms of audience members, traveling the entire width and length of the amphitheater infield before being returned to the front of the stage.

At one point, Gabriel passed directly over my girlfriend and me. I could see he was wearing no shoes and only one sock, which hung loosely three-quarters of the way off his foot. As I noticed this, my girlfriend reached up and yanked the sock off his foot! Gabriel’s face being turned upward, I did not see his reaction.

My reaction was to scold her: “What the hell?!” During my time with her, she never looked so happy and satisfied as she did when holding on to that sock.

Whenever I think of this concert, I always think of Peter Gabriel’s sock, which I made my girlfriend keep in her purse on the way home so as not to stink up the car (it was pretty funky).

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Twenty-five years ago today (8/14/83), Peter Gabriel performed at SDSU’s outdoor amphitheatre with the Call as opening act.

Though battling marital problems and dealing with financial trouble due to his failed Womad festival, Gabriel pulled off a set that I cited for years as the best concert I’d ever seen. During one song, Gabriel approached the front of the stage, turned his back to the crowd, and fell backward into the audience, not even looking to see if he’d be caught (he was). Then he was passed around by the uplifted arms of audience members, traveling the entire width and length of the amphitheater infield before being returned to the front of the stage.

At one point, Gabriel passed directly over my girlfriend and me. I could see he was wearing no shoes and only one sock, which hung loosely three-quarters of the way off his foot. As I noticed this, my girlfriend reached up and yanked the sock off his foot! Gabriel’s face being turned upward, I did not see his reaction.

My reaction was to scold her: “What the hell?!” During my time with her, she never looked so happy and satisfied as she did when holding on to that sock.

Whenever I think of this concert, I always think of Peter Gabriel’s sock, which I made my girlfriend keep in her purse on the way home so as not to stink up the car (it was pretty funky).

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Comments
9

That's funny about the sock.

I had free tickets to see Peter Gabriel, I believe at the Sports Arena, a few years back.

But, I chose to pay to see Glen Tilbrook (Squeeze) at the Casbah instead. I was glad I did. An amazing show for the 50 fans in attendance. At one point, he got us all to go outside, in the middle of Kettner, and sing along to a song (maybe Pulling Muscles From a Shell, I can't remember).

Aug. 13, 2008

Great story! I wonder where all those socks (and shoes) ended up . . .

Aug. 13, 2008

Just imagine the eBay "Certificate of Authenticity," with a Doc Sholls seal....

We're working on a Reader feature about offbeat music "collectibles" like Peter Gabriel's sock. For years now, I've been in search of Michael Nesmith's tonsils ---- they were a contest prize in an old teen magazine. I've tracked the tonsils from the original winner through six subsequent owners, one of whom provided a photo, but the tonsils' current locale has so far eluded me. Following up on a hot tip this weekend....man, I have a weird job.

Anybody out there with weird-ass rock memoribilia, and you wanna tell us about it, contact me at [email protected]

Aug. 13, 2008

You reminded me about something - just as Gabriel was singing the chorus of "Here Comes the Flood," it started to rain!! Only for a moment, but what a transcendental moment ----

The show was indeed "state of the art" - the SDSU date was one of his final concerts with Nektar keyboardist Larry Fast, whose advanced computerized setup (for that era) included a Fairlight CMI digital synthesizer and Memorymoog programmed presets. Backstage, the band used their Radio Shack TRS-80 model 100 portable computer to correspond electronically on what was then the beginning of the internet, an online network known as IMC Dialcom64.

Aug. 14, 2008

Well, actually, I probably would have said Pete shreds. He even said, "I go swimming".

I was there as well. You had better seats but mine were very good. I went because I saw him something like 6 months earlier at the Convention Hall and he blew my mind and made me feel good. Like he had done in '71 when I saw him with a music video while visiting Boise. I had missed Lamb Lies Down on Broadway tour while living in SF and never forgave myself. I was keyed up for the SD State gig big time.

He came out and announced that because of the technical equipment, the show would have to be cancelled if the rain didn't let up. So we all sat there and thought positive thoughts for about 40 minutes before Peter came out again and said we're going to try it now. The Call, always a joy, sang about Nightly Military Raids and other songs of unity. Then came peter...

His live album had just come out, perhaps two months before. We knew the score. The lighting was excellent and very state of the art. Floor panels that lit up, the piercing spot before his Lay Your Hands On Me, all the area lights and mood setting. Terrific.

The best? Matched against the Wall, Tommy, Ziggy Stardust, on and on... Who knows. Gabriel was so good. My question is, is anyone still laying down with the same quality and stage presence? U2's hootenany was abysmal. Who can do what the others did, these days? No judgement, just honest curiosity. And no, I would not go see Pete surf today, let alone smell his socks.

Aug. 14, 2008

PG is still pushing the envelope. He doesn't surf the crowd anymore, but for his Growing Up and Still Growing Up tours (2002-2004), he ran around the stage in an 8-foot high transparent plastic ball (a Zorb), turned his cameras on the audience and performed "Downside Up" while hanging upside from stage rigging 25 feet above the stage.

I saw him at Madison Square Garden in November 2002 - I had some of the worst seats in the place, about 5 rows from the top of the theatre. His use of the stage and screens made me feel like I was completely involved in the show, despite my distance from the stage. His charisma filled the whole arena. If he tours again, it's definitely worth the price of admission.

And I remember an eBay auction 3-4 years ago for a beer bottle containing PG's backwash and left over beer. No idea who the winning bidder was.

Aug. 14, 2008

I gotta call BS on Jay, though, for saying the sock stunk.

I know, for a fact, that these guys have people (often times at the venues, as I heard a House of Blues employee saying regarding Ted Nugent recently)...they do their laundry daily.

So, his socks wouldn't be nasty.

You have to wear socks for two straight days, before they start smelling funky. And, he came out on stage, probably with fresh socks.

But, it makes for a funnier story, that's fer sure.

Aug. 15, 2008

Dunno whose feet you've been sniffing - or when/why you wore socks for two days to test your theory - but when I was in bands my feet would be swimming in my shoes like dumplings in a gravy boat by the end of some sets. Peeling off those leather loafers was like setting off a stink bomb backstage, and the same was often true of bandmates. Why do you think bands so often demand new socks in their backstage riders? The feet funk is often beyond washing, and ol' Pete's piggies (or maybe his shoes?) left his socks smelling like roadkill ---

Aug. 15, 2008

hahahhaha...exactly. they "demand" new socks. aren't they wearing them?

well, didn't wear them for two days to test a theory. it was something where i didn't realize i hadn't done laundry, put them on thinking it was no big deal, was gone the entire day, and...the rest is history.

Aug. 15, 2008

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