On June 13, 1978, The Cramps performed at Napa State Mental Hospital. That performance was legendary before it even began!
Today, that performance is a piece of pop culture history that every music fan who has ever felt like an outsider has cleaved to their soul with a bit of ownership... who knew that Lux & crew would strike such a chord so early in the punk era?
In the wake of Lux's sudden and untimely passing, clips of the performance have been circulating on the social networking sites... an homage to the band and their ingenuity.
Videotaped memories are a result of more than the band in any scenario. It was Target Video, the collective from San Francisco, California - that documented the performance and released it on DVD for all to share and re-live. For those who don't know Target Video, it can best be described as the punk rock / indie art version of Andy Warhol's Factory. It was indeed the hotspot of the West Coast in the very same way the Factory was on the East Coast. The parallels are numerous, and I believe when all is said and done, pop culture history will consider The Factory and Target Video equally as important to their respective underground art/music/culture scenes.
If you haven't seen the performance, find this DVD and watch it over and over again! It is a document of more than one of the most theatrical and innovative bands to come out of the punk era, it is a document of the nascent, anything-goes days of punk rock itself. You can see Target Video principal and photographer Jill Hoffman snapping away... you can see plenty of Bay Area punk rockers in the audience, blending in perfectly with the patients... they would be members of the Mutants and Flipper. Check it out for yourself. It is a treat that stands up to repeated viewing.
Part of my on-going photographic eulogy for Lux:
Below is a photo I took while standing on the stairs of the Whisky to get the whole stage in my frame. I was next to Miles Copeland, essentially blocking his view. I told him rather adamantly that The Cramps were the future and that legions of punk and other rock bands would be forever influenced by them. I was right.