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March 7, 2017

30 years ago, one concert changed my life

hotelsd

30 years ago tonight, four bands played in the Hotel San Diego, and it changed my life. I’d already been kicked out of college twice at that point, and I was scraping by. I was working crappy jobs, surfing a lot, and managing my friends’ band The Charms. I had an idea to rent a hotel ballroom and book of few other bands we knew, and promote a concert. And on March 7, 1987, “The Laboratory” as we billed it, happened, and it was actually a success. A few hundred people came out, everyone had fun (the hotel did get a little bit trashed) and we actually made money.

It was at that moment when I realized that I could just create things that my friends and I liked, and that there were other people out there who would probably like those things too. It was a revelation that this could be my “work”. That I didn’t need to conform to what someone else’s idea of a job was, that I could define my own.

I promoted a few other shows after that, and helped release records from my friends bands, and then got hired at SST Records putting out the music of some of my heroes (Black Flag, Mike Watt, The Meat Puppets, Dinosaur Jr., Sonic Youth, etc.) then I wrote a book about how to start an independent record label, and basically continued doing DIY indie media projects for the next 30 years. Music, book publishing, magazines, events, DVDs, films, guitars, web projects, photography, virtual reality… everything I’ve done in my career thus far basically stems from what happened that night 30 years ago.

The Hotel San Diego was demolished in 2006, but I still think of it every time March 7th rolls around. Cheers to everyone who’s been part of all the crazy projects I’ve done and everyone I’ll have the pleasure of working with in the future. And to my friends and family for their support when times were tight. Long live the independents.

-Gary