The Strangers Solves a Mystery: An Archival Struggle UPDATE

by Sarah Thomas

0711123A-1-1024x536 The Strangers Solves a Mystery: An Archival Struggle UPDATEArchiving an enormous collection of original concert posters is a difficult feat. One of the toughest parts? Finding accurate dates for pieces that only list minimal information. What do you do when you find two concert posters for the same date, same venue, same times… but different bands?  Cassaundra Parham faced this problem while archiving posters from the Ultrasounds Collection here at GoCollect. Then, Allen Bush of The Strangers reached out with the answers.

That’s right! This is an update blog! First, a little backstory.

The Situation:

From Cassaundra’s original blog;

While organizing the reference copies today, I noticed that, for the same venue, I have (2) different posters for the same date. After reviewing the posters, I found that they were two completely different shows. Typically, if there were (2) posters for the same date, they would be variants (same art but different colors) or feature each of the bands that were performing that night. This, however, was not the case here.

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One featured The Strangers with Renegade Saints & Rhythm Jones while the other poster featured Public Enemy alongside The Goats. Neither says “and special guests,” indicating there is more to the performance, so it’s not likely that all (5) bands performed on New Year’s Eve at La Luna. 

Both posters indicate that their respective performances occurred Saturday, Dec 31. Ok! The years when Dec 31 fell on a Saturday were 1983, 1994, and 2005. Clearly, they must fall on different years! Except that’s not possible. La Luna was only open from 1992 to 1999. For the New Year’s Eve show to have fallen on a Saturday, the only time the venue was called La Luna was in 1994. 

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La Luna “Club” has been considered a highlight of the Portland music scene and has been missed by many. It is a pretty good medium-sized venue. The interesting thing about La Luna is that the building changed names quite a few times over the years. Here’s a list:

The 70s – Ninth Street Exit
1980-1991 Pine Street Theater
1992 (mostly) RKCNDY
1992-1999 La Luna
2000-2002 Pine Street Theater (again)
2004-2005 Solid State

You can see how in some ways this is great in helping me date some of these posters. For the New Year’s Eve show on a Saturday, the only time the venue was La Luna was in 1994. This is how we know that these shows took place on the same night.

HOW can there be two dramatically different posters with a different lineup for the same venue, in the same year? I searched my favorite sites for concert archives, and neither shows have any online confirmations of either happening.

We have the answer!

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Months after this blog was posted, Allen Bush of The Strangers, reached out to us with plenty of answers to these questions, and we could not have been more excited to hear them! We even got a peek at the Box Office summary for the night!

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So who performed when? I’ll let Allen explain for himself;

I can tell you that The Strangers definitely rang in the New Year on stage. I recall the show – we only played this venue a few times. Talking with other band members, one recalls joking about how “Public Enemy opened for us,” indicating that perhaps there was an earlier daytime show.


I don’t see how it could’ve started at 7 PM, given that we had three bands and all three of the bands on our bill definitely played. The other vague recollection I have is potentially feeling bad about people taking it for our show and waiting outside for a long time on New Year’s Eve… Although I’m not sure if this is a fictitious memory based on trying to search for the answer in my mind!

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You’ll note that the public enemy sure would’ve been from 3 o’clock to 5 o’clock, using military time, and that ours was billed as 9 to 11, which might’ve been a standard  Time listing for a typical Saturday show even though, obviously, we played later for New Year’s Eve.

Long story short – PE was an afternoon show and we were the evening show.

So there we have it!

Public Enemy performed earlier in the day, then The Strangers rocked the night show and rang in the new year on stage. You may be wondering why we’re so jazzed about such a seemingly unimportant detail, but when it comes to archiving? Precision and accuracy are everything. Being able to document details with information straight from the source is invaluable.

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And then it got even better! Allen was kind enough to let us know a few more behind-the-scenes tidbits from that night’s performance.

Our guitar player, Paul, notes that we did something very specific called the “Jesus jam switchover” that night. My band and our good friends’ band, The Renegade Saints, played together and toured together a lot. We used to do this line switchover where, instead of breaking between bands, their members would join us one-by-one on stage during a jam (or vice-versa, depending on which band was closing out – we alternated).


Then soon, all 10 of us would be onstage, and our members would depart one-by-one, leaving the other band to continue.


Most of the times, there would be a song in the middle of the jam that we played altogether. It was pretty crazy fun. On this particular night, Paul notes that the jam we used to transition bands was the “Jesus Jam,” meaning we jammed on Jesus Christ superstar. There is one really sick groove from that score that we would do,  Heaven on their Minds.

So, what are The Strangers up to today?

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We all still play music, but also have other careers. Only one of us still rooted in the music biz professionally – Ned, the drummer, works in the Portland biz and plays in some popular bands there. Paul plays there regularly, too.
I’m in the San Francisco Bay Area and play in a sorta raucous indie folk / Americana band purely as a hobby – with occasional other solo and group outlets.
All of us here at GoCollect send HUGE thanks to The Strangers for their willingness to help us solve a mystery that would bug any archivist. We’re so appreciative that they reached out and we really enjoyed getting to hear about the show. By keeping stories like these alive, we can continue in our effort to accurately archive the era.
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Till next time, let the music play!

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