Bradley’s Almanac

[30 Years Ago Today] 4AD’s 13 Year Itch Festival

Posted on July 19, 2023 at 2:48 pm | No Comments

A quick post to mark a noteworthy anniversary…

4AD - The 13 Year Itch

Thirty years ago today I was in England for the first time ever, and for a very, very special reason: A week-long celebration of the venerable 4AD record label called “The 13 Year Itch” at the ICA London. Monday, July 19th through Saturday, July 24th, 1993. Six nights of music, two scheduled bands each night, with unannounced ‘special guests’ each evening. Plus unique video presentations and a gallery of the unmistakable artwork of Vaughan Oliver (RIP), Chris Bigg, and their collaborators at v23. The announced lineup? Undeniable. Kristin Hersh, Pale Saints, Unrest, His Name Is Alive, Bettie Serveert, Underground Lovers, Red House Painters, Insides, The Breeders, The Wolfgang Press, Brendan Perry of Dead Can Dance, and Heidi Berry. Some of the surprise bands? Throwing Muses, Lush, Ether (more on them below), and bonus second sets from the Breeders & Unrest. Unreal.

This trip started my unending love-affair with label-centric festivals. As much as I say I’m not a ‘festival kinda guy’, if a label I love is throwing one, I’m probably there. Merge, Teen-Beat, Matador, Touch & Go, Slumberland, Numero (earlier this year), Dromedary (later this year), I’ve been to a lot of ’em, and they’ve been some of the musical/travel highlights of my life.

Interview clips & live footage from the UK version of MTV’s 120 minutes

Some random personal (and mostly fuzzy) recollections from that week to accompany some photos I snapped below…

  • Whew, those surprise guests. I was a massive Throwing Muses fan who was already excited enough to see Kristin Hersh solo, and certainly didn’t expect the whole band to play that week. And having the Breeders walk on stage a day after their scheduled slot for a bonus set? Hearing songs from the not-yet-released “Last Splash”? Thrilling. And Lush?! Premiering songs that would eventually appear on their 1994’s “Split” LP (and even one from 1996’s “Lovelife”). Amazing. And then there’s Ether… a supergroup if ever there was one. When they took their places in front of us, I couldn’t believe my eyes and then my ears: The band included the much-missed Caroline Crawley of Shelleyan Orphan along with guitarist Pearl Thompson and drummer Boris Williams of the Cure. Having two members of your favorite band suddenly appear in front of you is a shocking, unforgettable thing. And that meant that I’d get to see two of my top five fave drummers play that week (guess the other). Ridiculous.

  • I was very glad to randomly meet Andrea Feldman & Susan Curran early in the week, who had also traveled from New England, Providence to be exact. Fellow music (and 4AD) nuts who were starting up a great ‘zine called Warped Reality, they made my first-ever overseas solo trip that much more comfortable, and it hit hard when Susan passed away a decade ago (can’t believe it’s been that long). I also got to hang with Brant Nelson, who would found Dewdrops Records that year, and would eventually put out music from the first band I was ever in.

  • Another chance encounter and bit-of-bonding I treasure is with Red House Painters guitarist Gordon Mack. We got talking shortly after I arrived when I recognized him in the crowd and hit it off… he was incredibly kind, open, and affable, and we spent a bunch of time together that week. I was in awe of his band, but he was so genuine that he instantly squashed any of my potential fanboy behavior. When he’d had enough of the crowd at one point, he said “Let’s get outta here and hit a pub.” We lost touch, and I was bummed when he eventually left the band… they never sounded better than when he was creating his soundscapes inside of their songs.

  • There’s a mystery photo below, and maybe someone reading this can help with my faulty memory. One of the pictures is of Ian Masters, who was at the festival but who, as I was recently reminded, had left the Pale Saints by that point. Was his new band Spoonfed Hybrid one of the surprise guests? Did he jump on stage with His Name Is Alive? I don’t remember! Do you? Let me know. Update! HNIA drummer Trey was kind enough to confirm that Ian did, in fact, play bass with them during their set. Which I was surely very excited about at the time, but the knowledge disappeared with the passing years. Mystery solved!

  • You can find some of the setlists from that week at Setlist.fm, and listen to a few live recordings on youtube.

    Here’s my set of point-and-shoot photos from the week. Wish I’d taken more, but the pre-digital-camera era and varied crowd spots kept it limited (though I certainly think I got enough shots of Kim Deal :-))…

    Kim Deal of the Breeders during their surprise set

    Kelley Deal of the Breeders

    Kim again

    The Breeders’ Josephine Wiggs

    more Kim

    Kelley Deal wearing my favorite Unrest t-shirt

    Look, it’s Kim again

    Kim Deal, back when you could smoke on stage

    Josephine Wiggs of the Breeders

    another Kim Deal shot

    … and a last one for good measure

    Caroline Crawley of Ether

    Ether’s Pearl Thompson

    Ether’s Caroline Crawley

    Karin Oliver of His Name Is Alive

    Guest Jason Farrell helps introduce Red House Painters

    Former Pale Saint Ian Masters on stage with His Name Is Alive

    Kristin Hersh of Throwing Muses

    Throwing Muses’ Kristin Hersh & David Narcizo

    Gordon Mack of Red House Painters

    Mark Kozelek of Red House Painters

    Red House Painters’ Gordon Mack

    Mark Robinson of Unrest

    Bridget Cross of Unrest

    Unrest’s Mark Robinson

    Unrest’s Mark Robinson

    Unrest’s Mark Robinson & Bridget Cross

    Mark Robinson sporting a spiffy Tsunami t-shirt

    Michael Allen of The Wolfgang Press

    Bless you, Ivo-Watts Russell, and everyone involved in putting that week together, for giving this Vermont kid a reason to take his first-ever cross-Atlantic flight. And memories I’ll never forget. Mostly.

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  • BOSTON-AREA LIVE SHOW ACTION
    Tuesday, March 5th
    The Dandy Warhols
    Sisters Of Your Sunshine Vapor
    @ the Royale

    Tuesday, March 5th
    Porno For Pyros
    @ MGM Music Hall

    Friday, March 8th
    Mclusky
    The Martha's Vineyard Ferries
    @ the Sinclair

    Friday, March 8th
    The Beaches
    @ Roadrunner

    Saturday, March 9th
    Aaron & the Lord
    Tugboat Annie
    Vic Firecracker
    @ Sonia

    Saturday, March 9th
    Buffalo Tom
    @ the Cut, Gloucester

    Saturday, March 9th
    Advance Base (Owen Ashworth, fka
    Casiotone for the Painfully Alone)
    Young Moon
    Emily Reo
    @ O'Brien's

    Sunday, March 10th
    Laura Jane Grace
    @ the Crystal Ballroom

    Tuesday, March 12th
    KMFDM
    Morlocks
    @ the Royale

    Wednesday, March 13th
    Cherry Glazerr
    @ the Sinclair

    Friday, March 15th
    "The Dogmatics... a Dogumentary"
    film screening followed by a
    live performance by the band
    @ the Regent Theatre

    Friday, March 15th
    Chelsea Wolfe
    Divide and Dissolve
    @ Roadrunner

    Friday, March 15th
    FORT NIGHTS - Night One
    A Celebration of Gary Smith
    & the Music of Fort Apache
    with Buffalo Tom, Tanya Donelly,
    Fuzzy, & very special guests tba
    @ the Crystal Ballroom

    Saturday, March 16th
    FORT NIGHTS - Night Two
    A Celebration of Gary Smith
    & the Music of Fort Apache
    with Billy Bragg, Kristin Hersh,
    Tanya Donelly & Bill Janovitz, Arc Iris, Juliana Hatfield, & more
    @ the Somerville Theatre

    Sunday, March 17th
    Sleater-Kinney
    @ the Paradise

    Sunday, March 17th
    Sleepytime Gorilla Museum
    Singer Mali
    Rong
    @ the Sinclair

    Monday, March 18th
    Ministry
    Gary Numan
    Front Line Assembly
    @ Roadrunner

    Thursday, March 21st
    Otoboke Beaver
    Drinking Boys & Girls Choir
    @ the Royale

    Thursday, March 21st
    Laetitia Sadier
    (of Stereolab)
    @ the Somerville Armory

    Friday, March 22nd
    Consumer
    Tysk Tysk Task
    Vivid Bloom
    Little Fuss
    @ Deep Cuts

    Friday, March 22nd
    Fog Lake
    @ the Somerville Armory

    Monday, March 25th
    Unwound (!)
    Cherubs
    @ the Paradise

    Monday, March 25th
    Andy Shauf (solo)
    @ First Church Cambridge

    Wednesday, March 27th
    Thalia Zedek
    @ the Square Root

    Thursday, March 28th
    Thus Love
    Native Sun
    Robber Robber
    @ O'Brien's

    Thursday, March 28th
    Arlo Parks
    Chloe George
    @ the Royale

    Friday, March 29th
    Grouplove
    Bully
    @ Roadrunner

    Friday, March 29th
    The Rolling Stones
    @ Gillette

    Saturday, March 30th
    Ex-Hyena (release show!)
    The Shallows
    CMB (Casey Desmond/Jimmy Rossi Jr.)
    @ Deep Cuts

    Saturday, March 30th
    Guster
    Fruit Bats
    @ MGM Music Hall

    Saturday, March 30th
    The Cavedogs
    @ the Burren Back Room

    Monday, April 1st
    Adam Ant
    The English Beat
    @ the Wilbur

    Friday, April 5th
    Joe Pernice (solo)
    @ a Boston living room

    Friday, April 5th
    Richard Thompson
    @ the Cut, Gloucester

    Saturday, April 6th
    Choo Choo La Rouge
    Lupo Citta
    The Bret Tobias Set
    Jay Walsh
    @ the Midway Cafe

    Saturday, April 6th
    Land Of Talk
    @ Rockwood Music Hall

    Saturday, April 6th
    Destroyer (solo)
    Lightning Dust
    @ Brighton Music Hall

    Saturday, April 6th
    Choo Choo La Rouge
    Lupo Citta
    The Bret Tobias Set
    Jay Walsh (of the Douglas Fir)
    @ the Midway Cafe

    Saturday, April 6th
    Colin Hay (Men at Work)
    @ the Wilbur

    Tuesday, April 8th
    Swami & the Bed of Nails
    (John Reis of Hot Snakes/RFTC/etc)
    The Freqs
    @ Crystal Ballroom

    Thursday, April 11th
    Hotline TNT
    Cicada
    @ the Somerville Armory

    Saturday, April 13th
    DARK SPRING BOSTON FEST
    with Korine, House of Harm,
    Widow Rings, Allie Frost,
    Hemlock for Socrates,
    Midnight Psychic, the
    Spearmint Sea, and more
    @ the Middle East

    Sunday, April 14th
    Woods
    Avey Tare
    @ the Sinclair

    Monday, April 15th
    Matthew Sweet
    @ the Wilbur

    Wednesday, April 17th
    Metz
    @ the Crystal Ballroom

    Wednesday, April 17th
    Real Estate
    Marina Allen
    @ the Royale

    Friday, April 19th
    Quattracenta
    Thalia Zedek Band
    Rip Room
    @ the Midway Cafe

    Friday, April 19th
    Drop Nineteens
    Greg Mendez
    @ the Paradise

    Friday, April 26th
    Waxahatchee
    Good Morning
    @ the Orpheum

    Friday & Saturday
    April 26th & 27th
    The Town & the City Festival
    @ various venues in Lowell, MA

    Saturday, April 27th
    Belle and Sebastian
    The Weather Station
    @ the Orpheum

    Sunday, April 28th
    Yot Club
    Boyscott
    @ Brighton Music Hall

    Tuesday, April 30th
    Teenage Fanclub
    @ the Paradise

    Wednesday, May 1st
    Ty Segall
    @ the Royale

    Thursday, May 2nd
    Outer World
    @ Deep Cuts

    Thursday, May 2nd
    The Decemberists
    Ratboys
    @ Roadrunner

    Friday, May 3rd
    Ra Ra Riot
    @ the Royale

    Saturday, May 4th
    Slothrust
    Weakened Friends
    @ the Sinclair

    Saturday, May 4th
    The Lights Out
    Gretchen Shae & The Middle 8
    Brian K & The Parkway
    @ Faces Brewing

    Sunday, May 5th
    Sheer Mag
    Pile
    @ Crystal Ballroom

    Sunday, May 5th
    CSS
    @ the Sinclair

    Monday, May 6th
    Cloud Nothings
    @ the Crystal Ballroom

    Tuesday, May 7th
    Bad Religion
    Social Distortion
    (playing "Mommy's Little Monster")
    @ MGM Music Hall

    Wednesday, May 8th
    Todd Rundgren
    @ the Wilbur

    Wednesday, May 8th
    Chastity Belt
    @ the Sinclair

    Thursday, May 9th
    Cheekface
    Yungatita
    @ Brighton Music Hall

    Friday, May 10th
    Hot Water Music
    30 Year Anniversary Tour
    with Quicksand
    & Off With Their Heads
    @ the Royale

    Friday, May 10th
    Sarah Shook & the Disarmers
    @ the Cut, Gloucester

    Saturday, May 11th
    Bradley's Almanac presents...
    (that's this website)
    SAVAK with
    Samuel SC,
    Hey I'm Outside,
    and Plaza
    @ O'Brien's

    Saturday, May 11th
    Ride
    @ Big Night Live

    Sunday, May 12th
    Sunny Day Real Estate
    @ Big Night Live

    Monday & Tuesday
    May 13th & May 14th
    Mannequin Pussy
    Soul Glo
    @ the Sinclair

    Tuesday, May 14th
    Swans
    @ the Paradise

    Thursday, May 16th
    Helmet
    Cro-Mags
    @ the Middle East Downstairs

    Friday, May 17th
    Neil Young & Crazy Horse
    @ the Xfinity Center

    Thursday, Friday, & Saturday
    May 16th, 17th, & 18th
    Jukebox the Ghost
    @ the Sinclair

    Friday, May 17th
    Buck Meek (of Big Thief)
    @ Crystal Ballroom

    Saturday, May 18th
    The Messthetics
    James Brandon Lewis
    @ the Crystal Ballroom

    Monday, May 20th
    Echo & the Bunnymen
    @ the House of Blues

    Tuesday, May 21st
    Another Michael
    Tenci
    @ the Rockwell

    Tuesday, May 28th
    Shannon & the Clams
    @ the Sinclair

    Tuesday, May 28th
    Brookline Booksmith presents...
    Kathleen Hanna
    "Rebel Girl" book tour
    @ the Wilbur

    Wednesday, May 29th
    The Alarm
    Jay Aston's Gene Love Jezebel
    Belouis Some
    @ Brighton Music Hall

    Wednesday, May 29th
    Madness
    @ MGM Music Hall

    Thursday, May 30th
    Camera Obscura
    @ the Paradise

    Thursday, May 30th
    Nation Of Language
    @ the Royale

    Tuesday, June 4th
    Melt-Banana
    The Flying Luttenbachers
    babyaby_explores
    @ the Sinclair

    Tuesday, June 4th
    Joe Jackson
    @ the Wilbur

    Wednesday, June 5th
    Andy Summers (The Police)
    @ Cary Hall, Lexington

    Thursday, June 6th
    Reverend Horton Heat
    @ the Crystal Ballroom

    Friday, June 7th
    Joe Pera
    @ the Wilbur

    Monday, June 10th
    Dan Boeckner (Wolf Parade) @ Brighton Music Hall

    Monday, June 10th
    Bleachers
    Samia
    @ MGM Music Hall

    Thursday, June 13th
    Jon Langford & the Bright Shiners
    @ the Cut, Gloucester

    Thursday, June 13th
    Aaron West & the Roaring Twenties
    Future Teens
    Maura Weaver
    @ Brighton Music Hall

    Sunday, June 16th
    Pixies
    Modest Mouse
    Cat Power
    @ Xfinity Center

    Wednesday, June 19th
    Future Islands
    @ Roadrunner

    Friday, June 21st
    The Church
    The Afghan Whigs
    Ed Harcourt
    @ the Royale

    Friday, June 21st
    Blushing
    Airiel
    @ Deep Cuts

    Saturday, June 22nd
    Ted Leo & the Pharmacists
    playing "Shake The Sheets"
    with guests
    Ekko Astral
    @ the Paradise

    Saturday, June 22nd
    Guided By Voices
    The Moles
    @ the Royale

    Tuesday, June 25th
    Jason Isbell & the 400 Unit
    Courtney Marie Andrews
    @ Roadrunner

    Friday, June 28th
    Janet Jackson
    Nelly
    @ TD Garden

    Sunday, June 30th
    Les Savy Fav
    @ Somerville Armory