Twenty fabled moments in Denver music: #17: Einsturzende Neubauten play '86 junkyard show

Categories: Music History

Einstürzende Neubauten setting up for its junkyard performance in 1986.

Over the course of the next few weeks, Backbeat will be counting down the twenty most fabled moments in Denver music history. Today, a look back at Einstürzende Neubauten's 1986 show in a Commerce City junkyard.

Fabled Berlin industrial rock act Einstürzende Neubauten played perhaps one of the strangest shows in Denver's history. That's a big claim, but considering the circumstances -- the secret gig in a junkyard, the painted animal bones, the flaming oil drums -- this spectacle was one that has not been easily eclipsed in the 26 years since it happened.

See Also:
#20: Beatlemania at Red Rocks
#19: Michael Jackson's secretive stay in Denver
#18: Black Flag at the Rainbow Music Hall 1984

The frontside of the flier.

The band was on a short, four city American tour, on an anemic budget and in search of venues that could accommodate the group's stage requirements. These were young guys known for nihilistic, minimalist soundscapes that lacked much form or melody. Songs were unabashedly raw and rough-hewn, with frontman Blixa Bargeld (later of Nick Cave & the Bad Seeds fame) screaming over pounding drills and rhythmic, metal-on-metal clanking. Easy listening, this was not.

Naturally, a post-apocalyptic wasteland of a stage show was the only thing that could match Einstürzende Neubauten's demanding artistic vision. Tom Headbanger of Junk Yard Productions helped arrange the Denver gig, set for May 17, 1986 at an undisclosed location in Commerce City. Human Head Transplant was the opening act. The show was advertised, somewhat, in a flier that stated only 100 tickets would be sold for $25 each. No location was listed in the announcement; it simply instructed would-be audience members to call Wax Trax.

The flip side of the flier.

On the back of the flier was a rambling letter to concertgoers explaining the high cost of the show. "The PA will cost $800. Because Denver was added late in the game, flights had to be rescheduled -- as a result they require $1,500." The open letter concludes with the words, "If you don't put your money where your mouth is (a nebulous question in any case), future events of this type will not happen." It is signed "JYP," for Junk Yard Productions.

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I have been looking for my flyer packed away in boxes for years because I lost my "ticket".  I think I had just bought Halber Mensch (at the suggestion of one of the fine folks at Wax Trax's counter crew) and they told me to get a ticket to the show and promised I wouldn't be disappointed. I wasn't. I can't remember much other than my mind was totally blown. So when I had the opportunity to see Crash Worship (not in the same place... but just as amazing... ) I jumped on it.  Thanks for posting about this show... it was truly amazing and very very fabled! Great choice for your walk down memory lane!  

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