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Punk Promoter Will Anderson's Five Favorite Shows of All Time

Renowned local punk promoter Will Anderson, who recently left the Valley and is the subject of this week's music feature, has lost count of the number of shows he's attended or promoted over the past 20 years.  

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"I can't remember what the exact total is, honestly," Anderson says, laughing. "It would have to be well into the thousands."

Given the fact that he's been booking since the days when Green Day was a little-known punk band that debuted their hit song "Basket Case" at a small club gig in Phoenix, it's safe to say it's a lot.

Even though Anderson admits his brain is "filled with a lot of hazy memories," we asked him to compile a list of five of the best shows he's witnessed during the last two decades.

Besides the requisite gig by Avail (his favorite band of all time), the 38-year-old rattled off a rundown of punk gigs that included an epic encore by NOFX at the Marquee Theater seen by only a select few and the recent experience of getting to sing along with old school local act Sam the Butcher.

1. Avail at The Vault (1996)
I saw Avail play to probably 350 people and just blow everybody away at a place that normally held around 100. And I just remember [the promoter] kept putting up flyers up that said "Avail: Coming Soon" for six months without a place or a date. I believe it was on the Dixie Tour. It was just amazing seeing them at such a small place.

2. At the Drive-In/30 Foot Fall at Nile Theater (1998)
It's funny, I've known At the Drive-In forever and saw them playing the Nile for like five people, and everyone was there this time to see 30 Foot Fall and Sam the Butcher. But At the Drive-In played, they were sick, and it was the middle of the summer at the Nile and it had to be like 115 degrees in there. And they were all wearing hoodies and playing in all black. I was like, "Woah, what the fuck?" At the Drive-In has always been awesome every time I've seen them.

3. The Bollweevils at Nile Theater (1998)
I remember The Bollweevils' [singer Daryl Wilson] telling me a story from their tour about a kid trying to steal a shirt. And he grabbed him and said "I could legally kill you and bring you back to life," because he was going to school to be a surgeon.

4. Rock Against Bush feat. NOFX at Marquee Theater (2004)
I picked up this show on two weeks notice since ASU had cancelled it because it was too political. They [NOFX] told me "ASU fucked us, we love you for doing this and we owe you, so we're going to do the European encore tonight." So they play their set and come off-stage. And then we're drinking, drinking, and drinking. There's other shit going on, but I won't say what it is (laughs). And I'm like, "Dude, how long has it been? Are you guys going back out?" They're like, "It's only been 40 minutes."

They waited for an hour to lock everybody out of the building and there's only maybe 20-40 people left in the Marquee. And they go out onstage and play every hit song for 30 minutes for like 40 people. And everyone outside was trying to kick our doors in when they hear 'em. That's the European encore, which I thought was like the most amazing thing. In Europe, people play three-hour sets and that's not enough for them. It was just hilarious and I could never see something like that again.

It was also awesome to see Jello Biafra play "Too Drunk to Fuck" onstage with them and then jump out into the crowd, like watching this 50-year-old dude that's been doing this forever jump out into the audience. I remember talking to El Hefe and telling him how awesome it was that they did that song and he said, "You don't know how hard that song was to play. That shit is really technical. I thought it was going to easy at the beginning of the tour." It was funny hearing that, since everybody always thinks punk rock is easy stuff.

5. Sam the Butcher at Yucca Tap Room (2011)
It was just really, really fun. It was 400 people -- most of who I know, most of who I grew up with - all in one place and it was awesome. And it was free to get in. I got to sing every single song. People got a little bit pissed at that. I guess I kinda ended up being like a Beau Beau from Avail. 

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