Twenty years ago last Friday–on December 20, 1993–Blind Melon played Vancouver’s Commodore Ballroom. It was a benefit for the Vancouver Food Bank as part of a plea deal stemming from charges against singer Shannon Hoon for an incident that occured two months earlier when he’d gotten naked on stage and peed into the front row at the Pacific Coliseum during the band’s warm-up for Lenny Kravitz.
Here’s my review of the Commodore show as it appeared in the Dec. 24, ’93 issue of the Georgia Straight, under the headline “Melon’s Fans Spared Spray”.
“Nobody pees; nobody gets hurt.” That could have been the theme for the first of Blind Melon’s two sold-out Commodore Ballroom concerts. The shows were benefits for the Province Empty Stocking Fund, a way of apologizing for the headline-making onstage pee that lead singer Shannon Hoon took when his band opened for Lenny Kravitz at the Coliseum on Halloween.
That impromptu piddle in the crowd’s general direction caused a storm of controversy, besides leading to Hoon’s arrest on charges of public nudity and committing an indecent act. One might have guessed that Hoon’s urinary stunt was the result of a weak bladder (or the fact that he’s signed to the same management company as Guns N’ Roses), but as Hoon suggested at the Commodore, it had more to do with guitarist Christopher Thorn’s impending marriage and multiple preshow toasts to that event.
And what better wedding gift than a shipload of free publicity?
“Hi there, Vancouver; long time, no pee!” quipped Hoon when the band took the stage, but the brave folks on the front line held their ground, and by the time the band got into a sweaty version of the Allman Brothers’ “Midnight Rider”, any fears of an imminent Agent Yellow strike had been assuaged. The bouncing crowd seemed to be in a very festive mood, and several patrons made like jolly moshing Santas traveling over the heads of helpful elves.
There was one moment of concern, however, when the band launched into the hit single “No Rain”, because that tune had been the ironically titled soundtrack to Hoon’s previous indiscretion. The longhaired dude kept all his duds on this time, though, and only went so far as to happily slap the hands of the hyped fans reaching over the stage-front barricade.
Blind Melon is a genuine, honest-sounding band, and the powerful effect of its flowing, folk- and country-edged guitar-rock is hard to deny. By the end of the band’s impressive 90-minute set, it was clear that the group shouldn’t have to rely on vulgar stage antics to get attention.
“It was good to come back and let you guys know it was nothing personal,” said Hoon near the end of a three-song encore. Then all five band members pulled their pants down and urinated profusely on the helpless crowd.