In this edition of the new semi-regular series From the Vaults, we’re going to look at shows that happened at our very own Preservation Pub, before it was our very own Preservation Pub. Those of you who were old enough to drink in the last millennium may recall that, in the halcyon days of the 1990s, the space at 28 Market Square was occupied by a tres cool little dive dubbed the Mercury Theatre. A gaggle of top-drawer local and national touring acts played the old Merc, from homegrown indie rockers Superdrag to Nu-metal trend-setters Korn (before that thing they do was, you know, big). And even though the Mercury’s demise pre-dated the era of cellphone video, some of the shows have been captured and committed to cyberspace. Here’s a look at a couple of standout performances from the late, lamented venue, circa 1997; we’ll revisit the Merc and its venerable history as a local hub of underground music in future editions of Scruffington Post.
MODEST MOUSE: Before they were festival headliners, this Issaquah, Wash.-based crew were hard-touring indie rockers who played little dive bars in places like… well, like Knoxville. The song in this clip, “Breakthrough”, is from their debut release on Up Records, This is a long drive for someone with nothing to think about. The show happened in September, 1997, at the Mercury Theatre.
BLONDE REDHEAD: Speaking of longstanding rock road warriors, noisy New Yorkers Blonde Redhead are still going strong after nearly two decades of recording and touring. But this clip is from the band’s early days, a 1997 Knoxville show at Mercury Theatre while BR were still signed to iconic indie rock label Touch and Go. The song is “10 Feet High,” from their 1995 release La Mia Vita Violenta.