[I’m pretty sure this took place in 1987]
Survival Research Labs (SRL) was and still might be a California based collective that specialized in “Robotic Mayhem”. I’m sure there was a brainier aspect and an artistic manifesto attached to them, but I was crazy about the performances. I would watch their live performances on grainy nth generation videotapes. There was a real sense of chaos on those videos; fire, some explosions and creepy robots menacing the audience. Some of the robots incorporated animal carcasses, so there might be a shambling robot with a rotting horses head and rotating knives. Looking back though it could be described as “Truck-a-saurus for hipsters”* and maybe it was, but I was 25 and it was fucking cool. Anyhow, I found out that SRL was having a performance in the parking lot of Shea Stadium, of course I got tickets and took my brother Matt. He wasn’t really a fan but the promise of fiery robotic mayhem was a strong incentive (Note: Matt swears there was a third person who went with us, but I’m not sure there was.). The big day came and it was pissing rain, we got a bunch of beers and headed up on the train. It was still raining when we got there and the parking lot was set up with portable bleachers. Everything was soaked and the pleasant effects of an afternoon drunk were beginning to fade quickly. Having said that, I was still pretty psyched. My brother, less so and I continued to try and sell him on a destructive robotic apocalypse that even on their best day SRL would be hard pressed to pull off, and this wasn’t their best day. Giant robots didn’t move in the rain and fires quickly turned into greasy black smoke, the only thing that seemed to work well was a cannon that fired fluorescent light tubes, which was at best ok. I was pretty bummed out, Matt swore he’d never forgive me and I can’t say I really blamed him. It was a long train ride home.
*quote attributed to Zack Konow aka “Captain Meanheart”**
**”Captain Meanheart” nickname by Pat Dean