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The Nirvana show at Einstein A Go-Go wasn’t so great, Tammie Faircloth recalls.
It was May 5, 1990 and Nirvana was getting big, but there weren’t many people in the club. Those who were there were being castigated by Kurt Cobain and his gang, who were so loud you had to step out onto First Street in Jacksonville Beach to get relief.
Oh, but there were plenty of other great shows at Einstein A Go-Go, a modest booze-free all-ages club with an inspired name.
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Faircloth, whose family ran Einstein’s, remembers how Natalie Merchant and 10,000 Maniacs wowed packed houses there. How Jane’s Addiction’s Perry Farrell could command the audience seemingly at will. How Camper Van Beethoven performed during a blackout, switching to acoustic guitars and banging on the stage floor for percussion. How the Replacements chose to start an album tour there.
And how the Violent Femmes show turned into a mass concert, more than 250 people joined in “Blister in the Sun”.
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There’s an Einstein A Go-Go t-shirt that lists some of the mighty bands that played at this unlikely and unassuming Jax Beach spot: Red Hot Chili Peppers, Living Colour, Dinosaur Jr., Mudhoney, They Might Be Giants , Flaming Lips…
“It really was the perfect time in the perfect place,” Faircloth said. “We were on the ocean; it was fun for the groups to come. They were arriving early, going to the beach, sunburning. It all kind of came together and made this beautiful mosaic that ended up by being something that I’m still taking a break from. It’s really great, it’s influenced other people. It’s influenced us as well.
“We” were the Faircloth family: parents Connie and Bill, since deceased, and daughters Tammie and Terri. They were a constant presence at Einstein A Go-Go from its opening in 1985 until its closing in March 1997 when its lease expired.
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The family business, the Music Shop, which sold guitars and albums etc, led to the opening of Einstein A Go-Go, said Tammie Faircloth, who at 18 started buying imported albums for the store (she thinks they probably had the first Sex Pistols LPs in Jacksonville).
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She booked bands and her sister ran the sound. Their mother worked at the Jax Beach site of the Music Shop, and their father, who built most of Einstein A Go-Go, was famous for the homemade meals he served to touring bands. Its fried chicken was so popular that some returning bands insisted it in their contract jumpers.
Modern English, Primus, Henry Rollins, Sonic Youth, Soundgarden, Alex Chilton, Faith No More, Miracle Legion, Dreams So Real…
Faircloth said she still hears — a quarter of a century after Einstein closed — how much it meant to so many people when they were young, forming their identities, looking for something outside the Jacksonville mainstream of the time.
She even hears it from the next generation. “Some of the kids say. “Oh my god, my mom used to go there. She talks about it all the time.'”
Faircloth paused. “The family couldn’t be more honored to hear this.”