Teenage Head’s 1980 “Heatwave” performance now available for the first time ever
It was pure fate that Hamilton’s punk legends, Teenage Head, got to perform at one of the most memorable concerts that took place in Ontario during 1980. Heatwave featured several top name new wave bands of that time, including Elvis Costello, Talking Heads, The B-52s, The Pretenders, and many more, including several local acts.
In the summer of 1977 when the whole punk scene was blossoming in Toronto, word hit the street that some big-time manager was looking for the best punk band around. That guy turned out to be John Brower and he decided that the best punk band was Teenage Head from Hamilton, Ontario, the area’s answer to the Ramones, New York Dolls, and Stooges.
Brower’s decision was a wise one – Teenage Head (comprised of singer Frankie Venom, guitarist Gord Lewis, bassist Steve Mahon, and drummer Nick Stipanitz) quickly became the most popular Canadian punk band on the scene, releasing such classic studio efforts as 1979’s self-titled debut, 1980’s platinum-certified Frantic City, and 1982’s gold-certified Some Kinda Fun.
But it was on the concert stage that Teenage Head was best experienced. And now, fans will be able to hear a vastly sonically improved version of one of their most popular shows recorded in 1980, with the arrival of Performance: Live at Heatwave.
“Teenage Head was never booked to play the Heatwave festival, that’s why our name never appeared on the poster or the ticket!,” remembers Mahon. “After our infamous sell out show at Ontario Place on June 2nd, 1980, we were set to headline a festival to be called the Canadian Rock Festival on August 20th at Exhibition Stadium in Toronto during the CNE. Alice Cooper was set to play the same venue the night before, but when it turned out that Alice was not exactly in shape to get through the show, the thousands of fans in the Stadium expressed their unhappiness and ripped the place apart and did extensive damage to the sound system, as a result our show was cancelled. Our management team contacted our early supporter John Brower who was the promoter of Heatwave and of course he offered us a slot. Our set was recorded by Doug McClement on 8-track half-inch tape on his Comfort Sound truck.”
It turns out that the performance became one of the band’s best-known out of near-tragedy. Mahon continues, “On September 7, 1980, a little after playing Heatwave we suffered a terrible accident travelling home from a gig in Palmerston, Ontario. Gord’s injuries were devastating, and he was out of commission for the better part of a year. So, knowing we weren’t able to play the 3rd annual Q107 radio show on Halloween, we quickly went into Amber Studios in Toronto, and mixed the Heatwave show, which Q107 did broadcast on Halloween 1980, and explains all the not-so-great bootleg versions out there. It’s very possible that we may have never pulled that tape from the vaults had it not been for that accident. We are really lucky to have had these tapes. Now thanks to the wizardry of Peter J. Moore we finally have a great version that captures the power of the day. Doug Arrowsmith used two songs in the documentary Picture My Face: The Story of Teenage Head – and now you can hear the rest.”
Performance: Live at Heatwave is available in various formats to ensure that fans of Teenage Head are in for a special blast from the past. According to Mahon, it’s time to “kick back, crank it up, grab a cold one and transport back to Mosport Park, August 23, 1980!”
SING Deluxe Package – includes vinyl and DVD documentary film
• LP: pink 180g high-quality vinyl with fluorescent green and yellow splatter
• CD: of entire album w/ bonus encore C’mon Everybody
• DVD Documentary: Picture My Face – The Story of Teenage Head
• 2’ x 3’ Poster
• 2 x 8” x 10” b/w 1980s-era band glossy photos
• 4 x 4 sticker of album cover
• Actual size Heatwave ticket stub reproduction
Digital Collectable High Resolution Items:
• MP3s of all album tracks
• Audiophile WAV files of all album tracks (including the encore track C’mon Everybody)
• Front cover of album
• Back cover of album
• Front of album insert
• Back of album insert
• 2’ X 3’ Teenage Head iconic live poster
• Two vintage setlists
• Two vintage 8” X 10” photos
• Two lyric sheets
• Heatwave ticket stub
• Golden Ticket to win a Fender bass guitar signed by Stephen Mahon!
PERFORMANCE: LIVE AT HEATWAVE Order here.
RIP Frankie Venon, seen below in his last public performance, Hamilton 2008.
About the Author
Bryen Dunn is a freelance journalist with a focus on travel, lifestyle, entertainment and hospitality. He has an extensive portfolio of celebrity interviews with musicians, actors and other public personalities. He enjoys discovering delicious eats, tasting spirited treats, and being mesmerized by musical beats.