"I have an original poster advertising the Clash concert at Kerrisdale Arena June 26, 1982, which I was also fortunate to attend. Myself and a few of my classmates skipped our Point Grey aftergrad earlier in that same month that year to attend the Jam concert. Such a phenomenal venue with a venerable history."
That comment, submitted to the Kerrisdale Arena Rock project from “Lori” accompanies photos of the punk-rock fan holding an original poster from the Clash concert. It’s just one small anecdote from the many collected by Lisa Nielsen and Rene Cherrie for the project, which details the very storied past of the very unassuming-looking stadium.
It’s quite likely many newcomers to the neighbourhood have no idea that the arena where they drop their kids off for skating lessons or hockey is the same space some of the best rock gods in history have played. Opened in 1949, the arena has hosted the likes of Bill Haley and the Comets, the Clash, Peter Tosh, Motorhead, Devo and Frank Zappa until the early ’80s. For a band that would go on to release an album called Everything Louder than Everything Else, it’s fitting that Motorhead’s May 1982 concert in Kerrisdale would be the arena’s last due to noise concerns. A little-known fact about the arena is that the Clash opened their Combat Rock tour in 1982 in Kerrisdale.
Nielsen told the Courier this week there have been many surprises in the stories and memorabilia Vancouverites shared with her and Cherrie.
“We got an email from a guy who said because he was on a budget at the time, he had to choose between seeing Frank Zappa or the Yardbirds and he chose Frank Zappa,” said Nielsen. “To see Jimmy Page play the Kerrisdale Arena? He regrets that decision to this day.”
Another woman contacted the pair and donated her ticket stubs from a Bill Haley and the Comets concert along with a photo of her on her way to the concert.
The project kicked off in January and last week the culmination of all of their work came together with a screening of the Arena Rock project video, which now loops as part of the display. After setting up shop, the pair canvassed the neighbourhood twice weekly in search of nuggets from yesteryear. They went to seniors’ centres and other community hubs, along with approaching complete strangers in the rink’s lobby. The stories they gathered focus on skating, hockey, roller derby and music. A “creative lounge” was created in the lobby of the arena where the exhibit is on display by way of posters, photos, collages and video.
Cherrie and Nielsen’s collaborative history goes back to the 1990s, when the two bounced around various bands together. Nielsen maintains multiple gigs in the arts sector and has done community engagement work for the Vancouver Park Board — that previous experience led the pair to apply to the park board for their artist-in-residency position last summer.
Cherrie, on the other hand, is an audio engineer. To that end, he’s in charge of charge of the mics, laptop and recording, while Nielsen is at the helm of all things visual.
“I’ve talked to at least 100 people since we started and it’s been so interesting,” Cherrie said in an earlier interview. “Everyone has their own history, and we are trying to dive into that.”
With files from John Kurucz.