18 Years Later, and I Still Miss The Pig Pen
Maybe it’s the lack of live shows in the recent months, or maybe it's just my age that’s making me so nostalgic, but I am constantly finding myself thinking back to the days of going to concerts at the Pig Pen in Clinton, Iowa. I still can’t get over how many amazing bands passed through those doors. I was actually on the back end of the glory days, I can't imagine how the people feel who were there from the beginning!
For those that don’t remember, or weren’t fortunate enough to see a concert there, The Pig Pen was this little dive bar in Clinton, Iowa. Located behind the old Lassiter’s bar, The Pig Pen was the place to be if you wanted to see live rock music in the late 90's/ early 2000’s. Bands like Mudvayne, Black Label Society, Hatebreed, and soooo many more graced the stage at least once in their careers. I spoke with, Bucky, a former bar manager who had many great encounters with artists from Zack Wylde to David Allan Coe. She says she was fortunate to make some lifelong friends while she was there. Sadly, this local music gem closed its doors in 2003, and we just haven’t been the same since.
There is hope for a resurgence of top notch shows right in our own backyards, since the opening of The Rust Belt in East Moline. While it might not be quite as intimate a venue as the Pig Pen was, they have proven to be able to attract some A-list bands in the short time since their opening. Also, Hook's Pub in Clinton does an amazing job with live shows of local talent.
"I sincerely appreciate live music, and I know I'm not alone in that thought." - Bucky
For me, The Pig Pen was one of the places I cut my teeth when it came to live music. I remember being barely old enough to drive and rounding up my friends to brave the heatwaves on 4th of July weekends to go to Pigstock. I remember dragging ass all day at school on Wednesday, because I snuck away to a show on a Tuesday night. Albeit, I did have to be escorted upstairs and stay upstairs for the whole show because I was underage. I also remember that amazing feeling of finally being old enough to be front row center and getting my hand stepped on by Marky Chavez of Adema.
Sometimes I think maybe the Pig Pen wasn't real at all. It almost seems like some sort of shared fever dream we all had of a years long festival of music and merriment. Then, as quickly as it appeared, it was gone. Dream or no dream, its all about the stories. Those tales we tell our kids about how we got to see "insert name here" before they were famous. How we only paid ten or twenty bucks to go see a ton of bands on one stage for an entire day. That's what made the Pig Pen so special, the memories. I do know one thing, if it was only some surreal manifestation of what we wanted life to be like back then, I hope I never find out the truth.
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