The sixth in a series of short videos exploring some of Fredericton’s former all-ages venues. This episode looks at The Megaspot, an arcade-turned-pop-up-venue that hosted shows by some of the region’s heaviest acts during the 1980’s.
It’s been fun writing this series. I’ve enjoyed going back to all of these old venues and revisiting the shows I saw at each of them. While we still have a few more familiar venues left to get through, this time around I’m talking about a venue where I never saw a show.
Despite me never darkening its door, the Megaspot on Queen Street in Fredericton still played a key role in my understanding of all-ages shows and the essential support they provided to an entire world of music operating outside the mainstream.
Here’s a bit of a backstory to the venue from my experience, or lack of experience as the case may be:
My obsession with what I call fringe music – a title I still throw on music decidedly outside the mainstream – started around the end of middle school or the beginning of high school. Somewhere in that window. Late eighties. Early nineties. At that point, I was just getting into trading tapes and LPs with friends. All of us were just hitting that age where music was becoming more important to each of us; that point in our lives where music was shifting from peripheral to personal. It’s an incredible, magical time, as many of you may remember.
Anyway, it was around this time when my circle of friends and I started hearing about all-ages shows happening in nearby Fredericton. I grew up going to school in Oromocto where there was no live music outside the cover band bar scene of the 1980’s. So when a friend, whose older brothers were already regulars at all-ages events in the big city, showed up at school one day holding a flyer for a recent gig at the Megaspot, it was, to me anyway, a monumental moment. It was like he had just discovered King Tut’s tomb and was holding this artifact pulled from within. A holy relic. And despite being a simple piece of paper ripped from a downtown sign post, we collectively placed a value on it. And just as we were already doing with records and tapes, we traded this flyer between us until it eventually came into my hands. Maybe I placed a higher value on it than anyone else. Maybe it meant more to me as a symbol of some mysterious outside world. Whatever the reason, I kept it out of future trades because to me, it was a map into an entirely new world.
The flyer in question was for a show at the Megaspot with the mighty Guilt Parade, a band that started in Fredericton before relocating to Toronto. The band was led by Jeff Beardall and had a revolving door of musicians which for a brief moment included recently deceased guitarist for The Sadies, Dallas Good. Other bands on the bill included System Overload from Halifax and Fredericton’s Next of Kin. I was told the artwork was done by an artist named Mike Fields, who lived just down the road from me in Geary. I met Mike when I was in high school. We were both at a friend’s house (the same friend who introduced this flyer to our circle of misfits) and I remember being terrified of him, but playing it off like, “It’s cool. I’m cool. This is cool. This guy probably won’t kill me tonight.” And he didn’t, thankfully. But I did find him terrifying. That’s a whole other story.
But my favourite part of this flyer, and probably the most impactful thing about it all, is the message at the bottom which reads, “If support of this and other small shows is good, bigger, better shows may be forthcoming. So…possibilities include M.S.I., SNFU, Sudden Impact, M.D.C.”
And for the most part, this prophecy came true. The M.S.I. show did happen, probably a year later, and ended up being the first all-ages show I attended. The Sudden Impact impact show also happened. That show ended up being my good friend John’s first show. It’s fun to think that in some small way this flyer foreshadowed my first show and John’s first show. Two complete strangers at the time, we would eventually become great friends and go on to put on several shows together, continuing the cycle. I still have this flyer in my collection and more importantly, John is still one of my best friends. I wonder if anyone traded any of our flyers.