Bootleg Washtenaw: Wipers, July 7, 1987, at The Blind Pig
An occasional series highlighting live recordings made in Washtenaw County.
You may not know the music of cult group Wipers, but you've definitely heard songs by one of the group's biggest fans: Kurt Cobain.
In fact, you may even know two Wipers tunes through Nirvana covers: The 1992 tribute comp Eight Songs for Greg Sage and the Wipers (later expanded to Fourteen Songs ...) featured Cobain & Co. covering "Return of the Rat," while the Nirvana tour EP Hormoaning from the same year featured "D-7." Both songs come from Wipers' 1980 debut, Is This Real, which Sub Pop reissued in 1993.
The Wipers' tour that brought the trio to The Blind Pig on July 7, 1987, was for their fifth album, Follow Blind. The group would record one more record, 1988's The Circle, before calling it quits for six years. With the buzz created by Nirvana, Greg Sage reconvened the band for three more albums in the 1990s before stopping again—still a cult band.
Like Cobain, Sage was a left-handed guitarist who mixed distorted chords and dexterous lead lines. But where Cobain dealt with huge dynamics, Sage tended toward a nervy slow burn, with his hazy guitar sound—achieved through tube amps he built himself—providing a noise bed to support his wailing but distant vocals.
Wipers started in Portland, Oregon, but Sage has lived in Arizona for some time now, where he runs a recording studio and the Zeno Records label, which sells all the Wipers' albums plus two Sage solo LPs.
The Blind Pig recording sounds like an audience tape rather than from the soundboard, but it's pretty good quality.
Setlist and audio:
Follow Blind (00:00 - 03:52)
Someplace Else (03:52 - 06:37)
Any Time You Find (06:37 - 11:23)
The Chill Remains (11:23 - 14:58)
Different Ways (14:58 - 19:14)
Messenger (19:14 - 21:29)
Over the Edge (21:29 - 25:10)
Your Empathy (25:10 - 29:21)
Against The Wall (29:21 - 32:17)
Don't Belong To You (32:17 - 34:21)
Losers Town (34:21 - 37:07)
Just a Dream Away (37:07 - 39:56)
Way of Love (39:59 - 42:01)
The Search (42:01 - 46:23)
Land of the Lost (46:23 - 52:22)
Straight Ahead (52:22 - 57:43)
Doom Town (57:43 - 01:01:40)
Romeo (01:01:40 - 01:05:23)
Youth of America (01:05:23 - 01:11:31)
Let Me Know (01:11:31 - 01:14:34)
Let It Slide (01:14:34 - 01:16:54)
Next Time (01:16:54 - 01:20:06)
Click here to download audio from this concert.
Christopher Porter is a library technician and the editor of Pulp.