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Listening to WFNX 1983-2012

Celebrating the live and times of 101.7 FM, Boston's only true alternative radio station
By PHOENIX STAFF  |  July 24, 2012

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SEPTEMBER 9, 1994

WFNX has always been a maverick radio station, but its reputation is branded into its new-music-loving hide when it brings Green Day to the MDC Hatch Shell for the shortest and most riotous free concert ever to take place in Boston.

It was like standing in the middle of a hurricane and watching it explode. When the band was on their way to the Hatch Shell, they asked the guy from their record company if anybody was going to show up to the gig. Little did they know what was about to hit them. It was the shortest concert I ever saw, but one of the most intense. There's nothing like having 80,000-some-odd people give you the finger when you're telling them to "Take three steps back." The band later told me that it was their favorite concert they ever played.

-- WFNX Music Director Kurt St. Thomas

In July of 1994, when WFNX and the Phoenix started making inquires about the availability of bands for their free welcome-back-to-school concert at the Hatch Shell and Green Day's name came up, no one could have predicted how quickly the Bay Area brats would rise to mega-popularity. August saw the band steal the show at Woodstock '94 with a set that ended with a massive mud fight that was replayed on MTV ad nauseam over the next couple of weeks alongside the "Longview" and "Basket Case" videos. Dookie was certified platinum by the beginning of September, and on September 9, somewhere between 70,000 and 100,000 people showed up at the Esplanade. No one — not the MDC, the state police, the Wizard Security staff, or the Phoenix/'FNX folks — was ready for such an enormous, mosh-happy mob or the snotty three-piece who coaxed the crowd to tear down the 'FNX balloon before plunging into the flower beds and tearing them up in front of the stage. The crowd broke through the barriers and the plug was pulled just 20 minutes into the set. More than 100 people were injured (24 shipped to local hospitals), 31 were arrested, and Green Day went on to become the most successful punk band of all time.

-- Boston Phoenix, No. 6 on "40 Greatest Concerts in Boston History"

PLAY WFNX: Watch an excerpt on the Green Day show from the forthcoming documentary We Want the Airwaves: The WFNX Story.

OCTOBER 8, 1994

Six months to the day after Kurt Cobain's death, Courtney Love's band Hole plays WFNX's 11th Birthday Party on Lansdowne Street on the Live Through This tour. From the stage, she calls the Boston Phoenix a "tabloid Village Voice" for printing a set of crazybrains faxes that she and Kurt had sent to us denouncing a story we'd written that dared to report that Kurt dated Mary Lou Lord before he met Courtney. Other than that: everything went amazing.

DECEMBER 17, 1994

WFNX's invite-only holiday party features an exclusive performance upstairs at the Middle East by Tony Bennett, fresh off his MTV Unplugged comeback. Just before the show, standing in the club's cramped office space where the bands come to get paid, he tells the Phoenix: "When I worked for Paramount Theater years ago there were no such things as demographics. We did seven shows a day. In the morning you had your teenagers, in the afternoon you had your senior citizens, and in the evening you had the young lovers and married couples. The management of the theater would tell us, 'Sing songs that everybody likes, don't sing to one group.' So I was trained to entertain people, whether they're little teeny tots or in some old-age home somewhere. There's never been a generation gap in my mind."

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