The Fireside Tapes

A YouTube account called The Fireside Tapes is posting videos from the Fireside Bowl in the late ’90s. That venue, at that time, was a big part of my life. I hadn’t yet moved to Chicago, so I’d grab a friend and drive 2.5 hours from Kalamazoo to catch a show. We always drove back the same night, blurry eyed but happy, speeding home on I-94 with the windows down to stay awake.

It’s great to see these videos since very few people recorded shows during those years. It was costly and cumbersome, so at most there’d be one person with a Hi8 camera or a DAT recorder. Aspiring photographers took photos, but the film and processing were too expensive for most people.

Even at very low resolution, seeing this era of the Fireside Bowl brings back a lot of memories and reminds me how young we all were, bands and audience alike. Venues like this tended to blur the lines between the two, with the stage barely a foot tall and no backstage area or green room. After a set, the band would move their gear to the side and join the audience.

The Fireside Tapes has an Instagram account you can follow, with custom title graphics for each upload. It’s such a great way to bring a bit of branding, consistency, and high resolution to these low-res archives. I’m not sure who is behind these accounts, but thank you!