Rifle Sport – Live at the Entry/Dead at the Exit.

Rifle Sport – Live At The Entry…Dead At The Exit (Ruthless) 1983. I used to work with a guy in Denver that was from Minneapolis. He told me that Rifle Sport got their name from a shooting gallery there. Is this true?

Rifle Sport were part of the third wave of alt/punk/whatever bands I talk about in my Man Sized Action post. How about post-hardcore? That’s a nice academic title and it actually kind of fits this band.

This is their second to last album and it is one of my favorite live LPs ever. The mix makes you feel like you are sitting right in the 7th Street Entry and you really get a feel for how dynamic the band was on stage.

Ron Hotpad mentions in the Micronotz post that a lot of these midwestern bands in the 80′s were unclassifiable and I agree with him. You hear influences like Iggy with the Notz and Husker Du with Man Sized Action, but in general thier sound is thier own.

Rifle Sport sound a lot like Mission of Burma and they get compared to them somewhat regularly. It’s true that J. Christopher’s vocals have a resemblance with Roger Miller’s and on first listen, the comparison is valid. Listen closer and you will hear more than just a Burma clone.

One of the more obvious differences between Burma and Rifle Sport can be heard on the song Marseilles. Listen to how that song FUCKIN ROCKS. Y’see, no matter how arty a post-HC midwestern band of the period got, there was that element of ROCK evident in the music.

As time worn on, the classic rock fixation that underlies midwestern punk became more pronounced. Some bands like Soul Asylum became everything they were supposed to be against and eliminated the post-HC element from thier sound altogether. Drunks With Guns envisioned themselves as a Flipper-style reaction to HC orthodoxy but anyone who has heard the black album knows that there is a major fuckin resemblance between it and the riffage of Black Sabbath. Am Rep appeared a few years later and bands like The Cows straddled the line between balls-out rock and art-noise through the nineties.

Marseilles is a great representation of “midwestern alt post-whatever” in that it perfectly balances the artsyness of Burma with the strut of Ted Nugent and is unapologetic of both. I love Burma (probably more than Rifle Sport when all is said and done), but they were too high-minded East Coast to pull off a riff like this.

The members were also involved in Breaking Circus, a great band from Chicago. Flour went on to record solo stuff during and after the break-up of Rifle Sport. Todd Trainer went on to record solo as Brick Layer Cake and drum for Shellac.

Also of note, this LP is a tribute to the engineering genius of Iain Burgess…who in a dream world, I would get to interview for this blog. He was the man behind the board for many a great Chicago/Midwestern punk LP back in the day and more than any one single figure, he probably sculpted the sound of this genre of music.

Entry Side
Hollow Man
Experience The Pain / Bloodline
Correctional Facility
Burn Em Up

Exit Side
Mad World
Green Cans
Black Shadow
Certain Situations
Head In A Vice
Broken Window
Exploding Man

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14 Responses to Rifle Sport – Live at the Entry/Dead at the Exit.

  1. Danny says:

    great post – I still have all my rifle sport lps after years of purging non-essential vinyl. any chance you can also zip up all the files into one download for the entire LP? thanks and keep up the great blog!

  2. Peter Davis says:

    Pretty spot-on assessment for the most part. The “Complex” record Rifle Sport issued on Albini’s, Restless Records imprint was pretty great by the way and still largely holds up after all these years.

    To most of you this might not seem that significant (and admittedly it is a wee piece of minutiae) but the band got its name from a defunct video arcade that resided one block to the the north of the one where First Avenue/7th Street Entry lies. This block was better known as “E-Block” after its zoned designation number issued by the city. E-Block was notoriously bad news once upon a time with its primary focus of danger generated on the Hennepin Avenue side (something of the main drag through downtown Mpls) largely due to two hot-spots: the drinking establishment known as Moby Dicks’and the original location of the Shinder’s Newsstand (now residing at the NE corner of the intersection of Hennepin and Eighty Avenue). Moby’s brought in all the hard core crims and street rabble mixed with a pottpouri of after work and or lunch time downtown office workers, Native Americans, blacks, street trash, hipsters, the not so hip, and lots of underage punks, etc. The joint was largely successful because it had a high ratio of tolerance toward all walks of life, was a large space that housed a lot of pool tables, pinball machines and primo, state-of-the-art Foosball tables and ultimately you could get extra-ordinarily strong drinks for super cheap–we’re taling DIRT cheap here. Shinder’on the otherhand was a straight-up bookstore/newstand with a large porno rag section in the back and wound up for the longest time being the only place in town where you cold by smut. The immediate corner it was housed at was a shit magnet for all stripes of panhandling and shit talking. If ever there were a likely place where you could wind up being negatively confronted for no good reason whatsoever OR run the risk of full-blown bodily harm (and again for no fucking reason), chances were high you could take a late night stroll down that stretch of sidewalk and be asking for it whether you knew it or not.

    Anyway, the arcade itself resided over a bowling alley on the north face of E-Block flanked by 6th Street. The entire block itself has since been converted into something of a downtown mini-mall/movie theater complex/parking lot as part of the city’s (and like all others) downtown revitalization program. The block itself is flanked to the west by First Avenue (the street not the club) and sitting directly across the street from there is your Target Center. Back on the eastern side of the block, across the street from where Moby’s and Shinder’s were is the City Center, probably best known to most of you as lyrical fodder exploited by the band The Hold Steady (and before them Lifter Puller).

    It should also be said that the seediest side of E-Block was also home to Harpo’s Hot Licks Records. A record shop that held its own among the best of what the city had to offer (and if there’s one thing Minneapolis had an abundance of was good record stores).

    As for Iian Burgess, if I’m not mistaken, he still resides in France and operates his recording studio. I believe he did some work with Chokebore a number of years back, but don’t hold me to that.

    One other thing about Rifle Sport not mentioned was that the lead singer, Chris Johnson for a time went on to own and operate Big Money Records. Label probably best known for introducing the United States to Stereolab originally.

    Oh, and by the way: if you’ve ever seen the Big Black video tape issued by Touch and Go years ago, the one with the bonus scene at the end where Albini mule kicks another guy in the huevos for drunkenly insisting that the two of them kiss (the segment better known to some of us old folks as the “Windy City Studs episode”), well, that was Chris Johnson. Or at least back then it was. Great guy and it make me happy to know he’s alive and well, clean and sober and running a very successful construction contracting outfit. But that’s my two cents.

    Over and out.


  3. Peter Davis says:

    Oh, totally slipped my mind, but I just realized, shortly after Todlachen broke up, Tom Hazelmyer (Halo of Flies/Amphetamine Reptile) was the very first drummer in Rifle Sport when it was first being formed. They also had a keyboardist then too by the name of Karen but her last name slips my memory banks, despite me having no failure of recollection with regard to what a “wild one” she was.


  4. fred says:

    Was the guy from Minneapolis Mike from Vinyl Junkie?

  5. fnordboy says:

    “Marseilles” is a cover of an old Angels (Australia) song.


  6. Joe Stumble says:

    wow! I did not fuckin know that….explains why it sounds so much more conventional a “rock” song. Just glad to Glad to hear it isn’t The Angels from LA with Punky Meadows. Then I would have to kill myself.

  7. Gerard says:

    Mr. Davis has all his information down. Thanks for adding the comments. Tom was indeed our first drummer. Karen Masanz played the Farfisa. I recently had a bunch of Rifle Sport videos transferred to DVD and I’m planning on editing them into individual songs and making them available to view. Pretty funny stuff. Marseilles, by the way, should be credited to Angel City, excellent Aussie rockers.

    Glad you like the album!



  8. Joe Stumble says:

    Wow…its great to hear from you Gerard. Are you up to anything musically these days?

  9. Gerard says:

    Hey thanks,

    Well, after Rifle Sport I played with Todd in Brick Layer Cake and toured with Shellac doing sound.

    I have a band called Kontrol Panel, which includes Chris Bjorklund from Strike Under/Bloodsport/Effigies fame. We’re finishing up an EP of Art Rock at the studio I work at in Minneapolis.

    It’s “prettier” than Rifle Sport, but definitely has some loud guitars going on, with a lady singer.

    I’ll let people know when it’s done. We haven’t played many shows in the past year, but hope to start playing out more often in 2007.

  10. Joe Stumble says:

    I just heard “anokkasion” from the Kontrol Panel myspace site and loved it. Keep me informed of future shows, especially in the Chicago area!

  11. Anonymous says:

    Just to elaborate on “Marseilles” – this can be found on Angel City’s “Face to Face” lp – the first half of which completely rocks (and includes “Marseilles”) and the second half of which is completely lackluster. Definitely worth picking up for the first half.

  12. Paul Bartholow says:

    Rifle Sport was an arcade located in the Loring Park area of Hennepin Avenue in Minneapolis, Minnesota. It had a sign of a target with a rifle pointing diagonally across it, the rings of the target were outlined in neon as I believe the rifle was. I remember it from the late 60′s but never went inside it (kind of a rough neighborhood at the time). It looked old when I saw it so I’m sure it was around for some

  13. smoky says:

    I saw these guys in Eau Claire a few times…at the university.

  14. Tobias says:

    Rifle Sport (arcade?) ended it’s life as an Art Gallery in the E Block space… I think maybe the inherited the sign? I had a bad experience there that involved a bottle of Philips Tequila before-hand, and a run in with Block E after I blacked out.

    I love the heck out of the couple Rifle Sport tracks they played on KFAI (rock of, always wanted to pick up a tape or record… I’ve always had more records I wanted than I could ever get… I can’t remember what the saturday night KFAI shows where, but they used to play Maximum Rock and Roll somewhat later.

    I gotta go look for Otto’s Chemical Lounge!

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