The Unite Us In Song [Unuson or Us] Festival
28th, 29th and 30th May 1983
organised by Apple tycoon Steve Wozniak.

Supported by: Men At Work, Divynals, Inxs, Flock Of Seagulls, Wall Of Voodoo, English Beat, Oingo Boingo,stray Cats,

updated 14 July 2008 - added John Mendelssohn review + photo

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Bev Davies - this is one of my fav Clash photos. this press conference was called and I was late so wasn't out there, hung back behind them and got this very special photo.

Clash Calling CD - Sound 5 - 69min - mast - tracks 19

cdr - major upgrade - Sound 4 - 78min - low? - tracks 19

Video - Historic Films have the rights includingt the whole show, backstage and interviews

Visit the Clash on Stage website for a comprehensive catalogue of unofficially released CD's and Vinyl.

The original filmed masters for the US Fesitval could not be located for Westway. The original masters of this show (and a good number of other artists US Festival performances) are currently being shopped for an official DVD release in North America.

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This from Mick Jones's last performance in front of some 150,000 at the US festival, California. The performance is pumped with Joe taking the piss continually out of American consumerism - right wing lifestyle / habits.

T Shirt - Photo courtesy Bev Davies

Boot CD and FM sources

The booted CD Clash Calling has by far the best, near perfect sound BUT track one cuts before the end and jumps halfway into track two. This edit is on the ciculating video as well.

Clash Calling Boot CD

The sound on the boot Clash Calling is excellent although on the original CD the first tracks merge into one with edits. However this is very highly recomended for performance, energy, sound. Probably the clearest Sound of Sinners live performance.

FM Tapes in circulation

The FM tape that circulates widely is complete but is poor. The sound is flat and a touch distant though there is no distortion.

However a new FM [?] tape has surfaced.

It has a very good sound. Almost as if it came from a 2nd or 3rd gen pro video tape. VCR recordings kinda lack that width, clarity somehow. Possibly, probably a soundboard source and it approaches the quality of Clash Calling CD. Rock the Casbah has a minor edit but importantly the first two tracks are complete.

Primarily it contains an excellent and full London Calling and Radio Clash, and IMO with some uplift, could be edited in.

The new FM I guess came from a video source and would confirm that a full and unedited version exists.

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"This was the first day of the us festival 1983 (new wave day). The clash were the headliner. This was the only time i saw the clash. I’m glad i was able to see such a great band before they called it quits.I was very close to the stage. I remember the clash wouldn’t come out and play until the promoter (steve wozniak of apple computers) agreed to give a million dollars to a charity that the clash would choose. The band finally came out. "

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"I was there, too, and what I remember is that the band came out and played a short set (maybe 30? 45? minutes) and stopped abruptly and left the stage. (Perhaps that's why some of the recordings cut out.) They disappeared for a long time - 45 minutes? even 60? - so much so that thousands of the crowd left.

The announcements speakers even said, at one point, that "The Clash Have Left The Festival." But thousands remained standing in front of the stage, myself included, demanding more. Finally, the band came back; I remember seeing crowds come streaming back through the gate.

The band then played the bulk of their set, one of the hottest shows I've ever seen. Tired but thrilled, I stayed through the end. It was an amazing show, as you know from the recording. I seem to remember that "Rolling Stone" magazine later wrote that the reason the band left early was that they'd gotten a much smaller fee than the other headline bands (and were quite enraged about that), and that they spent that gap extorting money out of Steve Wozniak, the show's promoter (and half of the team that founded Apple Computers).

They only came back, that article said, once Woz had sat down and written them a fat check. I don't remember that the article said anything about charity... But someone else can research that."

US Festival 83: No More In 84
John Mendelssohn, The Record, Summer 1983

AFTER PUNK, audiences weren't supposed to pay large amounts of money anymore for the privilege of watching superstars from the length of a football field away, shouting "Yeah!" whenever those exalted beings designed to demand. "Everybody having a good time?"

Over the Memorial Day weekend, between 375,000 and 700,000 rock fans attended the 1983 US Festival in Devore, California. Each of them paid Unuson, the purportedly nonprofit corporation that staged the festival, at least $20 a day to endure scorching heat and dangerous levels of air pollution by day, dampness and cold by night, to get done dirt at the concession stands, and to try to make their heroes out on Diamond Vision. Behold again the extent to when punk failed.

The U.S Festival's 400,000-watt sound system was excellent. However high the ozone sulfate level, no one was asphyxiated. Wall of Voodoo. Men At Work, Stray Cats. Ozzy Osbourne, U2 and The Pretenders all performed fine to sublime sets. Stevie Nicks and the Thin Bronzed Duke both looked supremely videogenic on the gigantic monitors that flanked the stage. And the little Hitlers of The Clash and Unuson fighting it out until neither did the other's will proved fab soap opera.

But for every good thing that might be said about the 1983 US Festival, at least 75,000 bad ones flock to mind, especially if one had attended on a magazine's behalf.

They'd seen fit to give everything from Newsweek to The B'nai B'rith Brannual Bugle equal credence. So whenever a writer bemoaned his lack of access to an area from which he might watch the festival's musical performances live, rather than on Diamond Vision, without having to claw his way through 25,000 sweating, squirt-bottle-wielding, ozone-sulfate-stupefied rock fans, the good folks of Unuson were able to gasp with incredulity and sputter. "Let 1200 members of the press up on stage? No way!"

Once having achieved admission to the bleachers on either side of the stage, one was so loathe to quit them that he vented his bladder in empty soft drink or beer cups. Early in the evening of Heavy Metal Sunday, when the inhabitants of the bleachers ran out of empty cups, a group of photographers waiting below to be led to the demilitarized zone in front of the stage found themselves doused with golden fluids from on high.

But no indignity to which the media were subjected compared to being placed in the care of Sid Silver. "If dis [a good turnout] continues," this (relentlessly) self-described "former member of the working press" announced with what he unmistakably fancied to be vast wit and infinite portentousness at least half a dozen times during the afternoon of the first day, "dere will be more in '84."

By about noon of Heavy Metal Sunday. Sid had grown weary of being snarled at about the press's lack of backstage access. He removed his red, white, and blue polyester cap and looked grave. With what he unmistakably imagined would be perceived as Great Candor, he cautioned that he was about to speak not as the voice of Unuson, but as plain Sid Silver, Former Member of the Working Press. "You made dese groups," he indignantly intoned, his voice all a tremble. "It's up to you to tell your readers how dey treat you."

Knowing no better, the correspondent for the B'nai B'rith Biannual Bugle applauded. Whereupon, Sid took to snatching his cap off and delivering the same valiant oration approximately every hour on the hour, until everyone got sick to death of it and not even the B'nai B'rith Biannual Bugle applauded anymore.

But it wasn't until Memorial Day that Sid really hit his stride. Introducing the local fuzz at one of the last of the press's periodic crime updates, he noted, "We were just having a rap, not about law enforcement, but just a gentle rap...and I think the people of San Bernardino did a wonderful thing electing Floyd Tidwell sheriff."

(They should be relieved that they didn't elect him to teach their children the alphabet. "There's lots of acid out there." Tidwell kept assuring the press. In fact, what there was lot of Out There wasn't LSD, but PCP, in sufficient abundance to keep the security gorillas at the edge of the stage very busy indeed. In his determination to join Judas Priest in their finest hour, one obvious young user got himself punched unconscious and hurled back into the crowd no fewer than three times, only to reappear minutes later, spitting out his own features and shrieking in a language he alone could understand.)

Resembling the patron of one of those Urban Cowboy-inspired singles bars jammed with accountants in Stetsons and moustaches. Unuson president Dr. Peter Ellis proved even more mealy-mouthedly disingenuous than the ludicrous Sid. "I really respect the way the press doesn't let bullshit slide," he said with one-time Sunnyvale (Silicon Valley, California) Jaycees' "Outstanding Young Man of the Year" earnestness when the press asked him why Unuson was treating it so woefully.

This, apparently, was one hunk of bullshit he hoped the press would make an exception for, since he said no more on the subject until pressed, and pressed hard. "You're not the easiest guys in the world to deal with," he finally chucked nervously. "And of course the number one person we want to serve are the fans out there."

Behold some of the ways in which Unuson served The Fans Out There. If one wanted to eat at the US Festival, one ate what a Unuson-licensed concession stand sold him. No food could be brought in ñ that is no food. Guards were seen confiscating even the milk a young mother had brought into feed her infant child. The staff of a first-aid station was overheard advising frightfully scarlet young woman where she could buy the sunburn ointment she'd come to the station imagining she'd be given. Nor did their friends at Unuson squander a single opportunity to coax. The Fans Out There to buy an official program of T-shirt bearing the slogan "Today, Tomorrow, Together," or the logo of particular brand of beer.

Having been appalled by Van Halen's David Lee Roth, Ellis claimed that Unuson would henceforth have nothing more to do with heavy metal ñ but only until his Outstanding Young Man of the Year political instincts kicked in. Whereupon he rhapsodized about what Terrific Entertainers Judas Priest, Triumph, and Motley Crue (they of the dimestore Satanism) had all proved, and lauded Eddie Van Halen's Great Contributions to the music business. Of which business he'd only milliseconds before professed total ignorance.

Listening to festival creator Steve Wozniak, it was difficult to imagine him getting his own running shoes tied, let along having invented a machine (the Apple micorcomputer) that changed the world. "The mail I got from the kids who came to last year's festival was so incredibly positive," he gee-whizzed in his breathless, rapid-fire way during his first visit to Press Island, where the media were treated to free pretzels and dollar beers as a sort of bribe to make themselves scarce, "that I just had to give them that enjoyment again, like another Star Wars movie."

A faraway look appeared in his eyes. "They come from every state in the Union," he marveled." "They park their ears and vans and campers and RVs in the parking lot, and they stay up all night listening to the biggest, loudest radios. "Here his voice trailed off, as though to embellish so sublime a vision might be somehow to diminish it.

To their credit. The Clash weren't buying a syllable of Unuson's utopian rhetoric. Fully a week before the festival was to begin, they took to agonizing in public over the question of should they stay or should they go. By and by, they decided that they'd escape the taint of the extraordinarily huge amount of filthy lucre ñ $500,000 ñ they'd been offered only of Unuson and their fellow performers made donations to charity. Two hours before they were due on stage, it was later alleged, they'd phoned Unoson's attorney and told him that, unless The Corporation acceded to their latest demands, they'd be on a flight east at the time they were meant to take the stage, and wholesale mayhem would inexorably ensue.

Once on stage, the first thing Joe Strummer did was insult his audience, in a way that demonstrated that his mastery of geography is just about equivalent to his sociopolitical acumen "We're here," he croaked bihously, "in the capital of the decadent U.S. of A." This must have been exciting news for Devore, California.

Between the conclusion of their conclusion of their performance proper and what might have been their encore. Kosmo Vinyl, the loudmouth The Clash keep on their payroll to rile things up when their own energies flag, reportedly blindsided the festival's insufferable master of ceremonies for seeming to impugn the boys' motives. A punch-up between the band and Unoson stage workers purportedly ensued. Unfortunately, no one was hurt.

The deep irony of heavy Metal Sunday's predominantly young male audience ñ by far the festival's largest ñ was that, even while it exuded we-don't-take-no-shit-from-nobody machismo, it was also supremely acquiescent. No matter how many times vainglorious asshole lead singers dared to shriek, "I can't hear you," after the crowd had roared assent to the rhetorical question. "Are you having a good time?" the long-haired tens of thousands never refused to roar back more loudly yet.

And when, at the conclusion of the long, hot day. Van Halen kept them waiting two hours in the dampenss, did they storm the stage and pull the boys limb from limb? No. While their heroes ñ who'd needed no less than 22 limousiness to transport the 130 bodyguards, technicians, and sycophants they'd brought with them ñ readied themselves to party hearty, the longhaired tens of thousands huddled patiently near bonfires and emitted the only genuinely communal vibes of the whole festival.

And when the group finally did arrive on stage and David Lee Roth was seen to have partied so hard already that he couldn't sing even as well as he usually does nor remember lyrics, nor even remain upright in the early going, did they storm the stage then? No. Instead they roared their approval so as to make all of Devore quake, and raised their fists high in tribute to their heroes. And showed the world that as much as was dished out, they would take and more.

There turned out to be lets more to take. A third of the shuttle buses that were supposed to carry the audience from the concert back to their ears in the vast unmarked parking lot didn't show up at show's end, and tens of thousands remained stranded on the site at 5:30 a.m. Two of them were later found to have been killed in car crashes after falling asleep at the wheel. And a 12-year-old girl was run over while dozing in a sleeping bag on the edge of the parking lot.

For them, and for one doddering old fool who remembered being able to see the performers on stage without Diamond Vision from where he sat ñ yes, sat comfortably ñ in the third row from the back at Monterey in 1967, for one doddering old fool who remained convinced, a young heavy metal fan's lifetime later, that masochism and a love of live rock and roll aren't inextricably linked, there will be no more in 1984.

© John Mendelssohn, 1983


London Calling
This Is Radio Clash
Somebody Got Murdered
Rock the Casbah
The Guns Of Brixton
Know Your Rights
Koka Kola
Hate and War
Armagideon Time
Sound of the Sinners
Safe European Home
Police on My Back
Brand New Cadillac
I Fought the Law
I'm So Bored with the USA
Train In Vain
The Magnificent Seven
Straight to Hell
Should I Stay or Should I Go?

Any further info / reviews appreciated

Great Us Festival Joe interview at Long Beach Arena 24 January 1984

US Festival 83: No More In 84
John Mendelssohn,
The Record, Summer 1983
AFTER PUNK, audiences weren't supposed to pay large amounts of money anymore for the privilege..

Pulse Magazine July 1983
Van Halen/Clash fall out
over Us Festival

Record Magazine August
1983 Us Festival [600k]

NME 10 Sept 83
Mick Jones sacked from Clash

Kris Needs book -
Joe Strummer & The Legend of the Clash
page 237

Chris Knowles
The Essential Clash Bootleg Bible
includes this gig

May 18 Amarillo, TX Civic Center Auditorium
May 19 Memorial Auditorium, Wichita Falls Texas
May ? Juarez, Texas ?
May 22 Majestic Theatre, San Antonio Texas
May 23 Omaha, Nebraska
May 25 El Paso Civic Center Theatre, El Paso, Texas

supported by the Little Charlie Sexton and the Eager Beaver Boys

Salim Nourallah/ getting back to the Clash...
"Brad Austin had lent us the Clashís 1st record from 1977 but it was now actually 1982. We soon found out their 5th record Combat Rock had just come out. We got that next then all the rest too and became obsessed with the Clash.

We found out the Clash was going to play the El Paso Civic Center on the way to play the US Festival in California and on May 25, 1983 we road in the blue Monte Carlo with our 24 year old 1st cousin Maad Okko

Maad was from Algeria and spoke broken English with an ear to ear grin he sported a healthy afro and woolly mustache
plus parachute pants and a tight sleeveless shirt he listened mainly to disco music. He had never heard of the Clash or punk rock music and was baffled by it all.

To document this momentous occasion i planned on smuggling a micro-cassette recorder into the Civic Center
i donít remember how this plan actually worked. I only remember being convinced id surely be caught and potentially arrested thus, missing the Clash my favorite band

Neurosis aside, once inside we took our position about 20 rows back and in the middle a perfect spot, the lights dimmed and Spaghetti western music came over the PA song. The Clash finally took the stage. We jumped to our feet and cheered. they kicked in with London Calling.

Mick hopped around like an elastic Mexican jumping bean. Paul bobbed, ducked and weaved like no bass player you've ever ever seen. Joe attacked his beat up Telecaster with ferocious intensity wearing a white sleeveless military jacket/vest and black straight to hell t-shirt.

Maad looked to us and yelled 'you like this?'. I nodded my head and thrust the micro-cassette recorder to the sky
soaking in Death or Glory. The show plays out for me now in a haze of nostalgic slo-mo bliss.

My memories afterwards are of laying under the sheets at night with the micro-cassette recorder pressed to my ear trying to re-live the moment by listening to the shittiest recording imaginable. We also begged our Mom to make us a black straight to hell t-shirt because they were sold out at the concert. She tried valiantly but after wearing her iffy labor of love to school one day i decided it just didnít look right i retired it to the bottom of my t-shirt drawer and never wore it again.

May 26 Tuscon Activity Center, Tucson Arizona
May 28 Glen Helen Regional Park, San Bernadino CA
...US Festival, and Mick Jones last show with The Clash

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