By Ann Siock, Staff Writer
Nov. 23, 1996: The Violent Femmes played at the University of Scranton’s John Long Center in front of a crowd of students and local fans as part of the college’s fall programming.
The Violent Femmes formed with members Brian Ritchie, a bassist, and Victor DeLorenzo, a percussionist, in the late 1970s early ’80s. Gordon Gano joined the band shortly after as lead vocalist and guitarist.
The band got its start playing coffee houses and on street corners in Milwaukee, Wisconsin, until James Honeyman Scott of the Pretenders discovered the group at a theater in the city. The Violent Femmes were playing outside of the theater and later were invited to play a short set before the opening act.
The group’s first gig came a year later in New York, when it opened for Richard Hell.
From there, Slash/Reprise Records picked up the Violent Femmes, which released six albums with the label. The band later left Slash/Reprise for Elektra Records in the early ’90s.
While the group faced trouble with its records, it didn’t have the same problem with its fan base, eventually becoming a staple on the college circuit.
“We started off being a band that really drew an older kind of crowd. Now as we get older, the people who come to see us keep getting young,” Gano told the Scranton Times in a Nov. 13, 1996, article.
That popularity brought the Femmes to Wilkes-Barre’s F.M. Kirby Center for the Performing Arts on Oct. 23, 1993, where it played hits such as “American Is” and “I Held Her in My Arms.” After 1993, DeLorenzo left the band, and Guy Hoffman of BoDeans was brought on as a percussionist.
During the concert at the John Long Center three years later, the Femmes played “Blister in the Sun,” “American Music,” “Kiss Off” and “Add It Up,” among other fan favorites.
Backstage, Gano talked to a reporter with the Aquinas, the U of S’s student-run newspaper, about the lax approach the band had toward performing, choosing to refrain from making a set for a given performance and instead relying on Ritchie to shout a set during each show.
“It keeps it fresh,” said Gano, noting that Ritchie would sometimes call out songs the band had not played in six months to a year.
The Femmes’ most recent album, “Hotel Last Resort,” came out in 2019. It was the group’s 10th album and second since its 2013 revival and includes 13 songs.
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Brian Fulton has been the librarian at The Times-Tribune for the past 15 years. On his blog, Historically Hip, he writes about the great concerts, plays/musicals and celebrity happenings that have taken place throughout NEPA. He is also the co-host of the local history podcast, Historically Hip. He competed and was crowned grand champion on an episode of NPR quiz show “Ask Me Another.” Contact: email@example.com; 570-348-9140; or @TTPagesPast