For Show: Boston Flashpoint unveils massive archive of ’80s-era Boston music scene posters


Studio 52 is a community artist space located in the heart of Allston, and is proud to support the Boston music scene and local artist community.

Over the past few decades a lot of things have changed in the Boston music scene, but one constant is the art of the show poster. While the display of such artwork has shifted from physical locations (like street poles, coffee shops, and record stores) to social media and online forums, the posters and flyers themselves still serve their intended purpose: To inform the masses about shows and parties happening around town.

Boston Flashpoint, Kino Digital Video’s online archive of the city’s music scene during its 1980s heyday, has this week unveiled “The Art of the ’80s Boston Band and Event Poster”, a showcased collection of roughly 150 posters, flyers, and prints that range from collages to illustrations to paintings to modified photography.

“It was very much a huge part of the scene back then, just as much as the music,” says Flashpoint creator and organizer Jan Crocker. “This stuff crosses the generational gap, and still serves as a common thread through the music industry. As Peter Dayton of La Peste put it, ‘This was our internet.’ You’d see the poster, then you’d tell someone else, then they’d tell someone. It was the start of the chain of information.”

Included in the collection are posters from bands like Human Sexual Response, Mission of Burma, and The Real Kids, and various bands playing long-gone clubs like the Rat in Kenmore Square, Cantone’s in downtown Boston, and Cambridge’s Inn Square Men’s Bar. There’s also attention dedicated to Willie “Loco” Alexander’s scrapbook and the visual art of Dini Lamot.

“It really spans the scope of all of that collage stuff that was going on in the ’80s, before computers, before Photoshop,” Crocker says.

The archive also includes a few cool bonus features, like a narrative written by Human Sexual Response’s Larry Bangor about the how the posters impacted the Boston music scene 30 years ago, and a tribute to artist Magnus Johnstone written by Mark Flynn of the Punkt Data collective.

There are also some video segments as well, which is right in Flashpoint’s wheel house: In June of last year the website provided archival footage, from Crocker’s collection, of The Cure, Orchestral Manoeuvres in the Dark, and The Neats for our look at legendary short-lived Allston venue the Underground.

For the full archive, click here, and scan through a few posters below, published with permission from Flashpoint.

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