This is my first dive into the live Fugazi vault. I never got to see them so one’s as good as any. I saw a lot of shows as a…youth. It was mostly a random thing back then. I remember mostly buying walk up tickets to shows that had no hope of selling out. Fugazi shows, unlike the band itself, always sold out, fast. They were popular and cheap. You had to have your shit together to get those tix. I did not, as they say, have the straight edge. Sometimes I think about how things might have been different…if I had gotten into one of these shows. It was that time in life when any little thing can Change Everything. I definitely had one of those moments when I bought my first Fugazi albums on cassette at the local comic book shop. First the Margin Walker EP, then Repeater. Mind-blowing stuff, but not the same as a live show. Certainly not the same as a Fugazi show, which by most accounts was a very guided experience. I used to get pretty wild at shows, not violent—I was not into the hardcore scene—but it got dumb. Crazy. A bit much, perhaps. Maybe if someone I respected gave my a stern talking to I would have toned that shit down. But for a time, getting completely retarded at shows was like all I had. It was a lot of fun. I could imagine instead that whole time just hanging back, shaking my head, feeling superior…everything coulda turned out different!
Or maybe not. I’m basing that whole idea on what I thought these shows were like. It’s a space that lives in my head, built up over the years by second-hand reports, that Instrument movie, bootleg tapes of out-of-context stage banter, and seeing Ian talk in person once at the Wetlands. He’s a completely reasonable man who seemingly can back up every suggestion with both a warm heart and cold logic. But you know he has this wild screaming alter-ego that can swing into this weird recess monitor mode. How did all these things resolve in reality?
I have looked for the answers in YouTube clips, as one does. Of course there’s plenty of live clips, but there’s plenty of Ian talks. They’re all pretty good if you need a general motivation boost, he’s good at that kind of thing, and you know he’s not bullshiting you with some positive thinking nonsense or made-up stories. It’s the real Punk ideas. But it’s even better when he gets real specific:
You’re gonna wanna watch this whole thing, but it’s at around the 40 minute mark that he describes the details of this Kansas City gig. With the magic of the internet and this meticulous archive, the full show was easily found, and upon the clearing of my meager paycheck, purchased and downloaded.
What comes through in these recent talks and the full shows in context is the band’s sense of humor. Even the strictly enforced $5 ticket price, which people are still today having friend and career-ruining arguments over after 20 years of inflation, was originally done because they “thought it was funny” (and perhaps more importantly for any note-takers: “because they could”).
Although there are some serious and practical matters behind some of the banter (around the 1 hr mark in the above talk Ian discusses some very real and unfortunate consequences of show violence), there’s times when you listen to some tapes of the stuff when you have to ask, “are these guys fucking kidding?” YES. When you listen to the whole show it’s clear they are at times actually attempting to lighten the mood. Like this thing with making the audience sign a petition? It happens pretty much exactly like he tells it in the story. And then turning all the lights off is just fucking with people—these guys are having a ball. That is Rock’n'Roll. That’s all Punk is, right? It’s about what’s possible with the reality in front of you. That’s so great that you can hear this story and then hear the actual thing and it all matches.
Oh, and there’s the music. I don’t know if they had any bad gigs, really, but this is good one. Great recording. I’m reminded that, even tho I’ve gotten all the albums over the years, I barely remember the ones that were not on Margin Walker (more commonly known now as the second half of 13 Songs) or Repeater. Played the shit out of those tapes, still have em. I’m also reminded of the song Rend It, which was put on a mixtape for me once. A mixtape I may have missed the point of, but which I also played the hell out of and still have. I’m not really a hidden message guy. It might seem stupid but my message is usually “check this music out”. I mean at times it could be “let’s have sex”, but that really seems better left to the moment, and would be said in those words. Rarely it could be “I am eternally devoted to you and there’s nothing you, or even I, can do about it” but that is almost always taken as deeply creepy, and rightly so. Never would you get that message in a Fugazi song. These guys are on that level level. Comparatively speaking. I’m way off. Sorry.
This is like when, uh, your lover turns over to you on the pillow and says ‘but now I can’t see your genitals’, it’s a lot like that. That ever happen to you?
—Guy Picciotto, on turning off all of the lights
Great version of Waiting Room. Bang, pow, smash.
I don’t love everything Diplo does and am not really a Dirty Projectors fan but when you combine this goofy Major Lazer project with psudo-serious (or I-don’t-know-what) singer Amber Coffman the result was pretty nice. I fell in love with the song after seeing the video and pretty soon it was stuck in my head 24/7.
This goes on for a while. I need a copy of the song before I lose my mind but the album is not out yet at that point and am I really going to go for a full Major Lazer album? Hell no, who am I trying to kid. I make the rare single purchase from Amazon before realizing I already had a copy of the song on my hard drive which I downloaded before they even made that video. So that happened. But I got the full release with the remixes. It turned out I had also downloaded them before too. Hell. Some impression they made, huh? I listened to them enough times now to feel like I got my money’s worth and I feel fine about it. Fine. According to wiki, Amazon gypped me a remix. I don’t know what that’s about but probably wouldn’t have noticed if I didn’t just check how many there were.
Don’t get me wrong, they’re fine remixes. It’s hard to screw up a song with a nice lilting melody like this one, but they’re all uptempo versions which undermines the slo-mo post-party mood of the original. I also like the low synth sound on the verses, the fake tuba bass line that is a direct stylistic lift from whatever but it sound good, man. None of that in the remixes. They just make up whole new backdrops for the vox, whatever. Nice, but not really revelatory. I’m sure they would sounds great in a club after you are sick of the slow version being played out. Weirdly (or not) the slow version is more uplifting emotionally if not adrenaline pump-inducing.
It’s a good little record first thing in the morning to slowly ramp up your mood into consciousness and some kind of physical activity. (If that’s your thing.) %
PS: I noticed there are some performances where Ms. Coffman omits what some have dubbed “the Tarzan yell”, probably because someone told her it was racist right before she went on stage or something. Dude? It’s a Morricone reference. Good the Bad and the Ugly? Are you ok, dude?
I’m a big fan of Mike Watt but don’t have much of his post Minutemen/fIREHOSE stuff. I don’t even have all those albums, which I should really get to. I just like the dude. He does a lot of stuff. His solo albums often have a heavy personal theme and I haven’t been able to give that kind of stuff my full attention to appreciate it, but I felt like I had to get at least one of these newer records and check it out so I got this one. To be needlessly honest (almost the entire point of this blog), I may have confused this project with Floored By Four, which has Yuka Honda in it. I guess I’m gonna have to get that record too. He started two whole bands almost at the same time while he was already doing solo stuff. That’s just the kind of guy he is.
But hold on, this is not just Watt and some random obscuros either. You got guitarist John Dieterich from Deerhoof on this thing, who also does some vocals. Watt does his semi-spoken thing too. But it’s almost an instrumental record. If you took typical Watt basslines and Deefhoof guitar and just mashed it up, you would get a record that sounds nothing like one. It’s more like a mashup of the kind of low-key indie rock that drummer Tim Barnes is associated with, and the atonal free jazz of pianist Thollem McDonas.
I’ve just got the mp3s and even tho I don’t have a really strong opinion on any of the individual songs, I’ve racked up quite a number of plays on this thing. I usually put it on at night and fall asleep to it, or have it on in the background during the day. It’s all pretty laid back. I think the cover, which is pretty kickass, is a little misleading. I recommend this album if you have a severe anxiety problems, or if you have a habit of ingesting so much caffeine you think your heart might explode if you don’t fall asleep immediately. Something about matches up with my brainwaves around bedtime: tired but tense. Or, if I’m trying to work on something, it kinda unsticks me; I can just keep going, sleepy, shambolic, confused, but moving forward. If I was a critic, which I am not, I don’t know if I would give it a high score for musicianship. These are great musicians kinda sleepwalking their way through a record. I happen to like it. I think this resonates the way late-period Radiohead does for a lot of people who are, like Radiohead, more or less conventional rock people who just got bored with rocking out. So they throw in some downtempo free jazz. This band is more like for people who see free jazz live. This record is like a 2am set in a club after an evening of the members’ respective bands tearing shit up. You know, the kind of club that has 2am sets? Yeah, there’s not too many of those. %