IT'S AN AMERICAN HEAVY METAL WEEKEND
OK maybe it's just me but I have to clear the air on this one; after a year of titles, styles, sub-styles and etc.. I find it a little annoying to find that yet another name has been taken and attached to something else to legitimize it. I'm old and crabby so don't take this personally but I remember when punk was called punk then it was Hardcore or New Wave then it became Thrash or Crossover then it was Punk again and now I keep hearing this Hardcore word again and it makes me wonder if history is in fact repeating itself only at a faster pace. So what's next Thrash?
I'm not sure when it all happened I guess maybe early 80s when everyone started using sub-titles to divide themselves from the rest of the group. Back in the mid-70s when Punk Rock climbed out of that dirty little alley in the shitty parts of New York, Detroit, London and LA, it was an ugly little child with a lot personalities. For every Ramones, Dead Boys, Weirdos, and Sex Pistols there was a Patty Smith, Modern Lovers, Black Randy and the Metro Squad Screamers, Suicide, Birthday Party and Buzzcocks. It all counter balanced itself and each band had it's own personality and sound. I mean who would confuse a X record with a Circle Jerks record. All you have to do is look at a flyer from the late 70s and understand this. Bills filled with matches made in hell. Bands that had one thing in common they tore the place up and did it in a way that no one else could.
Like all things of course the open and expanding sounds had to stop. People want to have something they can hold onto and understand. Regardless of what you want to believe, music is a form of entertainment and you can only challenge people so long before they lose interest or you run out of ideas. So you start to sound a little more like this band or that band to gain a fan base. So along comes Sire Records with their New Wave campaign, and sure a few came out alive but as Clide Bessie in Decline said so well New Wave doesn't mean shit. The puzzling thing is that even the general public understood this one and the records gathered dust in every cut out bin next to all the Village People records, Kiss' Unmasked and other Disco left-overs.
So Punk missed it's chance to swim into the mainstream and we all stayed happy with our own personal little click. Along comes Hardcore, a way of saying not only were you punk as fuck but you weren't an art student and definitely not New Wave. The term came from XXX porn that included penetration shots and fit the antisocial mood of the 1000 degenerate punks found in every city. It meant that you had gotten past all the wimpy art bands and moved onto the real stuff like a junkie moving from pot to China White.
Hardcore followed a path of harder faster and more angry. I guess this could be mainly traced to LA bands like The Germs, Black Flag, The Circle Jerks, Fear, Social Distortion, Middle Class, CH3 and SF's Dead Kennedys and Canada's DOA. They were of course still punk in every sense of the word but at the same time they brought a tougher harder edge of surfers ready to fuck things up. Punk moved from the Downtown art scene and into the Suburbs. Then came all the male bonding of the Slam and the Stage dive. Things like the HB kids trashing a hall in S.F. that inspired the Nazi Punks Fuck Off song by the Dead Kennedys. Drugs, Violence and destruction from the lower middle class latchkey kids of America. Music that expressed their lifestyle and anger in a way no one else had. It spread like a case of the clap throughout the country with bands like Agnostic Front, Youth Brigade, Minor Threat, 7 Seconds, MDC, DRI and the Effigies.
By the mid-80s there were thousands of three letter bands all sounding the same. Here's were you begin to see a few of the modern versions of Hardcore leaking into the scene like Skinheads, Straight Edge and Extreme Militant Causes. Four major records stand out as causing and influencing millions of off shoot bands: MDC's Millions of Dead Cops, DRI's 21 songs, 7 Seconds Skins, Brains and Guts, and Agnostic Front's Victim In Pain. I know the time line is a little screwy but the whole slow, fast, slow, fast thing is all their fault.
That moves us onto the Thrash/Crossover or what I like to call the Dark Ages. I guess you could blame a great deal of the whole Thrash thing on Black Flag's "It's OK to put out Black Sabbath records cause Greg Ginn is out of control" period and a little known Boston band by the name of the FUs. OK, the subsection in reference to metal in the laws of punkdom were
- Thou shall not like Heavy Metal or anything that can be considered Heavy Metal.
- Thou shall never have long hair.
- Thou shall never wear your jeans tucked into your combat boots.
- Thou shall never use the devil horns except in jest, when anyone is playing a guitar solo.
- Thou shall not in anyway shape or form enjoy guitar solos.
- Metal Heads, dead heads or anyone who would call themselves a _____head are the enemy and should be treated as such.
- Any band no matter how good they may have been that put out a metal or metal like record is a sellout.
It started out innocent enough, I mean what do you do when you've ran out of things that fit into the structure you've been playing. It's either break up or change to a different structure. That tended to be Black Flag's problem and if you complained the mighty Greg Ginn fired you. With the FUs it was a little different, it was a a joke. Picture a bunch of guys sitting around joking about a punk band that played metal songs really fast. Boy wouldn't that be funny. Of course some didn't get the joke and speed metal was born. If it wasn't them it would have been the Dickies. So without knowing it they gave metal heads an invite to the party and all those punkers a chance to pull out the Kiss and Black Sabbath records with a clear conscience.
At the same time something happened on the east coast. It was called Hardcore Straight Edge. A young crew of kids at CBGB that took the whole Wolf Pack thing a little too seriously. They were young and wanted their own little gang of insiders and like with any gang you need an enemy and when you run out of enemies it helps to invent new ones. One of punks birth places was quickly changed into a Sunday revival of hipper than thou rap. Which inspired dressed preachers paradise. Reeducating the Youth of Today with a new zero tolerance militant Straight Edge till 21 message. You know unity is Fascism and nothing brings people together like the good old us against them. I find it amusing that they found the easiest group of people to beat up on were the drunks and the junkies.
When Straight Edge didn't seem to feed the hate fire enough they moved onto newer extremes of alienation. Granted that not all their causes are bad or evil. Some of them I believe in strongly, but it all comes down to the DOA song Where Do You Draw the Line. When do the means justify the end? The funny thing is that when Metal Blade and some of the other larger labels came a knocking how quickly many of them changed their tune. Crossover did more to kill Punk than a thousand Sex Pistols reunions could have ever done. There's nothing like your old favs like Suicidal Tendencies or the Cro Mags opening up for Slayer or Danzig. Fans with beach balls and bic lighters in full effect. No wonder every one started listening to wimpy college rock and euro-disco. Even Agnostic Front put out shitty records.
Crossover did one thing it gave the dying dinosaur of Metal a swift kick in the ass and woke them up out of the glam metal nightmare that it had been in ever since punk got banned from the Whiskey. I remember one thing about this period more than anything the only girls hanging out at shows were the metal chicks. They scare me and should scare you too. Girls.... now that brings us to Grunge and the second Wave of punk AKA New School. The thing that hit me first off when the zombie crop of Bad Religion wanna be bands started getting hits was, hey there sure is a lot of girls hanging out. That was the best part of Thrid Wave Ska was it brought the girls in. No longer this teenage sausage party but a more equal female share of the population of Punkdom. I remember Steve Soto (Adolescence & ADZ) saying something to the effect that if there had been this many girls showing up at punk shows five years ago, Grunge wouldn't have been invented in the first place.
For the first time in a long time punk wasn't a guy or guys and their girlfriends thing. Of course the second thing I noticed was how quickly they picked up on all of our good old bad habits. Maybe it's just me, but I find it ironic that someone who was in preschool when I started going to shows are using words like "poseur" and "sellout". Hey I've been through all the bull shit and I really don't think that I have any more right to the party then anyone. So go fuck yourselves. I don't care if you've been into it for 2 years or two days or whether or not you listen to Green Day or The Dead Boys if you dig it, dig it, stop keeping score and have fun.
It must have been about 2 years ago when I started hearing about the whole Hardcore movement gaining ground again. Not only was it giving teenage boys a reason to feel different or should I say better than everyone else again, but gaining new ground and in ways going to extremes. Like the whole Hardline thing that takes straight edge to the point of not only abstaining from any form of drugs (alcohol, cigarettes, caffeine), eating meat or animal products, sex outside of commitment, but also any form of sex including masturbation. These are the kind of people that burn down McDonalds to get their message out to the general public. I mean that is just plain unhealthy. I find it also interesting that not only do they attack non-straight edgers (as if that didn't give them an endless supply) but due in part to religious belief condone the hatred of Homosexuals and other sexual deviations.
Now I know that this is only the extreme and that it doesn't give a complete view of the movement but the idea that this can come out of any youth movement scares the shit out of me. I'm one of those people that get a little nervous when people call something a movement it's just one step away from a uniform and jack boots. Well, yesterday I'm sitting at Safari and the line up was Drip, Sabsara and Earth Crisis. Now if you took EC made them lose all the preaching and causes and sent them on the road with Korn or any of those other big metal bands, they would be called a metal band. Not a Hardcore band or a punk hardcore band but a metal band. After a weekend of metal bands (DeadFront, Smakdab, Second Coming and etc..) it dawned on me that this is some kind of new marketing plan. Like Sire Records calling the Dead Boys New Wave way back in the 70s, EC is being sold as something it isn't.
The first clue should be the fact that they are signed to Roadrunner Records (pst. Roadrunner is a death Metal Label). It seems that somewhere over the last few years Crossover Metal and the Straight Edge Extreme have fucked in some dressing room backstage at a Pantera concert and 9 months later out came Hardcore. Just who is EC trying to educate? I think Pantera and Mega Death tried to educate the metal heads a few years back and it didn't work. If EC would like a lot of money there's nothing like tapping that white trash market. I mean look at how well MOD & their sister group SOD did in the 80s. They were both good fun loving, Homophonic, hate spreading, racist bands. Maybe it all just comes down to this; I like to call the kettle black when the kettle is black not blue, gray or orange. So if you're a metal band call yourselves a metal band.
I'm about to step off the soapbox but one last point; yesterday was one of the biggest teenage boy sausage parties I've seen all year. Then again look at the music and the teenage boys and I ask you this why would any women want to be there? This is maybe a good thing because it will reduce the amount of poor innocent offsprings these kids could have, being subjected to this hate-fest. Not all Hardcore fans are as evil as I've portrayed them and too be truthful I find a great number of them to be very loving, caring, informed people who want to live their lives to the best of their ability and in their own way change the world we live in. It's the intolerant better than thou that get my boxers all twisted up. Your life is what you make it. If you make it a life of hate and false perfection that's what it will be.
Oh and to the kid that ran into me and spilled my beer yesterday, and though you didn't get a shit load of the hardest staining Guinness because I was drunk cause I wasn't (second beer of the night) but because you were in too big of a hurry to notice that I was standing there with a full beer. So next time say your sorry or better yet offer to replace the beer.
OK now that we have that all out of the way let us move onto a brief run down of the life of Davo. Well November was a good month for shows including a stop by Gob on a very slow Wednesday night. They were OK but I had to do it as a 21 and over show due to the fact that Suicidal Tendencies was playing the night before and SNFU that Friday. By the time they got through half the set it was down to those that work at the bar and those who are in the band. They weren't half bad but they were like many of the other bands on Fearless and for a band from Canada they should have known at least one DOA cover (I asked).
On the 16th we had the mighty Fugazi and packed the place with well over 500 people. It is nice to work with a band that not only does their own booking but plays for a percentage of the door. Of course charging only $5.00 is also kick ass. All these bands can go on and on about doing it for the kids and how they want ticket prices low and to only play All Ages shows but when you want a $1000 to get you through the next day, plus everything from $10 per person food buyouts to Batteries just how is a promoter or a club supposed to stay in business without charging $10 to $15 ahead. This brings up another complaint I have; I'm sick and tired of kids thinking that since we're charging $12 for a show that we're making bank. I hate to break it to ya but 99% of the time we are not making a dime on the door due to the cost of the bands and production costs and advertising.
Here's a run down for ya and I won't name the band, but just to give you an idea of how things really work. Guarantee for band X - $700.00, their support band Y - $200, local opener - $50.00, Food buyout for band X & band Y at $10 per person - $120.00, hospitality (beer, sodas, batteries, chip and etc..) - $130.00, Production costs (security, sound man, door man) - $200, and Advertising - $150.00. That makes the backend where the promoters start making money at $1550.00 and then in most cases the promoter only receives a small percentage like 15%. So if the ticket price is $10.00 and 200 people show up then the promoter makes a whopping $67.50. Tell me where is all the money going? Anyway not only did Fugazi play for $5.00 when they could easily charge over $10 but after everyone was paid and they got their 90% of what was left they kicked down an extra $190.00 to the opening bands. Cool guys no question about it and if they can do it, why can't everyone else? Squid Boy and the hottest band on Fearless Records At the Drive-In opened and let me tell ya ATDI gave Fugazi a run for their money. Fugazi then took the stage and played for close to 2 hours. A great experience all around.
SlipKnot slipped back into town around the 16th after finishing recording their upcoming release on Roadrunner Records with producer Ross Robinson (Korn's producer). It was nice to see the boys again and listen to all the "We met this famous person and that famous person". I guess they met Kiss, Alicia Sliverstone, the guys from Tool and a few others. Don't worry their heads haven't really gotten any bigger, YET. They will be going back out to do the mixing sometime after the first of the year and then the record should be out sometime in March or April. At this time they are not planning on playing in shows in Des Moines until their CD release party but may do some out of town shows so keep your ear to the ground on this one.
Chixdiggit and the Hi-Fives roared into town to play on the 21st with Mulligan Stu and Radio Caroline. The Urge played an all age show earlier that night (they were off stage at 9:20) and when I got to the club around 11:15 the Urges stuff was still not loaded out. Assholes. I will never understand the whole "well we have 7 members in the band but we can't help our roadie and the clubs 2 loaders load out our shit". So Radio Caroline hit the stage around 11:35pm and did a blistering 15 minute set proving pound for pound they are the rockingest band in this town. Next up was Mulligan Stu and they ripped through a 20 minute set without taking a breath. Then came the Hi-Fives and did their 60 garage thing, not really my thing but they where good just not my thing. Cixdiggit hit the stage and ripped the roof off the place. You know I had heard them in the past on CD and really wasn't that impressed but I left the club that night a fan.
The hottest show of the month was by far Marky Ramone and the Intruders, Sloppy Seconds and the Teenage Frames. The Frames hit the stage and took away my shitty mood about the low turnout. Can these guys have a bad set? Next up was a band that I hadn't seen in 11 years back when they were on tour with Toxic Reasons. Sloppy Seconds hit the stage and did that great Junk anti-PC Rock-Muther_fuckin_roll thing they do, oh so well. The only complaint I had is that they didn't do We're the Men. At the end of their set they busted out some Ramones Songs with Marky playing drums. Great sing-a-long for everyone. Did anyone ever not like the Ramones. I mean they did put out a couple shitty records but for the most part they ruled. The Intruders hit up the stage running through their set of Ramones style songs and then ending with Marky singing I want to be sedated. A good time all around. Where were you?
That's all for now. Happy Holidays to all you good little boys, girls, transvestites, transgenders, freaks, punks, skins, rudies, or whatever hip new thing that you decided to be this week. Oh and the checks in the mail.