November 23, 2008

Punk Parallels and Perpendiculars

Ch. 40

Punk Parallels and Perpendiculars

The degree to which music has an impact on a person's life is likely related to how much this person really thinks about the music they are listening to how it is reflected in his or her own life.

A person will either bop to the beat of the latest Rise Against recording or else swoon to the sexy stylings of Justin Timberlake or Kanye West. Snoop Dogg may inspire you to light a doob or Slipknot might make you wanna tailgate the hell out of the car in front of you. But within the vast realm of music generally classified as punk, it is important to realize it as one of the more pensive genres. Go ahead and argue back that TOOL or SOAD writes thougtful music... and I would have to agree. Go ahead and argue that NOFX songs like "See Her Pee"or "Fun Things to Fuck (if you're a winner)" are exceptionally juvenile, and I would have to agree. But depending on the type of punk we are talking about, the messages that these songs carry are likely the most direct and explicit way of demanding a change out of ourselves and eachother in a repressive and injust world.

But before anything else, I wanna talk about a few shows. First: October 2007 - The Circle Jerks with Ignite and Pennywise headlining. In the height of popularity, The Circle Jerks were hated by cops. They would love to shut shows down when the kids got a little rowdy. But the only reason the kids got rowdy is because of the passion they felt towards the message that the band was singing about (Reganism, for example). So the pigs would pull out their batons and bust open as many heads as possible, as requested by the local governmental authorities, in order to surpress the kids from thinking that they even had a chance of changing the school of thought in which the way that society was being run. Keith Morris and his 5 foot dreads was good enough to skank around for a solid 80-90 min set and really get the blood flowing for the crowd.

When the lesser known band IGNITE came out, there stood the same group of motivated and challenging youth standing & singing, just as they did with the Circle Jerks 15 years ago. This time though, the pigs carry tasers and tasers kill people so the rowdiness was deterred.

Ignite is an incredible band that sings about historic communist oppression in Eastern Europe, as well as perhaps more local issues like domestic violence, poverty, strength, and brotherhood. The passion & the power with which they sing, though, is just what the doctor ordered for a world that can only be SHOCKED into action, with such clear, concise, and important lyrics in each & every song.

Pennywise? Well, really what can I even say. Go buy a record. Then you'll know. But in my notes, I have "greed" written down, so I think that this is one (of many) important songs by pennywise which encapsulates the way that society operates souly based on greed. I would daresay that this is one of the root causes/fundamental problems with what there is in the world today. They never played it though. The Pennywise set list, I either have published somewhere else or jotted down, but a pennywise fan could probably guess about 90% of the songs they played that night.

The second show I wanna mention was last summer when I saw Edmonton local band "The Wednesday Night Heroes play with D.O.A. and Rancid. This was a punk show just the same, but it was raw. It was sloppy & scratchy - violent & loving.

The Heroes are local but have done well to represent our city - maybe not as much as SNFU, but hey that's just an opinion.

D.O.A. was soooo tight! How could you not be, after playing together for 25 years +? It was aggressive and vulgar - not as much bodily fluids being sprayed in the air as the guttermouth show - but maybe it just seems that way cuz the Agricom has a hellofa lot more air space. Joey Shithead continues to tour small Canadian towns, representing a set of values in which soooo many shared through the mid-80s, and a certain amount now try to continue to live by.

Rancid, the big hellcat, spent the show entertaining its audience with endless wartime imagery on the screen over the stage. It included video from WWI & II and every depiction of armaments in any shape or form. It was an anti-war show, but unlike anti-flag, Tim Armstrong didn't lecture us about anything we should or should not be doing, but simply let the images from the atrocities of war do that for him. They played I Wanna Riot & I danced.

Aside from these 2 great shows (I mean, these blogs are fucking horribly long anyways...) let me just generalize a few more things before getting to my point.

The fun punk bands (Less Than Jake, Gob, The Mad Caddies, Slick Shoes, The Bouncing Souls...) have just as much to offer to society as the more politically motivated (say, satanic surfers, propagandhi) bands. Aside from their "let's party" attitude, these bands still sing to kids for the most part, about the tough things about being a kid. If anything, these songs induce passion in the kids, and passion is where it starts. It was No Use For A Name who opened for NOFX last summer.

The angry punk bands like Death By Stereo, Blood For Blood (hardcore), Union 13, Raised Fist, The Suicide Machines, do an incredible job of REJECTING the mess we have made for ourselves and absolutely calling for action NOW. Blood for Blood speaks to the kids that have had a rougher upbringing, union 13 caters to the ethnic, repessed minorites, death by stereo gives the burb kids from socal an escape valve from the ludicrus lifestyle from being raised in the valley, and the suidice machines just dislikes government and status quo. but these bands, i think do the best job of getting kids moving, thinking, doing...

Straight up hardcore bands like suicidal tendencies, refused, sick of it all, H2O, and 98 Mute, do just the same as what the "angry bands" do, but with less screaming - mor
e ... yelling. Yay.


So the music we listen to will be largely dependent on 2 things: demographics & geographics.
Besides the kids that grew up watching Black Flag and TSOL on Huntington Beach, or Social Distortion in the OC or Death By Stereo, 20 years later, there wouldn't be a large reason for kids to listen to "underground" anti-system...anti-anything kind of music in these areas. Life was peachy. Similarly, South Beach Miami would be a more difficult place to find anti-authoritarian music. Sub-cultures and countercultures thrived more in places like nyc. boston. edmonton. That's right. Here. Bands are usually impressed with what a tight underground scene we have here, when they final tour all the way up to 53° lat. That's largely because our kids have not a hell of a lot to do. We have spikey-haired kids up here, some of which can be parallelled to the socal kids that come from (oil) money or overly-normal suburban families. The punk population in any region will be somewhat divided by the not-so-subtle differences like the crowd with its spikes & chains @ the rancid show or the crowd with its machismo and backward black ball caps @ the pw show. Despite this, we are united by a stronger - the STRONGEST force - a will & hope to see a brighter future.

So, What have we learned on the show tonight, Craig?

All of that has brought us to this:

Acceptable vs a RESPECTABLE lifestyle: a new way of thinking

Thanks to: the industrial revolution, adam smith's wealth of nations, fordism, taylorism, lawyers, and hollywood, north america has been consumed with consumerism. All of the tools were put into place that allowed the Western World to THRIVE off of material things, in which corporations got rich off of. Laws put into place ensured that these inanimate moneymakers are financially secured so that the minority few could get rich off of them. All of this turn-of-the-19th-Century activity, making the rich man richer had the effect of making the poor man poorer. Especially with Globalization and the such, the cheapest labour was exploited and continues to be exploited to this day. The results go beyond human effects - the environment gets dumped on and all of life is affected as a result.

Adolescents - youth who have yet to be corrupted by money, materialism, & that testosterone that makes the world go round - might find that punk rock outlet for a short period of a time, prior to having to invest in an education, house, job, or family (as these things all cost money).

But there exist great men like Dr. Greg Gaffin, Ian MacKaye, Keith Morris, Jello Biafra, and sure why not: Henry Rollins, who continually sound the message to youth (in speach or song) that they have the right to demand for something MORE from this world and that the system as it stands is a failure. They show how a 4 or 8 year punk rock stint can be MORE than just a phase: it can be a legitimate long-term lifestyle. Even if we aren't all just sopping up the royalty money that comes our way from being on Fat Wreck or Epitaph. We can be smarter in everything we do. We do not have to be belligerent, anti-intelligent "punks" that bust out windows, shave cats, and spraypaint cars. We do not have to be viewed by the whole of society as a "temporary but necessary, pain-in-the-arse acceptable counterculture outlet" but rather, change this perception of "punks" into something more --- something that gives our society hope in an obviously horribly failed system.

The revolution is beginning. I can feel it. People are noticing the state of environment, the state of life, and are starting to make changes in their lifestyles. As more and more people make these changes in their lives, they will continue to be pushed farther and farther to their breaking points as the population problem continues. Things will likely become very tense in coming years & decades and we will not be able to sustain this way of life. It will only be when things get as bad as they can possibly get will people be willing to finally come together and fight for something more from the powers that be. We will have to rise from the ashes and rebuild a system of equality and opportunity, and this will only happen when people wake up and find the passion necessary to be the change they want to see - that passion that is so essential in a punk.

Time for another piercing.

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