The idea of punk rock has become a marketing tool to sell torn up clothes, oddball hair products and vintage shirts at the mall. The days of bands coming together with fans and playing shows that involved the audience as much as the performer had become but a memory in the old folks still trying to keep hope alive.
Even up-and-coming bands strive for the rock star attitude, with their own clothes lines, bars, action figures or anything else. The KISS business model of music has become the norm for all the younger bands today. Somewhere it all went wrong. Just like rap, punk rock and underground has been ravaged by the capitalist system in place.
On this night, all the walls created by band and audience alike were pushed to the ground. In the upstairs of downtown music venue Notsuoh, Ian Mackaye (best known for his time in Minor Threat and Fugazi) and Amy Farina brought their band the Evens to town for the first time. There was no major production, no stage, nothing to get in the way. It was simply Ian, Amy and some friends getting together to have a great night of music and discussion.
While Fugazi reached a level where this was impossible due to the size of their audience and their unwillingness to shun those who believed in the band, the Evens is a chance to reconnect in a way Minor Threat did years ago. It was not about a stage and a show -- it was about blazing trails, setting up whereever you could and connecting with people. It was about being a community. There was no dress code, no thugs in the audience, it was simply free ideas and a creation of energy. It was punk rock in its true form.
With no seats in place, the audience simply sat with their legs crossed on the floor like a group of students sitting around their teacher in elementary school. Ian and Amy took up their instruments, turned the lamps they brought for lighting on and kicked into "Shelter Two." The sounds of the baritone guitar with the drums was definitely unique for me and seeing it in person was great. From a seated position, Ian gave off the same energy he did bouncing around the stage in Fugazi. He and Farina harmonized on the songs perfectly.
The audience fell in like a choir singing along, chanting along when Ian requested it on songs like "Mt. Pleasant" and "You Won't Feel a Thing." Ian did everyone a great service by explaining the songs in great detail. "You Won't Feel a Thing" was especially revealing as an observation on the pain we'll face when we wake up from the numb caused by the insanity of our world caused by the hand of our government.
I can't think of a single song off-hand that the band didn't play on this night from their albums. As Ian said when they started, "We're going to play a little over an hour and when we play the last song, we'll be done. The last song is the song that another song doesn't come after." It was that kind of carefree fun mixed with intelligent discussion between band and audience that made the night an experience rather than a concert. That's what music should be about.