Thursday, September 30, 2010
Our love runneth over for Rick Taylor and Brandon Grover's post-punk DJ night, We Fought The Big One that hits Marx Cafe the first Friday night of each month. Tomorrow night Rick and Brandon will be joined by a friend of this blog, Josh Harkavy of Red Onion Records. Rick's got the details:
About this whole Year Zero thingy…
Was 1977 really the start of a new musical movement that led to everything we know today as modern alternative/independent music? Certainly, one could argue that the shockwaves brought about by The Sex Pistols marked the single biggest tectonic shift in music since Elvis. It wasn’t just punk or post-punk that happened either; it was something broader—a new way of thinking about how to make music. No longer did one have to be a skilled musician to get signed and put a record out. The record making process itself was also demystified—not only could anyone play the guitar, anyone could start their own label and find cheap equipment to record with. As the legendary and era-defining DIY band Desperate Bicycles boldy proclaimed in 1977: “It was easy. It was cheap. Go and do it.” And the reality is that just about every disaffected British kid with an arty inclination did.
But, but, but…I have to take issue with this strict interpretation of 1977-as-Year Zero. The notion that everything before that most critical of musical years can be dismissed as inconsequential, middle-of-the-road, AOR dross doesn’t hold up to close scrutiny. Firstly and most obviously, you had seminal bands such as Velvet Underground, The Stooges, Roxy Music and New York Dolls clearly pointing the way forward. Another key band that existed prior to 1977 was The Modern Lovers. Now, a lot of times you’ll see these bands lumped under the “proto-punk” category…the implication being that they not only existed prior to the “proper” punk era, but that their music was a “not-quite-there-yet” embryonic version of the more fully developed sounds that would come later.
This is not the case with The Modern Lovers 1972 demo of “She Cracked.” This particular recording of the song (an earlier, more raw and tension-filled, dare I say it—superior version than what would eventually appear on the band’s lone self-titled compendium-as-album) is a note perfect realization of all the power and possibility the post-punk movement would come to offer. Listen to that guitar—those jagged edges stab like the kind of vicious wooden splinters that leave blood on your fingers. And Jonathan Richman’s non-chalant, too-cool-to-be-bothered vocals would be the template, whether intentional or not, for countless indie rock bands to come whose members hadn’t even been born yet. Top it all off with an irresistible earworm of a hook, some wonderful WTF? sound experiments during the middle 8 section and the band’s undeniable conviction, and you have a 24 karat slice of post-punk perfection…only, several years before post-punk happened---and yes, still a few years before Johnny Rotten called the Queen of England a fascist. It’s no wonder the track has aged so gracefully.
There’s actually a broader point that I’d like to make outside of just questioning the soundness of the Year Zero philosophy. And that is simply this: there are oodles of amazing records out there that either fell through the cracks or have been unjustly forgotten about that are just waiting to be discovered or re-discovered by hungry music fans with a curious ear. I’m inclined to think a lot of Vinyl District readers agree with me, based on the continued success of the DC Record Fair, which just marked another triumph this past weekend at the U Street Music Hall.
I also want you to be aware, if you weren’t already, that our nation’s capitol has a monthly dj night dedicated to celebrating these inspired post-punk sounds of the past: We Fought the Big One. As one of the djs, I can tell you the idea for the night was to host a music listening party heavily anchored around the sounds of the late 70s/early 80s post-punk scene: bands such as Gang of Four, Wire, Joy Division and PIL, along with contemporary DIY heroes (think Deerhunter, Wild Nothing, Vivian Girls) and loads of obscure gems too.
This Friday night, We Fought the Big One will be featuring a long-time friend of the Vinyl District, Josh Harkavy, owner of Red Onion Records and Books, one of DC’s best places to shop for vinyl. Josh has also been instrumental in making the DC Record Fair the success it continues to be. So come by the Marx this Friday night, enjoy some tasty Belgian beers, meet other music fans and revel in the world of post-punk weirdness and DIY brilliance!
Fri. Oct. 1
WE FOUGHT THE BIG ONE
w/ guest dj Josh Harkavy
@ MARX CAFÉ
3203 Mt. Pleasant St. NW
Washington DC 20010
10pm - 3am
NO COVER 21+
Facebook info: http://www.facebook.com/#!/event.php?eid=155517691135955&index=1
(RSVP if you can!)
Posted by Jon at 10:18 AM