Sunday, December 20, 2009

shoddy factory

I hate it when you get those weird eye twitches, continual reminder of something awry. Maybe it’s a bad diet, or not enough sleep, or just the stress of existence... A sweaty few days wandering through LA with no car and no direction, except a free ticket to Disneyland, and some avocados from my grandparent’s back yard. Then back here in time to fix the proof of the magazine, before we go to print, and it’s column writing time! I used to harass Golnar about how her columns seemed so half-assed sometimes, obviously written at the last possible second, and now I sit in the chair she once sat in I find myself in the same boat. I feel about as inspired as it’s possible to be when waiting for a delayed flight in an airport lounge. I was going to write about going to see the Raincoats, at this epic touring Part Time Punks fest, which was sort of a post-punk version of Holidays in the Sun. Only instead of Splodgenessabounds and the English Dogs, it featured Viv Albertine from the Slits, the Raincoats, a really shoddy Factory act called Section 25, and Savage Republic. Then whatever local acts from whatever town the tour happened in that fitted in with the Part Time Punks aesthetic and didn’t mind that they probably weren’t going to get paid. I know a few bands were advertised as playing at several shows who didn’t play, that were super psyched to play with the Raincoats but got bugged out at the fact that the promoters wanted them to play for free, but were also charging $25 dollars admission… Cash from chaos! There were actually something like twelve bands playing the SF show. It was a grueling night set to test the endurance of both audience and band. First I went to see Cissie’s new band play their first show, with D-Clone and Nerveskade. They were excellent; with Cissie on bass, Vinnie on drums, Daiki on Guitar and Robert Collins on vocals what more could one expect? I left the show early after a long exchange with D-Clone’s road crew about my giant Vulpess badge. (I got it from the LA Rawponx if you find yourself needing one…)

Anyway, my former band mate was playing drums for the Raincoats, so I skipped the $25 dollar entrance fee, and I assumed my late arrival meant I would manage to skip some of the turgid support acts. NOT THE CASE AT ALL. I only missed Grass Widow, who I actually kind of like. A local band played next, called Magic Bullets I think. Imagine an AHA! Cover band playing all the songs from every John Hughes movie. If people think that shit like that is post-punk, in that the word punk is associated at all with what they were doing, they need their brains examined. It was new wave for secretaries’ night out. I can’t remember much about the terrors followed. So many bad bands! The venue felt like the kind of place where they shoot the club scenes for say Buffy the Vampire Slayer or The Crow, and in fact Savage Republic sounded like they should have been the band in that sort of TV show/corny movie club scene. They had a Tool/leather trench coat vibe to their sound, and I was told that when the Raincoats finished their soundcheck, the guitarist for savage Republic made fun of how “inept” they were, then started shredding Steve Vai style on his guitar. Why would you book a show with some stupid past-it rock band, who don’t even know who the Raincoats are? Savage Republic were one saxophone solo away from being that shitty band from the Lost Boys.

The Raincoats were great—I was really nervous about seeing them play. My band played with them when they first got back together in 1993, we were teenagers and thought they sounded like hippie mom rock. They played a song with Viv Albertine, which was dreamy, and in general managed to convey the adventurous idea of music that their records encapsulate. It didn’t seem like a pastiche of something that once meant something else, but instead was a continuation of a musical idea that echoes on in girls’ bedroom bands. That’s about all I got room for, more next month I swear!

Friday, December 18, 2009

Human Causes (this is from the queer issue I for got to put it up here)

Hanging out listening to the first Gray Matter 12”, talking about the Dischord bands you missed out on because you heard some later record that did not encapsulate their greatness… Though I guess that could apply to anything, any sound, any idea, any band that started out hardcore and decided that hair metal was the future. I like listening to Revolution Summer music, it just sounds nostalgic to me. Reminds me of being a teenager, skating to see hardcore bands play, trading zines, feeling dramatic, you know the scoop. Things are different now, they were different then, that time is just a memory, rewritten to suit how one wants to regard ones youth. Skip the endless boredom and feelings that you’re never gonna get outta this goddamn town, just a snapshot of walking down the street with your best friend, both listening to the Rites of Spring tape on separate walkmans. I have been thinking about growing old and staying punk a whole lot while putting this issue together. How things change and stay the same. There have been so many discussions about queerness in punk and hardcore, the shifts from the era that I got into hardcore until now, how the internet has wiped out penpals and perzines. Where are the girl gangs that Bikini Kill talked about, that were gonna rule all towns? Punk is ruthless, culture is ruthless, things are deified, museum quality pieces, until they are no longer needed or remembered and they disappear. Riot Grrrl, queer core, XChicksUpFrontPosX—does your girl gang need a name in order to do its work, or is it OK just to labor on in the trenches, no affiliations, no straight edge lady crew to run with, no secret society of drunk dykes in the pit? Can you explain why it’s cool for women and queers to claim this tiny piece of space as their own in the “scene?” Can you explain for the fiftieth time why women cannot be sexist towards men? How easy it is for some guy to shut down the conversation with one dismissive remark? How having a network of other punk girls and queers talking about the shit that gets them down about the scene that they love isn’t gonna wreck some nervous white boys world? Though maybe it should. You just have to accept the shit to be part of this right? You have to accept the drunken insults and shutdowns, the thoughtless remarks and casual dismissals. People leave, they abandon ship because it gets tiresome and boring always being on the defensive. Just because that girl you know, or your one queer friend doesn’t have any problems with sexism or homophobia in the hardcore punk scene must mean that it doesn’t exist. Right?

I know people dismiss the ’90s punk personal-is-political years as being one long boring workshop at a fest with a bunch of bands that whined more than they played, but for me at least coming of age in that calling-you-on-yr-shit culture made me think about what I was taught, and interrogate what punk and hardcore offered me as a girl. It’s weird sitting here writing this shit, month after month, year after year, thinking about

when I first moved here, in ’03 and starting shitworking for the mag that I am now coordinator of. We went to two shows this week, one in someone’s kitchen in the Mission, where a bunch of pop punk bands played, then Libyans took the floor, and as is the case whenever I see a great band at a show such as this, totally reminded me of why I am still here. Total destruction basement hardcore with the raddest lady vocals, the right sound in a room full of psyched kids… Then another touring band, Portland’s Silent Majority, playing with Culture Kids and Fugitive Kind at a birthday generator show at the 16th St BART plaza, a show that didn’t get shut down until the last possible minute. We put together a benefit fest, San Francisco’s Doomed, at the beginning of the month to raise money for the magazine and for a new all ages space for san Francisco. There were two or three shows a night for five consecutive days, with bands ranging from the Bananas to Crime. MRR set up a show with Descarados, Adelitas, Rayos X, Tuberculosis, NN, Send the Dogs and Conquest for Death, at a bar that because of San Francisco’s weird licensing laws can put on all ages shows a couple times a month. You have to pay extra for security, and it’s true that we raised way more money at the 21+ bar show, but it was worth it. I worked door for the first three bands, (yeah it was an epic show) but caught Descarados, who were awesome, reminding me of Revolution Summer desperation mixed with the fury of Southside Chicago punk. Their 12” is great, but if you have a chance to see them do it! Tuberculosis had to cancel due to a run in wit the police shitsystem, though I think I have raved enough about that band and the inspirational South Central LA punk scene that they are part of, along with Rayos X. Hopefully there’s

gonna be a piece in MRR about it all in the not too distant future, and I know Lengua Armada are putting out a 7” or two… Watching the kids, of all ages, races and genders freak the fuck out in the pit, singing along and dancing, to the most raging punk sound, of boredom, rage, alienation and community all at once. Yeah I was not in there with them, something about punks in their thirties? Well, to be honest I don’t think I’ve been in a pit since I was fifteen, I like dancing but…

There was a shitworker band show, where bands ranged from the pummeling noise and fog machine disorientation of the aptly named Celine Dion, to the post-punk almost Zounds-esque Rank/Xerox. And another inadvertent shitworker show, featuring the very sketchy geezers (in both US and UK senses of the words), Young Offenders, and the return of the two Allans, post-Giant Haystacks with the tense herk’n’jerk of Airfix Kits. Anyway I could just list every band that played each show, but I won’t, except to say that Crime were great. Seeing them at a seedy venue with a non-pro-sound pro-attitude soundsystem made them make so much more sense as band that exists now. Thanks to all the bands, and people who came out and supported the fest and the cause! It was fucking exhausting but worth it…

You may wonder why we are accepting tax-deductible donations nowadays. We recently got sent this book, Gimme Something More, which is an oral history of punk in the Bay Area, in the tradition of We Got the Neutron Bomb or Please Kill Me. I don’t think the editors are punks, and you can tell that they focused on more sensationalist aspects of the scene and its history, plus it’s published by a major corporation, so you won’t be reading a review of it in these pages. But the chapter on MRR left me trying to imagine what it must have been like running the magazine at a point in time when it had so much money it was able to give the excess away to other zines, and projects, (like Gilman St) that the magazine aligned with politically and punk-ically. We are definitely not in that position at this point in time. We are getting by, but it’s another era of the magazine, for print media, record stores and book stores in general. We get several emails a month from kids complaining that their local spot has stopped selling Maximum, if this is the case in your town are there any other places that would work? A show space? A skate store? Another bookstore? You can get distro rates if you order five or more of the magazine, and getting a subscription makes it even cheaper than buying it from the newsstand, and you get it before it hits said newsstands. I wanted to write more about the magazines financial situation, but maybe another time…

Thanks to the Mydolls for replacing MRR’s lost Mydolls vinyl (see story on them in the TX punk article) and to Michael for all the scans of the early punk girl zines! So amazing...

new issue of MRR!

Decade-End Top Tens Issue! The first issue of the decade seems a good place to discuss the music of the decade we are leaving. MRR #320, the January 2010 issue, features numerous MRR columnists, shitworkers, and reviewers pontificating on what went before musically, the platters that mattered in the—what do we call ‘em—the zeroes? We also have interviews with cover stars from Japan, D-CLONE, Olympia, Washington’s BROKEN WATER, Montreal’s COMPLICATIONS and street punk from the UK, courtesy of CONTROL. We talk with author Ian Glasper, who has just finished a three volume series on the UK underground, starting from the spiky punk of the early ’80s in Burning Britain, then moving onto the anarcho-punk scene with The Day the Country Died, and ending up with a book on the UK hardcore scene of the late ’80s, Trapped in a Scene. And as always, we feature the most extensive punk music review section in print, plus all yer usual columnists… The cover was designed by Randy Ransome.

Get this issue of MRR here:

Monday, December 14, 2009

no room at the inn

I think this may be the shortest column I have ever written—we ran outta room, so you’re getting a digested version of my epic struggles this month. What’s been going on you may ask? I have been debating internally as to whether I wanna go see the Raincoats, who are playing the same weekend as Teenage Jesus and the Jerks, somewhat randomly, at separate revival shows. Two opposing ideas of women in music that emerged outta the dank steam of the punk rock. Lydia Lunch and Gina Birch? Wimmin in musique. I have to give a talk at a local literary event about MRR, which is making me nervous. I am an awkward and obnoxious human—how am I gonna translate the aims, past, present and future of this rag you hold in yer hands to the type of crowd that attends such occurrences? What we do is secret!