Tag Archives: Revolution Summer

Make It Stop…

Tsk Tsk LA Times. I’d already done away with (500) Days of Summer a handful of weeks ago, and this is merely another exaggerated interpretation of “emo culture.” So on the one hand, I’d like to dissect it. But, I think the words clearly speak for themselves:

“500 Days” is, as far as genres go, a hybrid picture, something of an emo version of a romantic comedy: It disdains machismo, futurism, violence and volume in favor of subtlety and heartfelt, if often mumbled, emotion.

The one time Tom really runs afoul of Summer’s feelings is when he throws a punch at a guy who’s been hassling her at a bar (downtown’s highly photogenic Broadway Bar, by the way). Tom is one of a number of emo leading men to emerge from Hollywood this year, joining sensitive types in “Adventureland” and “Away We Go,” among other pictures. As Gawker noted this week, the cineplex has been full of “gentle, sensitive, geeky male outsiders with a love of Lou Reed and snug hoodies.”

With its very particular aesthetic point of view and calibrated tone, “(500) Days” shares much cultural ground not just with indie bands but with emo culture broadly defined — with journals like McSweeney’s (whose founder, Dave Eggers, cowrote “Away We Go”), radio programs like “This American Life” (whose host, Ira Glass, is Tom with chunky black glasses and a decade or two older) and so on.

Well, I wouldn’t expect an architecture critic to have a complete understanding of a cultural enigma like emo, and Christopher Hawthorne certainly proves that idea. He is, in effect, confusing sometimes fluid state of emo fans and indie culture, though all his descriptions match that of indie culture. Most “emos” – be they the Revolution Summer folks in the 80s, Fugazi’s punk-for-one-and-one-for-punk calls to arms of the late 80s through the aughts, hell even My Chemical Romance – don’t match Hawthorne’s description. Even the stereotypes of “emos” today – depressed punk youths with a fetish for self-violence – doesn’t match that description. Hawthorne’s words are of indie through and through, from a love of McSweeny’s right down to the Morrissey fandom from this quick spec on the movie.

Among the many camps, Morrissey tends to be tossed into the indie one, and Regina Spektor without question as well. Emo is always, always land of the punk, even if it is an extremely watered down version of that.

To break it down a little further and call it a night, sensitive does not always equal emo culture. Everyone has feelings, every music has some sort of emotional depth behind it (even if it is a shallow pit, there are some feelings elicited towards how hollow a music can be). THAT is one of many reasons numerous emo musicians diss the term and a reason that so many confuse the two.

Night all.

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Gig Fail

Deacon in the glow of his green skull

Deacon in the glow of his green skull

My review of the Super Secret Summer Surprise – featuring Dan Deacon, Ultimate Reality, and Videohippos – is on Bostonist right now. And it ain’t pretty. That had nothing to do with the musicians involved – just the bumbling mess that was the ICA’s master plan for the evening.

You can read more about the details at Bostonist, but I left out one thing in my review: for much of the performance, it felt like looking at art in a gallery. Granted, the ICA is a museum of contemporary art, but that doesn’t mean that people should interact with performers as if they are just to be stared at and not paid much attention to. It was only until Deacon asked people to move towards the drum kits for the Ultimate Reality set that people seemed to interact with what was going on, but not that much. What’s so great about the Wham City collective (much like the DC emocore scene from Revolution Summer on) is their inherent ability to challenge concert goers with interacting with their surroundings at a show in an entirely different light. Unfortunately, the ICA crowd wasn’t up for that. Even though they moved around during Deacon’s set, I got the sense many did that because they perceived that’s how one acts at a Dan Deacon show and not because the moment grabbed them and allowed them to let loose. How do I know this? Well, probably the fact that people were ready to dance when Deacon was testing some faulty DI boxes, and while they emitted an uncontrollable buzz to the effect of something he didn’t want to send through the PA, much of the crowd took it to mean “this is Dan Deacon music, I must dance like crazy!” Obviously, it’s great when people dance and let loose, but they seemed to entirely betray the points that Deaon wants to make with his music….

And now I’ve gone on a tangent. Read the piece if you’re still interested! And if you disagree, comment on it as well!

Wham

 

Dan Deacons plank o wires

Dan Deacon's plank o' wires

Be on the lookout for a review of the Dan Deacon + Ensemble show at the Middle East Downstairs on Bostonist in the next day or two. As a side note/review preview, it was interesting to note a certain conflict between the ritualization of a performance and Deacon himself, and the thankfully positive resolution of said conflict… in many ways, it’s a modern take on the Revolution Summer days of emocore yore…

But I digress… check out Bostonist soon!

Still Jamming Econo…

 

Mike Watts feet, on the move

Mike Watt's feet, on the move

Caught Mike Watt and the Missing Men at TTs this/last evening… quite a set and great to see a genuine punk rock legend (not to lead into paradoxical statements, just take it as you will). Considering the impact the Minutemen have had (including on emo, as the Minutemen’s DIY ideology was a shared practice in the Revolution Summer circle and even before in the harDCore scene), it’s great to see Watt remains such a genuine guy after what many would describe as a whirlwind life and musical career. He was quite an inspiration back in the day and onstage, and I’m glad I got the opportunity to see him in action…

Be on the lookout for a gig review on Bostonist in the next day or two.

All The Random Stuff That’s Fit

Let’s break this down in bullet points:

*TV on the Radio‘s Dear Science, has officially been released online, one week early. Who knows why Interscope made the decision, and really, who cares? You can purchase the album on iTunes or stream it for free at Lala (you must sign up first). Upon first listen it is… amazing. There really is no reason to doubt the band, and it sounds that with each growing album they continue to challenge one another as a unit to create a bombshell of a discography. ‘Nuff said.

TV on the Radio

TV on the Radio

*Mean Magazine has one of the oddest things I could have imagined: a video of Ben Kingsley as Ian MacKaye “performing” the song “Minor Threat”. As if my respect for Kingsley as an actor couldn’t grow any more, and then this popped online. My only wish is that there was less of a photo-collage feel and maybe a little narrative. No bother. To think that just a couple of months ago Kingsley was stealing scenes in local movie theaters as a drugged-up shrink in The Wackness; just to see him in the same pose as MacKaye in his Minor Threat days send chills up my spine. It’ll be an odd day when that actually turns into a film, but one I’d love to see. A significantly older man (Kingsley) playing a verbosely young musician (then-teenaged MacKaye) in the pinnacle of hardcore punk bands… now there’s something that would put I’m Not There to shame. Now I can’t seem to get the thought of Adrien Brody as Guy Picciotto for some sort of Revolution Summer project alongside Kingsley…

*Now for a little personal plug: I’ve organized a show at P.A.’s Lounge in Somerville this coming Sunday (September 21) featuring none other than Juiceboxxx, who I wrote about in an earlier post. It’ll also feature sets from Wham City/Baltimore scene stalwarts Narwhalz and DJ Dog Dick (the later who will be performing alongside Dan Deacon on his Baltimore Round Robin Tour), and an opening slot from Boston’s very own Ppalmm. All of these artists have their own unique take on electronic-based music, and it should be one amazing show. At $6 a pop ($9 for those 18-20), you really can’t go wrong.

Juiceboxxx – Thunder Jam III (video):

Narwhalz – Phar-Oooh (live):

Save the rest for Sunday…

A Spring in Your Step!

Last night I caught a great performance of Igor Stravinsky’s The Rite of Spring for the Landmarks Festival at the Hatch Shell. Although the show was an abbreviated, symphony-only version of Stravinsky’s opera, it was still a wonderful opportunity to hear the music played by a full symphony (and one filled with the best high school-aged talent from around the world at that).

Igor Stravinsky

Igor Stravinsky

With it’s jarring, discordant bursts of noise juxtaposed against graceful melodies, it’s a little easy to see how The Rite of Spring caused a riot when it was premiered in Paris in 1913. The structures certainly are abrasive and revolutionary for the world of classical music. But what was probably more outrageous than the music itself was the storyline of the opera, which concerned pagan Russia and ended with the sacrifice of a young girl. Staged at a time when Europe was on the brink of World War I and tensions were high across the continent, The Rite of Spring must have been thought of as blasphemous in Paris, where art is still a part of the bloodline.

A little over seven decades later, a revolutionary musical entity was set upon the bloodline of the DC punk community. Named after Stravinsky’s piece, Rites of Spring fully intended to re-energize the punk scene in the nation’s capital as harDCore was heading into a tailspin. Although the band started up in 1984, their narrative is synonymous with the summer of 1985, known as Revolution Summer; Rites were a fixture in the re-energized DC punk scene, fueling a brand new energy through their cathartic live sets, perplexing and introverted lyrics, and power-pop-meets-hardcore instrumentation. And in a scene that was dubbed with the term “emocore,” Rites of Spring are known as the first emo band.

Rites of Spring

Rites of Spring

Twenty four years on and the affects of Rites of Spring’s revolutionary evolution from hardcore continues to be felt across the world. They may have only played slightly over a dozen shows, released only one full album, existed for only a couple of years, and their name may only cause tremors in the hearts of those they personally touched and the average music nerd, but their ideas have clearly transcended time and place. Although their name may not cause a panic among a gaggle of fourteen year old girls the way that Fall Out Boy does, Rites of Spring are the provincial Velvet Underground of emo; they may not have sold millions of records, but everyone who picked up a Rites of Spring album or saw them live were certainly inspired to pick up an instrument. Now that’s revolutionary.

Rites of Spring – Hain’s Point (live):

Check Out These (Water) Guns

Boston’s Banditos Misteriosos announced a brand new event: a Revolutionary Water Gun Battle. The battle will take place on August 16th, but you should be able to sign up later today. Banditos have caused quite a ruckus (in the purely good sense) in just under a year since forming. They’ve gotten a good chunk of coverage from the press and were recently named “Boston’s Best Kept Secret” by the Improper Bostonian. Their staging of fun-filled, unusual, and engaging events such as pillow fights, silent dance parties, and (most recently) a scavenger hunt in the form of flash mobs is just what this city has been asking for. These events are the kind of thing that are needed to shake people out of their collective daily-routine-comas and engage them in community and openness while challenging their expectations with a surge of creativity and fun.

Banditos pillow fight

Banditos' pillow fight

In many ways, the random acts of fun inspired by Banditos are a reminder of the Punk Percussion Protests that were held in front of the South African Embassy in the summer of 1985. Back in emo’s infant days, Revolution Summer as it were, members of Positive Force and various individuals in the Dischord roster and faimly would gather infrequently by the embroiled embassy to stage impromptu protests. Demonstrating their newfound thirst for politics beyond their small community, the punks would gather a handful of times that summer and bang on all kinds of objects that would make a sound, end on end, in a vibrant and out-of-the-ordinary display of political fortitude and engaging idealism. At a time when hardcore had soured the image of punk for individuals within and out of the underground, the Punk Percussion Protests were one of many ways in which DC’s emo scene challenged expectations for all-things-normal in the world of punk (and outside of punk at that).

Positive Force/Fugazi flyer

Positive Force/Fugazi flyer

Keeping up with the sense of challenging expectations, the Punk Percussion Protests against Apartheid ended that summer. However, they were brought back briefly at various intervals, which also included a Positive Force, Fugazi-encompassing protest against the first War against Iraq. The event, originally a protests in support of the homeless, grew with the timetable set by the Bush administration (again, the first one) for Iraq’s withdrawal from Kuwait. Aside from the large-Fugazi show, there was a mass drumming assembly in front of the White House. According to the book Dance of Days, the protests were so potent that “Bush complained to the press that ‘those damned drums are keeping me up all night.'” Talk about out of the ordinary.

Fugazi – Turnover (live at the Positive Force anti-war/homelessness protest):