Last night I came home to ramble (see previous entry). It's something that's been dwelling on my mind for the past few months. It's something I've been thinking about even before I signed on for this job title. It's something that has been eating at my back even more in the past few months. It's something that keeps coming up in off the record conversations and on the record interviews (even last night with Trash Talk).
What is punk? What does it mean anymore? Do we not see it because we're in the now and have no time to look back in retrospect?
Before I ramble on, last night's show set my mind steamrolling, so let's get to that, and maybe we can all have more of a conversation.
La Dispute took the stage first. In every 30 minute set I've seen of these guys, it brings me back a decade to small club shows, college house parties and and lack of visual stimulus. It's five guys playing with passion and creative songwriting. It's hard to say this as a writer, because I consider these guys friends now, but as a listener, they have my full attention.
Hearing Therefore I Am cover At the Drive In's "Arcarsenal" invoked a rage and a relief within me. In distaste, hearing anyone cover At the Drive In invokes an elitist nerve in the back of my skull like no other. There are certain bands (Refused, Botch, At the Drive In, etc.) that just should not be touched. (Sorry if you're reading this Brian.) At the same time, Therefore I Am's music is worthy of their idol worship. Equalvision made a great choice with this band, and they certainly played their heart out to a point where the crowd got more into it as the set went along. Rarely do you see a band move a crowd steadily upon impact.
What about if the plane hits the ground and causes complete chaos upon said impact though. That's what a Trash Talk show is like. I just remember grinning like an idiot and and thinking, "Wow. This is what it was like to be at a punk rock or hardcore show in the mid-80's." Between the visceral short spats of the band's older material, to the longer, creeping violence of their new material, Trash Talk is exactly what everyone has been talking about. Even in a conversation about the set I had with a friend, he had commented on how Lee McFag swung his hair like a young Henry Rollins. If you've been itching for a contemporary showcasing the elders, Trash Talk are the real thing.
My thoughts on Alexisonfire have changed over their career. First off, Dallas Green has one of the best set of melodic vocals out there. I think with his solo career as City and Colour, he's only gotten better in his carry with Alexisonfire. For the rest of the band, I think they've all grown out of a generic shell they once were and are writing songs now past their own contemporaries years later. It's funny, as I see backlash from older fans about the band's new material, I see a band that has grown into their own. While I caught the beginning and ending of the band's set due to my interview with Trash Talk, the band still put their all into it. On a lighter note, somewhere in the 40 minutes I was gone, George Pettit lost his shirt.
What the show did invoke more than the performance norm was conversation brought up amongst friends and band members alike during the night. The central focus seemed to be that of what was and wasn't "punk."
I've been thinking about this site lately as well. I've enjoyed the spectrum of coverage thus far, while at the same time, a part of me has been digging to find an identity like that of Pitchfork or Rolling Stone, but in the end would hope that our identity is in our name as a site. That AP.net can be a site where users and non-users can come to discover what is different from what they are getting bored or tired of. I think that's always been the grand scheme since the beginning, but I can see it as an opportunity even more now.
I'll make it less a secret by saying that the staff have been compiling some new picks for our new class of the Absolute Classics this year. I couldn't be more proud of the picks which are so far across the board both in time and genre. It seems like sometimes we get caught up in the sound of punk as opposed to the idea of punk. It's the idea that anyone has the ability to do anything. By doing so, the environment will react either positively or negatively depending on the action. A reaction is all that is needed in the adversity of the norm.
In the best conversation I had last night, one thing that was brought up is time. I can react on Trash Talk's show as being nostalgic of the videos I've seen of an 80's hardcore show because time has passed to make that comparison. I feel like only a decade of the majority of my involvement has passed within music on an engaging level. Who's to say that one band or one moment I overlooked will have a greater butterfly effect down the line? Who's to say that the most laughable thing will be the most punk thing to a future generation of kids? How many people, at the sight of seeing the Sex Pistols or witnessed Nirvana opening a small club with out of tuned guitars, thought it was something that wouldn't "last" or "make an impact?"
I'm still unsure what this whole "punk" thing is. I'm going to continue to study it. One thing I do latch onto after last night's show is this: Punk rock is more progressive than one, even myself, wants to acknowledge. There is nothing stagnant about it in any way, shape or form that we as listeners, critics and historians can pinpoint. It's an idea that is constantly evolving into new ideas. The one thing is, if you're going to keep up the idea and/or reinvent the wheel, just make sure there is passion behind it.
I believe that this tour will go under the radar for some to attend other less-passionate showcases of what's out there, but I say go, enjoy yourself for the night. In the end, this tour is a pretty damn good time. It got me thinking about a lot. That's as punk rock as I ever want to get - Socrates style motherfuckers!