Monday, May 08, 2006

listen skinheads, you're going to hear about how much i loved my pinewood derby racer whether you like it or not!

Okay, so yesterday I mentioned the discussion of Beat Happening in Our Band Could Be Your Life. The thing about Beat Happening is not so much that they were really aggressively untalented (although they were), but that they were really aggressively untalented and insisted on confronting the angry punk-rock kids by singing songs about happy memories from childhood and other slumber-partyish sorts of things. The result:
The hostility that he created so simply, so easily, was just amazing," recalls Fugazi's Joe Lally. "You'd be in the crowd and people next to you would just be like, '[expletive deleted] this guy!' They'd be plotting how to kill him. How does he do it? He was getting them so angry--it was amazing to see. And the next thing you know, [expletive deleted] is flying at him." [...]

At a show in Reseda, a certain segment of the audience did not like Beat Happening at all. At first they just heckled the band, then they started throwing paper wads and paper cups and would up heaving the glass ashtrays that were placed on the tables. The band ignored all this and played on.

Then at one point [the guitarist] glanced over and saw [frontperson] Calvin Johnson had blood streaming down his face--he'd been struck on the nose by an ashtray. "He didn't stop the song at all. He didn't miss a lyric."

After the last song of their set, Johnson threw the mike down and walked off the edge of the stage, straight through an awed audience that parted like the Red Sea, and right out the front door.

"That was some courageous punk rock," says Fugazi's Guy Piccioto. "People think of them as being fey and poppy and all this stuff, but they were really delivering some hard science on those tours."
All this made me want to drop everything, work on inventing that time machine, set it back to 1990, and start a band of my own. We would play even worse. Be even more fearlessly gleeful. Get hit in the face with heavier things. It would be so gloriously-awesomely-awesome. O, why did I squander so much of my youth in libraries!

P.S. I have to confess, I'm lying here in bed in my apartment with three different social science books (one sociology, two economics) open, and what I'm actually reading is Our Band Could Be Your Life. It's episodic, so you can just flip around and read whatever, sort of like putting an iPod on shuffle.


sarahliz said...

I'm pretty sure you're actually lying in bed. You know, just to be nitpicky.

jeremy said...

Fixed. Thanks.

Tonya said...

This post reminds me of how easy it is to annoy people just by being in a ridiculously good mood and refusing to let others bring you down. Or like when a friend is bashing a mutual acquaintance or colleague and you (even mildly) defend the person being talked about -- like you mention some of their good qualities. Man, that really pisses people off. (I've been on both sides of this I-hate-you-because-you're-not-miserable experience.)

dorotha said...

i saw calvin johnson perform by himself once at an in-store in austin. he's a pretty small man. i'm sure the audience thought the ashtray would take him down. anyway, he tried to make me dance. he's quite an ambitious dancer himself. i wouldn't, tho. i have no rhythm. i think i sort of nodded my head along to the music (well, hopefully it was along to the music - no rhythm).