Nottingham Ballroom

May 13 1999


Well, I've negotiated the 2 9 day. Which pretty much sucked, but that's to be expected. A weird time, because I've never thought about getting old too much, but suddenly I'm a year from 30. It's almost like there's an expectation that things should be one way, yet they feel another. I feel like a little kid a lot of the time, and everyone around me is the adult. Yet I also feel twice my age at the same time. There's kind of a lot of dawning of realization that I know nothing about life and have achieved nothing in life. And that's kind of scary. And so, what's the link between all that and this gig? Well, when I find it I'll let you know. But it is there, trust me.

But before we get there, there's the first two support bands to consider, whose name's I don't know, despite them being mentioned towards the end of the Fugazi set. Sorry. Anyway, the first lot were off on a kind of jazz fusion sort of thing I guess. It was ok, but felt very muso, and basically too intelligent for someone like me to understand.

The next band were called something like Six By Seven. I think. Or maybe not. Noisy bunch of bastards really. But it kind of felt samey a lot of the time. Gentle, sensible intro, building to noisy thrash apocalypse. Didn't really stick. I was kind of enjoying it as I listened, but then my mind wandered off to thinking about other things and people, and when I caught myself again, I realised that I'd not remembered anything about the band. The final song was the best, not because it was the final song, but it was something I kind of understood a little more.

Fugazi. Hardcore legends right? Remember that. Ok, let's sort out a couple of things as well in the meantime. 12 years ago, 1987 when they first started. Was I listening to them? Was I kcuf. I was listening to Maiden, Metallica and Queesnryche. Ok, so, in amongst all the hardcore heroes tonight, I'm the metalhead. Betrayed my roots. Sold out. Not real enough to listen to this. And there was lots of people here. First time I'd been to this place, and it's huge. And it was full. Kind of reminded me of Cardiff Uni as a venue. Had that feel. There was an air of intelligence. Subversiveness. People who "know and understand and feel". And me.

There's also an air of anticipation for these legends as they casually amble on stage, wave hello and announce that they're "Fugazi from Washington DC". And they start. And it's good. It's not great for me, because I don't know enough of their material and worship at their feet. But I can understand it a bit.

And it's hardcore. I remember last week amidst the chaos of the One Minute Silence gig, Stampin' Ground's vocalist announces that "for the next half an hour, this is a hardcore gig. That means there are no rules. If you want to get on the stage, then do it". Hardcore. Unity. No rules. And so someone tries to get on stage, and is pushed in the face by Mackaye back into the crowd. Of course. Fugazi don't want people on the stage. The song ends and Mackaye speaks. "I apologise for pushing you in the face ... maybe you don't understand what's happening here, the situation ... just dance on the floor, not on the stage. You're what, 150 pounds, that'll cause a lot less damage if you dance on the floor." So it's ok for you to rock out but no-one else. Fucking fascist someone behind me cries. The band continues for a couple of songs, and then there's an announcement. "It's either more violent or more sensual than it looks". And suddenly Mackaye and some guy stand up and are, shall we say, having a discussion. "It's all part of the act .... He's on my payroll ..... What shall I tell them about you ..... Now leave the stage." They continue with Mackaye warning a couple in the crowd to "just calm down". Ah, hardcore. No rules. Do what you want. And these remember are the people, or at least one person is, that coined the term straight edge, which is so beloved of the "real" people in the hardcore scene today, who finger point dance, and windmill for their country. Hardcore. Unity. Division.

If I remember correctly, it's Waiting Room that gets the biggest reception of the night easily, and for the first 3/4 hour it's a really good set. And then, the jam sets in. It's kind of the jazz fusion sort of meandering thing that they've been doing. It totally looses my interest. I think it does most people. I wonder how many actually like it because it's hardcore heroes Fugazi? But, there again, what could be more hardcore than this? Challenging the rules. Maybe in some respect expanding the mind of those that listen to it by forcing them to listen to it. There's no windmilling to this. But it's still lapped up by many. I wonder if this unity and open minded acceptance of the music will continue once they've left the building. But at the same time, it feels very very distant. They're on stage, but they're so far away now. On a different plane, a plane where you get the impression that you have to be able to "feel" the music. And remember, that people that listen to simple rock and maybe use it as a release or salvation at points in their life don't actually "feel". That's cheese music. You can't "feel" that. It has to challenge. To be complex. No. No it doesn't. Music can be whatever you want it to be. And if cheese is your thing, then it's still as valid.

What's the point of me saying all that stuff. It's not to try and wind up the Fugazi faithful or those that understand them better than I do. It's just this observation I have all the time of the divisions that still exist despite the protests to the contrary. And Fugazi kind of break all the rules that are set. Yet they're allowed to as they're seen as maybe influential in original setting of them. It's a questioning of things. Of growing older, yet still feeling the child inside. Of realising that life offers so many questions that you will never find of understand the answer to. And that's as pretentious as the music that was being played.

And this music and its presentation is minimalist. A few white lights, no background. No fuss. The songs are churned out, one after another with barely a pause for breath. It sounds tight. It doesn't always sound hard. Mackaye and the other guitarist (sorry, forgotten his name "you heathen Dave". Yeah, I know.) Anyway, the two of them carry the focal point, the rhythm section are almost in their own world within this small onstage world. It's intense, but not overboard.

Luckily they come back for an encore, as I can do now, and it "rocks" a bit more. Ah, that's better. It's what my intelligence needs. Punk rock. Don't challenge the listener please. Repeater ends it. I leave. Time to ponder a gig that kind of threw that whole hardcore ethic that exists today into the bin. Where it belongs. Because real unity, real "real" doesn't require any rules. Rip em, throw them away. Do what you want. Isn't that the real rule?


Cowpuncher demo


Right, the demo I picked up at the Milque blowing away Kill II This gig. And the initial impression live was leading towards a KornTones thing. Which you might have guessed is becoming an increasingly big irritation with me these days. There's a tendancy, or at least I know that it's there in the background, to just pounce and rip it apart as soon as I hear those tell tale parts.


And it's there on this release as well. But, despite the Korn style rhythm section that sends the heart sinking on opening track This Is Not A Test I persist. And soon the persistance is actually rewarded, as there's a couple of melodies in there that are pretty good, and a nice twin vocal effect and sharing. It's not entirely original, but it shows promise, and more importantly, I actually want to listen to the remaining two tracks. However, Disturbed doesn't really maintain the momentum. Nothing actually wrong, but it just passes by. The parts are there, but the sum isn't greater than them this time.


Green Room adopts the slow build up process which helps it grab you're initial attention. There's the potential there, but simply for my personal tastes, I'd want them to develop more of their own sound and explore a bit more. But, that's cos of my wavering interest in the KornTones sound. If you like that, and are aiming for it, then there's no real problem at all.


And, a contact address on the CD next time. Really kind of helps.

Contact: 0113 230 2809