Last night, I went over to the Challenger punk house ( ok, it's an apartment) to watch the Lovitt label DVD w/ Al . In part because we have friends and bands we llike on it, but also because we are vain and curious creatures -- we are both on it (two videos of his band, me dancing in a cat head (not mask) on Chic-a-go-go while the Rah Bras played).
The DVD was funny because the DVD perfectly encapsulates 1997 hardcore, and that era of pre-screamo/pre-mo/pre-mersh. Back when we were a bit more unfettered and being in an underground punk band was more like being Amish, as everyone else was following the bat signal over to Sea and Cake remix records, Simon Reynolds was editing SPIN and money flowed up hill and did a little dance when that Prodigy video came on. America was trying to get that wafting smell of grunge off our hands.
meanwhile, as well-evidenced by this DVD documenting the VA/DC/NC scenes, every tru-punk band in America with a half-on for resistance and anti-fashion, they wanted to be Hoover. (And for those who are not Joe Gross or are over 30 -- Hoover were a Dischord band, like Fugazi set at low flame, sans Guy Piccoto's staccato sex squeal... anyhow...) In the DVD, 400 years and Sleepytime Trio ( a quartet) scorch the spock-cuts off the all male revue crowd with scarring, tuneless, punches! of! STOP! AND START!-core.
The look: inverse of dapper -- everyone wears grey on navy on faded black, short pants, low top shoes and white socks .
No band t-shirts.
No hairstyles but "short".
Work clothes that say "I am poor / delivering this package to your door step". This was also the advent of the grab the mic and hit the deck freak outs or being thrown into such a frenzied state of hardcorosity you injured yrself with your own instrument. That was a new trick and it worked wonders. I remember this well, as I was in a fairly terrible band doing the same thing about this time. I spent DAYS upon DAYS trying to re-write June of 44's "Sharks and Sailors" as my own. I was 21 years old, I wore shortened boys suit pants with a cuff and front pleat, and tight white t-shirts and shaved my head, just like all the boys. The late nineties, really, was about denying the post grunge/death/mersh boom era fire sale by saying "you cannot have me".
Everything was ugly and terrifically enough, had zero commercial appeal. Commercial appeal, mon dog, was just not on the radar.
I think that was really the last time that there was wide-scale rejection of the glamourous life. I do not think I am romanticizing it, here, either. Back in the day, back in the day like,like, like 6 whole super long winding and dusty road years ago, doing a single on Polyvinyl was your ultimate band-dream -- precisely because of all the things it wasn't and what that spoke of the character of your band. Being popular had more to do sometimes with being ethical than being good. Can you imagine that? I couldn't, except for this handy Iconoclast 7" I have here to remind me!
But, that infinite flashback to my editorial from issue #6 of Hit it or Quit it aside, my favorite part of the night had to do with my friend Dave, who shares a house and a band w/ Al. Dave recently got run over by a car . He is all crunkled up and just had surgery to armor-plate him. He has a giant sling that is special-made for his wounded side that is the size and make of a baby's car seat. His sweet, puckermouthed girlfriend who looks like she could be his blood relation (they have the same haircut) is over all the time, helping and helping. Al and I drank our tea in the kitchen as she helped him out of one sling and in to another so he could take a shower. He loves her and trusts her so much, he did not flinch. She was delicate with her hands on Dave's misshapen arm and joint, the yellowing bruise that covers one half his torso. Dave stood in front of us, shirtless, concerned about the new logistics, while she put bandages over his stitches and staples, then cut a plastic shopping bag and duct taped it over that, for sure waterproofing.
You could see how much she loved him in how tender she was. And Dave just being helpless. It was incredibly moving.
Al says watching it every day, reminds him of the Unbearable Lightness of Being, where the girl gets sick on the date and the dude must care for her. Yes, exactly, I said!