Friday, February 27, 2015

Fugazi - Live Athens, GA, 40 Watt - 02-18-93


Label: Bootleg
Year: 1993

A pivotal show for me personally (which, lets be honest, the reason you come here is for these forays into my psyche), as it marked the exact moment that Fugazi were "back" in my mind, and better than they ever had been before. Which is/was important to a guy like me, and should be to you as well.
You see, as any card-carrying member of the proverbial underground circa back then, Fugazi were (rightfully so) afforded a healthy respect and admiration. They were essentially THE quintessential DC band of all time, and their membership read as a who's who of hardcore/post hardcore/emo/good shit. So, naturally, the first Fugazi 12" and 7",and then the Margin Walker 12" were all absolute essentials in any discerning household. Without a doubt. Zero doubts.
My (and let's get back to me, ok) first opportunity to see the band was 1990 at Guilford College right before Repeater came out, and then again a few days later in Chapel Hill. Not surprisingly, the shows are shows I still can remember to this day, as the band was an incredible force, and the music had a legitimate power to it. Yes, you could also chalk it up to being a little star-struck as well, but ultimately it was the gravity of the performances that really meant something and made an indelible impression.
So, then Repeater comes out, and...don't know. Wasn't that stoked on it. Not what I "needed" (or thought) from Fugazi at the time, it seemed to lack the weight the preceding records carried. Next time they rolled near I skipped it. And when Steady Diet Of Nothing came out and I was way underwhelmed. At that point I wrote the band off as "over" (which I bet stung them pretty bad), and was pretty deep into whatever was passing as hardcore at the time.
Well, then I found myself in college and in a town with tons of fantastic live music (sadly no real hardcore to speak of, you had to drive to Atlanta for that), and I see a two night stand coming up from Fugazi. It had been long enough, I figured I'd go, get stoked on "Bulldog Front" and otherwise people watch the frat bros try and figure out how to avoid Ian MacKaye's famous onstage lecturing. So, I ponied up for both nights, assuming if the first night sucked I could sell off the second night's ticket.
With little expectation (the best way to go to any show) I got in position as the band took the stage and began systematically dismantling my brain for the next hour and a half. They opened with "Smallpox Champion" off the then unreleased In On The Killtaker record, and I could not believe what was happening. The band wielded far more heft, far more blistering noise, and ultimately far more power than I could imagine. The rhythm section (which I would put up against Bonham/John Paul Jones any day) pulses and hammers and grooves as they always did, but now it seemed more urgent. The twin guitar attack was vicious and tight, with a new layer of feedback to accentuate the punching riffs. It was seriously revelatory at that moment. Not even sure if I spoke to anyone during the show...or moved from my spot for that matter. It was the best live performance I think I had, and would, ever see. No shit. To this day I have a hard time coming up with a better pound for pound performance.
Needless to say, I came back the next night, whereupon they played another hour and a half (no repeats!) of sheer perfection. I have that show which I could post as well at some point.
Turns out, I had been a little quick o write off Fugazi, and upon revisiting Repeater and even Steady Diet Of Nothing, I found great joy in their evolution. When In On The Killtaker came out later that year I wore it the fuck out, listening to it over and over and over. In my mind it represents the band at their creative peak, and the subsequent output (and even subsequent live shows) just didn't hot with the same impact.
But anyway...it was an important show for me, and reaffirmed my love of music...again. I'm not sure if hearing a soundboard recording will give a first time listener the same feeling as being in the room, but goddamn, it's a sweet ride.

DL - part 1
DL - part 2

4 comments:

Daniel said...

1.2.3.REPEATER.

Anonymous said...

I was at one of these shows...can't remember which one but so weird to think someone around me was recording it and that I would listen to it at while sitting at my desk 20+ years later...

Anonymous said...

ah yes these shows were good. i was the tall skinny asshole right up front. love phil.

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