Words By Jeb Gavin, Photos From Other Shows
YELLING SEEMS APPROPRIATE FOR THIS SORT OF THING. I MEAN, SHOUTING IS THE NATURAL VOLUME AND INTENSITY OF PUNK, ISN’T IT? OR is it a matter of subverting expectations? AT what POINT is THE message OBFUSCATED by the medium, rthar than the medium being the message? Hell, if I DNOT SPEL THINGS RIGHT BUT YOU STILL KNO what I’m SAYING, IS THAT PUNK? Is punk even cool at this point? Is it cool to stand at a bar next to Dave Grohl and not acknowledge it if everybody’s doing it?
I went to the Black Cat on Friday night to see Pissed Jeans do something crazy and awesome, because they play good music and I like good music. But I couldn’t tell you if it was a good show. We’ve collectively gone over the horizon so many times now on the subject of coolness and whether or not punk music factors in, I can’t tell you. Priests were good, but I’m not sure if they were there because they’re a local band and Pissed Jeans and Purling Hiss needed an opener, or if it was a weak excuse for Matt Korvette to make shitty jokes about them not playing a hit song about sacraments.
Speaking directly to Purling Hiss, I need more of them. I need to see them more, and not just playing live. If those guys want to hang out in my back yard heckling squirrels, I’d be game for it. They sound almost like early Dinosaur Jr. It’s all driving rhythm a droning punk, this scuzzy reggae groove overlaid with a twice overdriven guitar solo running the length of the song. Their live show is no frills, all about the music, and I’ll squirrel heckle anyone who says otherwise.
But again getting back to the larger question here: what the fuck does any of this have to do with punk rock? Sometimes when I fart my butt sounds like a quiet wookie. It just happened, sitting here, writing this. Doesn’t have the least bit to do with writing, and yet talking between every song, telling crappy jokes has what to do with punk music? Maybe I’m just no longer with it. Probably never was. I’m not a punk. I know it. I like punk music, but punk shows are for punks. When I throw myself around a room, I hurt people, and not in the way anyone would enjoy. I want to be cool and with it, but I was there, listening to Matt joke about the Dave in the house is Dave Matthews. Meanwhile his band is hammering drums, pounding out a bass line that sounds like eyeballing a Rothko painting, and building guitar riffs cribbed from Tom Verlaine with all the jarring angularity of an uneven staircase in the dark. And somehow this performance which I always thought was about sharing and celebrating music is now about watching a skinny guy -who does in fact make good music- squawk and strip off his sweater and try and run up and down the aforementioned uneven stairs.
Fuck it. Maybe it was a good show and I’m a bad writer. Maybe none of this matters because trying to quantify or qualify a punk show is stupid and futile. I wanted to so bad to like seeing Pissed Jeans live, given how much I enjoy their albums. It wasn’t a bad show, but if you’re not a punk, and you’re not cool, AND you don’t laugh at “jokes,” is there reason to believe you could tell a good punk show from a bad one? Ugh.