|Having Fun On Stage With Fugazi
This is something that I've been threatening to do for years, but just got around to recently. I wouldn't claim that this is an original idea in the slightest, certainly there is a precedent set by Having Fun With Elvis On Stage, Paul Stanley's People Let Me Get This Off Of My Chest, more recently Robert Pollard's Relaxation Of The Asshole, and perhaps most infamously Ecstatic Peace's Venom Live 7"
I started work on this in 2005, and put off finishing it for years. One day I mentioned to Chris Rasmussen, my bandmate in the group Police Teeth, that I wanted to finish it. Chris in turn mentioned that Guy Picciotto (Fugazi's vocalist, guitarist, and general foil to Ian Mackaye) would be in town Thanksgiving weekend, playing guitar in Vic Chesnutt's band during their stop in Seattle. Well, shit. The gauntlet was thrown. I had the pleasure of delivering a CD-R of this material to Guy. I hope I didn't bum him out too hard.
Anyone who has seen Fugazi live (I saw them play an excellent show in Olympia, WA in 1999) or has seen Jem Cohen's excellent film Instrument about the band can attest that they have a razor-sharp sense of humor and a unique approach to audience interaction. Many people cite the scene when Guy calls a particularly macho audience member an "Ice Cream Eating Motherfucker" as a highlight of Instrument. With an official thirty-volume live series and countless bootlegs floating around the web, I knew that there would potentially be very many Ice Cream Eating Motherfuckers out there to have been admonished by the band. Also, I found that the band had natural aplomb for jokes and storytelling. When Chris pointed out that Fugazi's stand-up comedy style was similar to comedian Patton Oswalt's, I countered by saying that Oswalt grew up around the DC area, and was a fan of the band. His stand-up style may very well be influenced by Fugazi's stage banter!
In addition to the thirty-volume official live series available at their record label Dischord's web site, I pulled material from about two dozen bootlegs I found on the web and on peer-to-peer networks. While there was no specific era that yielded the best material, a lot of stuff came from a three night stand at NYC's Irving Plaza in 1995, and a March 2002 show at the Sloss Furnace in Birmingham, AL.
At any rate, I hope that fans of the band enjoy this. I had nearly three hours of material to work with. I cut it down to 45 minutes, the average length of one of Fugazi's studio albums.
James Burns: thejamesburns [at] gmail [dot] com
|Listen: Having Fun on Stage With Fugazi (44:59 minutes, 320 kbps, 130 megs)
More on Fugazi and Ian MacKaye: The Music Underground, Before the Internet