I’m On A Mission To Never Agree

No one is really protected if they are doused in a kind of moral antibiotic their entire life. We’re no longer prepared to have our feelings hurt, to face the terrible shit that happens to us, to navigate these terrible experiences. Without that we can’t grow empathy, we can’t relate to others, we can’t reach out.

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Dear Readers,

Sorry for the lapse in posting. I’ve broken ribs, shoulders, had beautiful and terrible matters of the heart occur this year and been working on fiction, becoming a teacher and playing GTA 5. So, the blog has gone by the way side. So for the five people that give a fuck, thanks for your patience. I truly appreciate it. Onto the ranting.

Fugazi was never my favorite band. They are fucking amazing, of course. Don’t get me wrong, growing up in the shadows of Washington DC and having the opportunity to see them live and grow up with their music is something I will and do treasure. But they operate in my space in a way that differs from most bands. They reach the purely intellectual side of my brain as opposed to the emotional. Maybe, because of that, I don’t give them enough credit.

I am lucky in that I did get to meet Ian MacKaye a few times in my life. It’s pretty rad to know that in my lifetime I’ve performed at shows and readings where he’s been a spectator. This alone always reminded me to be humble and to invest back into the community that invests in. I’ve met a lot of musicians, many really spectacular people. But Ian, he was always something different. I consider him a teacher. I don’t agree with everything he says or does, but I respect the man quite a bit and his music, his presence, the interviews I read had a profound effect on my life.

I turned 40 this year and my life changed quite a bit. Way more than I expected, though tremors of anticipation and anxiety had been present leading up to the day I left my 30’s behind. A year ago I was diagnosed with irregular heat beats right before my former band was about to go on tour. The tour meant everything to me. It still does. Because I knew it would be the last time I’d want to do that in my life. My needs and wants were changing. My personality was changing.

Unfortunately, as more changed, I got further and further away from communities and activities I once cherished. That transition has been somewhat difficult. While I knew that I wouldn’t be going to as many punk shows and booking gigs and playing in bands, I never wanted to give that up completely. But due to circumstances outside my control, that has become the case. At least for now. I lost my love for things that used to fuel me.

I’ve had a few mantra’s that I have taken from Ian. My favorite, the one I have lived much of the past 15 years or so since he said it was “You want Fugazi? Be your own Fugazi.” I’m not sure if that’s a direct quote or not, but he did say something to that effect, meaning of course, that what you do should be more important to you and those around you and if you want something to happen, make it happen. Fugazi was just a band. They were a great band, but like all bands they had their time. They came and went. There is nothing special about that, except in the moment it was. Being nostalgic for that time, that band you love, those people you knew isn’t going to bring them back. So make your own right now, in the moment you have. Living that was awesome.

Still, trying to be my own Fugazi for years was also difficult. I’m not humble like Ian. I get very frustrated. I get very egotistical. I’ve played in some great bands that no one has heard. I’ve done most of it to try to create for others what my heroes created for me. Spaces where magic happens, where people feel connected, where individuals and groups are inspired. I hate playing live. It’s a chore for me and on a creative level bores me. It’s acting instead of creating, and I don’t really like acting. But live music is so important in our culture. It’s a dying medium from what I can see. In the years since Fugazi stopped playing live (nearly 15 years ago) I’ve seen one band that lived up to their hype. I’ve seen a lot of great shows since, but nothing of that level. Few bands today give what the members of Fugazi did. It’s unfortunate, especially since it’s so much easier to network, connect and get heard. No one’s really doing it right.

My mantra that I have recently adopted from Ian is a line from their last album. “I’m on a mission to never agree.” Ian was always known for saying things people took as inflammatory. His perspective was always different, but very well reasoned. When The Argument came out just over a month after the World Trade Center crumbled. It was a poignant song, more so that it probably meant to be.

Today, for me it rings more true than ever. I feel divorced from a community that never really took their slogans to heart. They never wanted to do the work. They wanted to shout and scream and have moral superiority. Meanwhile, there is actual work to do in this world.

I used to think this song was kinda pompous, a trait I think Ian has been labeled his entire public life. But as the years have gone on, it’s made more sense. The point of arguing is not to be right, but to challenge the stale conventions we rest on that occur when we stop considering our own perspectives. The argument isn’t about being combative, though it will come off that way, especially with your detractors, but searching for higher understanding. It’s some zen type shit.

We live in a time where you can no longer disagree without hurting someone’s feelings. We have lost the art of argument, both civil and serious. There is a status quo you must uphold and when that status is challenged, even with reason, and work, and truth, you will suffer. The reactions of everyone are emotional and self righteous. The politics and values and worthless beliefs of people don’t matter. You can’t question anything these days without people getting in an uproar. And forbid if you don’t come on the side of people’s very narrow view.

I’m sick to death with how terrible it is, the moral uprightness that everyone seems to have to their values that they adopt because it seems right to them. But if life has taught me anything, nothing is right 100% of the time. There is always error, always deviation, always abnormalities. To not allow for those differences is a type of character suicide. I’ve watched a lot of people lean on that sword this year. I miss them. I don’t miss the frustration of dealing with people so set in their ways that they can make room for their own errors, and, more importantly, others errors.

In all of this of course, there are bigger issues at stake. We’re creating more and more police officers in our spaces, ensuring everyone is safe at the cost of actual safety. No one is really protected if they are doused in a kind of moral antibiotic their entire life. We’re no longer prepared to have our feelings hurt, to face the terrible shit that happens to us, to navigate these terrible experiences. Without that we can’t grow empathy, we can’t relate to others, we can’t reach out. Our shared experiences are now so individualized and manufactured to fit in boxes that we can’t see how truly fucked we actually are.

Meanwhile, there are no safe spaces. Not if you live in Syria. Not if you live Iraq. Not if you live in Palestine. Not if you are trans. Not if you are black. Not if you are native. How can we prepare for the bigger fights when we can’t even have civil discourse in our own houses? And while the metaphor is true, I also mean that literally. If I can’t be invited to your house and have a civil disagreement and discussion without the possibility of upsetting you or becoming upset myself, how the fuck are we supposed to actually defeat the bombs that still fall? If everything is a trigger, if everything is an absolute, if there is no room for stress under fear that things will be broken, how will we break down what’s imprisoned us in the first place?

So yeah, I get it now Ian. You were about my age when you penned that song and I see now why you did and what it means. So, once again I will carry that mantra with me. I’m sure there will be others, new ones to apply as my life changes and I try to continue progressing and growing. I also know that this mantra is not just something to apply outwardly to the world, but also internally. I know these ideas don’t just work one way, that I have to do the work on myself if I want to see the seeds root and grow.

The Past, The Present, The Future

Photos by Jem Cohen

I am listening to Fugazi right now. That album, The Argument. When this record came out, I hated it. It’s been so long since I’ve listened to it that I am not sure what my opinion about it is. I just remember that I saw a lot of unforeseen parallels for songs that had been in the works two years prior and the state of the world after September 11th. That I kind of liked. The guitar sound was amazing, but not catching my ass on fire and the album felt soft. Not just quiet and tuned down, but like Fugazi had lost it’s spark. People don’t like to talk to me about this, but I believe that was the case. The Argument, to me, sounds like an album made by four people who were drifting apart musically.

Fugazi is, unfortunately I think, a dinosaur. They are untouchable because they did so many great things and changed a lot of people’s lives. This includes my own. But I always found them more complicated even in the 90’s then most people. For one, they had a built in legacy. People wanted to see them before they had proven themselves. And while they would prove themselves very quickly, they were able to succeed and operate on their financial and ethical platforms because of who they were, not what they were, which was a great band. Because they were held in such high regard criticism was and is dismissed. I love most of the songs on Steady Diet of Nothing but it feels like a step back in fidelity from Repeater.  Red Medicine is my favorite album of theirs, despite two throw away instrumentals and Guy’s exploration of the clarinet. That wind instrument experimentation had no place in the Fugazi lexicon, sounds awkward and is a chore to listen to. Which I don’t do anymore. In On The Kill Taker is one of the best engineered records, with some of the best song writing and music making of any band in the history of music. It’s better than anything by Jay Z, The Beatles, The Red Hot Chili Peppers or even Sonic Youth. I played that tape damn near daily and it remains otherworldly in my heart. It’s a difficult album to listen to even today because it goes beyond what music even is today.

But Fugazi was never and still is not my favorite band from Washington DC or my youth. Granted hours of listening to them has effected the way I play guitar, but not as much as Marc Nelson from the Most Secret Method or Mark Robinson from Unrest. (Side note, I just skipped the song “Epic Problem”. That song is an epic problem, awful). The mythos, the live experiences and even the conversations I’ve gotten to have with some of the members of Fugazi (three, two with Ian and one with Joe where I shouted praise at him after seeing Crucial Defect in an apartment. I was drunk.) have a large influence on my life still, to this day. But The Most Secret Method, Frodus, The Dismemberment Plan. Those were my bands. Granted no Fugazi, none of these bands most likely. But they are the shows I remember most, the music that made the most sense to me from people I identified with. Over educated white kids from the working class suburbs who figured out they would never be cool but didn’t care.

I was in and had graduated college during my personal tenure with Fugazi. By the time this epic tome

Photo stolen from some website

of ranting hits the ethernet of your mind, college classes will have started once again in America (or at least at University of New Mexico). I will be attending class again, for the first time in a decade. And, despite knowing full well that I am capable of expressing my self and ideas with words, I also know I lack some basic skills that make one successful in college. My grammar, punctuation usage and spelling suck. Also, I love the run on sentence and can’t self edit for shit. These are road blocks I know about myself and have to overcome to be successful in school. And that terrifies the shit out of me.

I am, mostly, a lazy person. I spend a lot of time, aloof in my head. I love media and culture and can’t consume enough of it in a 24 hour day. Unfortunately, coupled with the above personal shortcomings, I am also totally scatter brained. I can’t even remember what I am thinking half the time I am thinking it. I am easily led on tangents that lead down rabbit holes of information that are so off topic and point that it gets frustrating. It’s hard living in a brain like this. I think I’m fairly intelligent, but I feel like it’s so fucked up in my head, it comes off as insane nonsense. My head vomits ideas constantly. Little one liners of non-importance. And that bugs the shit out of me.

One more self deprecating statement is also running around in my head now. I can’t be objective in my writing. I find objectivity in communication for the most part pretty stupid. Yes, I want facts: this many people died, on this date, because this device was utilized by this person. But I can’t write objectively. Maybe it’s because I was an only child and my world, in my head, revolves around me. I spit out from this messy mind in hopes to get a reaction in an effort to re-evaluate. I don’t like to be held accountable for what I say and write, because it’s all just thesis. I don’t want to defend any of it because I’d rather reevaluate new evidence then stand on the evidence that I have.

Stolen from some website

The bottom line is I feel like a fucking Sony Walkmen in the age of the iPod touch with soundcloud enabled applications and 10 billion songs available that float through the air in real-time. I’ve been a twitchy, grumpy, sarcastic, testy little shit over the last few days as this new prospect looms over me. More than ever I want to succeed. I want to work hard and stay focused and prove myself. This is all new to me, but I have no god damn idea how because I’ve existed on cruise control most of my life. Or at least I have felt that way my whole life, despite numerous testimonial from my peers, my mentors and my friends. I love you people, but I just think you have the wrong idea about me. I’m a hot fucking mess. You probably know that, but I just want you to know, that I know that (I skipped most of The Argument by the way. Yea, this album bores the SHIT out of me).

So I sit here, just a few days away from facing my biggest fear, which happens to be myself. I say myself because I am afraid, that once again, I am gonna go in, run my mouth, be argumentative (like the Fugazi song) and stubborn and fumble through more half-assed ideas while I flail upwards into some kind of academic mediocrity. I’m not convinced that wanting to succeed is enough as I read The Importance of Being Ernst by the unpoetic Oscar Wilde, because I am just irritable at how boring of a play this was and how it serves no purpose. Or  how, at least so far The Secret Agent seems to be more about corporate, violent fanaticism than actual, ideological anarchism and how even though I think ideologies are stupid am highly offended by the book. NO ONE CARES about that shit. My professor is not going to care about the contrast between this book and V for Vendetta which led me to read about Thatcherism and Britain’s current prime minister (who are both lunatics) and the hacktivist collective Anonymous. Because even though I want to connect all these ideas together, my brain is bubbling over with Jesus Lizard riffs are awesome and I really want to watch Skins and how I want to reboot The Wire but in Albuquerque and I have to write a puppet show and there is the zine fest and never mind I don’t have a job and I want to work on silk screening more often (Mike Dwyer I will screen that shirt I swear) and play music with Nolan, and book some bands in ABQ, and restart The April Decca, go to Deming and south-west Virginia is really nice this time of year, and how I would like to go wine tasting and I hope my car and my cats don’t die over the next three years because I don’t have time/money/emotions for that shit and I wonder what it’s like to kiss a girl and when I might figure out how to do that again, and man, I have to perform at the Zine reading, oh yea and there’s that independent short animation I thought I would produce, gotta get to the DMV, man And We Washed Our Weapons In The Sea was a really great album, I bet pg99 is gonna be awesome, I can’t wait for November when Geary gets here, I wonder if I’ll have a job by then, should I vote ever again cuz Susanna Martinez fucking sucks and I actually care about what happens in New Mexico because it’s such a mess, do people in their mid 30’s even successfully date, how do you navigate that shit, man I wish I could watch more In Plain Sight or catch up on Breaking Bad Season 2 because I have Season 3 on DVD now and I wonder what albums are coming out and man I don’t want to pay the bills, etc etc etc….

There aren’t voices in my head, just one, me. But it’s like a thousand me’s never shutting the fuck up long enough to pay attention to anything longer than like 3 seconds. I’m like a fucking goldfish. Only not lucky to swim around all day for like 14 days and then just die. There are piles of unread books, half listened to albums I wanted to review and projects not seen to completion but plenty of other shit. And my hair cut is stupid right now and I need a shave. Does anyone else have this problem?

So while the present tense is absolutely mortifying the future remains unwritten in almost all aspects. Some of this is good, it means there is an adventure to go on, a new path to explore. But there is no feeling of safety in any of this shit. It’s like walking a tight rope blind, only you have no idea you’re actually walking on a tightrope and yr too scared to take the blindfold off to see if there is a safety net below. Add the aforementioned internal moron yelling about stupid shit in your brain and it’s no realy wonder how someone can end up 34, unemployed, living in fucking Albuquerque, New Mexico by choice with goddamn penguins tattooed on his forearm. I made it this far only through the grace of others, because I think left alone to my own devices my head would finally just deflate and I would drift off into space and burn up without an atmosphere to keep my molecules contained.

So this is where it was, where it is and I guess where it’s going. Just a mess called Erik Gamlem. A sign post left for future non-employers to find and not hire me. A little bit of madness for future associates to find and mock me for my idiocy. Laid out in public, splayed out on the ground for all to consume, point and laugh at as I pick my dumb, drunk, unkept self off the pavement, climb up the stairs of another edifice and then jump, once more to my self destruction, knowingly, willingly. Fuck it, it’s only life.

Lemuria – Pebble

Lemuria
Pebble
Bridge 9

As I sit to write this review, I am currently listening to the Steve Albini demo’s from the session he did with Fugazi during their In on the Kill Taker record. The seven songs I found on this once holy grail of a demo are raw, gritty, sometimes bad, and sometimes totally awesome. It reminds me of their live show, especially around the time the album was released which was a formative time in my music listening life. In On The Kill Taker is a great record, one I often over-look. Listening to these demos is creating a very impulsive, frantic bit of energy in me at the days beginning.

I’m listening to these demos for two reasons. I’ve wanted to hear them forever and now I have them, and because I have listened to Lemuria’s Pebble everyday this week in the morning in preparation of this review and I just can’t over saturate myself with that record any longer. I need to confess something, often when I do these review, it is my first impression of the album I am offering up. They don’t all come after careful, longing listens. Generally, I know how I feel about a band and a song and an album pretty quickly. I know if it’s going to speak to me. This has been my problem with Lemuria since their debut Get Better. I don’t know what they say to me.

Lemuria used to be a pop-punk band with the occasional awkward sexuality song. However, when Get Better hit the streets in 2008 they became a bit of a mid-tempo indie rock band with a little bit of balls. The would not have been out of place in said formative listening years along side the Slant Sixes and The Superchunks of the world. Though the album was a bit less energetic than I hoped, eventually it grew on me a bit, though not as much as their early stuff grabbed me. I am having the same reaction, though slightly less, with their newest effort Pebble. Firstly, the album sounds fantastic. Studio Wizard J. Robbins has put forth one of his best efforts that I have heard in a while. He always does great work, but this album sounds utterly crystal. The guitar tones are beautiful, full and forceful without being set to overdrive or drenched in distortion. The vocals are immaculate, well recorded and sit at the top of the mix. Sheena Ozella, whose bashful, warbly, tenerous-soprano is captured perfectly.

Songwriting wise, the band has actually picked up. One of my problems with Get Better was that nothing really stood out. While the beginning of the album is a bit slow, the record picks up with the fantastic “Pleaser”, a fantastic song about a passive persona in a relationship always willing to cater to the other person. Though now, the protagonist is almost trying to be forceful by being a “hard hinter”. The guitar progression is not far from a Chunk song, a band that Lemuria has claimed loyalty to but is only now showing influence from truly. The song also contains fantastic bass lines and a refrain that reminds me of the underrated Versus when Richard Baluyut and Fontaine Toupes would pair off on vocals. “Irregular” also reminds me of Versus, it’s awkward girl poetry, that is truly beautiful and sweet. The song builds into an awesome uptempo beat that’s pretty ass shaking. “Different Girls” is an awkward love song, that is catchy as hell despite drummer Alex Kerns dreadfully creepy vocals.

Perhaps that is the problem, “Bloomer” is that awkward sexuality song on the album. It presumably is about a sexual molestation/experience with an older person during one’s mid-teens. Seriously, I kind of don’t want to hear poppy songs about that stuff. Kern’s delivery of the lyrics, soft and polite just makes it that much harder to listen to. Maybe that’s why I am so objectionable to the track, and others of its ilk from the bands catalog. The band goes from cute, indie-rock geek awkward, which is endearing to totally creeped out I-feel-like-a-peeping-tom vibe. Add a slow beginning and a few filler tracks and Pebble becomes overshadowed by its flaws rather than its incredible strengths.

The internet has always been vehemently divided on this band and that discourse continues today. There hasn’t been a lot of room for people like me, straying the line. I honestly can’t make up my mind on Lemuria. Sometimes I really like what they do and parts of Pebbles make me really like this band as I did when I first heard them. But I can’t shake the bad. It just envelopes me in awkward ickiness. I don’t like feeling icky.

Ranting like a ranty McRanter!

I am listening to Metallica, typing this on my iPhone, riding the bus home. I am committed to you dear readers. I need to rap about some shit in the music biz that is irking me. I won’t finish before I get home, but any way, lets just settle into it.

#1 – The new Weezer album, Hurley, it has some dude from Lost on the cover. I’ve never seen Lost and so therefor can not comment on the cultural relevancy of said artistic statement. But that’s sort of my point here. Has pop art lost it’s way that it no longer has cultural relevancy or is this a Warholian moment? I have a hard time seeing a universal, nostalgic, or shared fear with thus cover the way Warhol manipulated Cambell’s Soup or car crashes or Jackie O. Is Lost really that stiched into the cultural quilt that this reference has some type of commentary or insight to offer, or has Weezer just gotten that bland and boring? Someone fill me in, please.

#2 – The late, great Dismemberment Plan have decided to reunite for a few shows this summer. I don’t think I am going to make it. Mostly because I am planning on not living on the East Coast when that happens. But I still got excited and decided to check my local listings. I was taken aback when I saw ticket prices were set at $20. This will come off like I don’t believe that they deserve to demand that. And maybe there is some truth. But in the context of my personal history I have seen Fugazi at the nice price of $5. The D-Plan are a non-touring, non-recording entity, doing reunion shows over the course of a few weekends. Does nostalgia really dictate that price? My memories of seeing D-Plan at Fort Reno, TLA, First Unitarian, Wilson Center, that weird club in Fells Point are priceless, and no show they do now will ever, ever, ever match the feelings that I had when I saw them back then. I love that band, LOVE that band, they mean so much to me, their music such a part of my youth and the beginning of my adulthood. But my memories are priceless. But, at the same time, demand will dictate that price. Those tickets will sell out in a matter of minutes. And, they DO deserve to be compensated for their performance. I just wonder what the fabric of music distribution has done to us as consumers, to the artists. Yes, I realize it is not 1995 and you can’t tour on $5 shows anymore and expect to even break even. But that idealism in me is finding it hard to give up the ghost. I realize I am 33, but there is something about the accessibility of a $5 show that appeals to me. The D-Plan were on the verge of breaking a musical ghetto ceiling and never quite got there, no matter there was never a more deserving band. And should they still be around, touring, putting out records in a climate when your own fans steal from you, then maybe the $20 ticket wouldn’t seem so odd to me. But this is a band I saw in Fairfax, VA in a shitty coffee house when I was a teenager. It’s hard to forget about that and separate that from the narrative you have in regards to that band. If you haven’t seen the Plan live, go see them. Closer to 40 now then 20, no doubt those four men with play one of the best shows you have ever seen. They made the most inventive, passionate, sad and energetic music I have ever heard. They were a band truly there own, more then any I have ever heard. A part of me really, really, really wants to go. But I know it won’t be the same, and the distance between me and the city where I first heard those sounds will be immense, both physically and spiritually come January. You can’t go back. No matter  how much you want to, no matter how much you try.

Top 5 Live Musical Experiences

Nothing I have seen in my life was as good as that night. It was better than any sex I’ve ever had, any drug crazy party I’ve been to, any show I’ve played, any trip that I’ve gone on. It was the quintessential moment in my life and nothing will ever be as good as that.

People like lists and I don’t blame them. And I am sick as shit but want to provide “content” to the kids. So in honor of that, here is a listing of the top 5 live musical experiences of my life. I don’t remember all the details so you get what I give you. Suck it.

#5 Zomes – The Writers Center – 2009
Zomes is a musical project by Asa Osbourne. He is best known for his work in Lungfish which is one of the greatest bands to ever exist. That’s an indisputable fact. In fact, I will go so far as to say that Lungfish are the most original guitar-drum-bass-singer band to ever exist. I saw Zomes late last year. There were about 25 people when Asa started. There were about five when he finished. Ian Mackaye and Chad Clark were the other two people I knew, so I’d say that’s about as good of company you can be in. That shit took me to another place inside myself all together. I left my body for the eternity that Asa played. The hum and vibration is still very present. It keyed into my cosmic strings and made me physically aware of them. I can’t really explain this show in words, other then it was an intense physical and psychological experience. And I wasn’t even drunk or high or anything.

#4 Elliot Smith/Tsunami – The Black Cat – Winter 1996
I remember it was the winter and it was snowing outside and it was like Tsunami’s first show in a million years. I got there early. I think I went with my friend Kurt who I used to go to shows with all the time in 95 and 96. He probably drove. We were excited because we had actually heard of Elliot Smith as he had opened for Sebadoh that fall at the 9:30 Club. I remember this show more for Elliot Smith, even though at the time I was really excited to see Tsunami. Like many a 18 year old boys in the mid 90’s tooling around WDC, I had a major crush on Jenny Toomey. But there were a lot of people there to see Elliot Smith. One girl I remember in particular was pretty vocal telling people to shut the hell up and Smith chuckled at the exchange. It was a pretty amazing set to witness. At that point in my life I had never seen anyone play music with just an acoustic guitar and their voice before. But Smith owned the room. I only saw Smith one time after this right during the whole Good Will Hunting media blitz and I was really bummed out about how shitty loud people were. I wish that girl was at that show, punching drunk assholes in the mouth. Anyway, we talked to Smith for like two minutes. He was on tour, alone or like with one friend in a hatch back. It was fucking crazy. But he became my hero that night.

#3 Refused/Frodus – The Black Cat – 1998
When I was in college I wrote record reviews for the school paper. How cool was I? Yea, not that cool really. But I did get the occasional free record that was awesome. One of those records was Refused’s The Shape of Punk to Come. I listened to it, liked it, reviewed it and sent the clipping to my press contact at Epitaph. He called me up that afternoon at my house and left this really grateful message on my parents answering machine (thinking back to those days, cool people used to call my parents house all the time and my dad would answer the phone and be all confused, Tobi Vali called him up once and looked at me like I had three heads when he told me some Bikini Killer lady was on the phone for me) and put me on the guest list for a show I was going to go to anyway. But I thought that was pretty cool. While I have no evidence to back it up, because the film gotten eaten, I took pictures of that show. This was back in the day when shit at the Black Cat was laid back and people recognized me and let me get on the stage to shoot bands. I remember watching Refused from the first explosive chord essentially loose their shit like nothing else I had ever seen in my life. This was a band hell bent on destroying everything in their pathway and they did. Maybe 50 kids, mostly from Fairfax came out that night, but I know most of them on a first name basis and all of them remember that show as a special event in their lives. Though I was certain this band would be huge in a years time they broke up a few weeks later in Harrisburg, VA. I was one of the lucky ones and I don’t forget that shit.

#2 – Fugazi – Malcom X Park – Probably 1996
Look, I’ve seen Fugazi a million times, including the infamous 1993 Ice Cream Eating Mother Fucker show (my first) and a show in maybe 99 at Fort Reno where they only played like 7or 9 songs that were fucking insane. I can’t really differentiate the experiences too much in my jumbled brain. But the Fugazi show that sticks out the most was when they played at Malcom X Park in Washington DC. It’s mostly because of the scenery. It was the first time I’d ever been to that park and was amazed that such a beautiful oasis could exist in the middle of such a shitty city. Something about Fugazi playing in that amazing park has really resonated with me and I have very vivid feelings from that show. I don’t remember the set list or anything, but I have a clear picture of the band on that stage and looking down on downtown DC. It was pretty magical.

#1 – Team Dresch/Bikini Kill – GWU – 1995
This show changed my life. I was a freshman in college, newly free from the reigns of my parents. At that time I was going to at least one show a week. It didn’t matter what band it was, if I could go, I went. The day of this show, I was bummed out because I didn’t have a ride to it and I really wanted to go. My friend Kurt (the one I mentioned above) had to work and so he couldn’t take me. I was eating lunch in the Cafeteria where I ran into the punk girl, Tara. Yea, I went to a suburban Commuter College, so she was THE PUNK GIRL. She was saying she was going to the show and I asked her if I could get a ride. We didn’t know each other very well. I was really shy and I think I kind of made her think I blew her off the first few weeks of school, but she agreed to take me anyway. I had not heard of Team Dresch at that point in my life. They could have been any fucking band as far as I knew. So when four, butchy, punk ladies took the stage (granted Cold Cold Hearts and a band called Estrojet performed before hand, but work with me here) I was taken aback. I knew this was going to be different somehow. And it was. Fucking Jody Bleyle spazzed the fuck out. Donna Dresch thrashed around, making her guitar seem like a toy. Drummer Melissa York at one point got up from behind the drum kit and just yelled into the microphone. The whole fucking place went insane and I don’t think anyone knew who the hell this band was. At the time all I could think was this was a female counterpart to Fugazi. They were just unfucking real. And because of that, I had my eyes opened up for me. Gender Issues, Sexuality, all kinds of political ideologies were introduced to me that night. Not in any argument or academic form. But just seeing four women rock HARDER THEN ANY BAND MADE OF DUDES I HAVE EVER SEEN made me realize that pretty much everything is bullshit and Team Dresch was all that mattered. Not much has changed since then. Nothing I have seen in my life was as good as that night. It was better than any sex I’ve ever had, any drug crazy party I’ve been to, any show I’ve played, any trip that I’ve gone on. It was the quintessential moment in my life and nothing will ever be as good as that. Anyone that tells you they’ve been to an amazing show is lying. Even the other shows I wrote about before here don’t even come close. After Team Dresch played that night I didn’t care about anything else. When Kathleen Hanna told old the boys to move to the back I happily obliged because there was no way Bikini Kill was going to come anywhere near that shit. And I have no idea what they were like because I didn’t care. Team Dresch owns my life.