Wednesday, January 18, 2012

Fugazi Live Series: Live at D.C. Space, 10/16/1987, digital download

As it's been almost ten years since Fugazi played a live show, it makes a lot of sense for Dischord to set up an easy, affordable way to hear this consummate band's live tapes. Ten years in music time equals at least one generation of music fan having gone through the crucial high school/college/young workin' stiff years. It's tough for Disaster Amnesiac to comprehend a demographic that has not at least had the chance to see Fugazi's amazing live energetics, but, it's a fact. I'm sure there are other bands that deliver the kind of live wallop that Fugazi specialized in, but I'm also sure that there was only ever one Fugazi. They were incredibly unique, and were easily one of the top live bands of the 1990's.
My first foray into this deep well of Fugazi live recordings, 10/16/1987, represents a nascent band, playing early tunes (a few of which, to my knowledge, were never formally released), and developing their chemistry.
At that time, Guy was not yet playing guitar with the band. His more melodiously leaning sound added a lot to the band in subsequent years, and its absence here allows for the heavily rhythmic aspects to remain in the fore. Disaster Amnesiac can recall a friend opining that she didn't care for Fugazi because "I don't like reggae"; that was a common refrain from many upon their initial hearings of the band. I'd say, not exactly. While it seems clear the Dub, Hip Hop, and Go-Go (bass/drums music) lent rhythmic and procedural aspects to Fugazi's approach, their one-of-a-kind, bass/drums/guitar full RHYTHM section sound is clearly evident in all its originality. The Canty/Lally rhythm section shows itself as the primal base of Fugazi's music here. Ian's guitar playing would also develop into a tightly coiled rhythmic ballast over the band's life span. This recording seems to show him figuring it out, learning his approach within the monster grooves of Canty and Lallys' base.There are the occasional drops, but how could one not root for the guy?
Fugazi shows were always an event, always a chance for celebratory ecstatic movement. They were pretty clear about their post-Revolution Summer move away from paint-by-numbers Punk Rock ritual behavior into a more all-embracing humanism. The D.C. Space recording features plenty of admonishments from Ian on these themes. At one point he even suggests audience members join the band on stage if they have ideas that they want to share! Having been one of said audience members that evening, I can recall wishing I could have taken him up on that. Probably best for everyone I just remained on the dance floor.
Dischord lists the recording's audio fidelity as "Good", and I'd agree. There are a few spots wherein the audio drops out, but it is very listenable. Definitely worth the $5 cost of access. 
If you're at all interested in Fugazi, you'll no doubt be thrilled with the Fugazi Live Series. 10/16/1987 is a great place to start your investigations of this seminal live band's in-concert, in your face experience. One can feel the juggernaut emerging, hear its early rumblings. Who knows, maybe someday soon the band's Indefinite Hiatus will come to an end, and there will be a 2010's addition to the Live Series Library. One can hope.

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