Beyond these, on a cultural level the two musical currents of the last fifteen (ish) years that have resonated the most with me are Riot Grrl (the worst genre name since Power Violence) and Black Metal; both of which polarised (and still do) a lot of people.
In both genres intent became more important than proficiency, proficiency being often consigned to a lower rung on the ladder of importance.
Both genres were (past tense intended) about the acknowledgement of being a part of something larger. Of course Black Metal's aims were usually more obscure, but that was always an important facet of distinguishing outsiders and intellectual interlopers from the core who "got it". And some of the less political aspects of Riot Grrl were also arguably similar in intent.
Anyway, this lead in is just that; a lead in. I have no desire to attempt a comparitive study of two only superficially similar and largely impossible to correlate cultural strands. I'll leave that to some boring post-grad and i'm sure the book version of the thesis is just around the corner. I'll no doubt ultimately shelve it alongside some of the more recent stunningly bland books about noise that have been published.
This weekend i was in Montreal (yes, American readers, that's where some of them speak French), Teenage Jesus and the Jerks entertained me on friday night and Blasphemy formed the centre of my saturday night escapade down the path of drunken revelry.
Lydia Lunch falls into a group of people along with Boyd Rice, Throbbing Gristle, Robert Anton Wilson, Jello Biafra, Oliver Fox and Anton LaVey that quickly and dramatically reshaped my teenage interests and thought processes. Of course more than a few of the above now irritate me to varying degrees, but they were good access points to other perspectives.
Like anyone at the frontier of some cultural plague, from Ragnar Redbeard to Tim Yohannan to Dwid Hellion, Lunch's legacy has a lot to answer for. And that legacy can be summed up as 'endless boring pricks bending over, spreading their gaping anuses and commanding you to stare into their honesty'.
For every Emilio Cubeiro there's twenty Elizabeth Wirzel's and something like two hundred and fifty seven Netto's Henry Rollins.
Though in all honesty i don't know if i should be blaming Lunch or Annie Sprinkle for the Stare at my Ugly Truth untertainment cult.
So, after suffering through one and a half (i liked half of one set) rotten self professed weird and strange bands whose weirdness and strangeness was their major selling point (bar camel toe and shit haircuts). Teenage Jesus and the Jerks played and they were really good, hell, far far better than my relatively low expectations were (i felt time may have completely passed them by).
The mosh pit was inexplicable and the well placed boot to the face of one would be stage diver glorious.
For a woman who's made her name in spoken word there was a lack of on stage banter and the set was pretty short. THIS IS A GOOD THING. God damn i hate almost anyone that thinks i should listen to them for more than twenty minutes (generally it's ten) unless it's Godflesh before 1992 (in my all time top five shows ever), Hijokaidan (ditto), Bastard Noise or the upcoming Autopsy one off i promised myself i'd go to despite swearing off MDF after playing there earlier this year.
Oh yeah, and unlike Throbbing Gristle in Chicago back in May there was a welcome lack of middle aged bank managers desperate to prove to the world how much more of a transcendental experience than anyone else they were having. Fuck, i wish i'd secretly filmed some of those wankers, eyes glazed over in rapt nostalgia which is essentially the lowest form of emotional connection, as sarcasm is to wit and Christianity is to Divinity.
Basically it was still relevant (and didn't need a Burning Man overhaul a la TG), unpretenious and far heavier than any number of riffless amplifier bands the youth seem to dig these days. Just a great performance.
Satanic Skinheads? That was a weird fucking proposition, sometimes easy to forget how out there that was at the time.
And of course they're inadvertantly responsible for so much dreadful music masquerading as 'True Black Metal'. A simple scan of the sub-sub genre they're responsible for reveals that little is needed to fool a lot of people.
But really all underground cultures suffer this contraction of thought being sold back to people as either pushing the envelope or guarding the tradition. And like i said, most of it (in any underground culture) is largely dishonest and an inversion of the actual principles that they profess to embody.
In any case, the Blasphemy show. There were far less posers yelling about reality like some kind of Satanic Hip Hop all stars than i had anticipated. I think art witch Diamanda Galas performing the same night probably split that vote. Better being seen as cultured than intentionally cultureless if the occasion calls for an either/ or in some peoples mind i guess.
So Blasphemy, way too quiet to instantly endear me to them, but writing this on the train home two days later i'm struck with a lasting sense of how powerful a spectacle it was on a primal level.
Blasphemy were exactly what a gang (as in GANG) of 40 year old Christ hating coke dealers would look like; intimidating mother fuckers without even having to do anything 'intimidating'. In my line of work i meet a lot of people, a lot of them talk big, but in general the really mental ones don't need to do a damn thing; they just exude 'don't fuck with me' and are usually very friendly. But you know they could kill you in a heartbeat and wouldn't loose any sleep over it.
(this is a version of a larger piece that may one day eventually make it in to the print zine i've been threatening to do for a few months now)
The Rita - Skate/ Snorkel
Drowned - Aerth (these guys need to release more)
Black Sabbath - Peel Sessions
Cro Mags - Age of Quarrel
Kito - the Long Player
Psychogeography - Will Self
Cinema Purgatory 2 - Rick Tremble
Magic and the Qabalah - W E Butler