Thursday, September 22, 2005

Ivor Biggun and the Red Nosed Burglars vs the Biggest Green Day

When Green Day rocked Australia in March this year, fans and critics alike agreed the concerts were nothing short of spectacular. But they ain't seen nuthin' yet. When Green Day return this December for a stadium show at the Sydney Cricket Ground, they'll be bringing 15 semis carrying over 300 tons of equipment and staging. That includes on 8.5 metre stage thrust stretching out int the audience while a collection of strategically-placed screens ensure those further back catch all the action, with two massive LED screens which will tower each side of the stage and a touring party of 200 staff will construct and stage the concert. Green Day hit the Sydney Cricket Ground on Wednesday December 14.

The Drum Media 20/9/05

What's wrong with this picture? Apart from finishing the wretched desecration with an American date configuration, that is. Quite a few things actually.

  • Anything bigger than a touring van and you're starting to get out of true punk territory. And the 'can-do philosophy' that fuelled the drive of early practitioners is corroded by 200 super-roadies erecting the stage.
  • When I looked up and saw the Metallica trucks, it seemed natural enough. The sight of a convoy of semis just carrying your shit might impress the metal fan but what the fuck has it got to do with punk rock?
  • People forget that a large part of what defined punk was a reaction against prog rock, against massive spectacle, against separation between the musicians and the audience. In short, it's a checklist that raises a finger to the notion of spectacle, never mind it's ostentatious pursuit.
  • Green Day and Simple Plan have no more outrage than necessary. The punk I like is uncomfortable, abrasive, confrontational, loud, snotty. The Descendants not The Offspring of The Stooges and New York Dolls. Of the Sex Pistols, Siouxsie Sioux and The Damned. Of early Swans, Flipper, Butthole Surfers, Dead Kennedys. The list goes on. Maybe I like it more for the genuine tear-it-up rage than for the sentiment but it's better than soppy pop being labelled as punk.
  • What made a movement so determined to not be commercial to be co-opted in such a way? Jello Biafra, as one of the foremost paranoiacs that fuelled disgust and distrust, felt in the eighties that there were forces seeking to make profits instead of making prophets. As much as they hated hippies, the punks suffered the same fate.


On a lighter note - perhaps the best newspaper headline ever

Ogling Farmer Fractures Penis

A NEWLY married Romanian farmer fractured his penis after ogling his young wife while carrying a heavy sack of grain.
Farmer Gheorge Popa, 52, from Galati, had been moving the grain sacks to the barn when he stopped to watch his 25-year-old wife Loredana hang out the washing.
He got himself over excited and dropped the sack on his erect penis, snapping vital tendons and ligaments.

mX 22/9/05


At 3:17 am , Blogger Sherry Pasquarello said...

i don't know what i liked better, the rant or the headline!

i'm not much into punk, too old for anything but remembering the beginings. i get the point tho about the semi's and all the trappings of commercialism and the appearances of a sellout. people said that about dylan years and years ago. dylan just went about his own way and never cared much about being labeled, did'nt want to be.

as to the romanian farmer, well, he was obviously still move'n and grove'n at his age. good for him, hope he heals well, giggle.

At 12:21 am , Blogger Berko Wills said...

Thanks Sherry. Yes, good point, I never minded the Sex Pistols reunion. I think punk could have been as much about escaping working class poverty as encapsulating it.

I've certainly never had anything against Billy Idol (like so many)as he was there early in the scene, 'stalked' the pistols with siouxsie and was a keen Suicide fan.

I make it a point of listening to the night of Dylan music that the university radio station plays in celebration of his birthday each year and love whole segments of his career to bits. I don't think he was a judas but yeah the folkies were up in arms. I guess the thing is, there might be grounds for Megadeth or Slayer to do something other than metal, if they give people enough warning but a band only represents itself at any given time: be it a gig at some suburban club or a stadium show. A movement or genre is different; there is a formulation, however careless, that becomes defining.

I heard it said of The Clash's London Calling that what made it really punk is that it wandered where it willed. There was reggae and ska and so forth because that was all part of their musical environment too. No reason not to.
Dylan can come up with the most incisive political statements and then deconstruct them by varying performances and a commercial element that appears to contradict his most profound insight. He also has that curiosity of the great and significant musicians that enables him to roam into new territory and put his fine stamp upon it.
The trouble is, who measures up to Dylan in stature, in range, in brilliance? He's done stuff I don't like but that doesn't detract from the fact that he wrote so many iconic world-defining songs, so many songs that other singers took to so well, so many rambling idiosyncratic masterpieces that nobody else could do. He's a genius and in songwriting terms may be the genius.

I think Green Day, for those who like them, chug along pleasantly and they've had a couple of songs which are better than that. But they should find an alternate label to hang their three-piece stadium rock on. Either that or no label.


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