It's Only Agro to Me
My favorite memory from Lollapalooza '96 is watching the Ramones blast through "Sheena Is a Punk Rocker" as a wicked dust storm suddenly rose on the horizon and swept toward Compton Terrace at warp 5. Roadies literally had to pull Joey Ramone away from the mike when the storm descended. The rest of the band ran for cover. The wind gave Joey's long, frizzy, black and gray hair the Medusa look. Light racks overhead swayed with menace. But Joey refused to leave the stage.
Now that's punk rock.
Almost that good was seeing Devo get showered with all kinds of shit--paper cups, ratty tennis shoes, ice, crumpled popcorn buckets and the dreaded plastic water bottles full of suspiciously golden liquid--by surly, west-side headbangers.
Last year, remember, was the one Lollapalooza featured a revolving "Mystery Special Guest" in the third slot from the top. I can't think of a worse city than Phoenix for Devo to debut, but that's where it picked up the tour. It was a nightmare. First, the dust storm shut down the festival for 90 minutes. Second, Devo was scheduled to perform right before Soundgarden and Metallica, which meant several thousand hard-rock fans arrived purposely late, only to find that, because of the delay, they had to endure an hour of pussy New Wave crap before the real bands started to rock. Third, the only Devo song most of that crowd knew was "Whip It," and the band played it first.
The end result? Mob violence.
"It's been a long time since we've been booed," Mark Mothersbaugh told the crowd, bobbing and weaving to avoid a salvo of garbage. Welcome to Phoenix, synthesizer boy.
"Get off the stage, you Mickey Mouse music motherfucker," some oaf shouted. I clearly remember that quote, because, well, how could I forget it?
Anyway, Soundgarden's gone now, disbanded as of two weeks ago. Which is sort of like Matthew Broderick coming out to chastise the audience after the credits have rolled at Ferris Bueller's Day Off: "What, you're still here? Grunge is over. Go home. Shoo."
Look around you. Rock's devolving into two broad camps: Agro and Wussy. Rage Against the Machine is Agro. The Wallflowers are Wussy. It's simple. Last week, Album Network's new feature, Agro Report, had a new Geffen punk band called Snot in the numero uno slot for most new spins in FM-radio airplay.
One notch below Snot was Phoenix's own Crushed. Now, Crushed is not a punk band by any stretch, but it's still scheduled to play the second stage on the skate-punk Warped Tour festival this summer, starting in Phoenix on July 2. Crushed is also scheduled to support punk stalwarts Suicidal Tendencies for several shows this fall.
Six months ago, Crushed was a metal band. Now, it's Agro.
Crushed just got back from eight weeks on the road in support of its self-titled EP on 911 Records (the single "Lit" is the one getting most of the radio play).
Guitarist Mike Halland told me last week that one of the strangest "in a good way" shows the band played on its first major tour was "Punk Night" at the Manhattan underground rock club Coney Island High (recently featured in Spin). "We were on the bill with all these punk bands, but it went all right," says Halland. "We were loud, and they seemed to appreciate that."
Halland says one of the worst shows the band played was at a club whose name "I don't even want to remember" in Murfreesboro, Tennessee (no, really), on "Drink and Drown" night. "The basic concept was you paid five bucks and got to drink as much as you could," says Halland. "There were all these huge jock guys. It was pretty ugly. No one even looked at the stage the whole time."
Headliners Cellophane got the same treatment, Halland says, and during the band's set, Cellophane's singer rammed his guitar into an amp stack in frustration, then went outside and "kicked the shit out of" his band's tour van.
"He just had a spaz attack," Halland says. "Every time they had a bad show, he would go out and kick the van. After a couple of weeks, one door was looking pretty messed up."
Crushed's full-length debut is due out on 911 Records July 22.
Slugger lead singer Yolanda Bejarano reports the Tempe p-rock band's bass player, Craig Browning, recently left the group because "he wasn't having fun anymore." Devout New Times readers may remember Browning as the guy Screed writer Peter Gilstrap profiled in January as "The Boy Who Doesn't Swear."
Former Since I Was Six bassist Jimmy Campesano has taken Browning's place. The new lineup has played out only once, with the Les Payne Project and Bob Log from Doo Rag, at Nita's Hideaway. "We were way out of tune," says Bejarano. "It was a lot of fun." Slugger is scheduled to play next with Royal Trux at Nita's on June 2, then with Les Payne, Mad At 'Em and Trunk Federation at Nita's on June 7.
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