I've always thought that folk and punk had way more in common that people gave them both credit for having.
They're both strongly focused on community and social justice. They're both working class movements. And while they both achieved mainstream success at some level, the seeds of each movements are to be found at the grassroots, unconcerned with how they're received by the mainstream.
Tim Barry showed himself to the perfect genre-atic (genre-ational?) combo last night at Yucca Tap Room.
Throughout the performance the former lead singer of famed Virginia punk band Avail offered constant reminders about the meaning of the movements he represents. Often they came from a very personal place. At the beginning of the show, Barry made a point to say:
"Please note that I'm doing this with a broken right hand. And also please note that while we're having a lot of fun, I have a friend in prison."
There was also a recurring theme of working class kids giving up everything to go to college, which he deems worthless. Rather, his lyrics encourage the value of blue collar jobs, and pose questions like, "Are you a real man or a college student?" explaining that a university is just an over-glorified business anyway.
He also talked about how his older brother turned him on to the Clash. He said a the phrase he saw on a Clash T-shirt his brother gave him still effects him: "Freedom is more vital than a job."
Barry's songs are genuine, political, poignant, and even depressing, though they are upbeat folk songs with a certain punk edge to them. His songs reflect his no regrets/"all-in" attitude towards life, and the topics range from domestic violence, and the complexities and grays of military service, to scenesters with un-ironic mustaches.
A highlight of the evening for many was when Barry ventured off the stage and straight into the middle of the crowd to perform Tile Work which featured a chorus of, "Please consider where I've been..." After he leaped off the stage, he announced that the crowd would have to help him sing it, and he walked through the masses as everyone shouted the lyrics with him, sans microphone. After it was over and Barry got back on stage, he said something to the effect of, "You guys switch things up. Otherwise it's just an acoustic guitar."
He also thanked the Yucca Tap Room for having him, touting the venue as the only place in the country that affords us the luxury of having free shows, and saying, "This place has always been really good to me and I thank you for it."
The visuals of punk rock couples with multi-colored hair holding one another, pink mohawks swaying from side to side, badass kids with their arms around each other, and a mosh pit, which only occurred during the last five minutes of the show, will not be easily wiped from the memories of those who attended.
Last Night: Tim Barry at the Yucca Tap Room.
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Better Than: Any other show that openly discourages the audience from attending college.
Personal Bias: I'm a huge fan of both punk and folk, and I was all over this divine combination like white on rice. I'm also in college, though.
Random Detail: At one point, Barry encouraged the audience to tell people that they love them while they're still alive and healthy, instead of waiting until they're dead. At that moment a tall, bearded man in a flannel shirt standing next to me turned to the male friend he had come with, looked him dead in the eye, and said, "I love you," while raising his beer in the air. You gotta love that kind of honest following.
Further Listening/Watching: Tile Work