Sunday, March 20, 2011

Weaselmania or Wrestlemania???

I missed South By Southwest but seems the prevailing story out of Austin Tx, seems to be Ben Weasel going "Axl Rose" on some girl out in the audience who threw something at him while Weasel was on stage playing.

Shouldn't be surprising seeing as how on Screeching Weasel's new album "First World Manifesto", one of the songs "Follow Your Leaders" bemoans the current punk scene and its' audience. Can you really be shocked, as he's been known for his surly demeanor, probably just a matter of time. I say that's what is needed these days. More danger at rock n roll shows, I can remember coming out of a shows with blood falling from some part of my face probably more times than I'd like to remember and that was the late 90's. I've heard stories from the 80's punk/hardcore scene that make my experiences sound lame.

Last year it was outta SXSW it was the staged tequila mixed with piss shots that were passed out tot the audience while Fat Mike as Cokie the Clown did a solo set. If you can see the video of the set you can also see the audience heckling Mike while he tells real stories, some quite sad, between songs. The set concluded with the audience being shown a video from the stage of what appeared to be Fat Mike whipping out his member and pissing in the tequila bottle and recorking it, then taking the same bottle and pouring shots for the crowd. Some people freaked out realizing they had just downed "tequila cock" shots while others laughed being had. Fat Mike gets banned from the venue and everyone has a good laugh. The last laugh came a few months later when it turns out it was a fake dick and fake piss. No harm, no foul. Even if it ended up really being a ruse, it should have stayed behind zipped lips.
The unpredictability it demonstrated was something sorely needed in punk rock and rock n roll in general these days. Safety shouldn't be a guarantee. There should always be a charge of "anything's might happen at any moment" in the air once you enter a venue.
Granted death shouldn't be one of those things that might happen, like as at Altamont during the Stones set, but barring life threatening actions we need more chaos and insanity. Those elements make going to a show worth the experience.

We need more explosiveness from the stage at shows. Audiences need to learn to "fear and respect that escalator". As much as people like to fault Ryan Adams for his onstage tantrums he's thrown while in Minneapolis I kind of enjoy it as an idea.

Rock and Roll is suppose to be dangerous and unpredictable, thats what made it so popular over the years. Granted GG Allin has been relegate to a punk rock footnote but the reason why more often than not the exact reason people went to see GG Allin and the Murder Junkies was to see some shit go down, sometimes literally and sometimes the unpredictable antics that could ensue.
Rock and roll has gotten soft, the barricades make the audience feel too safe, safe enough that they feel they can get snotty but when it comes back to bite em back they get so offended. The visceral interplay between band and audience has become so sanitized that everyone gets up in arms when someone like Ben Weasel flips his shit after having junk thrown at him. This isn't the zoo and as an audience you don't get to play the role of the bratty kid who tosses pebbles in the monkey cage and doesn't like the what happens next.
Now I'm not defending Ben Weasel jacking a woman as it seems thats what happened but being in the audience doesn't entitle you to act like an asshole to someone you come to see play a show so they can make a living.
I remember being at the 400 Club in Minneapolis ,in 2008 I believe, to see Connor Oberst's new band play the first of a two night stand to try out new material. My friend and I were pretty near the stage in this small venue and you could almost not even hear the band play because everyone was talking the entire time, to the point that Connor had to stop midsong to tell some hipster jerkoff to take his cellphone conversation to the back of the bar. I don't get it personally. Here are the headliners playing an atypical show, something special and everyone would rather hold asinine conversations while they played. Rock and roll audiences are too complacent and almost think they are better than those they come to see.
To paraphrase David Cross' comedy album title " Shut up you fucking babies and enjoy the show" Otherwise sit at home and listen to the album or wear a helmet and elbow pads so the rest of us know you are fragile to be there in the first place.
To the rest of you sissies, Welcome to the Jungle motherfuckers.

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