I spent the majority of my adolescence skateboarding, listening to straight-edge music, and dealing with ignorant people judging my friends and me by our baggy pants, skate shoes, and buzzed hair. Then time passed, commercialism stepped in, and made it fashionable to wear sagging jeans and skate shoes without ever stepping foot on a skateboard. Sure enough, the people who thought our manner of dress absurd found themselves with their Vans-dressed-feet in their mouths and wearing jeans baggier than the ones they once ridiculed so vehemently.
Since the '70s, those involved in the punk rock scene endured the same misinformed ridicule. Fortunately (and I emphasize "fortunately" with the utmost sarcastic inflection), with the outbreak of so-called alternative rock, it's suddenly acceptable to dye your hair green, purchase overpriced, ripped jeans, and accessorize with spiked bracelets and belts, or maybe the token Misfits shirt and Dead Kennedys pin.
What happened to individuality and self-expression? Many bands have flourished and died in the name of punk rock, but few have kept it as real as Ian MacKaye (sounds like "Mac-kie") and his band Fugazi.
More than a musical genre or fashion statement, to actually be punk rock requires a particular mindset. As an avid advocate of the true punk rock philosophy and lifestyle, Fugazi frontman MacKaye began his reign of punk rock ideology in the late '70s in a group called the Teen Idles. As the '80s rolled in, the Idles broke up and took the leftover money to create their own label and fund the release of their final EP — thus forming the independent label Dischord Records.
Twenty years later, Dischord continues to evolve and provide an avenue for independent bands to produce records without signing to a major record label; Dischord and its bands don't even sign contracts. As for MacKaye, after setting the stage with the Teen Idles, and pioneering the straight-edge scene as the lead of Minor Threat, he continues to express his political views with the utmost punk vigilance in Fugazi.
On tour behind its latest release, The Argument, Fugazi wanted desperately to make its way to San Antonio. Since Fugazi's last show here six years ago, MacKaye lost touch with his San Antonio contact and could not secure a venue. After setting up the Austin show at Emo's, MacKaye asked his correspondent there if he knew a potential San Antonio contact. After much research and deliberation, the correspondent gave MacKaye a phone number for Mark Fleming of the San Antonio band White Heat (former B-Side Project).
Fleming recalls: "I got home from work one day and the phone rang and it showed 'unavailable' on the caller ID. I usually don't answer it because it's usually telemarketers, but for some reason I answered it and the guy on the phone `said` ... 'My name's Ian MacKaye from Fugazi'." To Fleming's surprise, the phone call proved authentic and when asked if he could set up a venue with a couple of local acts to open the show, Fleming enthusiastically said he would.
After weeks of phone calls and negotiation, Fleming finally secured a spot for Fugazi at Sunset Station. "There were lots of stipulations with Fugazi that they were hesitant at first about," Fleming explains. For example, most shows at Sunset Station charge more than $20 per person. Fugazi requires not only that Sunset Station host an all-ages show with a $6 cover, but also that the venue allow all cameras and tape recorders, with a special request for no bouncers nor barricades in front of the stage separating them from the crowd.
Unlike the commercialization of the baggy-pantsed and safety-pinned, Fugazi refuses to sell out.
Fugazi with White heat and Kowalski
7pm, Friday, March 29
1174 E. Commerce
A Fugazi discography
Instrument Steady Diet of Nothing
In on the Killtaker
14 Songs Live
Blueprint: Live '90