The band that I enjoyed most, by far, on Thursday evening was Sacramento's own Avenue Saints. From the first moment on stage, they are provocative and different. Upright bass? Irish hat? American punk... really?
Many bands that are today categorized as "punk" are to me "happy punk" or "fun punk" and while entertaining, not punk rock as I know it.. While the rhythm and insistency might still be there, the origins are not. (And I do understand that American Punk was different to, and more mainstream/commercial than, the British punk of the late 70's and early 80's.) Punk was rebellion: rebellion against authority, rebellion against mainstream music and commercialism (though there were plenty who later made it commercial); punk was anti-fashion (which quickly became a fashion in itself, safety-pins and bin-liners (garbage bags) and shocking hairdos and piercings); punk was angry and assumptive and aggressive and secular. It was abrasive and it was not-very-musical, at least to begin with, because people were grabbing guitars and forming bands before they knew how to play a chord. It was overtly political, because our lives at that time were overtly political. It was ordinary people taking a step out of their lives bogged-down with Thatcher, strikes, the greyness of mediocrity and racism and inner-cities and not-wanting-to-be-like everyone else. It was anarchism in its purest form, right before it became sellable. It was breaking-through the complacency and expectations of the upper- and middle-classes into a vacuum that could be filled with music. Remember the Sex Pistol's version of "God Save The Queen"? Do you, today, have any idea how wrong and shocking that was to the older generations? It really was.
(Malcolm McClaren. Best-known face of commercial punk rock. Simon Cowell's activities reminds me of McClaren today. But don't dismiss McClaren as simply someone who redirected a bandwagon towards open wallets... listen to his "Paris" first. He was good. Here's a review I wrote of Paris, back-in-the-day under the pen-name Ali Sinclair, on Consumable Online, one of the first-ever online music 'zines.)
But Avenue Saints? They reminded me all the way... but in their own unique style.
Three guys, one bass, one guitar and a drum kit. Loved their rendition of Elvis' "In The Ghetto"--watch out for a downloadable version soon on their Facebook page.
"In a land of sheep and shepherds, we need more wolves!" How very, very true.
I'm going to see Avenue Saints again. Soon.
To see more photos from the show, click on any of the pictures in this post, or go to the gallery: http://alisontoon.com/avenuesaints