I hereby declare 2006 to be The Year the Whippersnappers Learned Their Place. I have read the writing on the wall, and it states that listening to your elders is not as lame as previously reported. Just look at politics: George Bush Jr. got himself into a fine mess in
Well, in case you missed it, a similar meeting of the minds kicked off Wednesday night with a similar purpose: It was a summit on the direction of punk music, convened by the Beta Bar and lorded over by the original Circle Jerks. And like any good punk show, there was much rejoicing, a little fighting, and a curious number of underage teens experimenting with leather and safety pins. A strange, new punk value was instilled, too: A solemn responsibility to hear what the old men have to say.
The Jerks, of course, are now venerable granddaddies of the
Frankly, it's gotta be more than a little depressing for the boys in the band to watch the hardcore scene slouch toward a state of capitalist-fueled entropy. Especially for Jerks like Keith Morris of Black Flag fame and Greg Hetson, who strummed for Bad Religion (both of which are, um, kind of a big deal): They suddenly find themselves headlining all-ages shows, half-packed with clarinet-playing honor students who dress as Slipknot members for Halloween and use charge cards to purchase do-it-yourself fashions already done beforehand by Vietnamese sweatshop workers.
As Morris put it onstage, complaining about the Warped Tour punk world, "Maybe we're all just a bunch of old guys, and these 13-year-olds don't get us."
Nonetheless, they took a wild stab at making themselves understood.
The undercard played admirably, with Switchblade Cheetah making its argument in 45-second bursts. In the Wake Of...'s back-to-basics sound reassured the older crowd that it had, in fact, arrived at the correct address. Bless their hearts for blasting out a cover of Minor Threat's "We're Just a Minor Threat," whose opening chords were received like heavenly manna by those of us whose memories of the 1980s are not all programmed by VH1.
Then there were the Lower Class Brats, whose licks and riffs were almost as meticulous as their glam makeup and outfits. Too bad the lowest class of all - about five skinheads and various other of Darwin's walking jokes in the mosh pit - tried to ruin this danceable major-chord set by stomping the doe-eyed teens in the front row.
By , the statesmen had arrived to hold court. Despite their age issues and political alienation (in his between-song ruminations, Morris touched all the typical anti-government, Bush-bashing bases you would expect him to), the fogies made an appeal for punk unity, emphasizing the chorus from their song "The Crowd": "All the world lives here." Tossed into the appeal were an hour's worth of timeless classics - "Behind the Door", "Back Against the Wall", "Fortunate Son" and "Wild in the Streets" (which was broken up by a pit fight, then resumed with gusto).
Most valuably, the Jerks were gracious enough to provide the audience's nubile novices a few free lessons in the basics, hearkening back to the first wave of punk with a cover of Robyn Hitchcock and the Soft Boys' "I Wanna Destroy You" and saluting L.A. forebears the Plugz and the Weirdos.
By the time the boys' four-song encore culminated in "Depression", kids wearing Against Me shirts had found common ground with those of us who still think Bad Brains and the Damned are required listening.
Now, if only we can get those whippersnappers to turn off the MTV and eat their vegetables.
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