Fugazi on NYT front page; aging punks everywhere go, "WTF?"

Read the article. Then download one of the 800 live shows in the newly restored audio archives, starting next Thursday. Then, go buy the book. (Thanks, Glen E. Friedman!)


  1. Admittedly this was a bit of a waaaaa?! Moment for me.

    But, in reflection, NPR’s been using snippets from Instrument as bumpers for years now, so it shouldn’t have been a total surprise.

    & 800 free shows to listen to, sweet! Thanks kids – can’t wait to listen to the May Day @ Fort Mason gig.

  2. Ha, the title of this made me lol.  So true.

    About 20+ years ago I first interviewed them for my fanzine, and it’s safe to say that unlike almost any other band, things were not the same after seeing them live for the first time.

  3. I only walk where the bricks are made of gold
    My mind and body, they’re the only things that I’ve sold
    I need a little money, ’cause I’m getting old.

    1. hmmm, Dave, I don’t know if its the grab for cash that you are making it out to be.  They’ve had a bunch of free music up on archive.org for years.  If they really wanted that cash, they’d reunite, approach All Tomorrow’s Parties, offer to play the tracklist of “Kill Taker” for a few nights, and net $50,000 for each show.

  4. Yeah I freaked out a bit when I saw this too – went and Google plus’ed it right away, gushing about their show at Metropolis, Montreal circa 1994 being the best live musical experience I’ll probably ever have.
    According to the article (iirc) you *can* download them for free but a donation is requested.

  5. Yup…I had a huh?! for reals? moment as well…

    But as someone who reads the NYT and still has his Minor Threat LPs (somewhere…), I guess I’m part of the demographic… 

    Oh straight edge, you were so well meaning and loud…ach mosh pits where ha ye gone?

  6. I think the article is correct in referring to them as post-punk. I don’t really think of them as punk, more straight-edge hardcore. I associate them, or Minor Threat rather, with the time when pogo dancing was replaced by mosh pits and you couldn’t dance at shows anymore without getting elbowed in the face or kicked by a skinhead. The punk scene was fun before the skinheads and straight-edge types showed up. 

    1. What a completely incoherent post. Minor Threat and Fugazi are drastically different bands that happened to share one member. Fugazi was not straight edge. Fugazi were known to stop shows when people began to mosh. You seem to be nostalgic for a scene that existed ’76-’77, if ever.

    2. they had punk songs, they had rock songs, they had ballads

      how about we agree they were a kick ass band with DIY punk ethics that everyone associates them with

  7. I don’t really think of them as punk, more straight-edge hardcore

    I think of them as a rock band who markets themselves quite well. Sure, they used to be in punk bands, but then they decided to do something else.  

  8. Always kills me when the NY Times suddenly spotlights  old-tyme scenes NOW — cuz you know they’d NEVER have given Fugazi any ink back in the 1980’s  — when the band was playing out in clubs…

    Of couse, if you get pop culture updates from the NYT, you’re lame anyway. 

    1. Actually, I got my update on this from twitter. So, that’s like awesomely more cooler and kick butt than whatever source you got it from.

  9. Fugazi is most certainly not a punk band, regardless of what former members did previous to that project.

  10. I have to insist with Wire, old-school egghead punks and their 2011 “Red Barked Tree”, check out the last stanza:

    A privileged few, a charmed elite
    Can slash and burn as they retreat
    The search is on, in southern seas
    to find the healing red barked trees

  11. You have to give NYT credit, at least their f**king trying! What the f**k have you done?

    Sorry, I could not resist.

  12. Newsflash – what was once considered hip, avaunt guard , experimental, and/or “out there” is now blase.

  13. Oh dear…it’s inevitable that the “Fugazi was not punk” “Fugazi was punk” argument gets started, even on BoingBoing, where I thought readers would be above that. First, who cares? Second, there is no single definition of “punk” — it means different things to different people. I happen to consider them the most punk of any band I have ever loved, based on their insistence to keep live shows affordable and all-ages and the fact that Ian and Jeff put out all of their records and never needed a major label to put them out. Everything about Fugazi’s attitude toward music has had a positive influence on me.

    1. First, who cares?

      It would seem Lime D Zeze. 

      Second, there is no single definition of “punk” — it means different things to different people. 

      True enough…people were, as far as I can tell, communicating how well Fugazi fit into their particular definition of the term.

      I happen to consider them the most punk of any band I have ever loved 


      But if you want to talk about it, as a musician, I think there is an important difference between “a band that works with a DIY punk ethic” and “a band that plays punk rock.” Fugazi didn’t play punk as the musical genre is generally understood. Their music was very much within the mainstream of rock, good as it was. From my perspective they were more “small business/entrepreneurial musicians” than “punk.” IMHO. And from my perspective that is a bigger compliment.

      1. Whatever you say, icastico.  As for myself, I have my giant hit discotheque album, I’ve emptied a bottle, I feel a bit free.

        Genres mean nothing.  Chord progressions (or lack thereof) have no meaning.  The term “punk” is meaningless.  Johnny Cash possessed fifty times more “punk” ethics in his right ring finger than any 100 no-name bands or Rise Against played for 399 years non-stop.

        1. Genres mean nothing.  Chord progressions (or lack thereof) have no meaning.  The term “punk” is meaningless.  

          I think the semiotics of the term are quite powerful, actually. But there is a distinction between the “genre” of music and the moral/ethical system that people get hung up on. If the term was meaningless, you wouldn’t be able to label Cash as “punk.” Your use of it signifies some sort of “rebel” attitude…but Cash worked within the mainstream music industry…he was not by any definition a DIY musician. When Lime De Zeze uses the term it seems that is an important part of the meaning of punk…DIY. So was Cash “Punk”?  Sure, why not. I am sure he was called a punk by more established musicians a generation older them him back in the day. But that has nothing to do with musical genre. Genre’s are just recognizable patterns in music. Punk as a genre is recognizable based on the chord progressions, rhythms, and timbre just like other genre’s. The value one puts on that recognizable pattern is a different issue. And on that level, actually, Cash was a big influence on punk. HE didn’t play it, but those who did took a lot of cues from his music. 

      2. “Their music was very much within the mainstream of rock, good as it was.”

        I’m sorry, but I don’t think you have the slightest idea what you are talking about.

  14. Oh, Fugazi, and for that matter, Minor Threat, were OK bands. Not great in my book, but it’s just a matter of taste and at which time one discovered punk. Give me the Crucifucks, Vom, The Germs, or The Pop Group (if you want to get really political). Now that’s some real punk rock that you’ll never hear as NPR filler or see mentioned in that mouthpiece of the US foreign policy elite, the New York Times.

  15. In other news, holy shit 800 shows! They rarely played less than 3 hour sets too… And those were just the shows that got taped. I’ll definitely be grabbing the shows I was at. I hope there’s some kind of ranking for sound quality, sure to be some variation there.

  16. $3 DIY all ages is fuckin tough, and it must have been even harder back then. now there are so many DIY venues everywhere and it’s still tough for organizers to get all their shows out of the bars and into the basements/warehouses/bookstores. i love fugazi, but i’d have respect for them even if i hated their music.

    and ya can’t blame minor threat for all the stupid shit that happened. i fuckin HATE courage crew and FSU and all the little crews all over, but minor threat’s intentions were good.

  17. Kids, kids! Don’t get all worked up on labels/semantics. You are missing the point. The only people that really benefit from labels/semantics are those that sell or promote music. It’s a pigeon hole so someone can make money.
    Good music is the bottom line (whatever definition you use). These arguments are a waste of time. You should be worried about other things besides categorizing music.
    Now go stick your head in a snare drum.

  18. I’m going to listen to one of these live shows, and have someone give me my 5 bucks back and ask me to leave just as I’m starting to enjoy myself. Just for the most authentic possible experience.

  19. Did y’all notice what WASN’T on that front page? Anything whatsoever about occupy protests anywhere in the country, including Black Friday protests. IOW, “Look! A baby wolf!”

  20. I’m not always 100% on what is and isn’t punk, but Fugazi definitely isn’t not punk.

    It’s okay to not like them, but to say they’re mainstream rock seems to miss about every point you could possibly get if you were paying any attention at all in the last 40 years.

    And I’m always puzzled by the folk who will take a post like this and say “this band is better than them.” What’s the point of a post like that?

  21. Umm, why do people think “conventional rock” and “punk rock” are mutually exclusive?  Have you people ever listened to The Ramones?  The Clash?  The Dead Kennedys?  Just a few examples of punk rock bands almost all of whose songs were conventional rock songs (in the case of DK, this only applies to their early albums).

    And if you pay attention, Fugazi’s music hews pretty closely to the genre conventions of U.S. hardcore.  They didn’t play as hard and fast as some other bands and the drumming was usually more complex but otherwise they were a hardcore band.

  22. Honestly, I was not surprised by the headline. There’s some evidence that the NYT harbors many old indie rock hands.

    For example, I know of three columnists who are connected. One Magazine columnist wrote about touring as half of Spectre Folk (an avant-underground act with a decent genre profile), another wrote about playing bass during the reunion of former Matador act Chavez, and  David Carr used to be the editor of the Washington City Paper, who were  (and are) very down with the whole Dischord thing.

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