Queen Anne-archy

A critic lets himself revel in the old-school punk of the Social Chaos Tour.

STRUTTING DOWN DENNY, 3pm. The sun was beating down, blasting deadly radiation on the one inch of my face that wasn't covered by my cop sunglasses. I was already drunk and getting drunker by the minute, thanks to a witches' brew of generic tequila and Gatorade in a big plastic cup wedged in my hand. I had a retarded smile on my face, partly because I was ripped, but mostly because I was going to the Social Chaos Tour 1999.

Social Chaos Tour

DV8, Tuesday, July 27

Say what you will about punk bands, they're a hard lot to kill. No matter how many times you've wished them away into crappy day jobs, clutching their one good record while cynically publishing countless telephone books of their obituaries, they still come back.

Yes, you can pound them on the head, tell them the movement is dead, that they don't matter, that they should be listening to hip-hop, that their outward shows of rebellion are as conformist as fraternity row, that their politics are just an excuse to drink and not have a job, that to carry on what was little more than a brief trend of the late '70s is not only pathetic but counterproductive to the creation of new music and a stagnant pond on the fertile prairie of 1999 society.

Yeah, and you can suck my dick.

Getting closer to DV8, evidence of a happening grew stronger. Various packs of hyenas cluttered alleyways drinking milk out of brown paper bags. Shaved heads, mohawks, jackets with Crass logos, smiles, stances, boots, and braces (the teeth kind and the pants kind).

The crowd was old. Normally I go to a punk show and feel like someone's dorky old brother from the Army who stopped by to say dad was mad at them before going on to a titty bar. Not at this show. I doubt that more than 10 percent of the crowd was seeing any of these bands for the first time. Gristled, gnarled, and, from what I saw in the parking lot, still carrying on that stupid punks vs. skins shit—but hell, I'll take that old-school fight over the current 'str8dge vegan acrobats' vs. 'heroin-addict puppy owners' contest any day.

After getting my plastic cup confiscated by security, I made it inside and was forced to wait behind the normal number of stragglers claiming to be on the guest list. Hell, I didn't blame them. For $25 bucks I'd do some serious scamming too. Not that the bands weren't worth it, but $25 at one time is a hefty bite.

I WON'T LIE. As ridiculous as it seemed to be at this show of dinosaurs old enough to be my alcoholic uncles amidst talk of anachronistic "anarchy" and a scene straight out of 1985, I was stoked. No matter how much I hated the idea of a traveling punk oldies act in 1999, my heart wasn't in the hating; my heart was up on stage while they rocked their ancient asses off. I mean, come on—Anti-Heros, Sloppy Seconds, TSOL, DOA, the Business, the UK Subs—these are good bands, and being put off by whatever hang-up you have with punk being "dead" certainly doesn't go with a tummy full of liquor.

When a band like Sloppy Seconds or DOA takes the stage, the scene doesn't matter. The reason you're there doesn't matter. If you've got even a squirt of soul left in you, you don't think, "Man, these guys are old." You bob your head, and when they play that song you know all the lyrics to, you smile like a goon and sing along, and if you don't, you should go sit in your air-conditioned Jetta, listen to Goldie remixes, and leave the rest of us alone.

I'm not going to get into each band, because if you really cared you would've been there. Far from being the tired old farts they should have been, I'd say that with the exception of the UK Subs (I've seen them rock way harder before), most of the bands were just as good as I'd ever seen them, maybe even better. Joey Shithead still shakes his head, the Anti-Heros still scare me, and the singer from TSOL still looks like a pirate.

What did suck was that Murphy's Law, D.R.I., and Gang Green all canceled (I actually had a dream about D.R.I. the night before, to let you know just how big of a loser I am), but at least they had the courtesy to post the names of the canceled bands in plain view of the ticket line. Some bitched about the huge stage barricade, but it didn't stop the stage from filling up with punks on TSOL's final song, "Code Blue."

I suppose a real music critic would have sat in the back with a notebook, observing, and then used this space to attack some insecurity of theirs brought out by the show instead of finding a dumpster to drink beer behind and making a bunch of new friends (hey, Canadians!). I'll be a better critic in the future, I swear, but today I was just another drunken fan. Pathetically reliving my misspent youth, possibly, but having a hell of a time at it.

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