Saturday, May 29, 2010

Punk Dichotomy

Tuesday night in DC is a perfect example of the dichotomy of Punk Rock ideals versus commercialism at its finest (or worst) and the hyposcrisy of the legions of adherents to said ideals.

Social Distortion is playing a sold out 930 Club tonight for $25
Jello Biafra is playing at the Black Cat tonight for $15 but it isn’t sold out.

While there is no denying that Social Distortion are one of America’s finest punk bands musically, politically they have never been very heavy hitters. And as they have aged and evolved as an band, they have perfected a variety of pre-packaged Punk Rock that sells tons of albums to the X-Games/Tony Hawk crowd – arguably the consumer Punk market. They have become so packaged that even their stage banter is suspected of being scripted.

Jello Biafra is one of Punk Rock’s most out-spoken political watch-dogs and has tirelessly continued his one-man crusade for 25 years without streamlining or giving in to commercial temptation. In the last two years Biafra has come down off the spoken-word pulpit to cut two fantastic albums of music in response to the current world situation. He is stopping by the Black Cat to play some of his new tunes but also to update some of his old Dead Kennedy’s songs. Not in an attempt to cash in (like that other band playing tonight) but to highlight how little progress America has made as a nation since he originally wrote these songs 25 years ago.

I’m sure musically both of these concerts tonight are going to be great. But if you call yourself a punk with a straight-face and you criticize “the man” and you complain about how nobody “makes a difference” then ideologically there is really only one show to go to tonight and it is the one that is $10 cheaper.

Originally published on October 25, 2005.

I caught some flack for writing this one from the scene.

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