by Douglas PageŠ
I experienced a punk rock concert the other night. It was
my son's idea. He plays in one of the bands. It's probably my fault. I bought him the guitar.
The concert was at the Troubadour, in Hollywood. The last time I was
there the Smothers Brothers were performing. See the problem?
Punk, for those from functional families, is a contemporary form of
musical expression which is to harmony what a siren is to a symphony. This is music in the same sense that water polo is bathing.
Punk is performed by youth for youth. No one else has this much
energy. Or this much anger. These lads don't look angry, but I think they've figured out what's happened. My generation has
handed them a world convulsing from over-population, neglect, indifference, debt and militant stupidity. Punk is how they're
My son plays lead guitar in a local punk band called 98 MUTE. The name has something to do with one of the pornographic cable channels. I'm not sure what. There are some things you just
shouldn't know your children are doing. Freakin', for instance, is not something you want to ask your daughter about.
98 MUTE has been practicing for a while. I've been wondering when
I would get to see them perform. They were the second of three bands scheduled to play at the Troubadour that night. He tried
to warn me his music wasn't for everyone. I should have listened. The other bands playing that night were PUNCTURED LUNG and
SMELL BRIAN'S FINGER.
At first I thought the bands were having trouble with their equipment.
The shrieking, riotous noise reminded me of what resulted when Pete Townsend used to annihilate his guitar and amplifiers
at the end of a Who performance. Somehow these punk lads managed to duplicate the sound of that carnage without actually breaking
I understand now why my son refused guitar lessons. By definition,
any form of conformity, convention or congruity has no place in punk culture. Guitar lessons would only inhibit him, confining
him to standards which to him are archaic, arbitrary and therefore perfectly useless. Punk is the logical extension of a dysfunctional
society, the shrill rhetoric of irresolute rebellion shaken in your face.
It starts once the guitarists have their closet-sized amplifiers adjusted
to industrial distortion.
The drummer pounds like he's breaking rocks. The bass player does
something that makes you squint. The guitarist scratches chords that could scatter a cat fight. The Six-Day War didn't make
this much noise.
The singer, meantime, embraces the microphone the same way you strangle
snakes and proceeds to scream at the top of his lungs the discontent of an entire generation. If this is singing, hog-calling
The anarchy is not confined to the bandstand. What was once called
an audience is now called a mosh pit, in which a phenomenon known as slam-dancing occurs.
Slam-dancing is apparently a form of mass suicide accomplished by
hurling your body randomly about like a disturbed lab animal without any regard for safety -- their's or yours. In my time
this was a felony.