Fugazi and Shellac, The Stratford Rex, London, May 1999
Naturally I like all the bands that are appearing in this project, and some are even more special to me, favourites if you like. Fugazi however slip into an even more select group that I have immense respect for, and luckily they had toured New Zealand so I knew what to expect. They are a band that never bowed to music industry convention or control and remain a beacon for integrity. Look at that ticket photo: six pounds! For Fugazi AND Shellac. That’s their obsession with making gigs affordable for all, and furthermore most of their gigs have always been either alcohol free or all ages. The Stratford Rex was a strange pick as it was more commonly used for big reggae or ragga nights. Only the previous week at a Beenie Man gig, a security guy had been shot dead and two other patrons had been wounded, so the security presence on entering was over the top, and the body searches were frankly excessive given the fact the crowd was 100% different. Fugazi gigs did not tend to attract much attention from crack-dealing Yardie gangsters. It took an extra hour to get everyone inside, and the bands had to delay to allow this. By curtain-up time the crowd's anticipation was bubbling into tension, and this was edged further along by Shellac's Steve Albini taunting the crowd with droning monologues between tracks, demanding of us “I want to know…what's … on your mind?” before playing the next track. Shellac were awesome, so tight and driving as a three piece. Mind blowing. And then came on the main act:“Hello. We are Fugazi. We are from Washington DC.” Hard. Fast. Rock. Astounding. There's a huge, bassy, almost dubby substrate to Fugazi, and on top of that bedrock the guitars screech, scrape, stroke, squeal, slash and shimmer. Live the songs a even more powerful than on record, whether it be the gappier, synchopated sounds off Steady Diet of Nothing, or the screaming hardcore of In On The Kill Taker. Best thing was that for this gig, I took along a couple of mates who I had been out clubbing with heaps, who had introduced me to a lot of fine, fine Detroit techno. I suggested it was time they came to a rock gig of similar pedigree, and to this day they talk about That Fewgayzi Band blowing them away: one of them quite literally, due to the crowd heat & delays. Whitey. Splat. Bloody epic night that lived up to all the expectations I had for it. Both bands gave the cliché 110%. Fugazi have been in a long hiatus now, for years, at least I am pretty sure they never actually broke up. I would love to see them play again. I would spend a Lotto win on putting them back together! Almost too many songs to recommend for Fugazi, but if I am going to single out that mix of foundation bass & scrapy guitars, I surely can not do better than ‘Reclamation’ from Steady Diet of Nothing.