Make Your First Like Your Last and Your Last Like You’re First: Fugazi “First Demo”

Will Schube is so hardcore he wears Timbs to bed “No you’re not hardcore, unless you live hardcore.” And thus it was spoken. The legend of Dewey Finn rose like a phoenix the moment...
By    December 3, 2014


Will Schube is so hardcore he wears Timbs to bed

“No you’re not hardcore, unless you live hardcore.” And thus it was spoken. The legend of Dewey Finn rose like a phoenix the moment these words were sung. I, however, am decidedly not hardcore. My glasses, naturally loose fitting, dangle from the edge of my nose at any sign of excessive movement; this is rather antithetical to the concept of moshing–a hardcore/punk staple. This is why I love Fugazi–they’re less a hardcore group than a pop (in the loosest sense of the word) reinterpretation of punk history, instilling common hardcore and punk ethos’ to rather accessible music (they’ve also been known to speak out against unwanted violence at punk shows–hoorah for unwanted wild elbows!). Fugazi’s discography also presents a consistency and vitality so rare in punk variety. Whether this has to do with MacKaye’s unrelenting vision, the various genres the band continually plays with (hints of dub, sloppy funk, and 90s indie rock are scattered about), or some combination of multiple factors, the consistency with which the band was producing at their peak is rarely matched. Their first studio release, Repeater, is remarkably assured for a band still finding their footing, while the follow-ups, Steady Diet of Nothing, and In on the Kill Taker are equally accomplished in their furthering of an already complex presentation of traditional hardcore music. The band have been on indefinite hiatus since 2003, and First Demo is the first “new” thing the band has put out since 2001’s The Argument.

First Demo seems to fit in with a burgeoning Fugazi archive. The band has been re-mastering and releasing practically every show they’ve ever performed, and whether this obsessive organization and cataloging is a matter of preserving a legacy is beside the point–Fugazi is, at its core, a live act–the band conveys a sort of energy on stage that simply can’t be matched through recorded output. Hardcore shows seem to be perceived as slop fests–one off, ramshackle affairs that have little meaning in the greater scheme of things. Fugazi places an importance on their live show, much in the way jam bands such as Phish and The Grateful Dead do; the performance generally exceeds the music being performed. In this sense, the Demo release makes sense. It’s a clear marker of the band in a certain time and place,  catching the energy of a new band ready to burst onto the exploding scene. The demos don’t differ tremendously from their finished versions, which, if you’re looking for new Fugazi music, will be a disappointment, but this is the band’s first crack at the “Fugazi” sound. “Waiting Room” is as explosive as ever, and “Merchandise” remains a favorite. There are also a few goodies and surprises scattered about: seeing the development of a band so aware of the sound they were beginning to cultivate. While First Demo doesn’t bring much newness to Fugazi’s vast discography, it’s another step towards their ever expanding documented legacy, and because of this, the import of the record knows no bounds.


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