JILTING THE JIVE AND DOING IT NICE AND SLEAZY, COS’ “I’M A SLUT, I’M A TEASE, I’M A WHORE…”
“The mohican has had a long journey since its native American beginnings. Stories of Red Indians by authors like Karl May, Buffalo Bill and Edward Sylvester Ellis were already a staple of children’s literature by the last quarter of the 19th Century. In these action tales Indians were the underdog; vicious, exotic, brave and savage – the perfect role model for teenage malcontents and anyone who felt put upon. Indian trappings became popular among delinquents in 1890s London, 1900s Paris, 1930s Berlin, and of these, the mohican was the ultimate and still is.
As Travis Bickle boils over with rage in Taxi Driver, his transition into a killing machine is symbolised by a brutal mohican. An idea that was not lost on the emerging 1970s punk movement, which shared much of the film’s incandescent disgust. The shape of a freshly shorn strip of scalp, the mohican means war, pure and simple. There is a famous photo of US paratroopers in Northern France in 1945, their hair cut mohawk style for their jump into battle over the Rhine in Germany.”
~ Jon Savage
“If Churchill had had a mohican he would have kicked Hitler’s ass in two years instead of six…”
~ The Guardian
Punk has had quite a journey from its native American origins too, some say (and I am one of them) it started in the mid sixties with the moronic chorus and catchy three chord verses of such hits as ‘Wild Thing’ by The Troggs and ‘Louie Louie’ by The Kingsmen. Some say it started with the bubble gum rock and roll punk of the Ramones, or their drag act contemporaries, The New York Dolls. You may even contend that The Velvet Underground with Lou Reed and Nico and Andy Warhol kickstarted the punk movement, and some even say (and they are wrong) that it started in 1977 in London with the Sex Pistols and The Clash, well, it didn’t begin there, but it definitely ended there, not in a bad way, but in a good way, in a, let’s-press-the-self-destruct-and-start-again, kind of way. Take it back underground, and there we’ll keep it, maturing in the wine cellar of rock and roll history. The Sex Pistols took down with them (gloriously I might add) the hopes and dreams of punk bands in the US looking to make it big, like The Ramones, you may even say this pissed The Ramones off. The Pistols rampage through America assured punk-related music would be unmarketable for the next decade or so, and in a way, preserved the dignity of bands like The Ramones, and also preserved the creativity of the movement, like ancient civilisations coding their information into the rocks and sands for future generations…the way we do now, with silicon chips.
Before I get sucked into writing a Brief History of Punk here (which I must get round to one day as all the ones I’ve read, and that’s most of them, miss a lot out) I’ll get to my point. The past couple of decades punk has been bubbling away on the hob, discreetly, the punk lords of our generation is a title that belongs to bands like NOFX, Rancid, Snuff, The Descendants etc. etc. They have learned by the past not to go too mainstream though, and many of them go out of their way to prevent such a thing happening (as in NOFX banning airplay of any of their videos on music television and commercial radio and the ilk).
And that brings us to the modern day, if you ask me who my favourite punk bands are right now, at this very moment in time, the answer would be delivered immediately without having to think, The Girobabies, The Mickey 9s, The Twistettes. Am I prejudice because I know these people? No, I liked their music before I ever befriended the members of any of these bands. If I’m biased for anything it’s just for being in the right place at the right moment in history, Glasgow right now, and particularly defined by that Twistettes’ Album Launch in Nice N’ Sleazys, and Yellowland at the Barrras, makes me feel like I’m part of something, and not just any something, a something after the very core of my beating black heart, a punk movement, because these bands are essentially and fundamentally punk bands, yeah they toss genres about, and yeah journalists describe everything as punk these days, but the feeling I got from being in the moshpit at that gig, I can only compare to being a little bit like the way people felt at that fateful first Pistols’ gig to twenty people in the mid seventies. That gig, and the handful of brief gigs that followed it, produced, from the frogspawn of its audience, such notables as The Buzzcocks, Adam & The Ants, Joy Division, New Order, The Clash, The Damned, Siouxsie Sioux, and er, Mick Hucknall? As well as many others… All going off like ripples in an ocean to form the backbone of music for the next decade. Nothing will ever come close to such moments in history again, you might think, but then… You never know.
You know that ethereal orchestra that plays away in the back of your mind all day, most musos have it I think, the soundtrack to your head, earworms are the technical term, well, it doesn’t sound very technical, maybe they should have tried saying it in Latin or something… Hold on while I consult my Latin dictionary… Ear, that would be… Auris… Worm, that would be… Vermis… Ah there we go, that sounds much more appropriate! Auris vermis, those auris verma (is that the plural? I dunno’, I’m not that clever) that wriggle away at the back of my brain, my ethereal orchestra, the soundtrack to my head, has sounded something like this for the past twelve months…
“TO MY CREDIT I WAS DRINKING SLOWLY…”
“ACTING NORMAL IS A PORTABLE PORTAL…”
And so on… There’s nothing like experiencing the hook from Equinox ‘Oh, we shall see what we shall see’ in a crowd with everybody reacting to it with the same euphoria… Hands outstretched, receiving manna. Something is happening here… These bands are living out a reality most musos can only dream of… Playing music to packed crowds of people who adore their work… Because the resulting sound is really, really fucking good, and it deserves to be adored.
I’m a seasoned mosher, in that I have been in, experienced, and even caused the swirling vortex of many a mosh pit, hundreds and hundreds at the last count in fact, ranging from everything from Dead Kennedys to Rancid, to Slayer to Leftover Crack, I even once accidentally found myself in a nazi punk pit wearing a Bob Marley t-shirt with his face emblazoned upon it, where I got the shit kicked out of me for about ten minutes and there was no escape from that pit because it encompassed the entire venue, a hundred or so nazi punks, swirling around in a brutish fever kicking the hell out of everything that moved, the whole crowd moved. Eventually bloodied and half-naked I had to press myself against the wall at the extreme fringe of the insanity, and even then occasionally you got sucked back off the platform, like standing too close to a passing train.
I have a million moshpit anecdotes like that, of a million great mosh pits. I noticed when I started attending gigs with friends who weren’t punks that they were terrified of the moshpit. Turns out few people understand the psychology of your average moshpit, it’s just a bunch of people dancing, it’s even quite gentlemanly in most circumstances, the trick is to become the pinball, let the flow take you, become absorbed in the energy, become the moshpit.
On that Saturday night at the Twistettes however, everybody understood the mosh pit psychology and got happily involved, people I was with who had never even seen a moshpit let alone been in one, were just diving right in, at one point some of us were even hanging off the rafters Eddie Vedder-style! I haven’t enjoyed a moshpit like that in many years. Punk is back! And the sisters are doing it for themselves! (There! I used the cliche every journalist has carefully avoided using) D.I.Y! There’s no real punk movement left? Start one! And that’s what these bands have done…
…It wasn’t just the Giros and the Twistettes that night either, though the maelstrom of moshing madness they incited with their performances were highlights, but there was more twists and turns than a major, and I mean major, prolapse underwater. The whole crowd and every act were on top form at that gig, from a rare appearance from Jackal Trades (who I’m sure I recognise from somewhere) complete with new material, to none other than Dougie of the Mickey 9s treating us to some unplugged unreleased stuff, to Ciaran Mac & O’B sounding twice as good as normal with the Giros’ awesome drummer Gordy Duncan Jr. providing some percussion for both the rap duo and Delighted Peoples. The Jamfest (“which is like a rigged open mic”) where a melting pot of local musicians alloy their skills to create semi-impromptu jams also saw the talents of Sev Dudzinska, Suky Goodfellow and The Foz.
I was particularly blown away by Pablo Eskimo, who were like a punk band fronted by Janis Joplin! I’ll be checking them out as much as possible from now on… The night was seen out in fine style with DJ sets from Mark DJFive Lang, Robbie Darg and The Wise Goldfish (who recently remixed Gonzo Division’s own Will Johnstone’s song Universal Empire). The night went on with afterpartys for the afterpartys, and the Giros have rampaged on since then, they played The Liquid Rooms in Edinburgh in support of none other than Steve Mason (Beta Band) and are playing Deoch an Dorus Festival alongside Colonel Mustard, Twistettes, Jamie & Shoony, Fast Camels…oh wait… That’s sold out. So fuck you, you snooze you lose…
The revolution is in your hands, do good with it and we will follow you.
And this time, I really did SEEYA’ IN THE PIT!
Originally published on NHC Music 28/04/2016