Cul de Sac, Kustomized, Swirlies
7/20/96, The Cooler
Cul de Sac: I missed Cul de Sac, most likely because they played in one of the huge meat plants nearby, circular droning under slaughterhouse lights, that girl with the black babydoll and the DM'S smoking a fat spliff and leaning against a cow flank hanging on a hook, swaying with the music as the smoke curls around the hide and the blood slips down the backs of her calves. No, most likely I missed Cul de Sac because this was a Macfest show, timed and synchronized by digital fetishists gone fetal at the idea of actual flesh, breathing body mask, elastic, won't fit into a into a backpack, can't be vacuumed off the rug, sliced into one and zero bits, dry-cleaned, mashed into a ball and thrown in the sea get it away. So Cul de Sac were really just a website on a single Apple computer glowing in a dark corner of The Cooler, a collection of measurements, preference and identifying characteristics cross-referenced with credit information, medical records, Social Security numbers, driving records, report cards and voting stats, all provided by their new employer, David Geffen. I don't just want to know what I'm buying, but who I'm buying, the security of my family is worth it. I note that the drummer did quite well in Marxist Theory in school, very well, too well if you ask me. Later he grew curiously eccentric, the psychohistoric profile indicating a certain pattern of compulsive migration combined with an aggressively ineffectual commitment to any serious capitalist enterprise. Credit-card analysis yields borderline socialist tendencies. Four speeding tickets and laissez-faire student loan default, however, indicate strong latent-capitalist leanings. Commitment to entertainment industry and musician internship after capture and subsequent re-education conclude evidence of a startling turnaround towards healthy psychomonetary neural adjustment. Recidivism projection: zero point one percent. All four members of Cul de Sac, in fact, have been cerebrally re-engineered from the ground up, and are currently deeply commited to maintaining the defensive entertainment edge necessary for the continued cultural dominance of this nation in the Corporate War Era. No doves here, Ivan.
Kustomized: Kustomized, chumps that they be, decided to actually show up in person and play, much to their disadvantage. No glassy monitor hypnosis, pause for a sandwich and a fast jerk-off, downloading porn between songs, fast-forward, nothing. Just sweat and a thin thread of rock stretched through the set. Antediluvian. Not as good as the Volcano Suns or Burma, but they give good attitude, a rousing Fuck You sneer that isn't exactly punkbecause it's completely affirmative. Razzing death culture, digital posing, virtual everything, folks who yearn to be a mind on a stick or just a blip haunting a hard drive. Kicking over coffins, putting steaks through laptops. I get good vibes even though the music is workmanlike, mechanical, almost Victorian. But that's the appeal. Fight songs, miner songs, drinker songs, worker songs. Poster boys for the Absurd, and who sees that anymore? They're going out like Camus, bless their hearts.
Swirlies: Smug Boston jerks determined to steer the Good Ship Indie Rock straight into the reef. Nihilist glee in self-conscious retardation, anti-rock provocation, Anglophile trumpeting. Let 'em. Spoiled kids who've inherited the motherlode: Swans, Sonic Youth. Foetus, Butthole Surfers, Holland/Skin/Tunnel, Flipper, Big Black, Live Skull, Lydia Lunch, Birthday Party, Scratch Acid, Minutemen, Black Flag, Pussy Galore, Meat Puppets, Slovenly, Minor Threat, Einsturzende Neubauten, Throbbing Gristle, Glenn Branca. Lounge-Chair Nationals with too many futures, an embarrassment of riches. I see the coin flip now: Heads, SY implosion grafted onto Foetus beats witktelevision static vs. Minutemen guitar breaks going neck-in-neck. No vocals. Tails, perverse self-annihilation, post-post-punk brooding ala Sebadoh, relentless effacement, ritual repetition of Kurt's head-blowing antics, squandering the trust just to do it "their way", enormous energy going into fragility, sadness, peevishness, refusal, negation. Tails, natch. Drifting away on clouds and candy, that final ascent into the sky. A big kiss-off to indie rock, a black valentine, a songbook weighted like a tombstone. They're laughing 'cause they're planning on taking a nice swim as the ship drops into the depths. Playing history as farce, 'cause they weren't there the first time around and they can't see who picked up the ball, who's still runnin' from that initial punt umpteen years back. Fuck that. "Punk" is a shell game, and everyone claims to have that pea behind glass fifty feet below the earth before you even heard of it, Little Man, mo-fuck, Jack Tyro, Pee-Wee. Geffen, techno, Green Day, Nine Inch Nails, Merzbow, Whitehouse, gabber, Scorn, Macronympha. electro, Helmet, Rollins, Sepultura, trip-hop, ambient, trance, Jesus Lizard, even Courtney fucking fuck fuck fuck Love for fuck fuck's sake. Swirlies, shit, they're not going to keep all it together. Swirlies are running the ghost ship now, the ark that used to hold all these animals side-by-side. Everybody be laughin' at they ship now, and they be laughin' too 'cause why not, the damn boat sink whether you laugh or cry, so just give it a swift kick before you jump off and tell a few knock-knocks while waiting for the techno tide to pick up. R.I.P.