Saturday, November 21, 2009

SNFU for You?

On one of my other blogs, Published and Unpublished Works, I reprinted an old review of SNFU's The One Voted Most Likely to Succeed. The review is crap, but it got me thinking about this stalwart punk band and the the amount of praise it has gotten over the years.

SNFU is one of those bands that never clicked with me. The Ramones is another band that I never got into, but I could at least understand why people enjoyed it so much. SNFU is different. Try as I might, I just can't figure out why this band has such (or had, if the case may be) a rabid fan following. It's obvious there are far better punk bands that never got the kind of accolades SNFU did (Matter of Fact comes to mind), so what is that appeal?

I think this mystery is never going to be fully solved. SNFU fans will think I'm crazy to even question it, and "cool" music journalists who live for pretending to be in on the know will tell me it is obvious, but I don't think it is ... unless you factor in one thing that could be essential but shouldn't be when it comes to punk rock: the intellect threat factor.

The intellect threat factor is something that exists in all works of art and entertainment. It is something that causes the audience to sit up and think, to be inspired, to get angry or to question. For example, the intellect threat factor in Chumbawamba's Showbusiness is far greater than the threat factor found in any release by Hootie and the Blowfish. The greater the intellect threat factor, the less well-received something is with audiences (there are always exceptions).

Punk rock should be immune to such things, but since punks are just people who are mainly non-conformist in their conformity, it should be no surprise that a band that consistently puts out music with little in the way of intellect threat factor would be popular. It's sad, but ultimately very true. The Ramones will always be bigger than the Dead Kennedys when it comes to the masses of punks.

Mystery solved. SNFU is/was popular because it was pedestrian. I can sleep now.

Tuesday, November 17, 2009

Uncontrollable Urge

Catasexual Urge Motivation (CUM, if you can't figure it out on your own) is not an easy band to swallow. Pun intended, though I'm sure it goes down good for you. This Japanese grindcore band has song titles meant to offend, uses images meant to sicken, and destroys stereo speakers seemingly on purpose whenever a release is played too loud.

Yeah, I like it.

There is something therapeutic about grindcore. It's primal, yet there is a precision to it that screams "industrial age." It is unpleasant at best to untrained ears, but that savagery is what makes it appealing on a purely base level. It's not something you blare from your car stereo. It's something you pump out in your room when you are creating art or injecting drugs.

The genre is easily dismissed by just about every "serious" music journalist. Those are the same guys who constantly sing the praises of Springsteen, Dylan and Green Day. In other words -- they will never get it. Grindcore, as a musical genre, is meant for an elite few. And to stand out in it, like CUM does, is not only a badge of honor, it is praise of the highest degree.

I can't listen to CUM every day. I have to be in the right mood. The kind of mood that says "the next person who fucks with me gets scissors plunged two inches deep into their right eye." It's the same kind of mood Ricky Martin fans often find themselves in.

I've sung the praises of this band before, but today I had a tough day at work, as per usual. Lots of misery. I put the band on when I came home, played it loud enough to vibrate the table, and wrote. I couldn't have asked for a better soundtrack.

Thank you, CUM. You have achieved greatness in my eyes. The rest of the world can burn.

Wednesday, November 11, 2009

Lock Up Your Ex-Budweiser-Drinking-Now-Soccer-Moms

December 5 marks Great White's arrival on the North Coast. The web site Bands in Town reports 0 fans going to the show as of this moment, but if past performances by Night Ranger (which also played at a casino, like this one-time radio staple) are any example, the crowd will consist of people old enough to know better but very enthusiastic in their ignorance.

Jesus, and I thought Air Supply coming to town and Mos Def pissing off everyone was bad enough. Now this.

Cher-Ae Heights Casino (known by locals as Charity Heights) is hosting the event. Doors open at 7:00 so parents can be home in time to make sure the kids are in from sniffing glue and posing for cell phone pictures. I'm sure all the band's hits ("Once Bitten, Twice Shy" gets stuck with you like herpes) will be played. I'm just hoping that less people die this time. You may recall roughly 100 sad fans burned to death at a show in Rhode Island a few years ago. (Boy, did that fuck up the Republican demographics.) Or am I hoping that?

I hate to think that God, if God exists, would be so petty to judge a band by its fans, but if you listen to many prominent and living evangelists, God destroyed New Orleans and New York's World Trade Center because of the large population of men who like to suck dick and women who prefer the soft breasts of another woman. So it isn't exactly inconceivable that God, not being a Great White fan, would cause a fire that would kill the band's largest gathering of fans in the past five years. Charity Heights may be God's next target, and I don't think that's a bad thing.

People need to be responsible for their choices, even their entertainment choices. Going to see Great White ... in a casino ... in Trinidad, California has repercussions. There's boredom, unwanted pregnancy, death by burning. Hell, you'd be lucky if you got out of there with your wife impregnated when you consider how some fans have left past shows. (Charred and smoking, y'all.)

God even sent a message to the band and killed its guitarist, Ty Longley. Longley had been with the band three years (The Trinity) and God wanted to send a message to the others. A cease and desist order, if you will. Great White neither ceased or desisted. As the band left the ruins of The Station, it collectively looked back and sighed, "Like the shark, we will continue to move." For the band that started out as the ironically named Dante Fox (and experienced more media coverage due that inferno than it had in years), quitting wasn't an option. There were lawnmowers to buy. Middle-aged women to fondle.

So, concert goers, as you watch Great White (apparently no longer performing as "Jack Russell's Great White" as it was at the time of the God-driven massacre), launch into its blistering "No Better Than Hell," start looking for the exit. Calmly make your way toward it, watching for sparks, smoke or soccer moms with too much hairspray. If God decides that he wants to send a message again, you want to make sure you aren't included.

Once bitten, twice shy indeed.