Dear Web Journal,
Going to see Wire play the South Street Seaport proved to be an interesting experience in nostalgia for me, if I am allowed, at age 26, to feel nostalgia. It mostly had to do with the opening band, Die! Die! Die!, whom I was really excited to see. Die! Die! Die! are a three-piece punk band from New Zealand and their first album, recorded with Steve Albini (Nirvana, Pixies, etc), was released when I was working in the import section at the record store. I wrote a little blurb for the rack and put it up on a listening station and would listen to a few tracks after each shift (I could’ve listen to the whole album really, clocking in around 20 minutes total). It was short, quickly paced punk rock and the tracks were humorously titled, with “Franz (17 Die! Die! Die! Fans can’t be wrong)”, and “Auckland is Burning” being the best. Formulaic, sure, but I liked something about it. They’ve come through New York twice that I know of and I missed them both times, so when I saw they would be opening for Wire I was pleased.
I left work early (finally learning how to do that) and met friends at what has been one of my favorite New York bars since Nathan introduced it to me way back when…a great one for enjoying Anchor Steam before the Seaport shows. I am not going to say what bar it is, for fear that soon all of Manhattan will be heading there, because all of Manhattan reads this web journal. Obviously.
My companions for the evening were there to see Wire, but obliged me in going over early to check out Die! Die! Die! (really I just like typing the name. Trust me, I’m holding back. Waaaaayback). Sadly, the sound was not great (which I attribute to the sound board and the location, not the band). Too much drum, too loud on the vocals. But the energy was all there. The singer launched himself over the barrier and into the crowd, the bass player jumped off an amp. Yeah, I’ve seen that before, but, sometimes, who gives a fuck if it still feels genuine? And it did. The bass player reminded me of my college radio co-host and they sounded exactly like I thought they would: like the punk I listened to in high school. I suppose most third-wave or whatever wave this is all sounds similar. But none of this, for that particular Friday night, was a bad thing. Or maybe I was just in a really good mood.
Wire also provided that nice warm nostalgia feeling, but for a different reason. I never listened to them in high school and truthfully have rarely listened to them at all besides that first album, Pink Flag. But there is something interesting about seeing a hugely influential band, especially when it was 30 years ago that they were hugely influential, play. I am particularly interested in how they present themselves. For example, the guitarist was sort of matronly in all black and the lead singer was respectable in a dark suit, but the bass player was in a beanie and tight black shirt, as if he were ready to hit the slopes on his snowboard despite being obviously, well, “old”. Primarily it means the crowds are much more diverse, from the old dudes that listened to them from day one, to these kids that rolled up as it began to get dark, with their Colt 45s in brown paper bags. They couldn’t have been any older than 18, and they’re pushing people around and starting a mini-pit. Usually I am past the days of being tolerant of people ignorantly taking up my elbowroom (I blame living in New York for this). Except that one of them, perhaps the most obnoxious of all, had a Minor Threat patch on his jeans. And he knew all the words. So instead of being my normal, grumpy self, I was really happy that these 16 or 18 or however old they were kids were listening to music that, for all intents and purposes, is probably dead. Because they reminded me of…me?