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By: gunter habets 7 months ago permalink

On January 12, 1991, exactly 25 years ago on the stroke of midnight, Fugazi took the stage at Lafayette Park, right in front of the White House, an inconceivable move nowadays, to deliver a relatively short set as part of a Gulf War and Punk Percussion protest.

In their book, “Dance of Days: Two Decades of Punk in the Nation’s Capital”, authors Mark Andersen [of Positive Force D.C., who can be seen in the footage above, dressed in a navy blue jacket, wearing glasses and leaning against the speakers on Guy’s side of the stage] and Mark Jenkins describe the circumstances leading up to the scene on this day,

“The day before the event, a heavy snowstorm hit the city. The next day, temperatures nudged into the 40s and the snow melted, but is was cold and rainy. With the country preparing for war, police blanketed the White House area. Despite the weather, around 3000 people showed up, including rarely seen old allies like Squip [Ed. Tomas Squip aka Onam Emmet of Beefeater and Fidelity Jones]. As the protesters beat on oil barrels, drums, tin cans, and kettles, the organizers wondered what to do about the show [Ed. Listening closely to the recorded document which is available through Discord, you can pick up the sounds of the percussion protest in full swing right off the bat]. Playing on an unprotected stage in the rain could expose musicians and crew to potential electrocution. At one point the rain stopped, only to begin again just as the band was ready to go. Organizers and musicians huddled on the stage, trying to decide what to do. Finally, feeling the gravity of the political moment, MacKaye said simply, ‘Let’s fucking do it!’ All available hands scrambled to uncover the gear and prepare for the chancy performance.”

(…)

By: gunter habets 7 months ago permalink

(…)

In a recent article, “Positive Force: the film that remembers when punk took on the White House”, author Stacey Anderson elaborates,

“Of the hundreds of raucous punk protest concerts organized by Positive Force, the enduring Washington DC youth activist collective, only one gave President George HW Bush insomnia and Fugazi near-frostbite. Called the Punk Percussion Protest and War On Poverty Not In the Middle East, the now-infamous demonstration was staged directly in front of the White House on 12 January 1991. Long planned as a multi-artist rally that would draw attention to homelessness in America, the event took a hairpin turn as Operation Desert Storm grew imminent.”

Furthermore, the author quotes Ian, recollecting: “The timing of this was unbelievable. Suddenly, they’d set a date to bomb Iraq, and the date we had the permit for the park was a couple of days before it. (…) Not only was it cold, but it was raining and snowing. It was a miserable day, and yet thousands of people came out. It was a pretty incredible show.”

As a result, Stacey Anderson continues, the protest gig

“reached its intended ears, as well – Bush’s reported complaint about the demonstration – ‘Those damned drums are keeping me up all night’ – made national newspapers.”

(…)

By: gunter habets 7 months ago permalink

(…)

Interestingly, author Brock Ruggles offers some more context in a dissertation, “Not So Quiet on the Western Front: Punk Politics During the Conservative Ascendancy in the United States, 1980–2000",

“the event combined protest against the impending Operation Desert Storm with support of Washington, D.C.’s homeless population. Fugazi explicitly connected extravagant military expenditures abroad with the nation’s domestic problems. The band took the stage, over which a large banner read, ‘There Will Be 2 Wars,’ and MacKaye announced, ‘It’s inconceivable to me… that with billions of dollars that are being spent in the Middle East that we can’t spend more for the people who are dying in the streets here! As this country begins to fold up on itself economically, we throw ourselves into yet another war to divert people’s attention from the problems here in America’ [Ed. Kinky Sex Makes the World Go ‘Round, by the Dead Kennedys spontaneously comes to mind]. As steam rose up from the 3,000 people in the crowd moving in unison with the music, police ringed the perimeter and sharpshooters watched from atop the White House. The show went off without incident, the January 15, 1991 deadline President Bush had given Saddam Hussein to withdraw from Kuwait came and went, and U.S. bombs begin falling on Bagdad” [Ed. On a side note, nothing much seems to have changed, as bombs have been falling in the region repeatedly ever since, and are still falling today, as “democracy” is being delivered in Iraq, Afghanistan, or Syria].

(…)

By: gunter habets 7 months ago permalink

(…)

Considering the nature and purpose of the events that went down on this particular day in (D.C.) history, it doesn’t really come out of left field that the set list is fairly short, offering a mere 12 live tracks to drive the discontent of band and participants home.

Out of these, 4 well-selected songs to suit the purpose of the occasion are taken from the (then upcoming) Steady Diet of Nothing album, 6 off of Repeater, with another 2 songs from the Margin Walker EP thrown in for good measure.

In this regard, not only And The Same or KYEO are expressly related to the issues at hand, but a number of subtle, tailored lyrical variations can be mentioned as well. For instance, during Long Division, Ian adds that “if George Bush wants one America, he’d better get out of the business of oil and war.” Also, Guy not only adds the Summertime [appropriately dubbed Wintertime for the occasion] tag to Two Beats Off, but a line as well, urging participants to “take it out into the streets.”

(…)

By: gunter habets 7 months ago permalink

(…)

And then of course there’s a highlight rendering of the staple Repeater. Or, as Mark Andersen and Mark Jenkins note,

“MacKaye prefaced [Repeater] with a comparison to DC’s own war and the wish that while ‘we seem to have become accustomed to the hundreds that have died here, I hope we can never become accustomed to the tens of thousands that might die in the Middle East.’ The crowd joined MacKaye in counting off the chorus’ ‘1, 2, 3.’ The song’s desperate screech led to a lonely exhortation to ‘keep count.’ As MacKaye methodically recited ‘10,000… 20,000… 30,000… 40,000… 50,000… 60,000… 70,000… 80,000… 90,000…’ - the potential body count in the adventure about to erupt - the song rose to its painful climax.”

While this particular Fugazi performance undoubtedly can be considered memorable in itself in the light of the events and circumstances at the time, and as such most definitely merits attention and repeated listening, it should be noted that the sound quality of the recording, while still viable and even enjoyable, is not the best since the guitars and bass are rather low in the mix (especially the more up-tempo parts) while the overall audio appears somewhat harsh or tinny, and high on treble.

To conclude, it can be mentioned that the Fugazi documentary Instrument, by Jem Cohen, features a Blueprint excerpt from this particular gig, as well as footage (included above) of the Turnover performance. With an astonishing 2 million + YouTube views, this clip is virtually as iconic as the Waiting Room footage shot some two weeks earlier at the December 29, 1988 homecoming show at the Wilson Center in D.C.

(Different) footage of the complete Gulf War Protest gig is also available through YouTube, as well as singular footage of the Merchandise track.

By: Erik Barnes over 1 year ago permalink

SO HAPPY THIS IS AVAILABLE! I was there with my brother that day. You can clearly see my brother in the scenes of this show from the movie Instrument. He has the classic black leather jacket and the "Tony Hawk" style hair cut, moshing front and center. You can see me a couple times in the video the guy posted above (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=gzC0RNkBXM0#sthash.ncjKXKxs.dpuf)
I'm wearing the dorky black bowler hat. You can see me at 0:45, 0:49, and 1:31. Just right of center stage about 1 person back from the front.
What an amazing day! I was 17 and a huge Fugazi fan. I was also very much against the war and loved going to protests (I was afraid they would reinstate the draft and I was about to turn 18! Plus I knew the whole thing was about oil)
Such an amazing show. The crowd was raging. The cold weather felt good in the sweaty mosh pit. The crowd was rocking so hard that the cheap wooden stage they built was starting to come apart, and we had pause the show and push the flats back together. Aw man... this show was one of the highlights of my teen years. So amazing.

By: Adam Armstrong over 1 year ago permalink

I can't believe I found this! Was there, towards house left, about 20 feet from the stage. Unbelievable, it was freezing, some sleet, and some crazy dreadlocked brother with a ginormous bullring in his nose crowd surfing. Worked professionally in music production for 18 years, on thousands of live shows, and virtually nothing could replicate the energy, intensity, and historical value of this phenomenal concert. So glad to have found this site!

By: Tom Ehlers over 4 years ago permalink

amazing day- i remember it well. I wonder if there is any more footage around from this punk-percussion protest....

By: Dan D over 4 years ago permalink

Man! I can't wait for this one to go up.
This has been long one of my favourite videos of that day:
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=gzC0RNkBXM0

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Fugazi Live Series FLS0308 Fugazi Washington, DC USA 1/12/91

If you had a different price in mind for this download Click Here.
Show Date:
 1991-01-12
Venue:
 Lafayette Park
Door Price:
 Free
Attendance:
 1500
Recorded by
 Joey Picuri
Mastered by
 Warren Russell-Smith
Original Source:
 Cassette
Sound Quality:
 Poor Good Very Good Excellent

Gulf War Protest Show that was featured in the Instrument documentary.

Play Sample Track
1. Intro
2. Brendan #1
3. Merchandise
4. Reclamation
5. Interlude 1
6. Turnover
7. And The Same
8. Interlude 2
9. Dear Justice Letter
10. Interlude 3
11. KYEO
12. Long Division
13. Blueprint
14. Remarks
15. Two Beats Off
16. Repeater
17. Interlude 4
18. Burning Too
19. Outro

Please Note: Available recordings have been mastered to correct for volume shifts, drop outs, etc. but some sonic anomalies will still exist, especially early in the set when the mix is being settled. The band has rated each show for sound quality and set the general price of a download at $5 per show. If you have a different price in mind feel free to utilize the alternative pricing option.