Jim Carroll

Music, Life and everything else

The punk rock way

There will be many bands looking enviously at Fugazi right now. The Washington DC band always did things their own way and profited hugely from this approach in terms of long-term sustainability. There was little or no interference from third-parties …

Tue, Nov 29, 2011, 08:43

   

There will be many bands looking enviously at Fugazi right now. The Washington DC band always did things their own way and profited hugely from this approach in terms of long-term sustainability. There was little or no interference from third-parties as the band got on with the task of making fantastic, vital music and forming a bond with their fanbase. From their Dischord label to the tours which kept the lines of communication firmly open with that fanbase, Fugazi were a band who had ideas and notions which were light years ahead of their peers and which many of those peers are only catching up with now.

Case in point: the Fugazi Live Series, a massive collection of live recordings from the band’s career. Fugazi recorded almost all their live shows (their soundman Joey Picuri remarks that he was lucky to be “working with a band that was able to afford the price of a cassette for every show”) so the series will feature some 800 performances from 1987 to 2003, with 130 shows going live on December 1. The cost of the download is down to the user, but there is a suggested price of $5 a show, with all money going to maintain the site, which has been two years in the works.

As the New York Times notes, such a project puts Ian MacKaye, Guy Picciotto, Joe Lally and Brendan Canty in the company of acts like The Grateful Dead and Phish when it comes to chronicling their archives. But unlike many acts, Fugazi actually owned the rights to their own music and didn’t have to deal with record label politics and negotiations to acquire the rights to the tapes in the first place.

In recent years, there has been a more co-ordintated move by all involved to archive an act’s activities with a view to deluxe editions and comprehensive audio and video releases down the road. Some bands with a fervent live following might well follow Fugazi’s lead in the future, but they might encounter a lot more trouble getting the material together in the first place to sell on.

Of course, not every Fugazi fan will want to pore through all the recordings so it will be interesting to note how the site’s crowdsourced ratings work and which shows get a collective thumbs up. Irish fans will naturally be interested to hear how the band’s shows in Dublin’s McGonagles and SFX now sound all these years later – and five bucks to relive those memories is a pretty good deal.

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