It’s always chafed my taint when revisionists lock their myopic sights on the place from whence punk rock first sprung. Sure it was New York’s sordid Max’s Kansas City and the seedy CBGB’s that the snotty racket of punk rock’s first wave was born, and the U.K.’s fashionistas gobbin’ a tsunami of phlegm at the Roxy and 100 Club that reformed it, but how come we Canucks never get a splash of ink?
Toronto’s Crash and Burn club and the enveloping scene that emerged around it in the humid summer of 1977 gets a mention every now and again, but rarely does Vancouver’s equally influential Smilin’ Buddha Cabaret or names like Newfoundland’s Da Slyme and other small town punks get their due in the history books.
Well, we had to write our own books to mark our place in punk’s first wave. The first was the excellent oral history on the Toronto scene, Treat Me Like Dirt, written by Liz Worth and released by Bongo Beat and independent powerhouse ECW Press. If you’ve read this exhaustive and truly thrilling tome and need to know what existed outside of the 416/905 border, look no further than Sam Sutherland’s equally enthralling Perfect Youth: The Birth of Canadian Punk (ECW, SC, 366 pp, $22.95).
Although a little hot on the heels of Worth’s book, Sutherland does his best not to step on her toes and explores regions such as St. John’s, Moncton, Victoria, Edmonton and others as well as the trodden punk rock paths of Toronto, Hamilton and Vancouver.
Our own burg gets a deserved chapter and documents the first baby steps of bands like the 222s, the Normals, Electric Vomit, the Chromosomes and noted long-gone punk rock dives like 364 St-Paul, Hotel Nelson and Station 10. Numerous long-in-the-tooth local punks recall heady days of mafia-infested Montreal, where pool parties in Côte-St-Luc were ground zero for chaos and anarchy while punks carried weapons on Montreal’s mean streets.
Although Worth’s book is a thrill, Sutherland’s insistence of looking beyond the GTA and exhaustively lifting up rocks to find bands like the Extroverts and original queer core acts like the Dishes and others is astonishing. Sutherland’s obvious passion for this first wave shines through on every page as he gushes about a scene that flourished while he was still in short pants. If you already have Worth’s book, Sutherland’s will definitely sit comfortably next to it.
A great chaser to Perfect Youth would be trying to track down the amazing Can-punk compilation Only in Canada Eh, ’77-’81 Volume One. For more, peep the exhaustively researched site www.punkhistorycanada.ca.
Here’s the gigs, Twinkletoes.
Tuesday – Post-modern classical/pop artist Caroline Glass parks her orchestra at Casa tonight with songstress and serious crooner Molly Sweeney and Gambletron.
You will definitely want to slide over to the bar side of Casa to catch the always awesome DJ Juan Zanders, who will be spinning psych punk, bubblegum, vintage Aerosmith and whatever else his amber-nectar-addled brain chooses to dial in.
Thursday – If Sutherland’s book has you hot under the collar, don’t miss a rare chance (at least if you missed their hush hush show last week in a local wax shack) to see Montreal’s first punk rock band, the Normals, with Plunt and the Panic at Casa.
Friday – A good start to the weekend would be Drawn & Quarterly’s launch event for a book about one of Canada’s most unsung bands. The author of The Deadly Snakes: Real Rock and Roll Tonight, J.B. Staniforth will also be on hand to read and sign copies.
Afterwards, make tracks to see one of Montreal’s more exciting new bands, Pypy (featuring a lineup made up of three-quarters Duchess Says and one quarter Red Mass) at Casa with Drainolith.
Saturday – Okay, admittedly the usually bustling Saturday isn’t offering the ol’ Johnson much, but one of the raddest nights of the week is Barfly’s Weird Desire. The folks behind the masks of Corona Ferox pay tribute to one of the greatest bands ever to burst out of punk rock (or at least Cleveland): the Pagans.
Whazzat? You’ve never heard of the Pagans?! Listen up Poindexter, this Clevo band was easily one of the raunchiest act this side of Crime, Rocket From the Tombs and The Electric Eels. Do yourself a favour and seek out smash and bashers like “Eyes of Satan,” “What’s This Shit Called Love,” “Six and Change,” “Dead End America” or “She’s a Cadaver.” These blasters were gushin’ pus like a fresh zit and if you can’t dig ‘em then you simply don’t like rock ‘n’ roll – nuff said.
Sunday – Eeyowza, it seems that the Sabbath day is indeed the stacked night of the week when Pink Mountaintops (headed up by Black Mountain’s Steve McBean) duke it out with psychonauts Nordic Nomadic and Holy Oak at Casa.
Happening the very same night is the fucked up and psyched out punk rock of O Town’s Holy Cobras with Cross, Baked Goods and masked duo Corona Ferox. All the shenanigans happen in the heart of Mile Ex at my favourite local dive, Brasserie Beaubien. Don’t forget to tip Annie behind the bar!
Monday – You can cap off your week (assuming your week begins and ends with this column) at Cabaret Mile End to catch Japandroids with DIIV.
Current obsession: The Pagans, Shit Street