By Jim Schutze
By Rachel Watts
By Lauren Drewes Daniels
By Anna Merlan
By Lee Escobedo
By Alice Laussade
By Scott Reitz
Another '80s tribute?
You could call it that, if you would be comfortable calling a beatnik-style drug-and-poetry binge an homage to the '50s. Because the bands that will be spotlighted Saturday at Dan's Silverleaf in Denton were to the '80s and early '90s what Burroughs, Kerouac and Ginsberg were to the '50s and early '60s. The "freak scene" of Minor Threat, Hüsker Dü, Dinosaur Jr. and their brethren was about as far as it got from Reagan's slick '50s redux; knowledge of these bands was word-of-mouth, and the joy of discovery was intense, like chancing upon a secret society.
Luckily, this musical generation doesn't have to hear about the old, hard way from the gray-temples; they have Michael Azerrad's remarkable 2001 gospel Our Band Could Be Your Life: Scenes From the American Indie Underground, 1981-1991, which spotlights 13 groups of that era, each with its own chapter yet each interconnected.
Chapter 2: The Minutemen by Deep Snapper
Chapter 3: Mission of Burma by Birth to Burial
Chapter 4: Minor Threat by This Ain't No Picnic
Chapter 5: Hüsker Dü by Raised by Tigers
Chapter 6: The Replacements by The Drams
Chapter 7: Sonic Youth by Fra Pandolf
Chapter 8: Butthole Surfers by Baptist Generals
Chapter 9: Big Black by Inaction Park
Chapter 10: Dinosaur Jr. by History at Our Disposal
Chapter 11: Fugazi by Record Hop
Chapter 12: Mudhoney by White Drugs
Chapter 13: Beat Happening by Denton County Revelators
Inspired by Azerrad's tome, the folks behind Denton artspace/venue Secret Headquarters—Scott Porter, Rob Black and Cody Robinson—had a brainstorm as they planned the first in an occasional series of themed SHQ benefits: 13 local bands covering the 13 bands in the book, in chapter order. Energized by recent inspired reunions of Dinosaur Jr., Scratch Acid and Mission of Burma, high-quality area bands enthusiastically signed up to do tribute sets.
"In 1989, I read in a magazine that Axl Rose loved this new band Soundgarden," says Porter, whose band, Record Hop, will be covering Fugazi on Saturday. "Then I see a dude in Soundgarden wearing a Big Boys shirt, which led me to Scratch Acid to Jesus Lizard to Big Black. I'd be the gangly kid buying an old Mudhoney tape, and the dude at Sound Warehouse would turn me onto Fugazi, which led to Minor Threat and Black Flag."
These days, the means of discovery might be as simple as a MySpace invite from your friend's older brother, or hearing that one weird band on The O.C. soundtrack, yet the inspiration and excitement remain the same. Only now the inspired wannabe musician has it easier than ever, with bundled recording software and the ease of networking through the Internet.
Locally, for instance, a DIY musical movement is in full bloom, with self-organized venues like the Secret Headquarters, the Eighth Continent, the House of Tinnitus and J&J's Pizza in Denton, the short-lived Sanctuary in Dallas, and the remarkable Metrognome Collective in Fort Worth.
"The old guard informs what we try to do," Porter says. "Something grassroots and honest.
"James [Watkins] at the Metrognome came up in the same neighborhood as me," he continues. "We were both standing in line at a Watauga 7-Eleven Ticketmaster kiosk to buy Lollapalooza tickets that first year with about 10 other folks. Didn't really know each other back then, we just ended up in the same places."
The new same place? Dan's Silverleaf, Saturday night.