SXSW Music Panel: No Future – 1976 and the Birth of Punk in the UK
Defining a culture resistant to academic dissection
By Tim Stegall,
2:10PM, Thu. Mar. 17, 2016
“It’s the howl of the underclass,” roared Vivien Goldman, editor in 1976 of UK music weekly Sounds and now “punk professor” at the Clive Davis Institute of Recorded Music in New York City.
Asked by panel moderator Crispin Parry of arts agency British Underground to define “punk,” Goldman’s answer was a suitable start to a lively discussion seeking to define and immerse in amber a culture and a moment resistant by nature to such academic dissection.
Horace Trubridge, Assistant General Secretary of the British Musicians’ Union, accurately described it as an “attitude.” He then later so destroyed his own credibility to speak on the subject with any authority by dismissing U.S. punk as “too pretty and commercial” that he caused ex-Gang of Four drummer and loyal SXSW attendee Hugo Burnham to violently shake his head and exit the audience and room.
With much pontification – sometimes deadly accurate, at other times galaxies removed from reality – the panel proceeded apace, pausing only to screen the Sex Pistols’ legendary utterance of the word “fuck” on British TV in December 1976. Goldman accurately noted punk’s continual lineage and vitality in scenes across the world.
Ultimately, the most punk presence on the panel belonged to a millennial musician solely identified as “Ollie from Yak – they found me at the bar!” Will Hodgkinson, music critic for The Times of London, raved about the prog keyboardist’s punk credibility via the wrecking of his organ at a recent Yak gig in London.
“The Sex Pistols were my dad’s thing,” muttered Ollie, “but they gave me great strength.”