Fugazi @ Emo's

Live Shot

Phases and Stages
Photo By John Anderson

Fugazi @ Emo's

March 31 It could've been an Eighties warehouse kegger in D.C. as easily as the second evening of a two-night stand at post-expansion Emo's, circa 2002. "My time is like water down the drain," sang Ian MacKaye, the room suddenly a-flood with the past, present, and future. The pit buzzed like a swarm of hornets, caught in the classic "Waiting Room" riff, every Fugazi fan in the room unwittingly conjuring a time, place, or era associated with one of the definitive anthems of the past 20 years. Another flashback: MacKaye bitching out an intrusive photographer two songs into the set. Hyper-aware of the Man at all times, MacKaye is the same as he ever was. "Punk rockers are the stormtroopers of justification," he announced during the rant that preceded "Cashout," The Argument-leading encyclical on inflation pricing people out of their homes. The Minor Threat vet is also keenly aware of the punk-rock infrastructure, loosing a barrage of Austin name-drops as the band took the stage after Tim Kerr's Total Sound Group Direct Action Committee. Once onstage, it didn't take long for MacKaye to catch fire, his face contorted in an ultra-sincere gaze when he wasn't supporting Guy Picciotto's mic time with leaps across the stage. Picciotto, as always, was an unpredictable spasm, hair flopping up and down on faves like "Give Me the Cure" and Red Medicine's "Target." An inspired "Do You Like Me?" prompted a raucous sing-along and clever responses of "Yes!" One thing Fugazi learned from hardcore is the fruitlessness of a redundant tempo. Fugazi is all ebb and flow and unpredictable tempo shifts, led by the superstar rhythm section of Joe Lally and Brendan Canty. They were even more conspicuous on this Sunday show, which eschewed the hard anthems in favor of slower, more nuanced cuts. Lally took on vocal duties for The Argument's "The Kill," a slowed down cut highlighted by a subtle rhythmic interplay and the bassist's breathy clicking and whistling. The lone encore trudged through midtempo workouts "Strangelight" and "The Argument," before a welcome blast of "Blueprint" capped off an Easter show that was par for the Fugazi course -- the greatest $6 show in these parts since, well, the last time Fugazi stormed through Austin.

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