When rock show banter goes wrong.

Arts, entertainment, and more.
Nov. 23 2007 8:30 AM

Is That a Microphone in My Pocket?

When rock show banter goes wrong.

(Continued from Page 1)

Fugazi of Washington, D.C., had riot containment down to a fine art: You might say it was part of their raison d'être. Anyone stage diving or slam dancing at a Fugazi show risked a brisk philosophical re-education—the music would stop, and through the buzz of idling amps, singer Ian MacKaye would make his displeasure plain. "You wanna kick and punch people?" he can be heard asking on Jem Cohen's 1999 documentary Instrument. "Then get the fuck up on the football field!" Co-singer Guy Picciotto becomes interested. "Those two?" he asks, before addressing the culprits in a folksy, reflective manner:

"You know, I saw you two guys earlier at the Good Humor truck, and you were eating your ice cream like little boys. And I thought, 'Those guys aren't so tough! They're eating ice cream! What a bunch of swell guys!' I saw you eating ice cream, pal. Oh, don't you deny it. You were eating an ice cream cone. You were eating an ice cream cone. Oh, you're bad now, you're bad now, but you were eating an ice cream cone, and I saw you."

Advertisement

It says something for the presence of Fugazi, for their commitment to a complete encounter with their audience, that Picciotto was able to improvise such a beat-perfect oratorical flight. What can have remained of the mosh pit goons after this fantastic denunciation? Two smoking pairs of sneakers?

Then again, a good riot is just what some people think they need. In a bootleg recording made at a 1972 concert in Frankfurt, Germany, dark blue troubadour Leonard Cohen can be heard growing suddenly depressed at his own depression. "I have been noted for my quiet songs," he murmurs, "and for my melancholy and solemn atmosphere. But I don't care if this concert turns into a riot. Because, you know, I can't go along with this, ah, pretence any longer." The crowd, devoutly hushed, seems somehow unripe for insurrection. Returning with a sigh to his music, Cohen strikes a morose half-chord on his guitar and is further dejected by some supportive applause and a single whoop of recognition. "You couldn't possibly know what song that is," he says wearily.

TODAY IN SLATE

History

Slate Plus Early Read: The Self-Made Man

The story of America’s most pliable, pernicious, irrepressible myth.

Rehtaeh Parsons Was the Most Famous Victim in Canada. Now, Journalists Can’t Even Say Her Name.

Mitt Romney May Be Weighing a 2016 Run. That Would Be a Big Mistake.

Amazing Photos From Hong Kong’s Umbrella Revolution

Transparent Is the Fall’s Only Great New Show

The XX Factor

Rehtaeh Parsons Was the Most Famous Victim in Canada

Now, journalists can't even say her name.

Doublex

Lena Dunham, the Book

More shtick than honesty in Not That Kind of Girl.

What a Juicy New Book About Diane Sawyer and Katie Couric Fails to Tell Us About the TV News Business

Does Your Child Have Sluggish Cognitive Tempo? Or Is That Just a Disorder Made Up to Scare You?

  News & Politics
History
Sept. 29 2014 11:45 PM The Self-Made Man The story of America’s most pliable, pernicious, irrepressible myth.
  Business
Moneybox
Sept. 29 2014 7:01 PM We May Never Know If Larry Ellison Flew a Fighter Jet Under the Golden Gate Bridge
  Life
Dear Prudence
Sept. 29 2014 3:10 PM The Lonely Teetotaler Prudie counsels a letter writer who doesn’t drink alcohol—and is constantly harassed by others for it.
  Double X
Doublex
Sept. 29 2014 11:43 PM Lena Dunham, the Book More shtick than honesty in Not That Kind of Girl.
  Slate Plus
Slate Fare
Sept. 29 2014 8:45 AM Slate Isn’t Too Liberal, but … What readers said about the magazine’s bias and balance.
  Arts
Brow Beat
Sept. 29 2014 9:06 PM Paul Thomas Anderson’s Inherent Vice Looks Like a Comic Masterpiece
  Technology
Future Tense
Sept. 29 2014 11:56 PM Innovation Starvation, the Next Generation Humankind has lots of great ideas for the future. We need people to carry them out.
  Health & Science
Medical Examiner
Sept. 29 2014 11:32 PM The Daydream Disorder Is sluggish cognitive tempo a disease or disease mongering?
  Sports
Sports Nut
Sept. 28 2014 8:30 PM NFL Players Die Young. Or Maybe They Live Long Lives. Why it’s so hard to pin down the effects of football on players’ lives.