I've been reading and thinking a lot about the underground indie/punk movements of the early 1980's. About bands like Black Flag and Minor Threat, and the trails they were able to blaze across the country simply based on word-of-mouth, hard-to-find fanzines that were often Xeroxed by hand, and the strength of their genre re-defining music. For bands like these punk rock was not a fashion statement, but an entire way of life that effected one's views on everything from politics, to where one lived, what one ate, or what one did for leisure. And still these bands were able to record in their garages or whatever cheap studio spaces they could finagle their way into for pennies on the dime, assemble the vinyl packaging in their living rooms themselves, and hassle enough people in between to manage to move 10,000 units in a year.
Arguably the movement died or became irrelevant when bands like Nirvana or the Butthole Surfers signed major label deals, but perhaps it only had to go quiet again, just long enough for the system to forget about it, for it to be considered underground and/or anti-system again. After all, music your parents dig could never be considered viable in the true indie scene, and just about everyone's parents will tolerate a little 'Smells Like Teen Spirit' every now and again.
But replace the word 'fanzine' with 'blog' and 'the big 6' with 'the big 3' and it is becoming more apparent that something like what happened 30 years ago is on the verge of a resurgence.
Further proof for me is a band like the one I saw last night. With their echoing guitar lines which oscillated against themselves into a pyschedelic frenzy, pounding surf rock rhythms, and unphased walking bass lines that held the entire thing together --even under the duress of the constant yips and intensely-reverberated vocals-- The Numerators caused an epiphany for me that the DIY indie scene is not only alive, but it is thriving.
This time around bands are rebelling against the established system of hawking MP3's and digital sales through massive online big boxers like iTunes or Amazon by selling vinyl, cassettes, and even laser discs at their merch booths. A great idea, as a parent-type is typically not going to seek out players for such antiquated media in the way a true underground music lover might, let alone put up with their diminished sound qualities.
Hailing from Lubbock, it is most definitely worth the short drive North to check a band like The Numerators out. But of course, downloading their Human Blanket EP is as simple as one mouse-click away.
MP3: The Numerators - Rip It