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10
Oct

Fugazi in Prague

You know it's serious when the Roxy, the club with the most laid-back and stoned door staff in town, puts two little stamps on your hand as you enter...

Skinheads in Fred Perry shirts and Doc Martens milled around among skaters with orange hair and biker wallets chained to the belt loops of their immense shorts. Riot Grrrls in baby-doll dresses and pigtails pouted and hippies with dreadlocks smoked fat joints. It could have been a fairly hip club in any major American city, except for the fact that when Fugazi started playing to the packed crowd, no one moved.

The "fathers of American self-righteous punk" took some time off their current European tour to drop by Prague's Roxy for an unscheduled, "word-of-mouth" benefit concert, a repeat performance of their first concert here two years ago. Profits from the 150 Kc ticket price went to help jailed 19-year-old anarchist Vaclav Jez.

It wasn't until after 11:00, and two intolerable opening bands, that the "godfathers of P.C. punk" finally took the stage. The sweltering heat inside the cavernous but poorly ventilated club had put everyone on edge. Tables selling music merchandise and giving away flyers created a bottleneck at the head of the stairs. Czechs are a remarkably patient people, but when the Roxy ran out of beer well before Fugazi's first chord, it looked like a riot was inevitable.

But leave it to Ian McKay, Fugazi's intense front man, to exhort the crowd to "Take care of each other out there," before launching into their furious first set. He didn't really have anything to worry about though. The pit in front of stage remained small, as most of the audience simply stood stock-still and gaped at the "American missionaries of moral rock."

Fugazi's four sweat-soaked shirts, bucketsful of spit (Fugazi's) and one nearly deaf audience later Fugazi left the stage to the extremely polite applause of the audience As the crowd filed out, among those few who had braved the pit one voice could be heard exclaiming (in English) "What, there's no fucking beer?"


Originally published in Velvet Magazine, archived here.

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