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Wednesday, October 28, 2009

Propagandhi: The Single Remaining Decent Decision of My Formative Years?

Posted by Andrew R Tonry on Wed, Oct 28, 2009 at 1:38 PM

Propagandhi @ Satyricon, tonight

For whatever reason, I vividly remember the day I discovered Propagandi. I was about 14 or 15, on a train with some friends to San Francisco and one produced Less Talk More Rock. I listened over and over and over, blown away by the politics that would quickly lead—or should I say guilt—me into an ill-fated stint at vegetarianism. When I hear them now I wonder if I've gone soft, politically speaking. How does the saying go?

If you're not anti-establishment at the age of 20, you're lying. But if you haven't turned establishment by the age of 30, you're just plain foolish.

That's a horribly written version, but captures the idea and it begs the question, or the reflection on what it means once one's own rebelliousness mellows with age, no matter how rationalized it may appear (ie: we must play the game to win).

But aside from Propagandhi's bludgeoning politics—anti-sexist, anti-facist, anti-capitalist—the music was good, at least in the pop-punk sphere. The three Canadian metal-fans crunched, but subsisted on mostly major chords and crisp breaks and eschewed solos totally. A good heft of melody came from emo-leaning bassist John K Sampson, would would later leave to front the Weakerthans. When Sampson left, so did a lot of the pretty. He was replaced with a more hardcore screamer, and the group's balanced shifted further towards shred. And even though level-headed gender politics prevailed, the testosterone soared.

Now I—like so many of us—listened to some inexcusably horrible music in my teens. Not having yet had sex will do that to you. But all those CD's, records and tapes are long gone. Except Propagandhi. Maybe it was just a time and a place. Or maybe they really were better than the rest. I don't know and I don't care. Because tonight, when they crank up some of those early tunes, I'll be 14 again—a rebel with a cause.

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