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Thursday, July 02, 2009

Bon Voyage Gories and Oblivians!

Sometimes, you DO have to leave home to make a dent in your milieu. When the Gories and Oblivians were active new bands back in the 80s and 90s, respectively, they each had a fan base in Europe. That fan base grew and has never stopped growing over the past decade and a half. 

Back in the day, at home, the Gories were voted "worst band in Detroit," their home town, despite a niche fan base that has stayed loyal over the years.  The Oblivians also felt more love across the pond (where I saw them in 1997) than back home, although I think they benefitted from a sort of Gories halo-effect, since they filled the void left by the Detroit crew and were able to make headway on the primal road Mick Collins, Dan Kroha and Peggy O'Neill started to pave.

quintron & greg
Mr Quintron & Greg Oblivian... my fave Oblivians album is Play 9 Songs with Mr Quintron

Maybe its because the music lovers in Europe appreciate the American music that both these garage/punk bands grew up in -- blues, soul and bonafide American roots rock n roll. After all, it was Detroit and Memphis that birthed soul and rock as we know them today. I can't help but reiterate that which we all know... the phenomenon that made the British Invasion possible... American audiences somehow need the pre-approval of European fans before they embrace their home-grown musicians.

If the Beatles and the Rolling Stones had not covered songs by the likes of Carl Perkins and the inventor of rock n roll itself, Chuck Berry, these legends would have remained critic's faves while white-washed pop singers like Pat Boone made money off the songs of Little Richard. I mean... where would Paul McCartney be without Little Richard? And by extension, where would The White Stripes or Black Keys be without the Gories and Oblivians throwing out the first primitive punches of their generation in the New Wave 80s (with all due respect to the Cramps of course) and of the 90s.

Recently, someone sent me a comment here (that I didn't publish) calling me a moron for referring to the Gories and Oblivians as punk. That reader/writer called them garage, of course and also indie. The label "grunge" was in there too. Well, like I care about marketing labels? And further like I care what any one thinks of my opinion? But for those of you who come here to look at the pictures (and let's face it... that's what this blog is about... 30+ years of pictures of the punk and punk-influenced bands I've photographed)... let me tell you what I think is punk about the Gories and the Oblivians.

jack on the ferris wheel

It is the primitivism, the exalted amateurism that eventually becomes expert and it is definitely the DIY spirit: Its the "let's start a label since no one will release our stuff" attitude...

But all of that goes back to Francois Rabelais, the French Renaissance overachiever who wrote clever, ribald tales about two giants, a father and son - Gargantua and Pantagruel, in a series of five books. Maybe you've not heard of him but a few folks more well-read than you have - such as Jonathan Swift (Gulliver's Travels), Aleister Crowley and James Joyce, and have been influenced by his works. In the dead center of the first book, which explains how Gargantua built an Abbey at Thelema, Rabelais writes that the rule the Thelemites were to live by was simply: Do What Thou Wilt. Rabelais espoused utopianism but Aleister Crowley took this ball and ran with it, scoring a kind of black magic touchdown, as many modern day people believe that the Abbey at Thelema and "do what thou wilt" are Crowely-isms and instead of a utopia, they've followed a chaos (one needs only to look at the tragic side of Led Zeppelin).

The Cramps Crystal Gazing
Voodoo is cool when its a prop and it informs your music... 
and what better model for primitive voodoo psychobilly 
than the seminal no-bass band: The Cramps!

So let's fast forward to the 70s musical movement in England that immediately precedes punk rock: pub rock (some of its main players are important figures in punk - Stiff Records, Jake Riviera, Nick Lowe and Elvis Costello to name a few). Eddie & the Hot Rods, a pub rock band embraced by punks released a single entitled, Do Anything You Wanna Do, which was a pub/pop anthem and harbinger of punk and other 70s independent-minded musical subcultures and their ethos. All my punk rock anti-heroes lived that sentiment.

And one more thing... No Reason to Live, the furious punk rock song by Greg Oblivian is in my personal pantheon of punk rock anthems, tied neck and neck with the Dead Boys and Sonic Reducer.

stiv whisky a go go
Stiv Bators, Dead Boys front man.
Sonic Reducer = one of the greatest punk songs.

Now - as for the Gories and Oblivians. They've left this continent and gone to another. Let's wish them well and safe travels. I've no doubt that many of the following shows have been sold out for months.

Here are the tour dates:

*July, 3 2009
@ Sala El Sol (Oblivians / Gories) Madrid, Spain

*July, 4 2009
@ Kafe Antzokia (Oblivians / Gories) Bilbao, Spain

*July, 5 2009
@ Sala BeCool (Oblivians / Gories) Barcelona, Spain

*July, 6 2009
@ BT59 (Oblivians / Gories) Bordeaux, France

*Jul 7 2009 8:00P
@ Maroquineri (Oblivians / Gories) Paris, France

*July, 8 2009
@ Vera (Oblivians / Gories) Groningen, Netherlands

*July, 10 2009
@ Blast Off Festival! Nottingham, United Kingdom (Oblivians / Gories)

*July, 11 2009
@ Paradiso (Oblivians / Gories) Amsterdam, Netherlands

*July, 12 2009
@ Sjock Fest (Oblivians / Gories) Gierle, Belgium

*July, 13 2009
@ t.b.a. in Belgium (Oblivians / Gories)

*July, 14 2009
@ Gleis 22 (Oblivians / Gories) Munster, Germany

*July, 15 2009
@ Festsaal Kreuzberg (Oblivians / Gories) Berlijn, Germany

*July, 16 2009
@ 59:1 (Oblivians / Gories) Munchen, Germany

*Jul 17 2009 8:00P
@ Hana-Bi (Oblivians / Gories) Ravenna, Itlay

*July, 18 2009
@ Spaziale Festival (Oblivians / Gories) Torino, Itlay

In the photos above, from the top - Mick Collins - co-founder of the Gories, photographed in 2005 with the Dirtbombs; Quintron and Greg Oblivian, photographed in 2005; Eric Oblivian, photographed in 2005; Jack Oblivian, photographed in 2006; The Cramps, photographed in 1978; Stiv Bators, photographed in 1979


The_Noise_Maker said...

Bummed...visited Memphis (from AZ) the week AFTER the Gories played HI TONE...nuts!

segurarocks1970 said...

punk, rock n roll,garage, whatever they are, it fuckin rocks!
went to the june 19th show in memphis @ the hi -tone and had a blast, check out my blog on myspace/segurarocks1970

Rich said...

Nice work TK! Very cool!