Greg Ginn – at The Middle East Cafe – Review

Greg Ginn

at The Middle East Cafe
by Justin Hoben
photo by Chris Johnson

So the interview with Greg Ginn wasn’t a complete success; it was my first time using that particular tape recorder, and – as I would find out all too soon – the Audio Gods weren’t on my side that night anyway (I lost a fundamental part of my hearing… every girl I talked to for a week after the show sounded like a Smurf to me. But I digress…). So you won’t be getting any direct quotes from my interview, at least not any that make sense in a verbally tangible way; simply put, there was just too much background noise.

At any rate, I can give you some paraphrasing of what transpired between Greg and I in a quaint little booth at the Middle East.

Yes, he gets offers almost every day from almost every major label to sell SST, but for him this is never a temptation. If I remember correctly, this is because, in his opinion, bands presently on SST would not have the same amount of freedom, musically or otherwise, if the label was owned by big-wigs. Rock on. He’s also got another (yes, ANOTHER) project in the works with a new vocalist (no offense, but THANK GOD), as well as plans to syndicate his radio thing, “Screw Radio.” All this and time to tour as well!

I got my hands on his latest CD, Let It Burn (Because I Don’t Live There Anymore) a day or two before the show. Before I continue, I have a question for all of you lovely people: Am I the only one who realizes drum machines are the root of all evil in the free world? Come on. Let’s be realistic here. I’m not some paranoid neo-beatnik who thinks using anything computerized makes you part of “the system;” I just think drum machines were a really shitty invention. This was problem #1 I had with this CD. Problem #2 was Ginn’s voice. Forgive me, but I place a lot of emphasis on vocals. Other than that, it was a damn powerful bunch of songs, but I wouldn’t be able to appreciate them entirely until I saw them performed live.

So what if he used a drum machine and his voice wasn’t on my top ten list? So what if the girl I brought to the show ditched me half an hour after we arrived to hang out with some other guys? So what if 37% of every drink I ordered from the “out of my income bracket” bar was spilled on my freshly laundered shirt. When Greg Ginn and company took the stage, all of my problems were rocked out the door. True, I was more than a little apprehensive about the show after having heard the CD – this I made abundantly clear to any sorry putz I could pin down and babble at for more than 30 seconds… but Greg Ginn’s performance shoved both my feet in my mouth and made me like the taste. I knew I was going deaf and I couldn’t even make myself care. He even did a few Black Flag tunes (“Depression,” for one, a song I never thought I’d hear live. Damn, that made my year). The show even came complete with a couple of assholes who had obviously watched Decline of Western Civilization one too many times; flailing around like two possessed orangutangs. I know you’ve all heard the Ian MacKaye speech on pit etiquette before, but these guys were total pricks. It’s one thing to blindside innocent people who are doing nothing but getting into the music, but it’s another thing to draw EVERYONE’S attention AWAY from the band and force them to be on guard. No, it’s not self-expression, it’s fucking lame. I can only hope the Cosmo-looking chick with the slicked-back blonde hair was taking photos of these dick-heads for a don’t-ever-let-this-happen-to-you poster, but I fear I am sadly mistaken. I swear to you, for every picture she took of Ginn, she took seven of these bouncing donkeys’ asses (and for those of you who are statistically impaired, that puts the “hyping assholes vs. hyping punk rockers” ratio at 7 to 1. To quote a phrase, “there are chicken processing plants with better records than that”). I wanted to bump into one of these fuckers in a dark alley outside, but alas, I did not.

As it turns out, I’m glad I listened to this CD; it gave me a chance to be familiar with what I heard at the show. In all honesty, I wouldn’t go out and buy another of Greg Ginn’s CDs, but like I said, that’s only because of my extreme distrust of drum machines. But if another tour leads Ginn back into Boston, you can bet your rump I’ll be there with bells on, drowning in his cutthroat guitar and beating up people who dance inconsiderately. I suggest you do the same.