PROVIDENCE, R.I. Though his band was opening an East Coast
tour Thursday night, Fugazi frontman Ian MacKaye's mind was partly on
the West Coast.
The wiry singer drew a huge cheer from the all-ages crowd at Lupo's
Heartbreak Hotel when he decried "how barbaric the police are, and also
how barbaric the media are," referring to protests of the World Trade
Organization at their meeting in Seattle this week. The event has stirred
the kind of political rage that has long inspired the punk band's music.
MacKaye exhorted fans to remember that "the people have the purpose"
before the band roared into the searing "Keep Your Eyes Open."
Fugazi's concern and respect for their fans was evident from start to
The Washington, D.C., band that once vowed its ticket prices would never
rise above $5 has remained true to its word: With a $3 service charge,
the Lupo's show cost $8.
Before the band began playing, MacKaye asked that some lights be adjusted
when he noticed they were shining in fans' eyes.
Later, when a shoving match broke out a few songs into the set, MacKaye
stopped the show to make sure everyone was safe. Then he used the moment
to make another comment about the situation in Seattle, wryly observing,
"Every now and then, a disturbance arises and you get to see the sexy new
wear the police are sporting. Have you seen that? They're all wearing
By and large, though, Fugazi, who just completed a European tour, let
their music deliver their message, and the audience responded.
When the band ripped into "Performance Dog," the crowd seemed to surge
forward as one beast following Brendan Canty's drums and Joe Lally's bass
on each heavy downbeat. And during the fan favorite "Do You Like Me"
excerpt), from Red Medicine (1995), the audience's united
voice echoed the band word for word.
MacKaye shared vocals with guitarist Guy Picciotto, a former Fugazi roadie
whose elevation to bandmember has further underscored the band's egalitarianism.
When Picciotto sang, MacKaye frequently would step back from the mic and
stand with his eyes closed.
"My only complaint is that nobody danced," concert-goer Sarah Hobstetter
said. But some serious thrashing did occur on the perimeters of the
cavernous club. The mostly young, mostly well-behaved crowd adhered to
the club's prohibition on surfing, though.
As is typical of Fugazi, the band did not make fans work for an encore.
While many other groups demand an ego-stoking eternity of clapping and
stomping before returning to the stage, Fugazi came back right away and
delivered a complex instrumental song filled with hopeful, soaring guitar
layered over raging, edgy dissonance.
Lest anyone think Fugazi's message is lost on today's youth, fan Izzy
Grinspan proved otherwise. Asked what she liked best about the show,
Grinspan replied without hesitation, "I like that they have a social