Saturday, September 22, 2007

Punk Comes to St. Catharines

Found this at Punk History Canada - a funny 1979 article from our local paper, scornfully detailing the local punk scene.

St. Catharines Standard
Thursday December 27, 1979
By: Craig MacInnis

Every Thursday night for the past few weeks, a couple hundred of St. Catharines teenagers (and a smattering of older types in their early 20's), have been gathering to celebrate the most recent trend in commercial music.

New wave, or punk rock (purists will argue over the distinction in terminology) has finally arrived on the St. Catharines nightclub scene.

Thursday night has become new wave night at the Inn On The Lake Hotel. Aging rock afficionados will remember the Inn On The Lake as the old Waterfront, where many a bar band cut its musical teeth back at the beginning of this quickly-dwindling decade.

Punk rock, as most of us already know, is not a new development. Its musical genesis can be traced to such ill-fated precursors as the New York Dolls, an American band which flourished briefly during the mid-Seventies before inevitably succumbing to creative bankruptcy.

The punk idiom, however, didn't begin drawing widespread attention until 1977, a year when punk practitioners in Britian, and to a lesser extent, in North America, began turning heads.

Probably the first punk group to achieve international notoriety was the Sex Pistols, a motley assortment of Cockney street urchins who rose to infamy with recording of a seditious, mock anthem entitled God Save The Queen.

The song's lyrics took scathing pot shots at Britian's royal family, ungraciously referring to Queen Elizabeth as a "moron."

While the song was ultimately banned from airplay on most commercial radio stations, the Sex Pistols had garnered enough negatvie press from their musical diatribe to make them the hottest cause celebre in popular music since John, Paul, Ringo and George.

Quick to plug into the success of the Sex Pistols, new punk groups began emerging onto the scene in rapid succession.

Punk was supposed to represent the anxieties and frustrations of Britian's lower-class youth. Predicated on nihilistic lyrics and beginner's-level guitar chords, punk was hailed as the "new music of the street."

Sycophantic music critics waxed poetic about punk's "vicious honesty" and "satirical relevance."

But what started out as a rebellious expression of Britian's disaffected youth has, in 1979, become merely another mindless fad.

It has become fashionable for young, middle-class Canadians to jump on the punk bandwagon.

But why? One is hard pressed to explain why a youngster who lives off the fortunes of his parents $40,000.00 a year income, should join willingly in a musical movement which has its roots in the British lower-class.

One suspects the real reason for punk's popularity here is connected with the irresponsibility the music invites. Punk's inherent violence offers its followers the opportunity to indulge in all sorts of pranks and misdemeanors without fear of reprisal.

For instance, the table at which a friend and I sat at the Inn On The Lake last Thursday was strewn with shards of broken glass from what once had been an ashtray. Cigarette butts littered the floor. More broken glass was discernible in the area in front of the band.

This sort of gay abandon, in ordinary circumstances considered anti-social and reprehensible, is somehow regarded pardonable in the hectic milieu of a punk bar.

In effect, punk's penetration into the North American middle-class, has created a new generation of rebels without a cause.

You can bet most of the Thursday night regulars at Inn On The Lake will be back again next week - provided Dad comes through with a few bucks to pay for the drinks.

The end of 1979 seems a bit late for an expose on "the most recent trend in commercial music."