By Dave Pehling
SAN FRANCISCO (CBS SF) — The bassist and drummer from Washington, D.C. post-hardcore favorites Fugazi come back to San Francisco to perform together in their instrumental trio Messthetics at the Chapel Monday night.
Drummer Brendan Canty had long been established on the D.C. scene prior to joining former Minor Threat singer Ian MacKaye in his then new band Fugazi in 1987. He made his recording debut playing with early hardcore group Deadline, which contributed three songs to the 1982 compilation Flex Your Head released on MacKaye’s Discord Records. Two years later, he would play drums for the groundbreaking post-hardcore band Rites of Spring, which also included future Fugazi member Guy Picciotto on guitar.
While the band would disintegrate by early 1986 after issuing it’s eponymous debut album (a posthumous EP was issued a year later), their part in D.C.’s Revolution Summer movement that found punk acts taking a stand against violence (including the growing popularity of slam dancing and stage diving) and misogyny would carry over to the band philosophy of Fugazi.
Formed by MacKaye after the dissolution of his second major group Embrace, the band was initially a trio featuring bassist Joe Lally and Dag Nasty drummer Colin Sears with Canty eventually taking his place. Picciotto started being invited to practices and would join the group as a second vocalist/songwriter for Fugazi’s debut EP that featured such bracing post-hardcore classics as the opening track “Waiting Room.”
By the band’s second EP, Picciotto would take up guitar as the band continued to refine its electrifying mix of dub-tinged ferocity, outspoken politics and disdain for the big-business approach of the music industry. Fugazi took their DYI punk for the people ethos to great lengths, refusing to play shows charging more than five dollars for admission and hosting concerts at unorthodox venues like veterans’ halls and Masonic auditoriums rather than playing traditional music venues.
Over the course of numerous EPs and singles and six full-length albums until going on indefinite hiatus in 2002, Fugazi established itself as one of the most creative, influential and fiercely independent post punk bands of the 1990s. While there has been endless discussion of high-profile reunions (members confirm they have been offered large sums of money to play Coachella and other festivals), members have focused on side projects since the hiatus began.
MacKaye has spent most of his time with duo the Evens, while Lally, Piccioto and Canty have released a variety of solo albums and soundtracks (Canty has also toured with Minneapolis punk great Bob Mould and, more recently, MC5 founding guitarist Wayne Kramer’s anniversary MC50 tribute band. Perhaps the biggest post-Fugazi development for the band members came in 2016, Canty and Lally formed instrumental trio the Messthetics with guitarist Anthony Pirog.
Initially planning to back Pirog in a trio recording for John Zorn’s Tzadik label, the Messthetics would end up signing to Discord after MacKaye saw the band at their first live show. Exploring unusual time signatures and Canty’s propulsive percussion with a wide-open, heavily improvisational approach to writing songs, the trio spent the next year developing material, releasing their first album last year to wide acclaim. The Messthetics come to San Francisco’s Mission District to headline an all-ages show at the Chapel Monday night. Former Shudder To Think member and noted solo artist and soundtrack composer Craig Wedren opens the show.
Monday, April 22, 8 p.m. $15