BY RYAN BROSMER
Ian MacKaye is a significant figure in the music scene, especially the Washington punk scene for which he helped craft the “D.C. sound” that was made famous around the world by his Dischord Records label. He help meld punk and hardcore with a positive, drug-free lifestyle known as straight-edge. His bands, especially Minor Threat and Fugazi, are legendary. These bands are a big deal to a lot of people and for many of them, MacKaye is a sort of folk hero.
For the last decade or so–coinciding with Fugazi going on hiatus–MacKaye has been playing with partner Amy Farina under the name The Evens. And for their first-ever show outside of D.C., the band is playing a solo Fredericksburg All Ages gig at Read All Over Books this Sunday, 11/11, right around a week before the release of their new album ‘The Odds’.
If Minor Threat was hardcore punk and Fugazi was post-hardcore, The Evens are–as dubbed by the Washington Post–post-post-hardcore. But really, it’s more accurate to describe it as shoegaze-y indie-rock. With MacKaye on guitar, Farina on drums and both on vocals, it’s like a mellow White Stripes with integrity.
It’s rare that a musical legend gets to be alive to enjoy his growing status and see it perpetuate. And it might be even more rare for these legends to pass through town for a performance in the back of a little bookstore.
I’ve been a part of the “punk” scene since my middle school days, being told to wipe the markered-on X’s (the symbol of MacKaye’s straight edge movement) off my hands (I need to find that teacher and thank her). Though I’ve never been much of a fan of MacKaye’s music, I can understand and respect the occasion of this show.
Though when mentioning to fans and organizers that the show goes against FAA’s own formula/mission of always pairing young local acts with bigger name touring acts the response has consistently been, “Yeah, but it’s Ian MacKaye.” And that’s probably a good enough reason. MacKaye is deserving of somewhat reverential treatment and special recognition. He has done great things for the all-ages music movement across the country, just as FAA has here locally. It’s definitely a big catch for FAA.
And with the kids these days still fairly enthusiastic about the works of MacKaye, who is 50, and Fredericksburg housing it’s own fair share of aging punk rockers, this one might really push the upper limits up the whole all-ages aspect.
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