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Fücking Dümb: Five moments of unchecked attitude inspired by Fück Yöu

Thanks to that one iconic picture of Johnny Cash flippin’ the bird, the one-finger salute is the de facto gesture when it comes to rock musicians proving authenticity and attitude. Makes sense: Cash believably claimed to wear black for the “poor and beaten down,” so it follows that his hand gestures embodied his contempt for authority and good behavior. Or had something to do with the way his addiction to pills modulated his personality. Whatever the case, it takes a little more of a leap of faith to imagine the dudes from Ratt or Warrant — responsible for “Round and Round,” and “Cherry Pie,” respectively — have a problem with authority beyond the fact that it sometimes gets in the way of partying.

Neil Zlozower’s new pocket-sized photo book, Fück Yöu follows in the footsteps of his previous photo book for Chronicle, Van Halen: A Visual History 1978-1984. Compiling every photo Neil has taken with his model(s) giving the camera the finger, it comes packed with an unhealthy dose of L.A. hair-metal glitz and glam and all the pomp attitude that scene embodied. Some of the people featured in the book’s pages are ubiquitous (Tommy Lee and Red Hot Chili Peppers’ Chad Smith) and some are comparative unknowns (Lääz Rockit? Big Cock? Trixter?); some look like they’d legitimately kick your ass (Lemmy, Tom Araya), and others are so cuddly the finger feels like a hug (Van Halen’s Mike Anthony is incapable of telegraphing danger, Chick Corea is wearing a keytar, for Christ’s sake).

Whatever the case, the rock star moodiness documented by the book has a funny way of translating into real life — it’s not hard to find footage of rockers devoting serious attention to putting audiences in their place. The videos below aren’t anywhere close to an exhaustive list of stupid band/audience interactions (a recent post on the Limewire blog comes closer), but they’re illustrative examples of those times when self-aware rock star moves are awkwardly forced to become more than just poses.

“Danzig getting knocked out”

All in all, does it really matter what this dispute was about? Certainly, Danzig getting dropped with a single punch is the punch-line (no pun intended) to this brief clip, but the pre-fight moments are just as interesting. It’s almost like a nature documentary. Cue David Attenborough voice: “Threatened, the 5’4” Glenn Danzig broadens his body and plants his feet to appear larger and surer in his Prince-sized frame than he would in casual interaction. He attempts to gain control over the confrontation by initiating physical aggression, but soon becomes victim of his own haste. Those that have gathered to watch turn their attention to the victor.”

“Henry Rollins beats up a fan”

It didn’t take long for hardcore punk’s reputation for violent shows to attract all manner of unstable folks looking for a forum to pour their pent-up aggression on kids in the pit. Which isn’t to say that this type of person wasn’t hardcore’s audience in the first place. LA — and, for that matter, punk or what remains of it — still hasn’t escaped from Black Flag’s long shadow. This clip from their early years illustrates the kind of punishment Henry Rollins was only too ready to dole out to shit-talking “fans.” More nuanced than simply stupid — and it’s viscerally frightening the way we observe Rollins’ sinewy body gleefully building up the rain of punches to come — this is the sort of universal “fuck you” gesture that hair-metal bands adopted in spirit, but were too career-minded to back up with real violence. Proof that the roots of the ‘tude were always already self-conscious, and not a little scripted. It didn’t take long for Flag to slow down the tempos, grow out their hair, and settle in for a long metal grind that was basically impossible to mosh to, but great for smoking weed and chilling out. Bummer?

“QOTSA’a Josh Homme gets mad at fan at concert.”

I go from sympathizing with Josh Homme in the first sentence of his incredibly involved, venomous rant — where he asks the audience to not throw shit at him when he’s sick, goddamnit — to hating him with the same amount of scorn that he lavishes on the sixteen-year-old-looking kid he singles out here. What’s truly amazing, though, is how each un-PC wordbomb he deploys to humiliate his “assailant” shows Homme growing further and further into a grotesque caricature of himself. Potentially ironic machismo lapses into real machismo, here, and the results are petulant insecurity and long-winded go-nowhereness. How gross.

“Jay Reatard – My Shadow w/Ass Kicking in Toronto”

This feels, to me, like the least dumb of all the videos. Maybe it has something to do with the fact that naming yourself “Reatard” is a gesture that goes a long way in proving your lack of pretension. It could also be that Reatard is in the middle of a musical winning streak that puts Rollins’ and Danzig’s (not to mention Homme’s) recent output to shame. So while you have to be patient for this one, it’s all good: you get to hear one of Mr. Reatard’s pop-punk gems before seeing him tear the shirt of a guy’s back. This seems legitimately retaliatory considering the fact that the guy unplugged Reatard’s guitar, but then again it’s common knowledge that this prolific, Memphis-based musician isn’t exactly a pacifist.

“Nickelback get’s hit with ROCKS!”

This one is satisfying for obvious reasons — Nickelback makes Candlebox look like the Jesus Lizard. It also pinpoints exactly what this Canadian group of post-grunge meatheads inherited from hair metal: a fussy temper and fussier hair. The hissy fit documented in this clip shows the band’s frontman, Chad Kroeger, delivering a passive-aggressive tirade against the rock-throwing segment of the band’s audience at a Portuguese festival. While wanting to walk off the stage when people are trying to beam you with rocks makes obvious sense, Kroeger’s peevish tone has the same pampered quality the band derided in their song “Rockstar.” It also calls to mind the video of a ’94 Jesus Lizard performance where David Yow takes a glass flask to the jaw — it appears to break on impact with his head — and then gets back up and finishes the song. So, um, Mr. Kroeger, what were you saying about rock ‘n’ roll?

Order Fück Yöu.

Brandon Bussolini
Web/Publicity Intern

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1 Comment

  • Christi December 31, 2008 at 12:17 pm

    I saw Josh Homme berate a club owner for AN ENTIRE NIGHT because the power to the club kept going out. Granted this is a small little hole in the ground place in Des Moines IA during a summer heat wave and he would not let up. After it went out for the second time, he got the audience to chant “Kill Jeff!” (the owner’s name), after the third time, he threw a fit and shut down the show. He (and his girlfriend)then spent the rest of the evening in the club owners face yelling and spitting and pointing. He’s such a class act.

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