On the Plus Side, Fort Reno was Lovely.

Yesterday I went to my first Fort Reno show. That’s actually kind of depressing considering I have always lived in or around Tenleytown (save for two months in Bethesda) and you’d think free concerts would be an ideal way to spend a summer’s night.

I was there to see Ian MacKaye’s new band The Evens. A confession: I have never heard a Fugazi or a Minor Threat song in my life. There’s no excuse. I’m told Fugazi is fantastic. (Note: I’ve been told this for years by my older brother who is responsible for me liking Led Zeppelin and hating The Doors. Obviously I take his musical opinions seriously. He saved me from thinking Jim Morrison was deep. Thank Christ he got to me before I went to college.) I only know of MacKaye by reputation. And let’s be honest. MacKaye’s reputation is that he and Chuck Brown are the musical centers of DC. They are local stars that shine so bright that everything else revolves around them. That’s a huge responsibility.

The Washington City Paper infamously went as far as to blame MacKaye for ruining DC’s music scene by being such a straightedge killjoy. I found the article to be amusing, but, since it was printed in such a sorry excuse for a newspaper, I didn’t consider it anything but a hatchet job. Being straight edge by no means should be equated with being a killjoy.

Well, shows what I know. The City Paper may have been right. The Evens show was an absolute disgrace. The evening was only salvaged by the good company I surrounded myself with. MacKaye’s interactions with the audience were mostly limited to:

1. Fight the power, man! MacKaye urged everyone to support Fort Reno so “The Man” doesn’t shut it down.

2. Be responsible! MacKaye mentioned an incident last year where someone set off fireworks during a concert. Now, Fort Reno wasn’t able to have Porta-Johns. His constand reminders that our actions have negative consequences that affect us all reminded me of my dad. Ian, we are not here to be lectured. We are here to listen to your supposedly great music.

3. Everyone sing along! Folks, there is nothing more depressing than an icon urging his hometown audience to sing along and failing miserably.

The entire event was embarrassing. The center of the DC rock scene was indeed a killjoy who was at least a full decade past his prime. Normally this would be forgivable. What I can’t forgive is how bad The Evens were live. Good gracious what a terrible show. Two singers with extremely limited voices put their vocals so high in the mix that you literally could not hear any guitar. Call me a traditionalist, but I prefer to hear the guitar at the concerts I attend. The Evens’s songs were at best boring and at worst poorly composed. It was amateur night at Fort Reno.

It no longer surprises me that DC’s music scene is so weak. I'm sure Minor Threat and Fugazi were fantastic. Those days are long past. One of DC's most treasured icons is now babbling shit like this:

“McKaye has stated that he is a vegetarian because he feels it's a logical progression from his view of straight edge.”

Well fuck you, Ian. I like booze and meat. I may not be straight edge. But I certainly have the “I’m not a sanctimonious asshole edge.”

If I were Ian MacKaye, I would consider shutting the fuck up and retiring gracefully. Let someone else take the reins of the DC scene. He does not rock. He does not inspire me to become a better person. He was DC's shining star. Now he's a black hole.


  1. AnonymousJuly 03, 2007

    ...based on this post (and many, many others) I'd say you ARE kind of a sanctimonious asshole.

    You went to a show and didn't enjoy it. Ok. Worst case scenario - you got outside on a gorgeous evening, heard some (free) music you didn't really dig, and got preached at by middle-aged indie-rock nobility.

    And this is further evidence that DC is Hell On Earth? Rusty - there's stuff about this town that drives me batshit, too. There's nothing wrong with complaining about it, or even with cataloguing it ad infitum.

    But here? You're reaching.

  2. AnonymousJuly 03, 2007

    I think concerts should be fun. This is the first time I have ever been to a show where the theme was "have fun, but not too much fun."

    MacKaye just couldn't cut it yesterday. Since he is DC nobility, I think DC should be taken to task for worshipping this guy.

    I did promise myself that I'm going to download some Fugazi once I get home. Hopefully I'll have some more respect for the man.

  3. There's no wonder why Scott Ian and the Stormtroopers of Death wrote a song called "Douche Crew" referring to DC hardcore, MacKaye, and straightedge kids in general.

    Rusty, if you ever go back to Fort Reno, look for me in my lime green lawn chair making fun of all the scenesters.

  4. AnonymousJuly 03, 2007

    MacKaye is to blame for EMO!

    MacKaye is responsible.

    I solely rest the blame on MacKaye's shoulders.

  5. AnonymousJuly 03, 2007

    this has to be the worst blog i have ever read. do you realize how stupid you people sound? btw, dont bother downloading fugazi. you won't get it and you never will. lol and lo siento.

  6. AnonymousJuly 03, 2007

    MacKaye spelt backwards spells eyaKcaM.


  7. I was there...

    you are right on the point where Ian can be preachy like a parent...

    this is not because he is the father of the DC Punk Rock scene (aka DC Hardcore)

    rather because...
    like your father or mine
    he sees things from a less impulsive perspective but a more sensible approach to things

    I saw Minor Threat
    I have seen Fugazi
    I was there last night for The Evens

    my guess...

    you not only did not get it
    but you did not agree with his perspective

    even if you did not enjoy the music
    you could have enjoyed the subtle bush bashing

    unless of course that is the perspective that you do not agree with

  8. I am no music historian
    but DC has been contributing to the world music scene for some time

    it was not just Chuck Brown
    it was Go Go as a whole

    it was not just Ian MacKaye
    it was the dc punk scene as a whole

    and now
    we have Thievery Corp
    and the scene that surrounds them

  9. AnonymousJuly 03, 2007

    Why on earth would you want to go and see MacKaye perform? The current year is 2007 not 1987 for crying out loud.

  10. I am quite fond of Fugazi and I think the Evens second record is better than their awful debut. I've found Fugazi to be excellent live, and their fans typically tremendous to see a gig with. Yes, MacKaye can be a real sanctimonious jerk--no shame in pointing that out.

    That said, to anyone on this forum or any other talking some line of "Man, you just don't get it": you are the absolute paragon of pretentious, jackass, filth. Eat shit--err, sorry, rather, finish the shit you're happily shoving into your worthless cakehole and drop dead.

    And stop whining!

  11. AnonymousJuly 04, 2007

    Sorry you didn't like the show, but don't write off Fort Reno as a whole because of it. You might catch another band you do like. And it's free!

  12. AnonymousJuly 04, 2007

    Rusty -- what do you listen to?

  13. AnonymousJuly 04, 2007

    I've found Fugazi to be excellent live, and their fans typically tremendous to see a gig with.

    You mean to tell me there are fans from that era that are still alive?

  14. AnonymousJuly 04, 2007

    Black hole.

    Butt hole.


  15. AnonymousJuly 05, 2007

    Rusty, you ignorant slut.

    If you’d ever bothered to push away from Guitar Hero and walk across the neighborhood last year, you’d have known that a handful of Ft. Reno attendees were routinely bringing drugs and alcohol to shows, (in addition to setting off fireworks in portajohns...and someone burned a hole through the stage during off hours at one point). The result was a near constant police presence at shows, which (as far as I’ve heard) put the future of the program in question.

    Fort Reno’s concert series is a volunteer program and a small number of people put in a large number of hours to make it happen, so I’m not offended that Ian took up for them. I’m sorry if you felt lectured to, but there is a collective responsibility among attendees to have fun in a way that won’t get the Park Service up everyone’s butt. Those of us who look forward to the series every year don’t want to give it up because a couple of yahoos don’t know how to behave when they aren’t under parental supervision.

    You know, Rusty, I happen to agree that the Evens are boring as hell. But a preachy old indie incon is NOT the problem with the D.C. music scene. People who live in a town for six or seven years and can’t be bothered to attend a free outdoor independent concert series one neighborhood away (all the while lamenting the $45 lineup at WolfTrap 20 miles away)?

    Face it, Rusty, you are part of the problem. Why don’t you stick to whining about Metro?

  16. AnonymousJuly 05, 2007

    Nothing like talking about Fugazi to bring out the comments, Rusty. Good going. People actually read this post, unlike the previous 20.

    Ahhh Fugazi, DC of days past. Those fans ARE still alive but they all moved to better cities like LA and NYC and London.

    And for those of you who think Rusty "didn't get it", trust me-- he didn't. Too bad he can't live up to his brother's coolness.

  17. Damn, Rusty got pwned by anonymous. Time to turn that shit off again!

  18. They have been "saving Fort Reno" every year since at least 1990 - this is not new problem. High school kids drinking and doing drugs there? Same thing. Police presence? Not new either. Porta-Johns? You put porta-johns and unsupervised high school kids together, and guess what you get.

    I remember one Fugazi show I went to in the 90s where Ian MacKaye was yelling at all the kids to stop dancing. He made the band stop & stomped around like a little brat until the crowd completely obeyed him and begged them to play more. And that's where I lost a lot of respect for him. It's not that he wanted the crowd to calm down - it was the WAY he went about accomplishing that goal. He has a self-entitled, holier-than-thou way of doing everything that makes me want to slap him silly. What a f-ing prick!