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By: gunter habets 7 months ago

With Brendan spending months and months away out west in Seattle for personal reasons in 1994, Fugazi did not tour much that year, focusing on writing new music instead, and playing just 5 local shows with a short run of 8 dates in Brazil wedged in between (which appears to have been a memorable experience in itself, or so the story goes).

Capping off the 1994 tour, Fugazi played three shows in November of 1994, the first one out in Joe’s place of birth Silver Spring, Maryland followed by two consecutive shows in Washington, D.C., benefitting the Washington Free Clinic. This includes the last time Fugazi played the original 9:30 Club located at 930 F St, in Washington, D.C. (for an interesting history of the 9:30 Club, go here: https://www.930.com/history/).

Essentially, these three November 1994 recordings can be considered a triptych since the band used these shows to do some road-testing of Red Medicine songs, in between the Guilford demos for that record (done in April of 1994) and the Inner Ear recording session (in January of 1995).

The two D.C. recordings annotated here present no less than 11 different tracks off of the upcoming Red Medicine album, including early live renditions of Do You Like Me, Bed for the Scraping, and Latest Disgrace, as well as the live debuts (and only 1994 live performances) of Combination Lock and Long Distance Runner.

And while quite a few of these Red Medicine tracks come in pretty much definite form both lyrically and musically at this point (e.g. Do You Like Me, Birthday Pony, By You, Forensic Scene or Target), others do not (e.g. Bed for the Scraping, Downed City, Combination Lock, Long Distance Runner). Downed City, more specifically, is still an instrumental, and the lyrics to Long Distance Runner are just a few lines.

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By: gunter habets 7 months ago

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The recording of the 11/27/1994 show at the (original) 9:30 Club starts off with Parliament’s Flashlight blasting over the public address, a most suitable appetizer while the band tunes up and gets ready. The mix of the recording settles early on and once it does, this is a great sounding and balanced tape, and the better sounding one out of these two successive D.C. shows.

Highlights include Facet Squared, a cool little guitar improv leading into By You, Public Witness Program, or Long Distance Runner transitioning perfectly into Two Beats Off (tagged The Place I Love). Reclamation provides an appropriate set closer, considering the theme of the benefit concert. Guy dedicates Do You Like Me to “the late and great Fred ‘Sonic’ Smith” who passed away a couple of weeks before.

This recording offers 22 live cuts in total, and draws from Red Medicine (10 tracks, counting the Downed City instrumental which is tacked onto Target yet unmentioned in the set list), In on the Kill Taker (6), Steady Diet of Nothing (1), Repeater (4), and the Margin Walker EP (1).

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By: gunter habets 7 months ago

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The recording of Fugazi’s last performance of 1994, just two days later on 11/29/1994 at the Black Cat in D.C., opens with another soulful tune pumping through the house speakers, one that appears to be Bobby Byrd’s Never Get Enough. A harbinger of more good stuff to come.

While the audio quality of this recording is a bit muddled and rough around the edges, it is still enjoyable and has a delicious nastiness to it. However, note that the vocals pretty much get buried for the first couple of songs, up until the Back to Base breakdown. And there are more technical mishaps, e.g. Guy’s guitar cutting out for most of By You (after which Guy apologizes, admitting he has “been in the business a long time but [hasn’t] mastered the concept of actually having a pedal on stage”).

It is especially worth highlighting that by way of introduction to the song Back to Base, Ian mentions that “this is a song that has a title, but then we realized it’s already used for another song so it’ll have to go untitled at the moment, you have to pick it up from the words, good luck…"

This had me wondering about that original song title, and going back to the aforementioned 11/20/1994 show in Silver Spring, Maryland a couple of days prior, I noticed that the band closes that show with the same early version of Back to Base, and that Ian introduces it using the original title. But other than the first word “Runaway”, I was not able to make out the rest of it.

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By: gunter habets 7 months ago

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Moreover, trying to decipher the original lyrics to this song on both occasions, it appears that the final verse in particular is different compared to the Inner Ear studio version and sounds something like ”they want complete control, don’t you know that (…), bringing you bringing you bringing you what they want“, which is interesting and seems to tie in more clearly with the message and intent of the song, at least in the way Ian talks about this some more some two years later, at the 11/6/1996 show in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia: ”(…) we did about three interviews today, and each one of the interviewers always asks us about what do we think about all the major label stuff, what do we think about all these punk rock bands that are signed to major labels, all this sort of thing, they are very interested in what we have to say because we’ve always just did it on our own, by ourselves, and uh, we have a lot of friends that have gone on and signed to major labels, and tried to do what they thought was right for them, and too often too many of them come back to just check out the situation, trying to figure out what was right and what was wrong as far as those decisions, a lot of them go back to the very beginning and think about it and they realize whoops, I was right all along, this is a song called Back to Base.“

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By: gunter habets 7 months ago

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Curious, I reached out to Ian MacKaye about the original song title and theme of Back to Base, and he has been generous and kind enough to unveil some more backstory:

“‘back to base’ had the working title ‘runaway train’. this was inspired by a movie with the same name that we watched while working on the red medicine demos up in guilford in 1994.

here’s a link to the trailer: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=nOgYzEV-XFQ

the lyrics of the song have nothing to do with runaway trains (the working title was used for the instrumental version of the song), but i probably would have kept it had it not been brought to our attention that soul asylum had a minor hit with the same title. i’ve never listened to their music, but they were a popular band at the time and i wasn’t particularly married to the title.

‘back to base’ is more in keeping with the theme of the lyrics, so we went with that.

regarding the meaning of the lyrics, it seems to me that the spiel you found from our malaysia gig speaks to that. my impression at the time was that people who had started in the underground and then went on to get involved with majors usually regretted losing the community and ethic that they traded in for the deal. not always, but mostly.”

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By: gunter habets 7 months ago

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Further, it can be mentioned that Ian dedicates Bed For The Scraping to “1995, the year of the return of the dance” and that Guy interjects some “alright, alright, alright, alright, alright” during the bass intro of the song which actually works well. The rap leading into Great Cop is some of the funniest stuff I have heard, and Target features some revealing banter about the theme and spirit of this song as well. A no holds barred performance KYEO transitions smoothly into Glueman to close out the set.

Interestingly, Glueman is the only song (and “one-guitar” track) off of the 7 Songs debut EP that was played in the course of these three “Red Medicine shows” in November, 1994. Considering that the version captured here is a memorable one, and one that features some harrowing screams by Guy as well as the signature “crosscut saw” and at times even eerie guitar play by Ian, I find it quite gutting and damn well unfortunate to hear it’s incomplete.

This recording showcases 23 songs, taken off of Red Medicine (9), In on the Kill Taker (4), Steady Diet of Nothing (5), Repeater (4), and the 7 Songs debut EP (1).

While I would venture to say that these recordings might not appeal to those who are looking for performances that flow like a river and hit like a freight train, I do think that these will have the serious collectors or avid nerds interested in hearing the band honing their craft and shaping their Red Medicine to come, sit up and take notice.

Another two in the books.

By: David Fischer about 6 years ago

Vocals aren't so clear in the mix to my ears.
I wonder what Back to Base's original title was?

By: Dave Berman over 10 years ago

I had a leather jacket get stolen at this show. You'd think you'd get a higher class of people at a Fugazi show!

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Fugazi Live Series FLS0639 Fugazi Washington, DC USA 11/29/1994

If you had a different price in mind for this download Click Here.
Show Date:
 1994-11-29
Venue:
 Black Cat
Door Price:
 5
Attendance:
 650
Played with:
 The Warmers
Recorded by
 Joey Picuri
Mastered by
 Jerry Busher
Original Source:
 Cassette
Sound Quality:
 Poor Good Very Good Excellent

Benefit for Washington Free Clinic

Play Sample Track
1. Interlude 1
2. Turnover
3. Brendan #1
4. Intro
5. Back to Base
6. Do You Like Me
7. Interlude 2
8. Reclamation
9. Interlude 3
10. Runaway Return
11. Interlude 4
12. Bed For The Scraping
13. Interlude 5
14. Forensic Scene
15. Long Division
16. Cassavetes
17. Interlude 6
18. Birthday Pony
19. Interlude 7
20. Latest Disgrace
21. By You
22. Interlude 8
23. Blueprint
24. Interlude 9
25. Great Cop
26. Public Witness Program
27. Interlude 10
28. Downed City
29. Reprovisional
30. Encore 1
31. Target
32. Instrument
33. Exit Only
34. Interlude 11
35. KYEO
36. Glueman

Please Note: Available recordings have been mastered to correct for volume shifts, drop outs, etc. but some sonic anomalies will still exist, especially early in the set when the mix is being settled. The band has rated each show for sound quality and set the general price of a download at $5 per show. If you have a different price in mind feel free to utilize the alternative pricing option.