Concert Review - Moistboyz @ The Troubadour, 02/12/08
As I sat in the Troubadour balcony, looking down on Moistboyz singer Dickie Moist screaming to a crowd of roughly 70 people like a stadium full of Billy Graham disciples, something occurred to me: Rock 'n Roll used to have real power.
It changed society, outraged moralists, defied suppression and even affected the way artists in other music forms approached their compositions, and this was during the 50s, when the average Rock song was either about some kind of dance move, or a girl who just couldn't be true no matter how many times you hiccupped rhythmically into the mic. And seriously, if a song like Johnny B. Goode can accidentally trigger a sexual revolution, it's got to be doing something right.
Eventually writing good music wasn't enough - to be taken seriously it became necessary for the songs triggering societal changes to talk about the changes, rather than just facilitating them and the eventual result was that generating controversy became an increasingly important part of the artistic machinery of what was, for a while, the world's most popular music. For some, the controversy was sincere - for others, it was a jokey gimmick. Either way, it worked, because by the 1980s, controversy, practically for its own sake, generated notoriety and in some cases, millions of dollars.
And much like the 1950's prudish freak outs, the moralizers responded with their usual method of turning a campsite into a forest fire. Congress held actual hearings, real HUAC style affairs, about the pernicious possibility that satanists had infiltrated the world of shitty hair metal bands like Twisted Sister; government connected scold groups like the PRMC attempted (with some success) to essentially neuter the already limited commercial appeal of Punk Rock by suing bands like the Dead Kennedys out of existence; and lest we forget, in 1983 the city of Los Angeles actually banned hardcore band Suicidal Tendencies from playing inside city limits.
That's heavy stuff indeed. And like it or not, those days are gone.