“Human beings display a deep and restless violence, which no longer channels itself into wars but has to emerge in road rage, internet porn, contact sports like hyperviolent professional rugby and US football, reality TV, and so on.” – JG Ballard, 2003.
Add ‘watching GG Allin DVDs’ to the end of that list.
Now. I guess that many people who frequent this site will be familiar with the self-destructive sonic myth of the late hardcore scatpunk all-American idiot icon Jesus Christ (yes, that was the name he was genuinely given at birth, though his was presumably not immaculate) ‘GG’ Allin, who died of a drugs overdose in 1993. If you are, and like his stuff, then this DVD is a must-see. If you’re not, well, you’re maybe better off, and if you don’t like DVDs of performances that are more bloodsport than entertainment then you should avoid this like the aurally and visually transmitted plague. You’ve been warned.
“THIS IS NOT THE LOLLAPALOOZA TOURS! NO! WE SHOULD DROP BOMBS ON THOSE MOTHERFUCKERS! FUCK THE HAIRCUT PEOPLE! FUCK THE PHONEY BULLSHIT! WE DON’T NEED THIS BULLSHIT, WE DON’T NEED THIS DRUMSET! NO, THE ONLY THING THAT MATTERS IS FUCKING REVENGE! AND DON’T FUCKING FORGET IT! IT’S YOU WHO MUST BELIEVE IN THE REAL ROCK AND ROLL UNDERGROUND, NOT THE FRAUD, NOT THE PHONEYS, NOT MAJOR LABEL BULLSHIT! IT’S TIME TO KILL THOSE MOTHERFUCKERS, AND IT’S TIME TO KILL ‘EM NOW!” – Peaceful words from Jesus.
So. What to say about wacky wee GG that’s not been said already? Well, there’s not a whole helluva lot I could say. I’m not here to pump up the volume on his ‘punk underground anti-hero’ image, cos that’s been done to (his) death and beyond. Guy lived, was in extreme pain, caused pain to himself and others, and he died a probably long overdue death in his late 30s, leaving behind a twisted car crash legacy of bloodshed and brutality for all that still fascinates and appalls and disgusts people in equal measures. Hence this DVD. The appropriately named ‘Terror in America’ comes to you in 5.1 Surround Sound, which is akin to gold-plating a turd. I mean, the sound is excellent here, but, well, it wasn’t so much excellent as excrement (butt thankfully there’s none of Jesus’s infamous shit-flinging-and-eating on display here) during the gigs themselves. Anybody who has heard the maniac man’s musick will know what I mean – it’s red and raw and dripping lewd crude rude scumcuntpunk whose quality on record and CD varies from great to intolerably bad.
The running time here consists of three shows from Allin’s very last tour before he died in 1993: The Fastlane in Asbury Park, NJ (4/25/93), Somber Reptile in Atlanta, GA (5/15/93) and the 5th Street Warehouse in Austin, TX (5/18/93). Allin is fresh out of prison and in none too good a mood during these blood-and-sweat-soaked disgraceful spectacles. “The law ain’t got me down, lemme tell ya. I’m a motherfucker and I’m gonna go out there and fuck some shit up,” he intones gravely. And fuck shit up he does. The first show (filmed by Peter Demattia) is relatively sedate, with Allin only hitting a coupla people, swinging from some rafters and slashing at himself with a torn beer can until his head and body are bleeding profusely. I say ‘relatively’ sedate, because ‘relatively sedate’ by most other people’s standards is still pretty fucking grim and grimy and gritty. Allin comes on to ‘Bite it You Scum’ and literally and figuratively kicks ass during a 13-song set (all three shows having the same set list) including your fave mindless half human hateful hardcore nihilist ditties like ‘Outlaw Scumfuc,’ ‘Cunt Sucking Cannibal (gives new meaning to the expression ‘eating her out’!), ‘Kill The Police,’ ‘I Live To Be Hated’ and ‘Expose Yourself To Kids’ (Nick Zedd ironically noted in his waste of paper pseudo-novel ‘Bleed’ that Michael Jackson had probably ruined more kids’ lives than Allin ever did, despite offensive song titles like this). I have to say, I love some of Allin’s music, because it’s the way punk was meant to be played, by barely-competent moon-spitting loony tunes with no agenda but primordial chaos and stupidity, with the sound being only a notch or two above mental cavemen banging rocks and sticks or heads together to create strange noisy discordant chords to strangle the masochistic audience with. Tasty stuff indeed, and it pisses over the worthless glitz-n-glamour drug-n-drink-free smiley happy All-American Rejects/Good Charlotte/Sum 41/Simple Plan/Fall Out Boy/Taking Back Sunday/Avenged Sevenfold/Yellowcard/any-amounta-generic-cliched-worthless-scream-at-the-TV bland prettyboybands that punk, a now-dead musical medium, is filled with.
The second and third gigs here (brief interlude: These two gigs are credited with being filmed by Evan Cohen, the merch man on the tour who wrote a book – never once talking about the music played – about the whole traveling atrocity exhibition, ‘I Was A Blood Junkie,’ available from Recess Records. This obnoxious lame-attitude-laden slumming-it middle class poser dropped out of film school. I’m not surprised, judging by the camera work on display here, cos the shows are shot like somebody with Parkinson’s Disease was behind the camera) are the ones where things start building in intensity and dementia as the tour goes on and off the rails. Jesus comes onstage wearing a plastic American flag (“Salute the flag or they’ll put you in prison for being an individual,” he sneers to the cloned ‘anarchic individuals’ watching him) as an apron, which he sets on fire during both shows. Made me laugh anyway, a USA anti-patriot riot act motivated by clichéd stupidity and anarchic anger. The third sonic abhorshun presented here, from the 5th Street Warehouse, is one of the most frightening things I have ever seen. Not so much a show as an exercise in hatred of self and others and rampant violence and audience master baiting, Allin slings abuse and swings wildly out at the people there to see him, who take great pleasure in reciprocating the provocation the man had as his vocation on his vacation from reality, running in and throwing wide wild-singer-winging swings before darting out in the cowed crowd again. Wave upon wave of hate-to-love-to-hate the onstage-nutter (and there is genuine hatred towards the man here from the crowd, make no mistake about it) divebomb in to take their shot at downing the ‘Higher Power’ (as one of his songs self-styled him) for macho bragging rights as to having knocked him down and out (though none accomplish it) and the damaged man onstage loves it. His mike gives out and he just waves it in an anarchic arc on its lead round him and wades into the scattering-like-chickens patrons, knocking into people who don’t take too kindly to this and who kick and punch at him. However, it must be said, that this crowd are scared of his scarred and scratched frame and he keeps them at bay, a testament to the higher firepower of real madness on scumpunk dilettantes. Cos after all, let’s face it, when a man is standing onstage practically naked smashing himself in the face with the mike screaming about how he’s proud to suck before hitting people over the head with the mike stand, you for-shit-sure KNOW you’re outgunned in the genuine zero-self-esteem-or-self-respect-or-dignity-or-sanity stakes and it’s no use pretending otherwise.
I have to admit this Texas show is probably the most shocking one I have ever obscene-scene-seen. I have seen violence at small punk gigs before, bottles thrown and heads stamped on and balls kicked and faces punched and fits and fury and fistfights, emotions running high to come to low blows and no good, but nothing on the (Richter) scale presented here. Allin is a fat tattooed self-gored bullfighter endlessly mercilessly baiting the audience, who respond eagerly to the red rag of his blood and rage waved at them with true witchburner bloodlust. By the end of the show the audience is incredibly angry, screaming for (more of) Allin’s blood, and the footage from the stage, of a baying pack of ready-to-kill people having the band’s instruments thrown at them, is some of the most frightening I have ever seen. Made me glad I wasn’t there, or at least not there on the stage. Watching the showgoers I understood how people can get lynched, because the enraged punks are not far from that kind of mob mentality by the end, incensed and aroused by the violent music and vicious physical and manhood-threatening verbal abuse they have been subjected to and ready to take some hateful revenge on somebody, anybody, everybody. I was stunned and walked away from watching the DVD slightly shellshocked, shaking my head in disbelief. And wondering about myself and the human race and a lot of things in general.
From the evidence presented here, GG Allin shows (never saw one when he was alive, cos as far as I know he never made it out of the US, though I must admit I would love to have gone to one of his performances, just for a laugh) were strange cathartic sadomasochistic experiences in fearless self-loathing, with both audience and performer gaining pleasure and release from the violence inflicted on them. The music comes a distinct second to the insane self-debasing acts Allin commits on himself during this DVD’s running time, if indeed it ever truly figures into the whole equation much at all. It’s troubling to see Allin crouching down and smearing his blood onto the grateful faces of some of his worshipers (because some of these people clearly think he’s some kind of demented American idol, like his namesake – cries of “GG Allin is fucking God!” abound here and there from the crowd) and swapping sanguinary spit with them, something which made me personally think about the HIV rate in prisons and how these blood-lovers never seemed to worry about random real-life factors like this. But I don’t suppose they gave a fuck, and neither did he. Obviously. There are also four extras on the DVD, as if the shows weren’t enough. We get GG having his head tattooed (a skull and crossbones on the bones of his cross skull), which is boring crap. We see him hanging out with some people at his family pool (believe it or not) in Littleton, New Hampshire, which very slightly humanizes him as we see him goofing around with some unidentified females (is one of them his mother?) for four minutes as Merle sings a C&W song (apparently the Allin boys were big fans of this redneck shitkicker muzakal style) from behind the camera. We see GG and his banned band lay down some vocals at Don Furt Studio, NTC, which is pretty tedious. And last and least we see him do an in-store signing in Hollywood during which he signs a toilet seat, which is pretty fucking hilarious, especially as he reckons the guy who brought it in should donate it to the Hard Rock Café. Can’t see that happening, somehow. Overall, though, the extras are pretty fucking poor, real scraping-the-bottom-of-the-barrel stuff and nonsense.
The pleasure, or lack thereof, to have been gained from going to a GG Allin show was, I would imagine, kind of like the one that people must have gotten from gleefully watching wetbrain (ie somebody who had drunk themselves into such a stupor that their brain had turned to soup) geeks bite the heads from chickens during the American carny freakshow daze of yore; angry kids could go along and take out the frustrations of their lives on a willing victim playing chicken with them. Allin was the supreme king of this stupid childhood game, the archetypal idiot we have all known when we were young who would go much further than anybody else when dared, the kind of person people just ended up laughing at, not with, the one we would just cringingly watch to see just how low they would go, how badly they would debase or hurt themselves for our entertainment. Allin just took that pathetic, stupid, saddening, dare-you-double-dare-you idea to its illogical logical end, is all. I had never seen a good quality Allin show recording before this DVD, though I did have a barely-viewable bootleg video of his back in 1991 in Scotland, and I have seen the once-distributed-by-FT doc on him, ‘Hated.’ So I must say I was somewhat curious about the whole GG phenomenon, after having heard so much about him for so long on the underground punk music scene (grew up listening to punk music for the last 20 years), and liking a few of his songs (downloaded from the net – never bought anything of his). Having seen this, however, I must admit to having my own morbid curiosity totally sated and know I would never again want to see one of his shows in one of the multitude of poor quality recordings floating about out there. Cos what more is there to see? You may well ask what me watching this DVD says about me. Well, it’s very simple: I have a prurient dark side, just like all of you. Think you’re better than me? Yeah, right. And whilst we’re doing an autopsy, which is kind of what we’re doing here: wonder why America is so obsessed with crime and forensics shows right now? It’s cos it has a lot of corpses from Iraq and the homeland in general floating through its psyche, so get yer extreme artless cathartic kicks (and punches) watching this DVD and release the rage inside you at how shitty the world is right now. Why the hell not? Beats beating somebody up or going on a gun (or heroin) shooting spree, after all.
The sad thing about GG Allin is that he thought he was some kind of underground punk musical ghetto superstar, ranting on about destroying society and causing chaos and anarchy and whatnot, when what he truly hated was himself. But he was fated never to touch more than the lives of a few thousand people, because how could he ever change anything about society in general by preaching to the perverted converted at tiny violent shows? And the irony of his whole myth is that governments cause much more chaos than he ever could, bombing and blowing people off the face of the planet for oil or religion or personal insane reasons, so who ultimately is the bigger force in violence or chaos? Rhetorical question. Compare GG to sex and violence taking place in Abu Ghraib or Iraq or Rwanda or Bosnia or, hell, even the good old US of A every day, and he’ll always come off the loser, a deeply deluded self-destructive sociopath with nothing to say that had not been said before with much more eloquence by other much more influential artists. What song did he ever write that is more offensive than our current world leaders and their absolute disregard for our wishes or intelligence or sanity or humanity? None. He never wrote a song that offended me as much as hearing of a pensioner getting beaten and robbed, or a pedophile priest molesting kids and then getting moved to another parish by the conspiratorial hush-hush Catholic Church, that’s for sure.
Whilst watching this DVD I idly wondered briefly about the mentality of Merle Allin, GG’s charmless brother in harms. I wondered how it felt for him to keep digging up his brother’s cash cow corpse (cos this DVD has Merle’s stamp of approval, coming as it does with a hyperbolic ‘do you have the balls to watch this shit’ kinda quote from him on the back about how he thought that the violence inflicted by his brother on himself during the tour, apparently the most violent in American history – truly impressive achievement, if true – contributed to his ‘untimely’ death) to keep picking the few chunks of adipoceric flesh left on its bones to sell for a living. Wondered if he ever looked back to the period when he was in bands with Jesus and thought ‘what the fuck?’ to himself. Wondered what the boys’ mother thought of them. Wondered what Merle’s opinion was on the fans, whether he loved or hated them, dependent as his income is on selling them his mentally unbalanced brother committing slow (but increasing in pace) suicide. Wondered if he knows what the fuck happened to Christ to make him so angry. Wondered if any of the shows they played stood out, any tour stories were worth retelling, what he thought of the new DVD. Then I just thought ah, fuck it, who cares, GG Allin has been dead and gone for 13 years now (just heard “Death is, like, totally complicated,” an utterly fucking ludicrous vapoid teenscreamqueen bimbette line from ‘Final Destination 3’ on the telly behind me as I sit here and drink a beer or three and write this, in a nice moment of ironic endgame-discussing synchronicity) and he’s ultimately better off that way, out of the existential pain he was so obviously in; fuck him and his worthless self-mutilating legacy and the deep-rooted self-annihilating mental problems he rode in and out (of his mind) on. Mykel Board, the ‘Maximumrocknroll’ (self-righteous leftie minority reportage newsprint punk magazine) columnist, once wrote that GG Allin had been born free and lived that way for basically his whole life. Well, that’s total and utter bullshit, because the man was a slave to his own suicidal psychopathologies. He wiped himself out and let others take a vicarious hurtful therapeutic shot or two thousand at him as he did so. So he’ll not be missed. Except by deluded fools who still think that punk music has any real worth in the modern world. And it truly doesn’t, having become just another hyper-codified waste of time and effort and energy years ago. Music doesn’t change anything except for bank balances; the idea that it ever could is something now dead and buried, born with the youth explosion of the 60s, blowing in on the wind of protest music and the then-newly-minted teenrage pop-sonic youth rebelling for a while against its parents before moving on beyond a life flimsily constructed on three faltering chords by damaged misfits looking for a hiding place for a while from life (who themselves either grow out of it or die) or kids who don’t know any better and just want to get laid.
GG Allin, Bleeder of The Pack: turd and tombstone on the grave of punk music, RIP (unless of course Merle sticks your corpse up on Ebay for people to bid on, that is).
Right. Fuck it. I hafta go. An episode of Andy Milonakis I haven’t seen is coming on the gogglebox. That mad fat weird hilarious bastirt is more surreal and anarchic than Jesus Fucking Christ Allin ever was, take it from me. And about as intelligent and insensible.
Oh fuck aye.
Posted on February 27, 2006 in Reviews by Graham Rae
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- JERICHO’S ECHO: PUNK ROCK IN THE HOLY LAND
- THAT DARN PUNK!
- EVERYBODY’S DYING HERE
- STEEL WOLF: RHYTHM ‘N’ BOOZE
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