May 16, 1988. Olympia, Washington.
I am doing something groovy, probably trying to fold my harem pants or getting Schmidt beer stains out of a puffy shirt. Dorm A at The Evergreen State College (“Motto: Don’t EVER forget the ‘The’!”) is a gigantic concrete tube filled with hippies and Japanese exchange students. Right off of the lobby is the Corner Cafe, which served awful vegan food and if memory serves never hosted local and touring punk bands, even bands as ethically peerless as Fugazi. But there they were, out of the blue and as far as I know unannounced.
Thanks to the curiously facinating Fugazi live show archives I can pinpoint the date and know that Fugazi was less than a year old, although as refugees from Minor Threat and Rites of Spring the band was probably already pretty good at living out of vans and sleeping on fragrant couches. But I digress.
The noise that jolted me out of my pants-folding revelry was enough to blow the top off of the big concrete tube. Dreadlock beads and beard hair littered the ground for miles. Ian Mackaye, in what was apparently a signature move, reprimanded the crowd for unnecessary roughness. Music played, hippies were annoyed, and although I was familiar with Minor Threat and knew of Fugazi, it was a few years before I realized how cool that event was.
The songs on First Demo were recorded in January of 1988, just a few months before the Olympia show. As the songs were still in flux, changing over the course of endless tours over the next 15 years, the demo was never commercially released, although it was given away on cassette by the band. (Now what was once free can be yours for cash money!) Sarcasm aside, these eleven tracks are a pretty remarkable time capsule of a mighty band just getting started, and it’s totally worth it just for the cover photo of MacKaye and friends, all young and fresh faced with their tattered sweaters.
Tracklist: 1) Waiting Room 2) Merchandise 3) Furniture 4) Song #1 5) The Word 6) Bad Mouth 7) Break-In 8) Turn Off Your Guns 9) And the Same 10) In Defense of Humans 11) Joe #1. You can stream the whole thing at http://www.dischord.com/release/181/first-demo.
It’s totally worth digging through the show archives too – for 5 bucks I downloaded the long-ago Oly surprise show and for a little while I got to be a 20 year old annoying hippie again. Cheap at twice the price.