Though a whole new wave of flashier, fresh-faced punks have come of age since Fugazi began in the late '80s, the Washington, D.C., quartet continues to embody the leftist ideals that the group adopted from the hard-core scene. Booking its own tours and distributing its own albums, the group proved it's possible to not only cut a path outside "the industry," but also to stay on it.
But it's more than just the practice and theory of Fugazi's politics that has won fans--it's the sheer intensity of feeling that fuels them. Despite the rather booming acoustics of the Shrine Exposition Center, the group's show on Wednesday (the first of two nights there) made those feelings quite clear.
With occasional breaks during which singer Ian MacKaye rebuked the few audience members who ignored his firm request to refrain from crowd surfing, Fugazi surged through nearly two hours of music.
Tag-team singers-guitarists MacKaye and Guy Picciotto wrenched a wealth of sounds from their guitars--from beautifully spare melodic lines and crisp power chords to chilling, feedback-tinged squalls, all driven by the agile rhythms of bassist Joe Lally and drummer Brendan Canty. "Long Division" slowly unfolded into a smoldering sprawl, and the super-dynamic "Suggestion" was especially compelling with Picciotto, sans guitar, strutting his stuff over the sinewy groove.
Ultimately, though, content and form are inextricably linked, and the impact of Fugazi's music is as inspiring, or daunting, as its message.