This is the seventh in a series all taken from the Fanzine Hope *.2. The fanzine sees a collection of 70 contributors from the punk rock world. All asked the same question What is Your Favourite Gig. The zine is €5 including postage to anywhere It is a benefit for Pikpa Refugee Centre, Lesvos Pay by paypal, here
This week it is Vic Bondi, from Articles of Faith, many others and currently Razed
Vic Bondi – Articles of Faith –
Articles of Faith,
Riot Fest 2010
Being a musician is a process of discovery. First you discover how to play an instrument. Then you discover how to play with other musicians. Then you discover how to play with the audi-ence. Every step of the path entails a more nuanced and subtle set of skills. By the time you learn how to play with the audience, you have to really master the skill of listening, because that’s what playing with the audience entails. You have to listen to them, even more closely than they are listening to you,
in order to be truly rewarded.
The best gig I ever played was the last show Articles of Faith will ever play, and it was the best show I ever played because the audience made that show, and it was deafening and wonderful. The show was October 9, 2010, at some pick up club in Wicker Park, Chicago. It was supposed to be a “surprise” show after AoF’s one and only US reunion gig for Riot Fest that year. The fact that we were asked to play Riot Fest meant a lot to us. Riot Fest had been in business almost ten years, and was a celebra-tion of punk music in the city. Given AoF’s role in the original US hardcore scene, it was an honor that we asked to play, 25 years after we broke up, for the hometown crowd.
It took some work. I lived in Seattle, and one guitarist, Joe Scurderi, lived in San Francisco. The rest of the guys lived in Chi-cago, so we worked separately all summer, practicing the old songs by ourselves. We had to get past step one, and relearn the instruments themselves—no easy thing to do if you were playing hyper-speed thrash that wore you down when you were in your twenties; in your fifties, it was brutal, especially for our drummer, Virus X. But if we were going to make a new
record, it had to be good; if we were going to play a new gig, it had to be great. We set aside two full weeks for rehearsal before the show and recording, and Joe and I flew in from the west coast to Chicago. Step two was getting back the groove we had as a group. The record helped a lot. We had to collaborate to get “that” sound, and pretty quickly, it felt like we had never stopped playing together. It felt natural. Then our bassist, Dave, hurt his back at work—so bad that he ultimately had to have surgery. He could barely stand in practice, but he bore down and made it work.
The gig itself was the day after our formal show at Riot Fest. It wasn’t really a club. It was more like a small warehouse that had been converted to playing shows. The PA was oversized for the space, and everything seemed kind of thrown together. It was very punk rock. But the small size worked to our advantage. The energy was trapped in that space, and bouncing off the walls. People were crammed in, and they were ardent fans. People had flown in for Europe and the west coast for the show.
The music meant a lot to them. That meant a lot to us. We picked up on the vibe right away. People were bouncing, moshing, and singing along. We started surfing that wave. We blew the PA circuits twice. The first time, we stopped and started the song over. But the second time we just kept playing—the crowd led, and sang all the parts. We followed them. It was exhausting and glorious. By the time we finished—with a Johnny Cash song, I think—Dave couldn’t even stand up. Everyone was spent and laughing.
Afterwards, we talked about keeping AoF together and doing more shows. But when I went back to Seattle, I thought better of it. I don’t think we could ever top that show, and it didn’t feel right to try. It was better that we exit this way, and wrap up that chapter of our lives. Articles of Faith was an amazing experience to be part of. But to be part of that audience that night—with people who had grown up with that music, and made it a part of them—you could never recreate that. So we won’t. And our best gig will always be our last.