Last week I posted about the exciting Riot Fest line-up announcements. Legendary bands like Circle Jerks, Less Than Jake and Bad Religion were listed in the first wave of confirmations for the annual Chicago punk festival. This week, a few more additions were made to the already epic lineup.
The name that jumped out at me on the list was none other than Propagandhi. In case you haven't heard, Propagandhi was probably the most important band to come out of Canada since Neil Young. For many my age (mid-20's), Propagandhi was extremely influential both musically and politically.
The band's first album, How To Clean Everything (released in 1993), combined the irreverent, snot-nosed antics of skate-punk peers like NOFX and Pennywise with a hyper-literate sense of political awareness. As a high schooler I remember being blown away by the brutality and honesty of the epic "Stick the Fucking Flag Up Your Goddam Ass, You Sonofabitch", the most unapologetic, most thought-out denouncement of patriotism that you will ever find in a three-minute punk song.
Their second album, Less Talk, More Rock, was a step up form the skate punk of their debut. It saw the band mature as songwriters and lyricists. Bassist John K. Samson and guitarist/vocalist Chris Hannah played off of each other's strengths so perfectly. Samson's humor and melodicism helped balance out Hannah's anger and energy.
Samson departed from the band after the release of Less Talk and went on to form the phenomenal indie-folk-pop-punk group The Weakerthans. After his departure, Propagandhi evolved into a much harder, angrier animal. The music became more technical, and the melodies disappeared, as did the humor.
While I would prefer to watch Propagandhi in 1996, I would gladly go to Chicago to see them at Riot Fest 2010. I may not enjoy their last three records as much as their first two, but they have been one of the few bands from my childhood that have truly stood the test of time.