Musical Interlude; or, Friday Punk Blogging

As the Texas audience hurled "spit, popcorn, beer cups, cans, hot dogs, whipped cream, bottles, and pies," the band taunted and provoked them relentlessly. Sid Vicious scrawled "Gimme a Fix" on his naked chest. Johnny Rotten "blew snot" at the front row as the audience fought among themselves. Vicious was struck in the face with a beer can, then tried to club a heckler with his bass, hitting a record company executive instead. The heckler later called the band "sewer rats with guitars."

No, this wasn't a Kerry campaign event gone bad, or an episode in a new Fox reality series, When Blue Staters Meet Red Staters. It was the San Antonio stop on the Sex Pistols' infamous 1978 U.S. tour. Their manager, Malcolm McLaren, booked mostly small, country-oriented venues in the South, hoping to create a media stir by confronting the hicks with foul-mouthed, safety-pinned, spiky-haired British freaks. The above paragraph is drawn from these great pages devoted to the Pistols' show at Randy's Rodeo. It's safe to say that neither McLaren nor the Pistols suspected that their act of cultural provocation (or whatever) would leave a lasting impact on nearby Austin:
The show was a defining, galvanizing moment for Austin's counterculture.... Musically, of course, it helped inspire Austin's punk scene - one of the earliest and best outside of New York City. But beyond the obvious, the common experience of Austin's attendees fostered many new connections. It was an energizing, polarizing event. Virtually everyone who worked at the Austin Chronicle in its early days witnessed the show, and the Chronicle's staff influenced much of what the city became artistically and politically in the 80's and 90's.

ALSO -- while we're on the subject, I hope nobody minds a personal plug. The late singer/songwriter Elliott Smith endured drug addiction and a difficult Texas childhood to become one of the most singular talents in alternative music, creating a body of work, both beautiful and angry, that ranges from spare, acoustic folk punk to lush Beatlesque pop, from Piedmont blues to fuzzed-out psychedelia. And he played all the instruments himself. Anyway, for you North Carolinians, the Cat's Cradle in Carrboro is hosting a tribute to him tonight (Friday night), featuring performers like Chris Stamey (of the dB's) as well as videos and short films, with proceeds to go to the Elliott Smith Memorial Fund for Abused Children.