The punch-you-in-the-gut politik of Propagandhi broke sound barriers on Sunday night as they exploded into the first of 2 back-to-back shows at Lee’s Palace. My exposure to their heavy punk rock and lyric-laden music is always accompanied with a heavy distaste for the media, and full reminders that no story is ever fully told and that no government is sound of corruption. Founding members Chris Hannah (guitars/vocals), and Jord Samolesky (drums) still provide a passionate, aggressive art form that holds strong after 28 years along with the relatively newer members Todd Kowalski (bass) and David Guillas (guitarist) who hold their own.
When I arrived at Lee’s Palace, I tried to use the ATM machine to get some cash to buy a beer – and it was seemingly out of order. A random young fella who was standing next to it offered to buy me a beer because “this show should not be experienced without alcohol”. He then led me to a booth closer to the stage and we chatted for a bit before they went on. This guy was their #1 Fan. I feel inclined to reference him as that for the rest of this piece because I feel my show-going experience was influenced most by him. An attendee to every one of their shows since 1994, he boldly proclaimed that they could sing the alphabet on stage and he’d be aroused by it.
When Propagandhi walked on stage, an intense mosh pit of around 25 people started immediately at the first kick of the drums. They were also screaming every lyric to every song, I witnessed one guy standing in front of me almost lip-syncing a stellar performance of the opening act.
A couple songs in, and they played one of my personal faves, Note To Self. I could tell it was a unanimous opinion because that’s when I caught my first whiff of leafy green goodness and the moshpit doubled in size. It was at this point that I was expecting to see blood. #1Fan cupped my face into his hands and sang a couple lyrics to me, I was a little startled, but I knew he meant well – we bonded, after all. The mosh pit didn’t grow much larger after that point because the crowd was most likely in their mid-late thirties. Reliving their hardxcore youth might be fun, but not at the risk of back problems, I’m sure.
Todd was mostly out of view from where I was sitting, but I enjoyed how he would run up to the front of the stage on point to kick or jump on the monitor, he peered at me a few times with his fist pump and I absolutely felt acknowledged. He has tremendous stage presence alongside Chris. The crowd was so intense that at one point, they had the courage to climb on stage and stage dive multiple times into the crowd – the complete opposite of crowd-surfing – the tiny space of Lee’s Palace gave them the opportunity to do so, and it became a raging theme throughout the set.
One particularly sentimental moment was when Chris described the reasons behind the song Unscripted Moment. He had written it when he read a news story about a man being reunited with his son after the Holocaust. After he talked about that, the emotion in the room was heavy and he dedicated it to the people in Gaza. #1Fan had jumped on the table at this point and he was screaming “I Love You” which made me laugh (grown-ass man, tiny Lee’s Palace tables), but at this point I had made several intense friends who were rocking out with me, we barely noticed the shadow over us.
During Rock for Sustainable Capitalism, a pair of girls jumped on stage and angrily sang along into Chris’ microphone and then stage-dived while hugging each other, their descent into the pit was heartwarming and a clear sign of solidarity.
The punk-rocksters gave us an encore of 3 songs ending with Anti-Manifesto and at this point the grow-ass men were high-fiving and screaming with #1Fan, looking over at me to see if I was just as excited (sure I was, but I was starting to smell like a gym-sock and was afraid my post-concert plans were foiled). When I left I was certain I had to go home, and had slight hearing loss – a good time was had by all and I am forever grateful for #1Fan for offering that beer, and the amusement throughout the night.
Review by Stefanie Romano |