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Music / Fugazi

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"I am a patient boy, I wait I wait I wait I wait..."
"Waiting Room"

A seminal Post-Hardcore band created in 1987 by Hardcore Godfather and Minor Threat veteran Ian MacKaye (vocals/guitar), Joe Lally (bass), and former Rites of Spring members Guy Picciotto (vocals/guitar) and Brendan Canty (drums). With an anti-corporate stance, cheap concerts for all ages, and heavy, rhythmic music, they released six studio albums (all on MacKaye's indie label Dischord) and held heart-pumping performances. They are one of the most important underground bands of the 1990s; their third album, In on the Kill Taker, made the Billboard 200 chart (peaking at #153), a rarity for an indie release. In 2003, the band called an indefinite hiatus, having been together for 16 years.

The name Fugazi originates from an acronym used by Vietnam veterans to signify “F’d up, Got Ambushed, Zipped In (a body bag).”

Dischord Records' website has created the Fugazi Live Series with the aim to "create a complete archive of the Fugazi live experience and to make these recordings available" to anyone. Over 800 shows are available for download, most recorded in high-quality, and for US$5 each.

Notable EPs:

  • Fugazi - 1988 (Self-titled EP)
  • Margin Walker - 1989 (Second EP. Later re-released with Fugazi to make 13 Songs)
  • 3 Songs - 1989 (Released with Repeater)
  • Furniture - 2001 (Released during The Argument's making)

Studio Discography:

  • Repeater - 1990
  • Steady Diet of Nothing - 1991
  • In on the Kill Taker - 1993
  • Red Medicine - 1995
  • End Hits - 1998
  • The Argument - 2001

It’s time to meet your tropes:

  • Album Intro Track: The Argument begins with a montage of sounds, and their last song begins with this, albeit a little different.
  • Face on the Cover: Repeater and the self-titled and 3 Songs EPs all have photos taken from live performances on the covers. Other albums either don't have anyone on the cover at all or take a more artistic approach to this: For instance, Red Medicine includes a group photo on the cover, but it's not immediately noticeable as such because it's oriented upside down, out of focus, and depicts the band swimming, up to their necks in the ocean.
  • Four More Measures: A variation in the instrumental "Brendan #1", where the guitar "chorus" comes in later than would be expected. The song begins with eight measures of Brendan and Joe's drum-and-bass interplay... and then eight more.
  • Harsh Vocals: Most of the time, Ian MacKaye yells/growls when signing, and Guy Picciotto can be abrasive vocally, but often sings softer. Joe Lally’s singing style is very subdued (a nice contrast).
  • In the Style of: "Version" is a dub-influenced instrumental remix of "Long Distance Runner", with the vocal melody replaced with a jazzy clarinet solo by Guy. Interestingly, "Version" actually comes a few songs before "Long Distance Runner" on Red Medicine.
  • Indecipherable Lyrics: Many examples with Guy Picciotto on vocals. “Latin Roots” sounds like he’s singing, “It’s time to meet Jamaicans.” Or the beginning of “No Exit”, with what sounds like “exuta” when he’s supposed to say “exeunt”. Also, what the heck is he singing on “Hello Morning”? Good thing their albums come with a lyric sheet.
  • Instrumentals: Every album, except for The Argument, has one instrumental.
  • Long-Runner Line-up: They were together for 16 years without breaking up or changing personnel! A definite feat for a rock band.
  • Lyrical Dissonance: Averted. Most of the music's mood matches the lyrical content. Good examples include: "Rend It", "Epic Problem", and "Forensic Scene".
  • Minimalistic Cover Art: 13 Songs, a compilation of their first two EPs, simply has the band name and album title over a solid red background.
  • New Sound Album: Red Medicine is definitely a turn into a different, more experimental sound for the band.
  • Noise Rock: The beginning of the song “Do You Like Me” has a 51 second noise intro, and then immediately becomes more Fugazi-like when the drums kick in.
  • Protest Song: Too many to count. Their most political albums are Steady Diet of Nothing and The Argument.
  • Shout-Out:
    • The title of Steady Diet of Nothing comes from late comedian Bill Hicks.
    • Also, the song "Cassavetes" is, unsurprisingly, about the famous indie filmmaker, John Cassavetes. It also name drops Gena Rowlands.
  • Step Up to the Microphone: Fugazi is one of the rare bands that has two lead vocalists, but starting from Red Medicine until The Argument, Lally sings at least one song on each album.
  • Studio Chatter: The end of End Hits has this.
  • Surprisingly Gentle Song:
    • Among all that rocking, there are many examples of this trope. Usually their instrumentals are this, or if Joe Lally sings. "Sweet and Low" and "The Kill" are good examples.
    • "I'm So Tired", from the rarities compilation/rockumentary soundtrack album Instrument Soundtrack - notable for being performed entirely by Ian on piano and vocals.
  • Telegraph Gag STOP: Surprisingly used in "Epic Problem" during the verses:
    Wish I could be there
    Tell me something that I don't know
    Is there anything left to know?
    Stop, stop, stop, stop, stop, stop, stop, stop

    We regret to inform
    Miss you dearly, signed sincerely
    Tell me something that I don't know
    Is there anything left to know?
    Stop, stop, stop, stop, stop, stop, stop, stop
  • True Companions: As mentioned above, they made music for 16 years together.
  • Vocal Tag Team: Both Ian MacKaye and Guy Picciotto sing. They often do backing vocals for each other, too.