By Ben Westhoff and Sarah Purkrabek
By Steve Brennan
By Joseph Hess
By Allsion Babka
By Kelsey McClure
By RFT Music
By Christian Schaeffer
By Gabriel San Roman
Here we have a sampling of what passes for sneering pogo music these days. The early-'90s punk scene was swept by a wave of bands promising to revive the genre's glory days, usually referencing the year 1977 in band names and song titles. "1977-style punk" is now a buzzword for a pretty specific set of musical and subcultural values. Though such rebellion-by-numbers may seem antithetical to the precepts of punk, that's not really what makes this such an exasperating trend. The big problem is that, through ignorance or incompetence, most of the bands don't take things back far enough. They play far faster and cruder than anybody did in 1977, with a much more rigid adherence to punk-fashion codes that didn't even exist in that much-hallowed punk-rock year zero. It should be called, say, 1981-style punk. Many of these bands also seem intent on avoiding saying anything interesting lyrically, too, as if being smart is some kind of sellout. This means we're left with clichés about being bored, getting drunk and the media lying (and please, people, no more songs titled "Time Bomb"). All of this makes it hard for a grown adult to find anything of relevance or interest in this subgenre.
Of this stunted crop, Blanks 77 are probably the best. They don't do anything new, but then you don't really want them to try. All a band like this has to do is provide the bratty vocals, wall of power chords, bouncing bass and solid 4/4 snare beats, and Blanks 77 does it. They're usually pretty catchy, too.
Total Chaos is undoubtedly one of the worst of the "'77-style" bands, purveying an embarrassing retrograde sludge that reminds us all why the Exploited lived and died. Alas, their hookup with Epitaph Records probably means that they'll draw a big crowd to this show. Punk's not dead, just dead boring. Here's the proof.