Designed by Dischord’s Alec Bourgeois, the site covers all sides of this definitive punk outfit, perhaps D.C.’s most famous band and certainly an iconic model for independent music worldwide. The series can be searched by song, year, venue, city, state or country, and each concert has its own illustrated, detail-filled page.
Browsing is like playing a game of Fugazi Clue. Say you saw the band play with Laughing Hyenas at D.C. Space in 1988 — just plug in those terms and compare your memories with audio reality.
Surf the site randomly instead, and maybe you’ll stumble on the June 1990 Chicago set in which the band let stage-storming skinheads take their instruments and play “Suggestion.” Or the October 1990 gig in Rome where the crowd continued singing “Waiting Room” during a sudden power outage. (Each show can be downloaded for $5 — the price Fugazi charged for concerts — or any other amount between $1 and $100, as long as you add a note explaining that choice.)
If a show you seek turns out to be one of the few the band didn’t capture, perhaps another visitor will submit a recording, and others will add photos, fliers or comments.
“I like the idea that it’s going to get out of our control at a certain point and become something that’s more a product of the community itself,” said Fugazi singer-guitarist Guy Picciotto. “There will be a self-regulating aspect, with people being able to determine which shows are worth their time and which ones aren’t.”
Not every band would embrace that lack of control and let every moment be heard. In fact, Fugazi once considered just creating a single live album, but culling a definitive set from so many tapes proved more troublesome than releasing them all.
“Once you make the decision to put everything out, it makes everything a hundred times easier,” Picciotto said. “There are moments in there that will be mortally embarrassing, but that’s okay.”
Said MacKaye: “I’ve said some crazy stuff onstage, and I hear some of it and think, ugh. But cleaning that up takes all the joy out of it.”
Indeed, the between-song banter at Fugazi shows has become nearly as legendary as the music. In the 1990s, when body-banging mosh pits were practically mandatory, MacKaye and Picciotto regularly called out dangerous behavior.
“I don’t think people realize just how insane the situation was, the kind of pandemonium and injuries that occurred,” MacKaye said. “Of course I’m going to speak out against that. We weren’t going to provide a soundtrack to it.”