Having heard the efforts of Washington's rock underground at d.c. space last night, an outsider might suppose underground to be the perfect place for much of the music.
That's less a criticism of the music than of the attitude behind the faded punk glory that dominated the evening. The concept of plugging in and turning on is not only acceptable but occasionally redeeming. In contrast to the clutter and pretentious gloss of much of today's rock, the vital simplicity of mid-'50s and mid-'60s rock seems refreshing.
But confusing a total lack of skill with raw energies is a tactical error.
The problem with last night's collection of bands is that not only were they caught in a vapid time warp that transported them to 1975 punk London; much worse, the esthetic and artistic nihilism was played out in outdated fashions and hairstyles, echoes of a quickly fading era.
Since few people are inclined to this rather blank and useless deja vu, the only way such aficionados can gather is to rent-a-hall and pull together 10 bands. Voila -- a crowd to enjoy lower-case rock.
Of the six bands heard last night, none showed an ounce of originality, style, or substance. Teeny-punk bands like SOA, The Untouchables and Minor Threat were at least fast, loud and relatively unpretentious. In their territory that's all that counts. Talent was minimal, electricity was all.
This monotone crowd has all the right poses of London's hard-core punk scene, but none of its original inspirations, and therefore none of its energies. If they weren't so serious, and didn't manage to dull the inherent excitement of electric rock, it could almost be fun.