MUSIC: CRASS: IN ALL OUR DECADENCE PEOPLE DIE

This Saturday, Boo-Hooray and Mishka Los Angeles will celebrate the shared legacy of Crass and Dial House by presenting an exhibition of fanzines and ephemera collected by the band itself, sent or given to the band from fans all over the world during the years 1977-1984, preserved by Crass artist/designer Gee Vaucher.

The anarcho-punk band Crass first took shape at Dial House, a creative center and open community in the UK founded by poet Penny Rimbaud. A long-time participant in avant garde performance art, Rimbaud began playing drums with artist/singer Steve Ignorant after they saw, and failed to be impressed by, The Clash in performance. Other friends and residents of Dial House, including Vaucher, Pete Wright, and N.A. Palmer joined the band, which was soon named Crass.

Members decided that the aim of the band should not simply be playing music, but also to promote anarchism as an ideology, as a political approach, and as a way of life. During their appearances they distributed flyers and leaflets detailing their anarchist principles and ideas, and they became well known for spraying stenciled antiwar, anarchist, feminist, and anti-consumerist messages across London and throughout the Underground.

The band’s first gig took place at a North London street festival; they played three songs before being cut off. In successive performances the band became known for using loud, aggressive music to promote pacifist messages, offering what they called a “barrage of contradictions” to the audience. The band presented a uniform appearance on stage in order to make a statement regarding personality cults, abstained from alcohol and marijuana before performances, and appeared without stage lighting whenever possible.