Crass, the Anarcho-Punk Fountainhead, Is Coming to S.F. in March -- Sort Of

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Depending on your perspective, legendary British collective Crass was either the truest band of anarchists to ever strap on guitars -- loudly, proudly advocating radical ultra-left politics through its atonal avant-punk music, Dadaist collage artwork, and edge-dwelling DIY lifestyle -- or it was a snotty, pompous, and amateurish bunch of untalented crypto-hippies who thought its shit didn't stink. One thing most people would agree on, however, is that the chances of seeing Crass play live in the 21st Century would be non-existent. The band started in 1978 and broke up in 1984 -- end of story, right? Er, maybe not. Read on.

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This week tickets went on sale for a March 17, 2011, show at Slim's that's being billed as Crass. In fact, it's technically a band called the Last Supper, which is led by Crass frontman Steve Ignorant and exists solely to play Crass songs. Penny Rimbaud, Eve Libertine, Phil Free, and other original clan members aren't part of the proceedings. For the casual fan, that might be fine. After all, didn't John Lydon just play in town a few months ago with a band called Public Image Limited, despite having only Lydon and no other original PiL musicians? Nor is this the first time Ignorant has taken the stage to play those old Crass anthems: in 2007, he performed the band's entire 1978 debut album, The Feeding of the 5,000, over the course of two nights. "Me and the band are really looking forward to this," Ignorant blogged about the forthcoming U.S. tour on his website. "Being able to the play the Crass songs in places where Crass was never able to go will be an honour, and a huge amount of fun as well."

Not everyone is so enthusiastic about Crass v2.0, however. "I acknowledge and respect Steve's right to do this," Penny Rimbaud was quoted as saying (in the UK Guardian) about Ignorant's Feeding of the 5,000 concerts in 2007. "But I do regard it as a betrayal of the Crass ethos." A lot of spange-scraping gutterpunks won't be happy about the Last Supper/Crass show's $21 ticket price, either. It's a far cry from the days when Crass LPs came with stickers insisting you "Pay No More Than" a ridiculously low amount of money compared to similar products on the record store shelf.

Then again, Crass was also one of the very first to declaim that "Punk Is Dead" -- it's the title of Track 5 on The Feeding of the 5,000, in which Ignorant sneers that "it's just another cheap product for the consumer's head" -- so cynics can easily laugh that this tour is simply one more vain attempt to revive that fetid old corpse. You'll have your chance to make up your own mind when the Last Supper is served on Thursday, March 17.

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