Friday, December 21, 2007
Steamboat Springs At first glance, and probably according to anyone who went to the Agent Orange concert at Steamboat Mountain Theater on Dec. 13, having a punk show in a seated venue is not the best idea.
That's mostly because having a punk show at all in a town that so rarely hosts music that lends itself to violent dancing means exceedingly giddy, yet still-violent dancing. Cram that enthusiasm into a space that's no more than 10 feet deep, with padded chairs on one side and a stage on the other, and vicious bruises are in store for everyone in attendance.
It hurts to have a rock show in this venue. But judging by crowd reaction to Agent Orange (and local openers The Plagiarists and Amputators), no one really cared about the pain they'd feel in the morning.
That's what makes any venue, even a 200-seat restored movie theater, an ideal setting for this kind of show. The less it feels like live music should be performed there, the better.
You don't need a full theater stage, light boards or even decent sound to make a punk show worth going to. Of course, the Mountain Theater has prime setup on all of those things. But it also has the local eccentricities that give a show featuring local bands the right amount of DIY character.
And all that works because, more than likely, no one at this show started listening to Agent Orange - a band that has been around for almost 30 years and helped define the surf-influenced West Coast punk scene in the early '80s - for any musical merit that would be aided by a proper music venue. Well-mixed audio and ample dancing space don't make loud, fast rock sound any better.
It's also likely that no concert attendee older than 20 started listening to Agent Orange any time in the recent past.
Here's why I started listening to Agent Orange, why I've listened to punk rock since middle school and why I still love it, even though the genre rarely actually makes it into my CD player: You don't have to know anything going into it.
Agent Orange is still playing the same three chords it was in 1979, and one more would still be too many. It's simpler than pop music, which requires a kind of brutal honesty about what your band is trying to accomplish.
Agent Orange played, and still plays, rock music that doesn't have to be about anything. And that keeps their two-minute tracks timeless.