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Saturday, May 20, 2006

Sitting in the waiting room

Of the 91 songs Fugazi has released so far, why is "Waiting Room," the first song from their first release, the most often covered? Not that "Waiting Room" is a bad song, but if there is one song that most people know by Fugazi, that's the one. I've heard a few other covers (including face to face's version of "Merchandise" and a local punk band covering "Great Cop"), but so far I've heard the song covered in a variety of places over the years.

A few years ago, Voigt was playing at the Liquid Lounge with the Cut*Off and the Action. During soundcheck, the Action's bassist started playing "Waiting Room"'s intro bass riff, Cut*Off drummer Jim started singing "I am a patient boy" and I yelled, "I wait, I wait, I wait, I wait." We all three looked at each other and shared a brief little moment. We had a brief connection and smiled. "Waiting Room" isn't as well-known as say, Journey's "Don't Stop Believin,'" so finding people that know the song is pretty cool.

Last night, I saw Team Evil cover the song at Bar of Soap. I had never seen the band live before, but Joshua gave me a heads-up that the band does a version of it live. When that opening bassline kicked in, I raised both hands with devil horns and cracked a smile. A number of people in the crowd cheered and sang along as the band did a faithful rendition. This cover wasn't the only highlight of this band's set. They play a nice mix of pop-punk and garage rock with vitality and fun. I'll definitely check them out again.

Then this morning, I read this review of a recent I Am the Avalanche/Angels and Airwaves show. Which song got the tribute/cover treatment from I Am the Avalanche? You guessed right. Upon reading this, I had to ask: what's the deal?

The song itself is not as easy to cover as say, "Longview" by Green Day, but it's easier to cover than say, "Stairway to Heaven." There are random stops and starts, a double-time, reggae-like guitar line and a fractured bass line. The chorus line is pretty straightforward as the rhythms break out of the verse's riff. Not impossible, but a little difficult to pull off for the average musician.

I'm guessing that for most people, if they have any Fugazi records in their collection, chances are good they have 13 Songs (which kicks off with "Waiting Room") and/or Repeater. Those albums are awesome, but those aren't the only great Fugazi records. I argue that all of their stuff is worth listening to, but for a lot of people, Fugazi's most accessible material can be found on 13 Songs, Repeater and/or In On the Killtaker.

I'm glad that people still cover Fugazi and still remember their music. As great as 13 Songs and Repeater are, don't be easily led to think that the band went downhill after that. Though Fugazi is noted as a key influence on many bands, I have yet to hear a band that sounds exactly like them. Even though they're not playing together at the moment, they're still as relevant when they were playing together.

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