Sunday, July 27, 2014

Subhumans at le Poisson Rouge

Dick Lucas
The British anarcho-hardcore punk band Subhumans enjoyed success as one of the more literate British punk bands between 1980 and 1985. Through five albums, six EPs and a plethora of D.I.Y. cassettes, the band challenged both governments and citizens to rage against the world and to improve it. Vocalist Dick Lucas' lyrics articulated both outrage and defiance at a system that he felt had betrayed its people and also philosophical perspectives on conformity and the individual's place in society. Lucas subsequently joined Culture Shock in 1986 and then formed the political ska punk band Citizen Fish in 1990. Subhumans reunited in 1991 and 1998. The band released the Internal Riot album in 2007 and has maintained a live presence ever since. (Note: there is also a semi-active punk band named the Subhumans based out of Canada; the only difference in the name is the article "the.")

Headlining le Poisson Rouge tonight, the high-energy Subhumans plowed through more than 20 songs to a moshing and stage-diving audience. Although the politics of the current age are radically removed from when most of these songs were composed in the Ronald Reagan/Margaret Thatcher years, the band seemed to have lost none of its original political venom, intensity and grit. Tall, thin, wearing unevenly-frayed cut-off trousers and sporting an uneven haircut, Lucas looked like a scarecrow, yet instead of flapping with the wind, he was all over the venue's broad stage. His singing projected anger, rebellion and anarchistic sarcasm and he took a few breaks between songs to profess his social commentary. The despair and negativity reached its climax with the four encore songs, "Society", "Work-Rest-Play-Die", "No" and "Religious Wars." Some 30 years after protest punk music began, Subhumans' show kept the genre raw and bleeding.