Day 10

July 16th 2016
Death of Alan Vega

Expe­ri­ence real­ly does make you bet­ter, man.”
– Alan Vega

It was the imme­di­ate after­shock of the Trans-Atlantic depth charges of 1977’s Punk Explo­sion that blast­ed Alan Vega out from deep with­in the sub­stra­ta of the fir­ma­ment of the Col­lec­tive Con­scious­ness. With­out that oppor­tu­ni­ty, this LSD-munch­ing fine artist might nev­er have come to our atten­tion, at best secur­ing a fab­u­lous foot­note in the appen­dices of New York Punk also-rans. Ah, but what Punk has to answer for! When the two sev­ens clashed, all of hell broke loose and the already mid­dle-aged Vega demand­ed that his time had come. And how! Even Kim Fow­ley had recog­nised that he was by 1977 too old for Punk – instead hang­ing back in the dugout, pre­fer­ring to field on his behalf an awry array of off kil­ter LA teen scen­esters in the forms of The Run­aways and Venus & The Razor­blades. Not so Alan Vega. Despite being a full year old­er than ’60s vet­er­an Fow­ley, Vega cap­i­tal­ized on his remark­able demos tapes – made through­out the ear­ly ’70s with his key­boardist Mar­tin Rev – to blast forth as the Future/Retro duo Sui­cide, whose lean, impos­si­bly stripped-back sound unit­ed min­i­mal­ist Ter­ry Rileyisms with the Jaynetts’ ‘Sal­ly Go Round the Ros­es’, or Take­hisa Kosugi’s CATCH-WAVE with the Shirelles ‘Baby It’s You’. Greedy for it all, Vega squirmed and screeched and sim­pered and sobbed his way into our hearts.

Tin­ni­tus-induc­ing and son­i­cal­ly reduc­ing, Vega’s songs were radio trans­mis­sions from the Heart of Dark­ness. If you want­ed the Ramones, he gave you Paul Anka on a bro­ken radio. If you want­ed Deb­bie Har­ry, he gave you the Cold War. Too old to be hood­winked by the gauche tabloid cash-ins that too soon afflict­ed UK Punk, the defi­ant Vega even wore red flares to per­form in front of a Clash audi­ence – how he paid the price! At var­i­ous times in his career claim­ing to be both Jew­ish, Catholic, AND fif­teen years younger, Alan Vega – along with his avant-garde Boy Won­der Mar­tin Rev – demand­ed such par­i­ty with their co-Rev­o­lu­tion­ists that their maniacal/mystical/diabolical duo Sui­cide actu­al­ly became an instant blue­print for D.I.Y. Futur­ists. With­out Sui­cide? Unimag­in­able. That Vega died dur­ing the first year of the SydArthur Fes­ti­val only con­firms that this Great Oppor­tunist knew pre­cise­ly his place in the Cos­mos – today our hearts are full!

Today on the 10th day of the SydArthur Fes­ti­val, we pay our respects to the LSD-gob­bling, avant-punk vocal­ist Alan Vega – one half of of the seis­mic duo Sui­cide. On this, still only the sec­ond anniver­sary of his death, let’s put our­selves in a suit­ably som­bre mood by lis­ten­ing now to Suicide’s requiem ‘Che’, which closed their self-titled 1977 debut LP. Per­verse­ly but typ­i­cal­ly, Vega chose the oppo­site side of the fence from the gen­er­al con­sen­sus – “they said you were a saint, but I know you ain’t” – yet even more per­verse­ly, invit­ed his key­board cohort Mar­tin Rev to sup­ply the same phased lounge lizard porn-organ music as he had crooned love songs of near-reli­gious devo­tion per­haps just two or three tracks before this. The result is dark, claus­tro­pho­bic, crypt-like and utter­ly the most real embod­i­ment of all the con­flict­ing emo­tions that we should feel about such a World Prometheus as Che Gue­vara. Bra­vo, Alan Vega.

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Fri Friday
Day 1: Saturday Jul 7th
Day 2: Sunday Jul 8th
Day 3: Monday Jul 9th
Day 4: Tuesday Jul 10th
Day 5: Wednesday Jul 11th
Day 6: Thursday Jul 12th
Day 7: Friday Jul 13th
Day 8: Saturday Jul 14th
Day 9: Sunday Jul 15th
Day 10: Monday Jul 16th
Day 11: Tuesday Jul 17th
Day 12: Wednesday Jul 18th
Day 13: Thursday Jul 19th
Day 14: Friday Jul 20th
Day 15: Saturday Jul 21st
Day 16: Sunday Jul 22nd
Day 17: Monday Jul 23rd
Day 18: Tuesday Jul 24th
Day 19: Wednesday Jul 25th
Day 20: Thursday Jul 26th
Day 21: Friday Jul 27th
Day 22: Saturday Jul 28th
Day 23: Sunday Jul 29th
Day 24: Monday Jul 30th
Day 25: Tuesday Jul 31st
Day 27: Thursday Aug 2nd
Day 28: Friday Aug 3rd