Friday, January 30, 2009

B.G.K. - freeze me video

Video fragment of B.G.K. performing "freeze me" in Oktopus, Amsterdam ca. 1982. Maybe 1983, I can't remember. The same clip may be downloaded in WMV format here.

What Oktopus (the venue) looked like :

From this era, only very little has been documented. There were no cameraphones yet, and no one (that I knew, anyways) owned video equipment. But, the club filmed 3 songs of every band that played there. I believe most of the archives, sadly went missing as soon as it became evident the venue was closing it's doors for good, but thanks to (former part-time the Ex drummer and full-time carebear) Geurt, whose arduous efforts ensured that the little material that does still exist was compiled and released even, there is the DVD "Als je haar maar goed zat". And in true spirit of that particular time, it is a DIY, non-profit benefit project, the proceeds of which (all 120 bucks) go towards the Amsterdam kiddie cancer research hospital. Sorry to sound blunt. Further information can be found here but you'd prolly have to read Clogspeak to understand it.

Minor personal gripe : Way too much emphasis is placed on the so-called "Ultra movement", the word "movement" being a ROYAL overstatement. The closest being a bowel movement. It was a small cluster of groups, perhaps best described as the Amsterdam equivalent of that whole "No Wave/No New York" thing ca. 1979 i.e. new-wavish "experiments" by assorted art school students who definitely looked down upon us in a "punk is British/over !" kind of way, didn't want to have much to do with us, but called whenever they needed a band to do a benefit show. Why, for THEIR benefit of course. It was a total emperors new clothes deal. They were all about "summoning emotions, maaan", "expanding boundaries", and "seeking the experiment" (a Casio going bleep-bleep was considered 'innovative') and called us "reactionaries" for sticking to the "narrowminded" but time-proven verse-chorus-verse-chorus-break-chorus format, which some actually claimed was "too confining" for their artistic expressions. So I guess they didn't like Chuck Berry or the Ramones. Well, fuck that noise, Jack. I didn't like any of those pompous, no-talent "Ultra" bands back then and still don't.
Back to the rock, friends :

There was some VHS footage of B.G.K. "unplugged" at Oktopus, no kidding : At one point we weren't allowed to do our normal set at regular "this one goes to eleven" sound volumes because of noise complaints. They actually insisted Marcel put a tablecloth over his snare drum because it was too loud, even without amplification ! As firm believers in the agadium "the medium is the message" it HAD to be loud. But
in this case, perhaps making the best of a bad situation, we decided to abandon our regular set and play some Flipper songs, some Stooges, PLUS a 20(!) minute "Louie Louie/Wild Thing" etc. with special guest appearance by my friend Guy Pinhas, who would end up the bassplayer of No Pigs, later Goatsnake, Acid King and an assload of other bands) singing/rolling on the floor, re-enacting the Iggy-with-peanutbutter Live at Cincinnatti 1970 incident, much to the dismay of the crowd. They gathered to see B.G.K. in full blast mode, and got pelted with gooey brown substance instead, so that was quite amusing. If I ever find this VHS tape again I will digitize and upload it. But don't hold your breath for that to happen.

Btw, contrary to popular belief, B.G.K. were not a "crust" band. That sub-sub-genre didn't even exist yet ! I personally always held, and stand by the firm belief that B.G.K's politics and antics had WAY more in common with MC5 than say, Crass (who once pulled the plug on us opening for them in 1979 but that's another story !). Proof is this picture from B.G.K. in San Francisco, 1986.

Regrettably, the best (funniest) video footage of the Nitwitz playing Oktopus ca. 1980 or 1981 was lost forever after I lent out a VHS tape to someone who - naturally - never returned it. Hate it when that happens. There was a priceless moment in which a frenzied wild pogo-ing crowd gets the P.A. towers wobbling, and eventually the cameraman is near pancaked by a huge speaker cabinet. The impact sustained by that unbelievable dummy is too funny to be believed. The video image shakes wildly for a few moments, then everything goes black, but audio continues. The band stops playing, there's a bit of panic, calls for an ambulance etc.

That bit of lowlander punk rock history is gone forever, but what can ya do.

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