Tuesday, November 17, 2015

DVD Review: GG Allin – (Un)Censored: Live 1993

Text © Robert Barry Francos / FFanzeen, 2015
Images from the Internet

GG Allin – (Un)Censored: Live 1993
Produced by Merle Allin
MVD Visual
110 minutes, 1993 / 2014

Iggy Pop’s infamous glass on skin and self-peanut butter smearing was outrageous in the late 1960s and early 1970s. The next step up was Suicide’s in your face aggression and Transistor’s Von Lmo chasing his audience out of clubs (usually Max’s Kansas City) with a running chainsaw. They all paled in comparison to what GG Allin had in store for his audiences. His shows (and arrest records) were notorious.

This DVD is a collection of four shows during the Murder Junkies’ Terror in America 1993 Tour in the spring of 1993. GG would be dead less than a month later from the last one here, after an extremely wild and violent show at a New York club called the Gas Station.

If Allin wore any clothes at the beginning of a show, odds were good he was stark naked at the end (not counting the dog collar, boots and gloves), and somewhat lighter than when he came in, as he was known for both peeing and crapping on stage (and on occasion throwing said releases into the audience). Words to describe him have been transgressive and disgusting, but the first word in my mind is fearless.

The first show is from New Orleans at the RC Bridge Lounge, on May 16, 1993 (22 minutes long). Starting with his iconic “Bite It You Scum,” this actually ends up being the closest to a real show of GG’s I’ve seen in quite a while. Other than the occasional foray into the crowd, he stands his ground on stage and there is actually some quite agro moshing by the audience.

Here is also something I don’t see very often when watching these shows, and that is the audience gives as much violence at they get, if not more so. There is one fuckin’ huge inked and shirtless mofo (the bouncer?) who stands on the stage with him occasionally before diving off. The crowd is hyped, and when GG starts swinging at them, they don’t run away, they actually fight back. Props. I would like to believe that GG acknowledged them in return by actually keeping with the songs. Unlike some later, more theatrical shows (see the Chicago one, for example) where he’s brought props to the stage, here he keeps his jacket and jockstrap on for the whole show, though he does pull it down and do some yanking on his surprisingly micro-member (this was even discussed at his funeral, from the 1993 video I've seen called GG's Last Ride).

While the lighting is questionable due to the lack of decent illumination from the stage, and it seems the only brightness you can see is from the video cameras, the action is mostly viewable other than the occasional near “blackouts” when the floodlights from the videos are off. As with all the shows on this DVD, the entire gig is single-shot-camera, with no editing.

Next up is in Houston at the Catal Huyuk on May 17 (26 minutes). Funny, but the most eye-opening part of the show for me is when his microphone inevitably dies about a third of the way in, and as the techs work on it, GG goes into the audience and says, ‘How ya doin’?” and then sits down with them on some wooden, joined bleacher-type fold-down chairs. Someone hands him a plastic clear cup with beer and he drinks it down. It’s a very calm moment, and something I’ve never seen before at an Allin show, even when there are technical problems.

This is, in fact, a pretty sedate audience. Even as he prowls among the throng, they seem to be just standing them. When he whacks one or two along the way, they either duck or get hit and laugh. It is hard to explain just how surreal this all is. It is for this reason that a sudden fierce fist-led gang-up attack by a group occurs, it is also a shock. Still, this is one of the better musical shows of the four.

The Chicago show is from the Medusas club, on June 5 (33 minutes). It’s kind of fuzzy and the sound is terrible, also shot on a handheld camcorder in VHS. For over half an hour you get balls out (literally) GG, and the Murder Junkies pile drive their sound.

During “Bite It You Scum,” the opening number, GG removes his overcoat, which revels that all he’s wearing is tall leather boots, black gloves (I am assuming leather as well), and his spiked dog collar. As his brother Merle leads the band with his bass, GG rolls out an American flag onto the stage floor, gives himself an enema with a turkey baster, poops on the flag, pees on it and into a cup (which he flings out into the audience after a swig), and then uses lighter fluid set the flag alight (after wiping his butt with it, of course). In between all of that, he takes physical swipes at members of the audience, who douse him in beer from those omnipresent red cups. I’m not making an opinion, just relaying the action. And this is only the first song.

GG roams the crowd, occasionally being herded by the club’s bouncer to behind a fence between the front of the stage and the people in attendance. As many times has he climbs over, or tries to breach it (including breaking the separator’s metal braces which he wields as a weapon that someone grabs out of his hand), he is thwarted, sometimes not to daintily.

My major complaint about this quarter of the film is more in the line of how fuzzy the picture and sound is. If I didn’t know “Bite It,” I would not have been able to make out any of the song.

The last show is at the Marquee in Detroit, on June 6 (32 minutes). This one starts off a bit freewheeling, with fewer props at the start. Yes, “Bite It” is the first number, but no flag.

So what’s an artist to do? Crap on the stage and fling it, of course! He continues to roam around with a big, brown smudge on his rear, like someone with lack of sphincter control who did not wipe himself. However, none of this is as gross, to me, as when he does a “Pink Flamingos.”

There is no barrier between the man and his crowd in this place. He roams and with the exception of people taking pictures of him, people tend to avoid him and scream out verbal abuse. He spends more time off the stage than on, but that’s not too unusual.

Also not unusual is that his microphone keeps going in and out. Nearly every show I’ve have seen (recorded; was always too much of a wuss to see him live) the spotty mic has been an issue, but it’s hardly surprising with all the abuse it goes through, between his hitting his head with it until he bleeds, or shoving it up his anus. I think about the modern remote mic, and how that might have made a difference (not to mention HD video).

The club is kind of a cavernous  warehouse setting with pool tables, but the audience doesn’t seem to be that extensive; either that or they are staying way far away from him, and possible (make that probable) genetic projectiles. However, it’s the audience who is the most violent here, throwing either objects or oral confrontations. Yes, GG definitely confronts the occasional audience member, but it’s the macho jock assholes that just seem to be there for no other reason than an excuse for violence that had me scratching my head. At one point, GG screams at them, “Say that to my face!” but the chickenshit cowards never do, preferring to insult him from a safe distance. Some of what GG does on (and off) stage is not pleasant, but he’s the real deal. These guys doing the hollering are bully posers, and far more disgusting in my eyes. And I bet some of those same pussies smugly went home and said, “Yeah, we showed him.” Yes, you showed the world that you’re not even worth having poo flung at you.

What is interesting to me is that no matter what is happening by or to GG, the band just keeps playing, as if they were in another room. Singer’s microphone doesn’t work? They play. GG is in the audience beating someone? They play. Someone or a group is beating on GG? They keep playing. It really was an interesting social experiment.

When I see GG being interviewed in other places, like on the infamous Springer episode, I see theater. When I see video recordings of him perform, I see theater. Yes, I believe he believed in what he was saying, I also believe there is some narcissistic element that underlied his way of thinking that he is supreme, and I know people who have taken his message of “no PC as I envision it” that translates as just another way of either self-aggrandizement or the degradation of others (from the interviews, I believe GG would agree with that): “I can say whatever shitty thing I want, be it racist, sexist, homophobic or genderist, and if you don’t like it, you’re just being ‘PC.’ This is the same mentality of those hyper-Christians (and other religious groups as well) that state that if they discriminate against others, it’s religious right, but if someone complains about it, it’s a War on [Religion]. I could rant on for a while on this, but I will stop as I digress…

Whether you agree with GG and his stage performances or not, as a media theorist, I admire that a musician at his level has as many shows available as he does – thanks in large part to his brother Merle, who controls his estate – and remains a strong presence in the likes of social media and YouTube.

Songs list (in total from all shows):
Bite It You Scum
Cunt Sucking Cannibal
Expose Yourself to Kids
Highest Power
I Kill Everything I Fuck
I Wanna Rape You
Kill the Police
Live to Be Hated
Look Into My Eyes (and Hate Me)
Outlaw Scumfuc
Terror in America


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