By Liana Jacob
HARDCORE photographs of a book reveal the uncut history of the infamous underground Safari Club in Washington DC with special interviews from members of Nirvana.
The notorious pictures expose the age-old music genre of punk and heavy metal in the form of band members body slamming and stage-diving into the enthusiastic audience.
Other photographs reveal the shirtless band members passionately belting out their tunes including Gorilla Biscuits immersing themselves into the crowd.
The images from the nineteenth and twentieth century make up a book published by Rare Bird Books, Live at the Safari Club: A People’s History of Hardcore Punk in the Nation’s Capital, by Shawna Kenney and Rich Dolinger.
Shawna Kenney is an American author and journalist who has covered music and popular culture for various magazines such as Juxtapoz, Transworld Skateboarding and Metal Hammer.
She promoted punk shows at the Safari Club in the late 80s and graduated from the American University in 1995.
“We’ll be the first to say there was nothing special about the building. It was basically four walls painted black,” Shawna said in the book.
“It was the scene swirling around inside, the people who played and experienced music there that brought it to life.
“Beyond the manicured lawns and massive white monuments, behind the Capital building and well below the international spotlight, lies the ‘real DC’.
“Its local inhabitants put the city on the punk rock map with the birth of Dischord Records in 1980. The fiercely independent label that began as a vehicle for Minor Threat became the home of many more influential punk and hardcore bands.”
Punk rock is a music genre that developed in the early to mid-1970s in the United States, United Kingdom and Australia.
Punk bands typically produced hard-edged melodies and singing styles, stripped-down instrumentation, and often political, anti-establishment lyrics.
The term ‘punk’ was first used in relation to rock music by some American critics in the early 1970s, to describe garage bands and their devotees.
“The urban centers began a long slide into disrepair and decrepitude. City governments atrophied. Weeds sprang up from fissured sidewalks and crater-pocked streets,” Adam Thompson said in the forward section of the book.
“Buildings emptied. Some remained vacant, ghostly. Some collapsed into ruin. Many landlords found new tenants with far less money to move in. Such was the story of the Safari Club.
“Music, art, dance, sex, radical politics, and uncategorised weirdness flourished in these spaces. This was a sort of feral culture, promoted by word of mouth and Xeroxed flyers taped to walls or wheat-pasted on light poles.
“It was outlaw culture. Municipal codes of all varieties were often disregarded. If the cops or the city inspectors showed up, it was f***ing sign.”
Live at the Safari Club: A People’s History of Hardcore Punk in the Nation’s Capital was published by Rare Bird Books in July and is available on Amazon here: https://www.amazon.com/Live-Safari-Club-Peoples-HarDCore/dp/1945572450