Refused: In Town, With a New Beat

I’m still trying to wrap my head around the fact that the most punk rock (and likely best, in general) performance Philadelphia is going to see all year is...

I’m still trying to wrap my head around the fact that the most punk rock (and likely best, in general) performance Philadelphia is going to see all year is going to take place at The Mann, a venue best known for housing The Philadelphia Orchestra performing the soundtrack to things like Lord of the Rings (or video games), lamesauce jam bands like Phish, or the all-stars of “adult contemporary.”   This Saturday, August 1st, will see alternative metalheads Faith No More playing the Mann’s Skyline Stage.  However, what’s most worth getting excited about is Swedish hardcore legends Refused, who are opening the evening…

With the local date of their 2012 reunion tour at Festival Pier rained out, I’m not actually sure that Refused (whose only contenders for the greatest punk rock band of the past thirty years are Bratmobile and Sleater-Kinney) have ever played the City of Brotherly Love and Sisterly Affection (Did they ever hit up The Church… or The Rotunda… or the Khyber, before their initial, and supposedly definitive, break up in 1998?)  Those lucky enough to catch the band on their 2012 tour or, this summer’s headlining tour (subsequent to their second break-up), can attest to the band’s live show being as beautifully and communally chaotic as any of us can imagine seeing The Stooges or The MC5 in 1969.  Led by Dennis Lyxzén, a member of the sacred trinity of front-people (rounded out by Mr. Pop/Osterberg and Morrissey)… in addition to a sartorial and political real life embodiment of if….’s Mick Travis, Refused are the perfect amalgam of stylized Rock’N’Roll pomp and complete punk abandon.  (I made it down to their headlining date at DC’s 300-capacity Rock & Roll Hotel this June and it ranks in the top 25 most awe-inspiring performances I’ve ever witnessed… And I’ve been to around 2,000 concerts… and been onstage with Mr. Pop/Osterberg four times…

In addition to kicking out their classic anthemic punk rock jams for the disenchanted; nearly as profound as “Pretty Vacant,” “No Fun,” and… well, “Kick Out the Jams;” such as “Rather Be Dead,” “Coup D’Etat” and “New Noise;” Refused are also playing tracks from their fourth full-length and first LP in 18 years, Freedom, released last month on Epitaph.  The album boasts a slightly more “mature” take on the Refused aesthetic.  They definitely embrace a brand of hardcore funk that fits them perfectly for the Faith No More lot, their wonderfully chantable subversive rants have become slightly more coherent (literally), and their love of the few legitimately beautiful examples of what has come to be considered “classic rock” are more apparent than ever.  However, their radical leftist attacks on pretty much everything that’s survived and been born of the status quo in the nearly two decades since they last wrote together are just as passionately teen-angsty and intellectually poignant and profound as their first time around.

This show is definitely not something to be missed… especially considering that their last scheduled headlining date in Philadelphia was at a venue far more than twice the size of the Mann’s secondary stage.  If you’re not convinced, just check out some of the videos below.  Also, check out my chat with Dennis last year in preparation of INVSN’s stop at MilkBoy.





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During the day Izzy Cihak teaches transgression, subversion, and revolution at Temple University. At night he haunts Philthy's best venues to cover worthwhile acts for Philthy Mag. Morrissey is everything to him and, in their own heads, all of his friends see themselves as Zooey Deschanel.