Start Fires. Listen to BLXPLTN.
It’s long been a contention of mine that Hip-Hop and Punk Rock are born from the same need to reject society and illuminate injustice. They are both a uniquely struggling class music that came about in an effort to somehow channel the emotion of a heretofore unlistened-to generation. The songs were and are about different things, but were made of that same restless energy and born of a similar moment in time. Without hip hop we’d largely be clueless to the struggles of an entire population. Without punk-rock we’d largely be clueless to the struggles of a different population. There’s a longer article about this particular dichotomy. Fuck that article: BLXPLTN has written it in their music.
The first time I saw BLXPLTN I was part of a small crowd watching an Austin web-streaming production at Safe House. Before they came on some band made me laugh playing songs in the key of Ween basically. They were entertaining, but they didn’t make me move. I expected the same. As the band set up a dog rested his head on my foot and I took a picture. Then a man in a hat a union soldier might have worn began to beat music out of his drum machine. There was a laugh and my head snapped up like it was on the end of a whip. Another held onto his guitar as if he were suspended from it. If the floor had fallen out from under him, and just floated there, suspended by his guitar I would not have been surprised. I don’t remember the song they played but I remember that it articulated perfectly the plight of the struggling class.
The second time I saw BLXPLTN I stepped out of a ride share, probably headed to Bull McCabe’s or Casino El Camino, or some other bar I went to too often instead of seeing music and I heard a chant coming from either Red Eyed Fly (or at this point maybe it was Sidewinder.) I ran into the club and rushed to the front of the stage and helped finish the song. The song was “Betta Run,” from the same record and dealt with goddamned gun violence. I hung around and talked to them, a little effusively and they gave me a flash drive with a new track on it.
A few nights later I sat around listening to records with my buddies and I pulled out that flash drive and we listened to it. The song was “FEMA,” found on the record New York Fascist Week. My friend listening with me had relocated to Austin from New Orleans in August/September of 2005. His first reaction. These dudes listen to Ministry. I can’t say for sure if they know who Al Jourgensen is. But I can tell you that they do listen to people, and we are a nation of people who need to be listened to. All of us, whether we know it or not are pushed further and further from the comfort and security we’re assured we are entitled to and will enjoy. These are the songs that remind us who we are.
In November of 2016 BLXPLTN had a show booked the day after election day at the Sahara Lounge. This was the first time I made a decision to miss a show of theirs I had planned to see. I was pissed off and sad that the worst person was in office. I called a friend in Japan and talked about whether she should come home. And in hindsight I wish I had gone to the show, not to hear them angry (well a little of that), but to hear them reassert their prior calls to action. I wasn’t there, but their message was more important than ever and largely unchanged. I’d have love to have heard the refrain on “How Many Shots,’ reassuring refrain of “you are not alone.” Instead I turtled up like a cowardly beaten liberal.
A month later I moved to Montana and was arrested for the first time. It’s cold in Montana, so by the time I got into processing and started to shed layers I was tired. Exhausted and scared I explained each layer. A sweater with a grim reaper on it, “it’s from a skate shop.”
“Take it off.”
“What’s that, they said?”
They were pointing at a BLXPLTN shirt featuring the Hermés logo and the band name and the words “New York Fascist week.” They shined their light from that to the tattoos on my hands and then asked if I was part of a hate group. When I got released the next day they didn’t return my shirt. That to me was a sign BLXPTN had made it. Because if a band from Austin is pissing off cops in Montana, then they’re doing something right.
I returned to Austin in November of 2017. I had actually pushed the trip in order to to get there in time to see BLXPLTN at Cheer Up Charlie’s. They had added a new member, a drummer, allowing the other two members to sonically and kinetically experiment with new ways to attack the sound and space. It was invigorating. I moved so hard I almost lost my mind. I heard, “RUSH THE STAGE, THIS IS A PUNK SHOW,” and when the stage wasn’t rushed, the band rushed the crowd. I raised a fist. They screamed, “Start Fires,” both a song and a call to action.
BLXPLTN are Jonathan Horstmann, TaSzlin Muerte, and Jeremy Kivett.
Go see them. See them enough and they’ll see you out there.
Sunday, March 11, 2018
10:30 PM 11:30 PM
Tuesday, March 13, 2018
7:30 PM 8:30 PM
Wednesday, March 14, 2018
8:00 PM 9:00 PM