The Montalbán Theatre, Hollywood, CA – 11/09/2017
Having now had some time to process the singular experience that was the Thursday night of November 9, 2017, this writer finds that the words continue to elude him. Taking place on this night at the Montalbán Theatre on Vine Street in the heart of Hollywood was a screening of a documentary several years in the making, funded via Kickstarter campaign and chronicling the history of what began as a small record store in Denver, Colorado and would later move to Chicago and become what prominent Chicago artist/musician Jim Marcus referred to as “The start of it all.” Founded by Jim Nash and Dannie Flesher, WaxTrax! Records is virtually synonymous with the multicultural and free-thinking attitudes of the post-punk and industrial music scenes in the ’80s and early ’90s, championing an independent approach to recording and releasing music whose influence can still be felt in modern music. Put simply, what we now know and think of as industrial music is due to the efforts of Nash and Flesher to expose audiences to the sound of the underground, to provide an alternative to the alternative, to bridge the social, political, and geographical divides and create a truly artistic community; as ReGen associate and Digressions co-host John Galope states, “WaxTrax! gave me cultural identity.”
But this was not just the history of a music scene or a record label, told dispassionately and objectively to garner the accolades of critics with little more than an intellectual investment. As stated by director Julia Nash (Jim Nash’s daughter) in the Q&A, the movie was created for the fans, the throngs of people whose lives were profoundly and so positively affected by what Jim Nash and Dannie Flesher accomplished, and to give them more of an understanding of who they were. And if one must judge its merits on those grounds, to assess whether Industrial Accident does, in fact, achieve this goal, those of you reading may rest assured that it does… and more! The movie begins with footage of Nash and her husband – co-director/co-writer, and graphic artist Mark Skillicorn – in 2010, shortly after Flesher’s death, entering a garage filled with the remnants of the WaxTrax! Records store, including one of the original storefront signs. Since 2014, the pop-up store has emerged mainly at the Metro in Chicago as part of the annual ColdWaves events to once again release these items to the public; indeed, the pop-up store was present at the Montalbán Theatre, full of likeminded people from various walks of life engaging in a sense that this wasn’t just an event to buy merch… this was a gathering of that community, still in existence and still holding strong. To see this and then to view the movie’s introductory sequence and not feel a sense of awe and heartfelt appreciation would be impossible.
To top off the night was the aforementioned Q&A moderated by actor/DJ/musician and WaxTrax! fan Lance Robertson – a.k.a. DJ Lance Rock of Yo Gabba Gabba!… WOW! Once again, it’s difficult to sufficiently express just how poignant and affecting the experience was to see Julia Nash joined by Chris Connelly (Revolting Cocks, MINISTRY, Fini Tribe, etc.), Paul Barker (Revolting Cocks, MINISTRY, Lead into Gold, P.T.P., etc.), Richard “23” Jonckheere (Revolting Cocks, Front 242), Marston “Buzz McCoy” Daley and Frankie “Groovie Mann” Nardiello (My Life with the Thrill Kill Kult), and label employee and radio promoter Andy Wombwell. The level of admiration and affection, respect and reverence was absolutely palpable, both on and off the stage, as audience members had the opportunity to ask their questions for each panelist to share stories, memories, impressions, and reflections… and goddamn was it hilarious!
I’m not going to include a litany of the various topics discussed; best simply to watch the video captured and posted by Seven Dunbar and included in this article with his kind permission… and even that is only a substitute for having been there, which this writer must once again state was a deeply affecting experience. However, I will end by giving credit to one audience member by the name of Jed (apologies to this person if that is misspelled) for pointing out that this was not just a scene, but a family, and asking the question, “If you could choose one word, why are you here right now?” Words like “love,” “life,” “honor,” and “respect” were among the answers, as well as Wombwell’s three word response of “Jim and Dannie.” But in this writer’s opinion, the most powerful response (or at least the answer that affected me the most) came from Chris Connelly, saying in his inimitable Scottish accent and motioning to everyone on and off the stage, “Blood. My veins and our veins.”
If that’s not an ultimate expression of love and reverence, what is?
Article by Ilker Yücel (Ilker81x)