D.O.A. is back in action, and that's a good thing
Okay, so: in my review of the new D.O.A. live album, I took a somewhat cynical tone about the D.O.A. "return" concert tonight (February 7) at the Rickshaw. It seemed kind of appropriate. After all, I went on the record for a Payback Time—after doing two hefty articles on last year's D.O.A. farewell concerts—defending D.O.A. from its reputation as being the band that has broken up and gotten back together more times than anybody can count. I got in Joe's corner, and now here he is, doing exactly what the Payback Time complainer had accused him of. Gotta raise my eyebrows a little, or people might think I'm on Joe's payroll or sumfin'.
But in fact, under the circumstances, I have no problem at all with D.O.A. returning. And regardless of the I-told-you-so's I've received, I sincerely do believe the band is innocent on all charges of semi-annual farewells and reunifications, or at least were up till now.
My sense of the history—confirmed by my conversations with Joe—was that it all started when, a week or two after a 1990 sold-out farewell concert at the Commodore, D.O.A. booked a second farewell show for people who had not gotten in to the first one. I remember a flurry of cynical laughter around Vancouver when that second show was announced: "Hey, they JUST HAD A FAREWELL SHOW THE OTHER WEEK, AND NOW THEY'RE PLAYING AGAIN!"
Out of such sources, a Vancouver punk urban legend was born, which no one has ever really challenged. Last year, all sorts of people connected to the music scene in Vancouver, in private correspondence, had glib remarks about how D.O.A. would be back in a year: "After all, how many times have they done this now?" My response was always the same: what other Vancouver farewell concerts are you talking about, besides two in 1990 and two (January 18 and 19) in 2013?
No one has yet had a reply. People are welcome to post evidence in the comments section, in case I've missed something—after all, I lived in Japan from 1999 to 2002, and if D.O.A. had a Vancouver farewell show during that time period, I wouldn't have known about it. Then again, D.O.A. toured Japan during precisely that time period, so...
I suspect Joe might actually feel a bit sheepish about the fact that he's got a new D.O.A. concert scheduled, and that considering his unsuccessful political bid lingering in the background, the whole thing might sting a bit. In fact, he would be well within his rights to be kind of cavalier. I mean, fuggit, he's been sniped at for going away and coming back—like some punk variation on Leonard Cohen's "I Tried To Leave You"—more or less since 1990. And if he's already done the time, why not do the crime, as loudly and shamelessly as possible?
The thing that cheers me about the whole thing has nothing to do with Joe Keithley, however. I was chatting with a kid in his late teens at a local record store the other week, and, without knowing that I had ever interviewed Joe, he announced that he was really excited that he was going to get a chance to see D.O.A. for the first time ever. He was just starting to explore Vancouver punk history, he explained—the kid was a complete noob, but enthusiastic. "I hear they break up and get back together every few years, but I don't care. I'm just glad I'll get to see them!"
I'm glad for that kid, in turn—and wish D.O.A. a successful, sold-out show. Welcome back.