Hard Core Logo: LIVE offers a dull simulacrum of punk life

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      Adapted by Michael Scholar Jr. from the book by Michael Turner, film by Bruce McDonald, and screenplay by Noel S. Baker. A November Theatre, Theatre Network, Touchstone Theatre, and PuSh International Performing Arts Festival presentation. At the Rickshaw Theatre on Friday, January 28. Continues until February 6

      The most bad-ass moment when I saw Hard Core Logo: LIVE came at intermission, when my girlfriend hit me up for cash so she could buy my underage daughter a beer. Now that’s punk rock.

      Sadly, it was also the most comical and transgressive action of the entire night.

      If you squint hard enough, it might be possible to see this collision of two stale-dated styles—punk and musical theatre—as an innovative fusion. No doubt beer goggles would aid that perspective, and quite a few people in Friday’s well-lubricated crowd were moved to give the show a standing ovation. From a more sober viewpoint, however, Hard Core Logo: LIVE embodies the worst aspects of the two idioms: it condescends to its audience while revelling in banality.

      Let’s start at the top. Director Bradley Moss made the fatal decision of letting writer Michael Scholar Jr. take on the starring role of Joe Dick, leader of the rapidly aging quartet Hard Core Logo. He’s conned his fellow musicians Pipefitter (Toby Berner), John Oxenberger (Clinton Carew), and Billy Tallent (Telly James) into reforming for a Prairie tour, which quickly unravels; by the end, with the money gone and his lifelong friendship with Tallent in tatters, Dick sees no option but to stick a pistol in his mouth and pull the trigger.

      Fair enough. Anyone who’s ever played an Edmonton rock club will sympathize. The problem is that Scholar’s clearly having such a blast living out his lifelong ambition of being a punk-rock singer that none of this is believable. We’re supposed to be witnessing tragedy—or tragicomedy, at the very least—but instead we get live karaoke, with Scholar hogging the mike.

      But his showboating is only one of a multitude of ills besetting this production, on both the practical and conceptual levels. Joe “Shithead” Keithley’s score, as played by the actors, sounds more like lame hard rock than punk; as my esteemed colleague Amphetamine Headbone might have said back in the day, it’s neither loud enough nor fast enough. And then there’s the simple fact that punk rock is not, as a musical form, all that interesting. What makes it fly is its social context: what it’s saying and the milieu in which it’s created. Theatricalizing the punk experience runs the risk of removing the audience’s energy from the equation, and that’s what happens here: Hard Core Logo: LIVE offers a dull simulacrum of punk life rather than an opportunity to engage with its tribal pulse.

      Like the book and movie that preceded it, Hard Core Logo: LIVE does capture at least some of the grim humour of life on the road. Clinton Carew is winning in his depiction of gentle-giant bassist Oxenberger, even though his pop-eyed descent into schizophrenia is written as a series of jokes and clichés. Rachael Johnston is effective in a variety of small parts, most notably as Nardwuar the Human Serviette and acid-gobbling rock dropout Bucky Haight. Toby Berner’s a pretty good drummer, for an actor.

      And with that, I’ve run out of nice things to say.



      mister resistor

      Jan 31, 2011 at 12:45pm

      Sad excuse for a show claiming to be about punk. More like a yuppie dress up party.
      Starting to think the PUSH Festival is really a front for gentrification. Maybe it really means, the PUSH the poor people out Festival.
      I guess this also means the Rickshaw, an awesome venue, has been discovered by the yuppies and wannabe yuppie artists. I give the Rickshaw a year before it closes down and reopens as a live venue for the bored rich, and the experimental artists with nothing interesting or relevant to say, in other words, half the people involved with Push.
      You're wrecking punk and any other attempt to counter mainstream culture in this city. You all suck.


      Jan 31, 2011 at 10:07pm

      Yeah. Artists have tons of money.

      mister resistor

      Jan 31, 2011 at 11:38pm

      compared to people on the block, they do.

      Pat Crowe

      Feb 1, 2011 at 9:37am

      The bands of today are boring, contrived and pretentious.
      The scene is long gone with Joey, Johnny and Dee Dee.
      Long live the Ramones.


      Feb 1, 2011 at 9:43am

      Art has absolutely nothing to do with money; nor does money have anything to do with those creating or enjoying art. It has nothing to do with how one dresses, it has nothing to do with what one does outside of a given concert/play/show, it has nothing to do with which streets the artists or those enjoying the art cross on their way to any given venue.

      "mister resistor", it is people like you, with attitudes like yours, people that seem to think money has anything to do with anything, that keep prejudice and vanity alive. You are a moron. Go dig a shallow hole to sit in; perhaps there you will find happiness, and you can spread your negativity to the like-minded.

      mister resistor

      Feb 1, 2011 at 10:46am

      art has nothing to do with money? bullshit
      my attitude comes from seeing all the venues that play hardcore music get shut down by cops, and authorities and now a bunch of wannabe yuppies are ruining a brilliant movie & book and a brilliant venue.
      and none of you give a shit about the people who live around your precious events. punk bands playing here will often do a benefit show for the rape shelter that no longer gets funding but these "so-called" artists who figured out the grant game get money to fly to different cities and take in your precious commodified yuppie culture.
      It's pretty obvious these are very rich parent type of priviledged people, who think they're poor, but only cause they hang with yuppies, when really any one of the people who can afford the ticket prices, the expensive clothes, the fancy dinners at the foodie hotspots, all they talk about is consuming shit, like a bunch of yuppies.
      i'm an artist and im a punk. this show and the crowd it brought are yuppies. My message to yuppies: stay on your side of town. we dont have the luxury to go to any side of town we want to so you just keep to yours. otherwise, you're adding to the gentrification problem, makin more people homeless in the process, and putting more of our street sisters at risk.
      hey yuppies, why don't you go listen to disco on granville? leave the dtes alone.
      punk's not dead. joey shithead, you broke my heart


      Feb 1, 2011 at 11:03am

      grants aren't awarded to "so-called" artists, they're awarded to professional artists.

      mister resistor

      Feb 1, 2011 at 11:04am

      if art had nothing to do with money it would be free but there is a price. the price decides who comes in and who stays out, the higher the price, the more people are kept out, and the price is too high for a poor person. i mean, a REAL poor person. which of course the yuppies avoid noticing like the people at the show who won't even acknowledge the person on the street, afraid they will ask them for money. that's what yuppies do, alright. thanks for adding to the homeless situation assholes.


      Feb 1, 2011 at 12:15pm

      and venues aren't shut down for playing hard core music, they're shut down for violating their liquor licenses.


      Feb 1, 2011 at 12:21pm

      an artist determines the selling price of their own art. so if you're upset about the price of enjoying art then you're not upset with a bunch of yuppies, you're upset with artists who want to earn a living at their craft.