“We’ve been around for 21 years now,” says Anal Cunt’s Seth Putnam, looking calmly out at a modest, late Sunday night Public Assembly crowd. “I’d like to thank all our fans for being here. This song is called ‘All Our Fans Are Gay.'” Add it to the list, basically–is Seth Putnam calling you gay more or less offensive than the triple-header of “Body By Auschwitz,” “Ha Ha Holocaust,” and “Hitler Was A Sensitive Man”? Is it OK to laugh when Putnam dedicates “311 Sucks” to “a bunch of wiggers we hate”? And what to make of AC’s excellent “American Woman” cover, dedicated to all the “fine ladies in the crowd”?
At Public Assembly, capping a Show No Mercy bill curated by SOTC buddy Brandon Stosuy (whose birthday it is today, should anybody want to send him flowers or candy or whatever over at Stereogum) that also featured Fuck the Facts, Locrian, Gwynbleidd, and Copremesis, there was, in other words, the usual AC-sparked cognitive dissonance–dudes in the front row with shaved heads and suspiciously comprehensive knowledge of every hate-filled AC lyric, ever; people cheering the announcement of a song about beating up dealers who sell insufficiently potent crack.
Crack, of course, combined with a healthy dose of sleeping pills, heroin, and alcohol, is what almost killed Putnam in 2004, when he went into a coma he came out of a month later with permanent nerve damage and the inexplicable urge to continue playing “You’re in a Coma” to small groups of people in various cities around the country. Onstage, his high-pitched screech is still eerily potent–probably the most musical incomprehensible scream you’ll ever hear. But he doesn’t so much as walk as shuffle, his body still visibly twisted from the drug-beating he took five years ago, and it takes him a solid 20 seconds to complete the circuit from microphone to beverage on the side and back. He doesn’t look comfortable, but then again, nor is comfortable to watch his band, despite the sometimes endearing disco finger-pointing with which Putnam punctuates his band’s breakdowns and blast beats. As the man himself once said, grindcore is very terrifying.