Fear: a riot broadcasted live

Punk-O-Rama pays homage to L.A.’s 1970 hardcore punk scene.

If you listened in to Punk-O-Rama last week, you heard the sounds of L.A.’s hardcore punk scene. Spontaneously generating in the late ’70s (alongside the New York scene, though the two most likely fed off each other), the area scene fought to survive until the mid ’80s when things got thrashy and hip hop began to take hold.

But, rewind back to punk, or hardcore in Southern California. To me, they are one in the same scene. Last week’s show featured songs by The Germs, Descendents, Flipper, Wall of Voodoo, X, Dead Kennedys, Black Flag and the Circle Jerks, Suicidal Tendencies (“Institutionalized” is a hilarious classic), Adolescents, Agent Orange, Screamers, Dickies and… Fear.

Fear was a hardcore punk band from L.A. that formed in 1977. They saw little commercial success, like most other bands of that time and place, but did gain some infamy thanks to John Belushi and Saturday Night Live.

Remember when Sinead O’Connor ripped up a picture of the Pope on on live TV in 1992? Fear’s SNL performance pre-dates that and was also way more badass. It’s something that necessitates being seen, not just heard. Belushi, an alleged punk music fan, is said to have helped get Fear on SNL as a musical guest. He might have been aware of the melee slated to take place, but the show’s producers definitely weren’t, and faded to commercial as the band began their third song, worried that the riot would get even more out of control.

Fear’s performance on Saturday Night Live was a statement of affirmative action of punk ideology, and in my opinion made just as controversial a statement as Sinead’s little temper tantrum.

Gil Scott-Heron was right (and still is) when he penned his song “The Revolution Will Not Be Televised.” But thanks to one celebrity’s string-pulling, this controversial performance was.

from lindsey deiter
tune in to punk-o-rama every thursday night from 9 to 10 p.m.


Thanks to videosift.com for hosting the video of Fear’s SNL performance.

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