Commentary

Things Look Different: Another Story Of Punk Rock In Fayetteville

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Wayne Coomers and The Original Sins important part of Fayetteville punk rock history

By Eric D. Johnson

“You can tell when the reality changes. Things look different.” That’s written in a comic book dialog balloon that I cut out and pasted into a poster I made for my favorite Fayetteville band, Rex Rootz, in the summer of 1985. The poster was for a rent party, featuring the Rootz and Wayne Coomers and the Original Sins, held in the practice studio at 347 N. West Ave., a location soon to be known across Fayetteville simply as The Icehouse. That dialog balloon proved to be faintly prophetic. Things did look (and sound) different in Fayetteville after that party. It was the last show for Rex Rootz, but the scene that had started to jell at the summer rent parties grew, eventually linking Fayetteville with independent bands, record labels and scenes in towns and cities across the country.

You can read about that national scene, including several bands that played Fayetteville, in Michael Azzarad’s fine book “Our Band Could Be Your Life: Scenes from the American Indie Underground 1981-1991.” The local histories that made up these scenes however are still largely unwritten. The Free Weekly published A Story of Punk Rock in Fayetteville, Joe Katzbeck’s account of his experience of this changed reality in the mid 1980s. I don’t intend to offer a complete history of the Icehouse here, or to dispute most of the events described by Joe, my good friend and first real musical teacher, but I do want to offer a different perspective. This is another story of punk rock in Fayetteville, one of many, because those changes looked different from different angles, and this history is still being written.

As Joe suggested, part of the story of The Icehouse was a story about how anger, one of the most visible colors in punk rock’s palette, can be a constructive force. Some of the original energy that catalyzed the icehouse group came from the breakup of Rex Rootz, the dispute between the band’s erstwhile leader and its putative sidemen and women who took over the practice studio. But that’s hardly the whole story. The other crucial, transformative happening in the summer of 1985 was the meeting between the small but tenacious crowd of townie punks that made up Rex Rootz’s core audience, and the crowd of college students, mostly out of town émigrés, who were members and fans of Wayne Coomers and the Original Sins. The instant bands that sprang up in the month between the last Rex Rootz show and the first icehouse party owed everything to the mingling between the fans and former members of these two very different bands.

This story is continued on the Free Weekly Web site, www.freeweekly.com.

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