Fat Mike leads something of a double life. While he thumps bass and wails vocals for famed punk group NOFX, he also heads his own record company, Fat Wreck Chords. Record companies, as any punker worth his blue Mohawk knows, are the target of some of the most heated vitriol ever screamed by a punk vocalist, a tradition going all the way back to Johnny Rotten delivering the scathing rant of the Sex Pistols' classic tune "EMI."
But the Fat One avoids dipping into the mainstream by keeping his company's signees far off the beaten path. A lesson in the antiestablishment feel of Fat Wreck Chords is provided at Spanky's this Saturday. The Fat Tour 2001 features four bands signed to Fat Mike's antilabel. The best example of the avoid-selling-out-at-all-costs attitude at Fat Wreck is Canadian political-punk group Propagandhi, one of the tour's headliners. This band fought tooth and nail to stay outside the mainstream. Its first album, 1994's How To Clean Everything, garnered a sizable fan base in the punk scene -- which the band then deliberately alienated with its bizarre follow-up Less Talk, More Rock in 1996. So desperate was Propagandhi to avoid selling out that it put no bar code on the album, cutting any and all major distributors out of the loop. In February, five years after Less Talk, the band released Today's Empires, Tomorrow's Ashes. The album marks a return to the group's original sound, and those fickle listeners are starting to return.
Sharing headlining duties is Avail, one of the many bands to break out of the D.C. hardcore scene pioneered by Fugazi. The Fat Tour's openers are two San Francisco punk bands, J Church and the all-female lineup of Fabulous Disaster, fresh from the S.F. biker/fetish scene, where the band's anthemic "Rich Bitches in Volvos (Piss Me Off)" has made the musicians local celebrities.
But the night does not end when the concert does. When the last chord is struck, the kids at this show will take to the streets, marching through West Palm Beach in violation of the city's curfew laws -- which they view as unfair and biased. West Palm Beach's curfew laws are actually fairly lax, covering only the entertainment district. Kids age 16 and younger must be off the streets by 10 p.m. weeknights and 11 p.m. weekends, according to the West Palm Beach Police Department. While the protesting kids probably won't get the fire hoses turned on them, they should at least succeed in giving their moms ulcers.