As the massive clusterfuck known city-wide as Riot Fest resumes in Chicago this weekend, we're treated yet again to another helping of rare appearances from bands far and wide, across many genres and spanning into the realm of some true punk pioneers, and this year that coveted award goes squarely to UK 1st wave punk pioneers, and the first British punk band to tour America, The Damned. Yes there were already PLENTY of US punk bands when they landed on the west coast in the early months of 1977, but this cross-pollenation was an essential catalyst in helping punk culture explode domestically, and its waves can still be felt today.
Yes, The Damned's first single pre-dates the debut from the Sex Pistols, and yes, they were beyond important to the early history of UK punk, especially with original guitarist Brian James' affiliation with mythical proto-punk unit, London SS, (and even earlier in Belgium, he formed Bastard with Elton Motello) and their well-thought-out image of four men all dressed as polar opposites was probably ruffling feathers upon first sight, which was exactly what they wanted. They sped up the punk sound to frightening levels, offering nothing short of blistering guitar tone and bash-it-all time signatures that quickly sent them to the top of the heap of UK bands at the critical crux of 1976, just before the floodgates opened and unlocked all that smashism that is still burning today.
If you don't have the chance to see The Damned at this year's Riot Fest, by all means, hurry up and grab a ticket to a far more intimate show at Double Door on Sunday September 13th, sure to be an unforgettable night, and by all means, check out this full live show from 1982 at Godzilla's with the band firing on all cylinders, kick it into full-screen mode and blast off!
As a bonus, here's a super rare clip of The Damned on the White Riot Tour in 1977 in Brighton: