Coachella 2012: Buzzcocks cut through the Gobi tent


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Ageism is real, and it affects musicians more than people in most other professions. Take old guys and punk rock. Try to convince an 18-year-old that “Harmony in My Head” by the Buzzcocks was a sonic revolution when it was released in 1977, and that “Ever Fallen in Love With Someone?” once packed the same shock-of-the-new wallop as Death Grips, Azaelia Banks or Neon Indian do these days. What they see is men with thinning hair and thickening middles playing music for their parents’ nostalgia trips.

And it’s true: A lot of giddy-eyed fortysomethings were shouting along to every “Oh-ooooh-oh” in “What Do I Get?,” and a lot of chubby dudes were moaning along with the fake climaxes in the Buzzcocks’ gem of a teen anthem “Orgasm Addict.” But just as many twentysomethings were mouthing along too, singing those magnetic pop-punk refrains that not only wrote the blueprint for Green Day but also influenced (unfortunately) the emo movement.


Pete Shelley channeled personal emotion with a piercing, frustrated whine, one as jarring and in-your-face today as it was when it was recorded 35 years ago. The other remaining original member, Steve Diggle, was all smiles as he watched the mosh pit moving like a tornado, crowd surfers floating their way through the crowd.

While the action unfolded below, Diggle in “Harmony in My Head” sang about the power and joy of song to change moods, hearts and minds. You could see the evidence of that energy all over the place.

Not bad for a bunch of old dudes.


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-- Randall Roberts @liledit