November 3, 2016
The Proletariat played their first local gig in three decades last night in front of a large and partisan crowd at Once in Somerville. The band is on a short run of Northeast shows to celebrate the reissue of their high water mark disk Soma Holiday on Ss records. Proletariat were arguably a great HC band with post punk prickle or a post punk band with ripped hardcore chops. Tonight they skew toward the latter with new guitarist Don Saunders setting the Andy Gillesque musical benchmarks.
Singer wordsmith Richard Brown quickly brought the crowd into the party with a paraphrase declaration of “We are the proletariat and so are you”. with his hectoring vocals and Situationalist slogan lyrics, shimmied and twitched his way out of the box looking like a clear-eyed Mr. Limpett revved up on a bottle of thirty year old energy.
Brown is no stoic screamer. He moved like a dervish in and around Peter Bevilacqua’s bass thrum, Tom McKnight’s crackle and rumble drums and Don Sanders trenchant, make ‘em dance riffage. His lyrical concerns about income distribution, poverty, dead end lives, power, history and Big Brother remain entrenched thirty years on - and stand out bas relief from the dreary background of an all but caricature election just days away.
The sound mix is big and well-defined. The weight of the topical concerns doesn’t pop holes in the energy in the room. To the contrary, initially the room is pumped thru with anticipation. Once the sliders go up on the board the room fills with the cathartic big bang of a Proletariat incited, once again, to public action.