Teargas Rock is a band with a long history, though it’s mostly been unknown before now. You may never have heard of them, but chances are if you’ve been going to shows in RVA for a while, you’ve heard of Young Pioneers.
Teargas Rock is a band with a long history, though it’s mostly been unknown before now. You may never have heard of them, but chances are if you’ve been going to shows in RVA for a while, you’ve heard of Young Pioneers. That was the band that Adam Nathanson–who’d just moved to RVA amid the disintegration of his previous band, groundbreaking hardcore iconoclasts Born Against–started once he found his feet in our fair city back in 1995. After a brief period with none other than Tim Barry on bass, Nathanson and former Born Against/Universal Order of Armageddon drummer Brooks Headley met up with Marty Key, who was playing in something like half a dozen RVA bands and quit them all to join the Young Pioneers full time. Over the next half-dozen years, the band became a mainstay on the local scene, releasing several excellent albums including First Virginia Volunteers, Crime Wave, On Trial, and Free The Young Pioneers Now!, along with quite a few singles, splits, and compilation appearances.
Young Pioneers were a mouthpiece for Adam Nathanson’s radical political consciousness, which manifested in the forceful lyrics of songs like “Food Stamps,” “Fuck The Labor Pool,” and “Pioneers Liberation Radio.” Back in the Clinton era when nobody was paying attention, Young Pioneers sang of working-class disenfranchisement, connecting punk rock’s angry rejection of mainstream society with a hundred-year tradition of grassroots political activism and worker’s rights. They did so overtop of concise rock n’ roll tunes that mixed punk rock and protest music, with a result that often sounded like Woody Guthrie fronting the Minutemen. They were amazing live, and their shows often featured nascent touring acts headed for eventual stardom–Modest Mouse, The Make-Up, Karp, and quite a few others opened for the Young Pioneers on their first trip through Richmond.
Not long after Young Pioneers came to an end at the end of the 90s, a friend of mine who worked with Adam Nathanson at Food Not Bombs played me a tape of “Adam and Marty’s new band,” Teargas Rock. It sounded great, and picked up right where Young Pioneers left off. I figured I’d be seeing this new band around town soon enough. But for some reason, it never happened–Teargas Rock only played one Richmond show (which I sadly missed) before drying up and blowing away. Thankfully, what once was a minor footnote to the story of a legendary RVA punk band has been resurrected by Little Black Cloud Records, and the Teargas Rock demo that kicked around the RVA scene for years before disappearing into crates and shoeboxes and being forgotten will get a proper vinyl release this Friday night. Check out the band’s theme song, one of seven that will appear on the long-awaited Teargas Rock LP, below:
Teargas Rock themselves have briefly returned to action to accompany this long-awaited resurrection of their music, and this Friday night, Adam Nathanson and Marty Key, joined by former Great Unraveling drummer Randy Davis, will play their first and only Richmond show since 2001. If you were around for the Young Pioneers days and, like me, missed out on this incredible, short-lived sequel to that amazing band, Friday night at Black Iris marks your only chance to finally catch them in a live environment. And if you came along too late to catch either of these bands, this will be your only chance to see what it was all about for yourself. Either way, you don’t want to miss this one-time-only performance.
Teargas Rock will be accompanied on this show by Positive No, Little Black Cloud head honcho Tracy Wilson’s own band, who will debut a new EP of their own at this show. Dischord recording artists Alarms & Controls, a DC postpunk band featuring former members of 90s legends Circus Lupus, 1.6 Band, and Crownhate Ruin, will round out this extremely solid bill, which you can experience yourself for the low price of $5. Of course, you should definitely bring some extra cash to pick up the new records by Teargas Rock and Positive No, but what’s really important is being there. This opportunity won’t come along again.
Black Iris Gallery is located at 321 W. Broad St. Show starts at 7 PM. For more info, click here: https://www.facebook.com/events/668847933204005/