Can Government Issue's bad luck end with a reunion? | Cat's Cradle | Clubs & Concerts | Indy Week
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Government Issue

Photo by Jim Saah

Government Issue

Can Government Issue's bad luck end with a reunion? 

When: Mon., Nov. 2, 8 p.m. 2015
Price: $12-$15

GOVERNMENT ISSUE

MONDAY, NOV. 2

CAT'S CRADLE, CARRBORO—Though Government Issue is counted among the vanguard acts of hardcore punk in early-'80s Washington, D.C., the band never quite fit that scene. While its 1981 debut, Legless Bull, remains a highlight of early D.C. hardcore, Government Issue quickly evolved beyond all loud-fast-pure rules. Charismatic frontman John Stabb led a rotating cast of players, including a pre-Jawbox J. Robbins and a post-Minor Threat/pre-Bad Religion Brian Baker. He zealously experimented with elements of heavy metal, psych rock and pure pop.

But misfortune dogged the great Government Issue. "For one reason or another, they were jinxed," explains Dag Nasty singer Dave Smalley in Steven Blush's oral history, American Hardcore. "Their van'd break down; they'd do tours and have ten people at the show because of no publicity. Everything bad that could happen to a band happened to them. But they were amazing."

The misfortunes didn't stop in the '80s, either. In 2007, attackers assaulted Stabb near his home. Recovery required facial reconstructive surgery. Two months later, he re-joined bassist Baker, guitarist Tom Lyle and drummer William Knapp, as "Government Re-Issue," at a benefit show for his own medical expenses. Today, Stabb and original guitarist John Barry keep the reunion train rolling with a new rhythm section for a tour between Chicago's Riot Fest and Gainesville's The Fest. With sets drawn from the band's entire catalog, Government Issue's reunion promises a second chance for these "jinxed" hardcore icons.

In Carrboro, Government Issue will have two tough acts to follow. The band's tourmates, Baltimore's War on Women, share drummer Evan Tanner with the veteran punks. The group released a self-titled LP in February that manages to polish scathing, political punk with contemporary alt-rock production. Frontwoman Shawna Potter delivers scathing feminist polemics. And Greensboro's Totally Slow wields a sound that balances pop and punk without requiring a hyphen. Ragged surf licks and punchy tempos buttress strong melodies without losing edge for accessibility.

Like G.I., both War on Women and Totally Slow funnel disparate influences to create a sound that holds tight to its punk roots, while expanding on its possibilities. 8 p.m., $12–$15, 300 E Main St., Carrboro, 919-967-9053, www.catscradle.com. —Bryan C. Reed

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