"No, I don't believe in Jesus Christ," begins the Subhumans song "No," off their 1982 record The Day the Country Died. "No, I don't believe in religion; I was forced to go to church, I wasn't told why!" And so captured was the perfect, impenetrable nadir of my preteen nihilism, spent singing along with the raspy growl of Dick Lukas (also of Citizen Fish and Culture Shock). In the '90s, I obtained a cassette version of The Day the Country Died, a fourth-generation copy taped, of course, from someone's older sibling. It was exactly the sentiment to fertilize my burgeoning sense of disenfranchisement. "No, I don't believe in the police force, police brutality isn't a dream!" When I was 13, Subhumans told me how the world worked--at varying states of disrepair, and with power-hungry, iron-fisted patriarchs. "'Cause the system thrives on ignorance," Lukas confirmed. "What the public don't know, they can't reject."
I think nostalgia is a useless emotion, so I avoid reunion shows like oozing plagues--especially the punk ones. Reunion shows seem counterintuitive to punk. Reunion shows should be left for aging male rockers, mired in midlife crises and their desire to recapture their youth by "getting the boys together to jam." But for the first time in years, I'm excited about the forthcoming show of an old punk band: Subhumans. It's not because their music guided me through my times as a newly rebellious kid, though I'll forever owe them for that. It's because when I dragged out that old tape of The Day the Country Died to write this, I found it to be an artifact of punk that sounds better than most of today's bands who don't even know they're influenced by Subhumans. The bass-driven, seething melodies are surprisingly complex, scraped to shards by Dick's furious vocals, and the sentiment is one I still feel, albeit in more complicated terms. Though their last record came out in 1987, forget about nostalgia; Subhumans never lost their relevance.