There's a semi-circle of bored twentysomethings crowded onto the cover of Q and Not U's debut album, No Kill No Beep Beep. It's the Washington D.C. four-piece offering its own take on Primary Colors--they're de-mythologizing whitebelt ways with fashion show flair, realizing that even with a prominent Dischord Records logo displayed on their drumhead, they will not be the new Minor Threat, the new Fugazi, or the new Bill Clinton.
You get the feeling Q and Not U is the band of little brothers that saw their elders get the glory, leaving them to haul equipment and silkscreen the shirts. For punk rockers, coming of age under the pyrrhic victory of '92 also meant losing the repressive fuel that Reagan and Bush provided to generate great political hardcore acts. Born too late to protest anything really juicy, this generation finds no fun in anti-authoritarianism, because nowadays opposition is invited, inoculated, absorbed, and marketed--the real legacy of the Clinton era and of independent rock post-Nirvana.
This is the subtext of the Q and Not U story, but not its plot. The band offers the best alienation anthems of the millennium thus far, preaching that "the impersonal is apolitical," while melding musical bits of the last millennium's post-punk. They integrate dance beats, acoustic guitar, handclaps, and vocal "whoos" into their fabric bringing to mind such disparately emo and ass-shaking influences as Braid, Drive Like Jehu, Trenchmouth, !!! and Gang of Four. This unsteady allegiance between booty and cerebellum is constantly prodded with time changes and fake-outs.
While Ian MacKaye and Fugazi are still universally held as messianic monks of punk, Q and Not U have the struggles with faith that speak to a younger, attention deficient generation. The band name itself is about negation, focusing on limits of grammar and vocabulary, yet they celebrate that negation until it becomes a virtue and its own kind of creativity. Their earnestness within irony is the only liberation available, and they know full-well that the window for revolution is gone. And if you can't revolt, what is left but to dance?