New York’s Roseland had prepared for the worst, placing foam-padded police barricades between the sold-out crowd of moshers and the band. Unusual, but necessary, considering who was playing. ”Be nice. We’ll give you your $5 back and escort you to the door if you start being assholes,” warned Fugazi’s front man, Ian MacKaye, who, despite his band’s thrashing punk funk, is a cranky taskmaster when the crowd gets out of hand. A kind of ”straight edge” (anti- drug-and-alcohol) pied piper to underground fans of all ages, MacKaye has set Fugazi apart from other hardcore bands with strict adherence to, of all things, manners and integrity: Their CDs never top $10, $6 is their maximum ticket price, and they play only all-ages venues.
And in many ways, there is no safer place for a 14-year-old than a Fugazi show, with its punk songs about abstinence and sobriety and its AIDS-awareness booths. ”The Fugazi crowd is more PC, definitely, ” said the guy at Roseland’s LifeBeat booth. ”All my free condoms are gone.”