Rock music has always prided itself on being rebellious, but throughout its history, there have been varying levels of how conceptually outré, lyrically lewd or politically provocative a group or individual performer was willing to be. In the 1960s, no band defied social taboos with such unrestrained glee as the Fugs. Though intellectually well-grounded in both the Beat movement and the visionary Romantic poetry of William Blake, the Fugs quickly became associated with deliberately scatological songs such as the iconic, tongue-twisting “Boobs a Lot.” They recorded seven albums – the second one the subject of an obscenity investigation by the FBI – but few radio outlets dared play them besides Pacifica stations like WBAI. Considering how many later punk bands cited them as a source of inspiration, one might fairly describe the Fugs as “seminal” in more ways than one.
More importantly from a historical perspective, they were unabashedly confrontational with the Powers that Be, famously providing the musical score for the attempt to levitate and exorcise the Pentagon during the October 1967 March on Washington to protest the Vietnam War, as documented in Norman Mailer’s Pulitzer-winning nonfiction novel The Armies of the Night. The chant of “Out, demons, out!” will ring out once again with new DC foes in mind, with audience participation led by founding Fug and longtime Woodstock resident Ed Sanders, in a performance on August 17 at the Byrdcliffe Barn commemorating the 50th anniversary of the Woodstock festival.
It’s the same venue that has hosted various Fugs reunions since the band reformed in 1985 with “new” members Steve Taylor, Coby Batty and Scott Petito, all three of whom will be joining Sanders onstage this time around. While Fugs co-founder Tuli Kupferberg died in 2010, attendees are assured that he will be there in spirit. “The audience is sure to leave the Byrdcliffe Barn feeling empowered, educated, rocked and maybe a bit sweaty,” promises the official press release.
The Fugs perform at 8 p.m. on Saturday, August 17 at the Byrdcliffe Barn, located at 485 Upper Byrdcliffe Road in Woodstock. Tickets cost $30 general admission, $25 for Byrdcliffe members. To order, call (845) 679-2079 or visit www.woodstockguild.org/fugs.html.
The Fugs in concert, Saturday, Aug. 17, 8 p.m., $30/$25, Byrdcliffe Barn, 485 Upper Byrdcliffe Rd., Woodstock, (845) 679-2079, www.woodstockguild.org/fugs.html