Published Nov 17, 2014In 1988, the then fresh-faced and freshly formed Fugazi recorded their first demo with Don Zientara, who has engineered pretty much everything from the D.C. post-hardcore outfit. The demo, minus "Turn Off Your Guns" — heard here for the first time — was passed around on cassette at early Fugazi shows but is only now getting an official release. The 11 tracks on First Demo span a surprisingly wide range of the band's career, including "Furniture," which didn't officially see the light of day until late 2001, and "The Word," which was included in 2002's 20 Years Of Dischord box set, as well as rough versions of tracks that ended up on Fugazi's first four releases: Fugazi, Margin Walker, 3 Songs and Repeater.
Despite being expertly recorded — First Demo sounds way better than you would expect a demo to sound — they do feel authentically like demos, with count-offs, chatter and mistakes left in for added charm. Nerdtastic highlights include Ian MacKaye saying "Oops!" after messing up the false start to "Waiting Room," his energized yell during the intro to "Song #1" and how the surprising rock riffery of "Turn Off Your Guns" may hint at MacKaye's love for Cheap Trick. The most striking thing about First Demo is being able to see in retrospect how much Guy Picciotto's later, more substantial role in the band so perfectly completed Fugazi's dynamic.
Due to their rawness, and the fact that the tracks aren't as fully fleshed out as the later — and tighter — versions, the songs on First Demo won't replace the already released versions as regular listening, but as a document, it's enjoyable and illuminating and will make an essential library addition for fans. And what's more, for a band that are officially on "indefinite hiatus" — for intents and purposes, defunct — First Demo is the closest thing to a new release that we're probably ever going to get. It's also the most interesting insight into the band since the Steve Albini demos for In On The Kill Taker leaked. (Dischord)