Maybe some of the techno connoisseurs out there need to cut the EDM undergrads a bit of a break.
In the debate between underground dance music and mainstream EDM, there are few acts that encapsulate the fiercely independent aesthetic of the former more than Detroit's Underground Resistance. These are the people who merged the sound of Detroit techno with radical politics, who fought the major labels 15 years ago and won. They were also early proponents of the "letting the music speak for itself." UR leader "Mad" Mike Banks has never been photographed unmasked––and not in the heavily-branded post-Daft Punk way, either.
This vintage footage of UR performing in 1992 surfaced today and features the original line-up of UR: Mike Banks, Jeff Mills and Robert Hood. Banks played synths, Mills was the DJ and Hood hyped the crowd. it's as militant as one might expect, but it's also pretty rave-tastic:
At times, this video shares more than passing similarities with the festival EDM that UR fans are certain to loath. Robert Hood seems most out of place, donning a protective paintball mask and nylon flight jacket, prowling the stage with a microphone, calling to the crowd to "raise your hands!" like Public Enemy meets The Prodigy, while the hair-raising intro to the UR classic "Amazon" builds to, dare we say it, an epic drop.
We never find out (spoiler alert, the drop is dope) since the clip then switches to Mills deftly cutting between two copies of hardcore UR classic "Method of Force" while the rave stabs repeat and Hood pumps the crowd even higher. The footage ends with more ultra-simple two-note keyboard melodies (from lesser-known UR cut "Panic.") In the meanwhile, video screens flash the UR logo incessantly, leaving more than a passing resemblance to the logo overload of today's EDM stars on stage.
So what does it mean? Are Underground Resistance EDM progenitors? Probably not. No one here is accusing UR of any potholes when it comes to their anti-commercial stance over the years, and there's certainly far more sophisticated music in the UR catalog than the fist-pumping highlights seen here.
Yes, yes, I know that Black Flag and Blink-182 also seem alike if you squint hard enough. But I think the idea might be that at tin the early stages of any music, there are plenty of less-than-refined affects to go around. So maybe some of the techno connoisseurs out there need to cut the EDM undergrads a bit of a break. But you still don't need to excuse this.