Parts and Labor's last Houston show was a bust -- let down by everyone involved, the Brooklyn trio ended up going on at midnight in front of about ten people. With nothing to gain, they nonetheless played as if their lives depended on it. It was a joyously terrifying experience. The thrill came not only from the band's thundering punk noise, but from the knowledge that at that moment there was nothing more important to these three people, who had driven for hours to a deserted neighborhood in an apathetic city, than to fill a crusty, collapsing hovel with their punishing squall. It's frightening to imagine caring about something so much. Perhaps that's why Parts and Labor named their 2006 album Stay Afraid
; it's an exhortation to live passionately and without caution.
Ian Mackaye once said, "It's not that I'm out to smash the state. I'm just interested in building my own damn state." This is what Fugazi and Sonic Youth did in the 1980s, and it is what artists like Parts and Labor are doing now: building their own place in the world, full of virgin wilderness, where everything hasn't been done already.