The real essence of the DIY punk community is captured in Sheer Mag’s new video for their track, “Fan the Flames,” off their recently released II 7” on Katorga Works/Wilsuns RC. Scenes from an underground show comprise the majority of the video, created by Nancy Shirley, as the Philadelphia powerhouse quintet plays, all smiles, to a rowdy pit and harmoniously bopping onlookers. Individual shots of the band’s members playing their instruments in front of various backdrops flicker in between the tumult of the live performance—a staying resoluteness to it all—while dimly lit images of grime and roaches and mice interject to remind folks that they aren’t getting rich doing this; that there is a reason basement shows are held in basements, and punks scrape by to do what they love.
The song itself is an embodiment of everything rock and roll has ever meant. Unending, cruising riffs and dedicated, feel-good affections flow over a steady, unchanging beat, and under the incredibly, almost indiscernible, lo-fi hum of singer Tina Halladay’s vocal strength. The message behind both song and video is defiant against ordinary dullness, a clenched fist fighting to live all of a life in DIY rather than succumb to the shirt-and-tie soulless nothingness of the corporate, as Halladay professes, “you’ve got to fan the, fan the flames, you’ve got to stand up and break the chains.”