The Motor City Five kicked off what would become one of the most influential careers in the early years of punk in 1964. But the band didn’t emerge as such a force until the 1969 release of the live-recorded debut, Kick Out the Jams. That joyous explosion of roughed-up and supercharged rock codified less the stylistic shape punk would take in the decades to come and more the righteous fuck-all spirit that would guide its evolution. Like the band, it’s an album that’s fiercely political, fiercely contrarian, and fiercely insistent on having a good time.
“The time has come for each and every one of you to decide whether you are going to be the problem or you are going to be the solution,” Rob Tyner proclaims to the audience before the opening “Ramblin’ Rose.” “You must choose, brothers. You must choose.” MC5’s gauntlet was thrown.
It’s this moment—the pair of 1968 shows at Detroit’s Grande Ballroom that yielded Kick Out the Jams—that MC50 now commemorates, with founding guitarist Wayne Kramer leading the charge. Kick Out the Jams remains a thrilling glimpse back at the primordial ooze where rigorous notions of what is and isn’t punk were just beginning to form. On “Come Together,” wind-milling Who spectacle solidifies into a steely thrum, predicting the anthemic volatility that has served Fucked Up so well. On “Ramblin’ Rose,” Stones-like rock blurs into a relentless pummel that anticipates modern hardcore. Really, time is catching back up to MC5, with current punk bands increasingly embracing the mutations and cross-pollinations that made them feel strikingly modern.
And while Kramer is the only original member taking part in this reunion effort, MC50’s other personnel add a diversity of experience to MC5’s roiling impulses. The lineup features Soundgarden guitarist Kim Thayil, Zen Guerrilla frontman Marcus Durant, Fugazi drummer Brendan Canty, and King’s X bassist and singer Dug Pinnick. And the group’s chemistry should be solid by the time they arrive at Hopscotch, on the heels of European festival appearances and their first few U.S. shows.