With the reissue of remastered versions of their three albums (plus heading out on tour again) Team Dresch remind us of the power of Queercore and its rightful place in pop music history. Captain My Captain, Personal Best, and Choices, Chances, Changes, through their new label Jealous Butcher, are each powerful, in your face statements that go against the flow of the appease the enemy mentality that has come to dominate mainstream LGBQT events these days.
Historically speaking it was the marginalized members of this marginalized community who have led the charge for equality and rights. The Stonewall protests of 1969 were led by Drag Queens tired of police harassment, Transvestites pushed back against corrupt cops in 1966 at the Compton’s Cafeteria in San Francisco, and the Queercore movement of the late 1980s and 1990s pushed against government apathy towards AIDS and authorities indifference to violence against Queer people.
Although Team Dresch released their albums in the 1990s (Choices, Chances, Changes is a compilation disc of unreleased tracks put out this year) their material is as relevant today as it was 20 years ago. With the recent push back by conservative politicians against gay and transgender rights in North America, and continued oppression in countries around the world, the anger and advocation expressed in their songs are as important as it ever was.
But Team Dresch are more than just LGBTQ rights band. Aside from their intelligent, and sometimes provocative lyrics, they’re are as musically tight and interesting as any punk band you’re liable to here. Actually, they’re probably more diverse and accessible than most punk bands of the same era.
For while they can be as hard core as any punk band, they also know how to step back from the edge into more melodic territory. As a result their songs aren’t simply one long, drawn out sonic assault. Listeners are pulled into both the emotional and lyrical content of the songs by their clever arrangements.
By definition Queercore is a musical genre designed to push LGBTQ agenda by being far more radical and open for most people’s comfort. This attitude affected more than just music as it shows up in film, visual arts and writing. However, music, as exemplified by bands like Team Dresch, was the most immediate and in your face example of Queercore.
Team Dresch, like the genre, push against what society considers the norm. However, without people like them creating art and music as a kind of shock and awe assault upon the acceptable there would never be any change.
While conservative elements are gradually trying to make LGBTQ events ‘safe for families’ to spread a “we’re just like you” message, bands like Team Dresch are still fighting to ensure hard won rights aren’t rolled back. They might seem extreme to some, but without bands like Team Dresch, or Queercore itself, nothing would ever change. Aside from that, they make great music and should be listened to for that reason if nothing else.