Rob Dayton: Vancouver’s Punkest Punk

Rob Dayton is perhaps the most noteworthy punk in Vancouver. Admittedly, he personifies punk as it was in its pre-77 days of vacuous art-school glory when “style not substance” was the unspoken slogan. Yet, despite the dearth of originality in his nostalgic stance, the sheer verve he displays through his iconoclastic fashion sense makes him deserving of every accolade in this article.

Rob’s dedication to hyperbolic superficiality finds its fullest expression in his zine Bunyon. Conceived as an exploration of the depths of one man’s self-obsession, it is, intentionally or otherwise, a splendid send up of the vapid navel gazing of the perzine format. All it lacks is a change in title to Me First!

July Fourth Toilet, Rob’s post-music group, embodies his finest insight into the mind-set of approaching-30 adolescents. Various cultural sub-groups exist in which the individual identity centers on a certain form of music. Those in the in-crowd of these scenes must of necessity attend the required gigs every few days in order to retain their status. Such musical observers aren’t noted for having large horizons but even they get bored of watching bands after the first several hundred shows or so. For them, the problem arises as to how they can fill their empty lives without the visitation upon them of another tedious gig.

Into the breach step Rob and July Fourth Toilet who provide light hearted comedic improv disguised as an eclectic musical experience. The senior citiscenesters can swig their anaesthetics to what is nominally music with actually suffering through any of the actual bands who normally get away with being boring because their hip audiences prefer posturing to participation. Rob’s manipulation of these morons for his own ego gratification is magnificently done. He mocks the fools while profiting from their foolishness. A true punk genius.

To their credit, the as yet enthusiastic all ages audience has next to no interest in such pseudo-musical fabrications. However, should they choose to rely on the clichéd poses of rock mythology as a means to sex and status once they achieve bar age, then they will ultimately prove to be easy prey for Rob and his successors.

The only note of criticism which I can sound against Rob is his failure to use his Terminal City* column as a platform to address serious social issues such as the reliance of every supposedly hip hangout on Bob Marley’s Legend of formless, gormless jazz to complete the family safe, fringe dwelling experience.

*Terminal City being a hipster Vancouver alt-monthly

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