Nowadays, all the punkers I used to know are either dead, retired or settled into boring “elder statesman” roles. I myself haven’t touched a drum in more than ten years. I’m still a holy terror at work sometimes, but if truth be told, I’m much more afraid of them than they are of me.
There was a time though, a million years ago, when we ruled this town. Or at least it felt like we did. And back then, one band supplied the soundtrack. Throughout 1977, the Consumers — featuring David Wiley (later of the Human Hands) on vocals, Paul Cutler (later of Vox Pop and 45 Grave) on guitar and John Vivier (later of Killer Pussy, Feederz and too many local bands to mention here) on drums — were the hardest working punk rockers in town.
The Liars would always be my favorites, but the Consumers ran a close second. Even though their sound struck me as generic, and much of their repertoire felt like it had been written in one afternoon (which it probably was), their shows were must-see events. You never knew if you’d make it through the night without getting your ass kicked.
My friends and I tried to get the Consumers to play at one of our teen church functions once. That went badly. The minister took one look at them and put the kibosh on the whole thing. But the hour long argument between him and the band on the front steps of the church more than made up for it. That was the kind of confrontation we all dreamed about back then.
Punk rock never really panned out like we hoped. Once it started getting popular and lost the power to fuck with people’s heads, most of us got bored and moved on to other things. In early 1978, the Consumers left Phoenix for Los Angeles, where they broke up before the end of the year.
Fortunately, the band recorded a handful of studio demos before they left town. I’m pretty sure the CD is out of print, but you can still find it online. Good thing too, since the demos capture them far better than this surviving live recording does. The audio quality here is pretty rough, and I don’t ever remember the names to half the songs. But it stands as an important piece of local musical history for those who want it. Even with all the confrontational posturing and “Children Of The Damned” antics of their stage act, the Consumers were still a hell of a band. They may have been small potatoes — just a bunch of posers from the hinterlands. But in their day, they were the best Phoenix had to offer.