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When Fugazi checked out into their "indefinite hiatus" (they are the definitive example of that tag) in 2002 following their best album to date in the form of The Argument, they left us as we found them - fully formed, vision intact and the band who never sold out, never compromised their morals.

The interest and fuss around the release of First Demo is no doubt down to a combination of the above; there are few bands who departed the scene just as they dropped their best work but that's what Ian MacKaye, Guy Picciotto, Joe Lally and Brendan Canty did following a tour in support of The Argument, to go and spend more time with their families and focus on projects that wouldn't take up quite so much time as Fugazi - along with Dischord Records - obviously did. I wonder if they ever thought they'd reach the 21st century intact as a band when they went into the studio for the first time as a quartet in 1988, given the short shelf life of MacKaye's previous acts Minor Threat and Embrace, while Canty and Picciotto had seen Rites of Spring split, reform as Happy Go Licky, and then split again. Teenage exuberance and barely contained rage at their restrictive Washington, DC upbringing had called time on those bands, probably at the correct points, but the chemistry was right this time.

First Demo is the songs that would go on to make up the majority of the Fugazi and Margin Walker EPs (or 13 Songs if you like) and just about everything is in place that we'd end up hearing in their studio albums from Repeater onwards. One of the first things to notice is the dubbed-out bass of Joe Lally and how elastic it sounds, like the strings are practically hanging off his instrument on 'Song #1' and 'Joe #1' providing the lolloping groove that would mark out Fugazi as a notch above anything which had come before on the hardcore scene, a nod towards the experimentation and jamming that would pepper the later records, but also full of taut aggression.

That aggression, often naked in the case of MacKaye's yelled vocals and guitar assaults, was also present and correct from the moment the band entered Inner Ear studios; where a track like 'Waiting Room' slowly revealed its brutal heart through scratchy riffs before exploding at the chorus, the aforementioned 'Song #1' is all breakneck, all the time, MacKaye's guitars as pop as they are punk, the same applied to the agitated anti-commercial anthem blast of 'Merchandise' - which still provides a rush of excitement at the point where MacKaye and Picciotto shout in unison "we owe you nothing! You have no control!"

The only thing really missing from First Demo is the impact Guy Picciotto would have on Fugazi; only taking the lead vocal on 'Break-In', Picciotto's role was very much in the background until he chose to take up guitar and use his Rickenbacker to find empty space higher up the register away from MacKaye's legendary white Gibson SG (if you listen to 'Twist and Shout' by Happy Go Licky you can hear what he took from his previous bands to add to Fugazi) and it's at that point, just months down the line from cutting these demos that we find the band completely in their stride, never to break from it.

In noting the presence of 'Furniture' on First Demo and on the band's final release of the Furniture EP we come full circle in the history of Fugazi. We're at the beginning and the end of the band's career, one which is clearly defined and unimpeachable - take this record as your starting point and move forward.

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