Stiff Little Fingers is probably the most important punk band you’ve never heard of, unless you have heard of them, in which case I apologize for making unkind assumptions. (Be honest, though – you’ve never heard of them.)
Their debut album, Inflammable Material, came out in 1977, which was a monumental year in punk history; other bands who debuted that year include the Sex Pistols, the Damned, Wire, Suicide and the Clash.
Stiff Little Fingers has actually been described as “the Irish Clash,” a flattering comparison that was probably never actually that accurate. The Clash gestated in the London music scene, whereas SLF was formed in Belfast during the Troubles — no track on the Clash’s debut approaches the ferocity of SLF’s “Here We Are Nowhere” or “Alternative Ulster.”
You could also argue that SLF has been the more influential band; no one’s yet produced anything like “Sandinista,” or “Combat Rock,” while every wave of punk revival since ’77 has had a handful of SLF acolytes.
Yes, the band is getting up there in years (in punk years, they’re about 350 years old), and yes, these reunion tours can be depressing affairs, not only because the band’s so old, but because the audience, i.e. you, is too. But maybe watching some elder statesman snarl and strut for an hour will inspire you to dig deep within yourself and dredge up the last of your adolescent defiance.
“After seeing Stiff Little Fingers in concert,” you’ll type on your Blackberry on the Uber ride home, “I’ve decided that you should take this job and shove it, effective immediately.” (“Please disregard, I was hacked!” you’ll email the next morning after you sober up.)
Stiff Little Fingers, 7:30 p.m., Tuesday, Oct. 23, the Black Cat, 1811 14th St. NW; tickets $25-$30