Various Artists

International Pop Underground Convention

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The brainchild of K Records founder/Beat Happening frontman Calvin Johnson, the International Pop Underground Convention was a six-day festival mounted in Olympia, Washington during August of 1991; assembling what the liner notes call "hangman hipsters, new modrockers, sidestreet walkers, scooter-mounted dream girls, punks, teds, the instigators of the Love Rock Explosion, the editors of every angry grrrl zine, the plotters of youth rebellion in every form, the midwestern librarians and Scottish ski instructors who live by night," the convention was mounted in opposition to corporate rock in all of its many forms, celebrating the indie aesthetic at the exact moment when it seemed most in danger of slipping away forever. This 22-track compilation assembles live highlights from the festival, and in hindsight it seems that the IPU may have been the pivotal underground event of the decade -- the assembled roster is mind-boggling, spanning from D.I.Y. icons like Fugazi ("Reprovisional") to riot-grrrl heroines like Bratmobile ("Punk Rock Dream Come True") to indie-pop sweethearts like Rose Melberg ("My Day"); all represent a different but equally valid dimension of the indie ideal at its most vital, and as a document of their one-time, one-place convergence, International Pop Underground Convention is essential listening.

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