DayGlo Abortions Live Porter Hall 1989

In May 1989, Victoria, B.C., shock troopers DayGlo Abortions brought their prosaically titled Canadian Censorship Tour to Porter Hall. The concert was part of a campaign to raise money to defend their label and a Toronto record retailer, both owned by 34-year-old Ben Hoffman, against charges of possessing and distributing obscene material, pretty much the Abortions’ entire musical oeuvre.
L’affaire DayGlo had begun a year earlier when a Ne­pean police constable discovered his 14-year-old daughter listening to the Abortions’ Here Today, Guano Tomorrow on the hi-fi. The officer precipitated a four-month police investigation, which eventually resulted in the first obscen­ity charges against a record company or music store in Canadian history.dude1
Also fingered was an earlier Abortions’ album, Feed Us a Fetus, featuring a cover image of a smiling Ron and Nancy Reagan about to tuck into a plate of bloody fetal material and such Bedpan Alley classics as I Killed Mommy, Dogfarts and Proud to Be a Canadian. As for the requisite artistic rationale, band spokesman Jesus Bonehead cobbled this to­gether: “We live in a world where people sell T-shirts at Ted Bundy’s electrocution. All we do with our lyrics is take the crazy stuff going on out there, stir it up into a different soup and write it down. Nothing we write as fiction is any worse than what’s actually happening out there.”
The band would plead guilty only to the use of satire in their songs, although with lyrics like “Holy moly, my shit stinks,” they wisely stopped short of invoking the spirit of Jonathan Swift. If, however, the Abortions had claimed merely an attempt to épater les bourgeois, they could certainly have been judged a success. In terms of publicity and consequent record sales, Bonehead likened the Nepean prosecution to winning the lottery. When 450 expectant fans turned up at Porter Hall, vocalist Cretin kicked off the evening by wel­coming “all the undercover police who paid good money to come and see us tonight.” Not a single police officer shed that anonymity, and for both the band and an Ottawa Citizen reviewer, the evening proved less than arresting.CRETIN
“The DayGlo Abortions offered a wall of thrashing, hardcore white noise of the generic and disposable type,” wrote Roch Parisien in the next day’s newspaper. “In other words, much ado about nothing.” Parisien was particu­larly dismissive of the band members for having skipped their own anti-censorship protest on Parliament Hill two days previously to go out drinking. The DayGlos, he concluded, “simply don’t display the brains or talent to do effective social commentary. Not to say that stupid people or weak artists shouldn’t have the right of free speech as well, of course.” Ouch.
Undeterred, the Abortions popped up at Porter Hall less than two months later for another fundraiser. Finally, in November 1990, a jury deliberated for eight hours before finding the band’s purveyors not guilty. As Jay Stone astutely noted in the Citizen: “Rock and roll went on trial in Ottawa this week. It won. Rock and roll always wins these things, even though the obscenity trial of the DayGlo Abortions wasn’t exactly Alan Freed pleading with the grown-ups to let Bill Haley and the Comets play at the sock hop.”