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maybe punk IS dead

November 26, 2008

Husband and I have been to two local shows in the past couple weeks. More than we’ve attended in a year … or two.

Most recently was at Clearwater in Dundee. If you’ve never been, the floor in front of the stage is about six feet below the stage. It’s a pit. There’s a 21+ section that wraps around the pit on one side, level with the stage. Monday was the first time I’d spent much time there and the students who came with us acknowledged we were hanging out in the “retired punks” section. We nodded and smiled ’cause they didn’t know the band coming through the speakers was one of the best Chicago punk bands ever, and better than anything they’d see live in their lives.

I realize bias is a dangerous thing, and that it may threaten what I’m about to say. I’ve thought it over, though, and I’m confident in my opening remark: My scene was so much better than this scene. I don’t know if Your Scene Sucks makes tshirts with just that text on ’em, but I’m gonna check so I can wear it the next time I go check out someone’s band.

Husband’s comment sums it up perfectly: “It’s like watching puberty. It’s so awkward.”

Do bands just not sing about stuff anymore, or did I hit a couple off shows? Girls and music and the occational horror story set to power chords. What? This is how we’re spending our youth now? Where are the at least attempted intellectuals writing “damn the man” choruses? Where’s the group of friends and fans who know all of the words and shout them like they matter? Where’s the inspiration? The call to action? “This song’s about love?” Spare me.

No one’s even preaching to their choir anymore, and it’s left the choirs to talk about cell phones. Bands are throwing up banners with their names on ’em because it’s all about them, because they have no message. There are no ideas, so what do we promote? Us. We’re the means and the end.

Even the response of the crowd is largely selfish. It’s about the individual and how well he thrashes around. It’s not about throwing yourself into a pit, or slamming yourself against someone else. It’s not a group effort; it’s about me.

I could venture into all kinds of spiritual discussions, but it’s not even necessary.

After the band we came to support left the stage I held my breath hoping the Lawrence Arms would crackle through the strained sound system again. But they didn’t. So we left. There was a time I would have berated someone for leaving a show early because their friends’ band was done … but that time is clearly forgotten.

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One Comment leave one →
  1. tgpo permalink
    November 26, 2008 7:08 pm

    Great post! Like Jello once said, Punk’s not dead, but it deserves to die. There’s no heart in it anymore.

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