where I belong

Juancho feels compelled to hop on a bike and ride it all over creation in 105 degree heat. My mama just has to get out in the garden, stooping and pulling and weeding and fighting enemy species invasions. Some folks are compelled to climb mountains. Some find themselves playing the same video game over and over to perfect a handful of skills that only apply to that situation. Seems like everyone feels some pull, has some inner drive to do this certain thing, even if it sounds completely batshit insane to everyone else.

I guess that's why I spent a few hours last night in a wood-and-tin shed downtown, near the homeless shelter, sweating rivers and losing my hearing. There's something pure about a do-it-yourself punk or oi or hardcore show. I don't mean all our motives are pure - ask any independent musician why he or she does what they do and you'll get answers like "I just want to get fucked up and make loud noises" or "to piss people off" or "to get laid." I mean, a bunch of folks want to hear a certain band that's on the road. They contact the musicians and make plans for a show. They borrow or rent a space, do a little fliering and spread the word. Ask a few local acts to jump in. Maybe they get a keg. Stick someone at the door to collect a few bucks from everyone to help out with gas money or whatever. Set up some PA and let 'er rip.

Next thing you know, people who, in their day to day life, take shit as kitchen workers or state employees or yard guys are singing their lungs out, throwing each other around a dirty room with no ac, burning off all the pent up frustration and energy we deal with in this society to the sounds of their favorite bands rocking out. Even when my feet ache from standing in boots on concrete, even when I catch an elbow in the belly or get knocked off my feet by 250 pounds of excited hardcore guy, even when the beer is warm and the microphones barely work and the headliners are broken down somewhere in Valdosta, it's worth it.

There's no money to be made in the scene I love. World famous musicians live in shitty trailers in the dirt near Stark or rent one bedroom apartments in Jersey or share a punk house with 15 other guys in Portland. There's something in it that's like being part of a particularly charismatic backwoods church. Talking in tongues, rolling on the floor in ecstasy, uniting in fellowship for ideals above and beyond our real lives. A lot of kids come in and out of the scene - they spend a time here and grow out of it, find a place in mainstream life where they can be comfortable and get what they need. But I can't imagine not being part of it. I don't jump in the pit any more - bad knee - but someone needs to document the shows, interview the bands, record our history.

Honestly, though, that's just rationalization. It's not making zines that keeps me going to shows. It's the feeling you get when you're crammed up against the lead singer with a brother or sister on every side, each of you shouting along, part of something grand.


EDP said...

Ah, to be young! I think there is something primal (and very healthy) about this. It's great that you're writing about this scene, because people like me would never know about it otherwise.

downtown guy said...

You know, I suspect you and I are close to the same age.

I like to think about all the weird little pockets of culture and subculture going on all the time that none of us know about. The mainstream is shallower than we think, I suspect.

Ms. Moon said...

That was a nice window into another culture. Good writing.

downtown guy said...

It's a heck of a scene, but I love it.