There I was: deep in the heart of unknown territory, surrounded by unknown foes, ready to slash and die. My head is on a swivel, eyes darting back and forth, I was ready to spring into action — to defend my honor or my life. The cute redhead I had as a date that night leaned over and said: ” Is something wrong?”
“I’m not sure.” I replied. “I don’t feel right. Like something is off.” She looked at me, shook her head, pinched up her lip, cocked her brow and said something to the tune of “Just relax. It’s cool.”
It’s cool. Yeah, it’s cool. Then it hit me, like a tons of fat kid stage divin’ ass, it hit me. “It’s too fuckin safe.”
I was in Nashville, and it was 2014. I didn’t know the no-name band at the local punk rock show, but I had seen them 1000 times in other cities and other times. I was far from my home punk scene of Lawrence Kansas. Even though the Outhouse is long gone, and some of my favorite local bands are defunct, I still have a healthy respect for my scene because it will set your ass straight when it needs to.
Back in Nashville my date turns to me and says: “Are you gonna make it?”
“Yes” I said. “It’s just… It’s just I don’t feel like I’m gonna get stabbed or nothing.”
“Umm? Ok.” Is all she said.
“It’s too safe. I don’t feel any energy in the room. Nobody is into it.”
Punk Rock has become safe, and I fuckin hate it. See I’m from a scene that was dangerous. Punk Rock to me should be dangerous. It should be dangerous to me, to you, and to the sleeping giants of society that won’t see the revolution coming. Punk Rock should feel like you might get stabbed in the bathroom. You might have to boot party a Nazi to round out the night. It means vomit in your car, and sticky shit on your boots. It was visceral and greasy. There was not a god damned thing safe about it, except for your friends. But even some of those rat bastards would steal your mom’s credit card and bang your sister. Back in the day my scene was known for bands that were notorious for doing unspeakable things to farm animals on stage. Hell, one front man used to cram marshmallows up his butt. Bands were in your face and dangerous — bands like Kill Whitey, Cocknoose, Filthy Jim, Mopar Funeral, The Unknown Stuntman. God forbid that one night would go by without some dip shit getting his head kicked in for whatever we could think of at the moment. It was awesome. I remember tripping at shows, and having a religious experience in a corn field while D.I. or Toxic Reasons blared as the twisted soundtrack. It was an angry teen’s Valhalla. It was sheer bliss, and Anarchy, and unabashed freedom.
Back then you had to prove it. When rednecks and cops came calling, you stood and fought them. When you caught the jocks and bullies from school in your world, you taught them a lesson. Frat boys be damned.
But now it’s safe. Punk Rock should never be safe. Punks were meant to destroy. Now teachers and moms have blue hair, and its kitschy. People with corporate jobs have tattoos and piercings, and no one bats an eye. Somewhere, there are real punks left. Street level. In a part of town where your blue haired mom won’t go. Somewhere, there are loud guitars and blood and beer on the floor. There is a kid writhing on a makeshift stage screaming shitty poetry over feedback and dull drums. There are scars and drugs and fear. If you listen to corporate “punk,” if you have blue hair and Hot Topic jewelry and have never been punched in the mouth by a skinhead — or better yet punched one yourself, you are not a punk. You are bullshit. Live a little. Start your revolution. Tear it all down. Safety is for the weak. If there isn’t blood on you or the band, it was a shitty show. Pick up a guitar. Scream to the world. Safety is for complacent pigs. Stand up for your freedom. Wanna be a punk? Bleed for it. Show me the scars. Freedom isn’t free.