Friday, June 09, 2006

Punk's not Dead!?

For as long as I've been going to shows (about 10 years or so) I've heard the phrase "punk's not dead" about as much as "punk's dead." It seems no matter how old or how young you are, people will always complain that "shows aren't like they used to be." I'm kind of in the middle age group, too old for the young new kids and too young for the old dudes. I've watched people come and go, luckily it's the good and sincere people who stick around for the most part.

I guess my own definition of what punk is and its relation to hardcore. Punk rose up from bands who were sick of disco and arena rock, and were more influenced by tripped down rock and roll than what was occupying the airwaves at the time. However, in a few short years the fashion and lifestyle seemed to take a front seat, and punk wasn't something hidden away. Around 1979 is when punk was more or less considered officially "dead." A lot of bands who were punk decided to add crappy keyboards and go new wave. However at the same time there were people who saw what punk was, and what it could have been. Bands like Black Flag and Minor Threat took to releasing their own records, and booking their own tours which essentially kick-started the DIY hardcore scene. A lot of people will try to tell you that "hardcore" is and always has been about being tough and "hard," not so. Hardcore merely referred that they were more passionate, passionate about their music and their community. This phase of hardcore punk was considered "dead" around 1986, when all the founding bands had either broken up or started to sound like bad metal bands.

So if punk died in 1979, and hardcore died in 1986, then why re there still punk and hardcore shows now? Simply put, hardcore punk didn't die... The people who were into it at the time lost interest and wrote it off. Rather than see that things changed, and make an effort to do something about it, people choose to move on with life. There are currently tons of people in DIY hardcore bands who tour all over the world, release their own records and book their own shows. The music can be just as raw as ever, these bands still exist but you have to put forth the effort.

Nowadays the garbage on the radio, while it may certainly be punk-influenced, it has nothing to do with punk. Operation Ivy said "music [is]somehow more than just sound," which I think explains punk perfectly. While these bands can get a fashion makeover and look punk, the fact of the matter is that a real punk wouldn't care about looking good for a photo shoot or making a music video. People view this as what modern punk is all about, and I can see where people would definitively say punk had died long ago. These new bands all over MTV2, regardless of where some of them were they have long forgotten their punk roots by catering to the corporate rock machine. Bands like Green Day and AFI at one time used the DIY touring network to tour the country and get their name out there. These bands then turned to the type of bands who play major label showcases and radio station festivals. Bands like this do not represent people who are passionate about keeping out scene away from those who want to exploit it. I'd say that the punk bands on the surface are so far removed from the ethics and values we have that it's not even punk anymore. There are still people who care, there are still bands that care, you just have to care enough to find them.

"If Punk is Dead, Then What The Hell Is This?"- taken from the back cover of the "Not So Quiet on the Western Front" compilation LP (1982)

No comments: