One summer night in 2007, my parents actually allowed me to go to a concert downtown with my boyfriend and his friend. Though I had grown up on punk music, my parents fed me old school punk, and this was modern punk, live. I was excited out of my mind, one, because my addictive personality was going to eagerly indulge in marijuana on the ride to the show, and two, because I was finally getting to publicly express myself the way I always wanted to.
I was going to be on the floor in front of a hot, angry, screaming vocalist who was pissed off about the things I was pissed off about—parents, government, and people in general. Being on the outskirts of the pit, watching my boyfriend and his friend sexily maneuver through the punches and pushes—I was electrified. It was like I was on drugs, my body rushing with endorphins. I finally knew what it was to be free—to feel totally like myself, to feel 80 punks around me feeling the same thing, drunk, high, stupid, it didn’t matter, we were all one, we were pissed, and we were going to take it out on each other because there was no one else to take it out on.
We were young, barely out of high school, and yet we felt like we knew exactly how to maneuver the world before us. Pain. We smelled of cigarettes, whiskey, and sweat and we did not give a flying fuck. This was sex music, screaming, inaudible verses, the aroma of angry pleasure, and I fell in love that night, not with anyone in particular, but with the way modern punk rock made me feel.
Since that night, I have eaten up tons of punk rock albums, but I’ve come to love a few bands the most. One of those bands is Bad Religion. Bad Religion is actually a bit ancient; they arrived on the punk scene in the 80’s, and are still going. Greg Graffin’s lyrics are intelligent and massive, and there’s nothing more representative of the genre than songs like “You”, “Latch Key Kids”, and “Fuck Armageddon…This is Hell”. The fast, tight instrumentals that make up Greg Graffin’s music is the reason why I can’t stop listening to this band. I’ve seen them at Warped Tour, I’ve seen them at local concert venues, and I think they are best listened to indoors. They’re dark, they’re erudite, they are only explainable by playing their albums.
Another one of those bands is Against Me!, who can additionally be dropped in the folk punk bucket. If you’ve never listened to Against Me!’s vocalist, Tom Gabel (now Laura Jane Grace), you are missing out on punk rock gold. Gabel’s voice is raspy, screaming, gasping, and angry, anger being one of the recurring themes of this creative piece on punk rock and one of the recurring themes in my life (go figure). Like Bad Religion, Against Me!’s lyrics are honest, cerebral, and at times, painful; never irrelevant or boring. Tom Gabel, if you were wondering, is transitioning to a woman at this time, and I wonder what will happen to her extremely masculine and extremely punk rock voice. I don’t know what is going to happen to Against Me!’s future, but they are a modern punk rock band that will go down in history.
The last band I will mention at the moment is Propagandhi. A Canadian punk rock band, Propagandhi also has the intellectual lyrics that you might notice makes me weak in the knees. Political, vegan, and like I said, Canadian, Propagandhi probably wouldn’t be popular with my parents or grandparents, but I sware to God, seeing them live was one of the most religious experiences I have ever had.
Punk rock has been and will always be a part of my life. It takes me away from the depression and anxiety that I often feel. Although anger is not usually a good emotion, it has allowed me, in many ways, to cope with the other things I feel, like sadness and fear. Maybe that’s what we all are doing, silly punk rockers. I don’t care though, no matter what, I’m always here, because I’m true punk rock, I’m fucked up, I admit it, but unlike a lot of people in the scene in the area, I’m choosing to do something constructive about it; I’m making my life mine, I’m going to find ways to tolerate the people I hate. You can’t be an adult and be totally shut off from the world, unless you have some great job and house that I haven’t been privy to. At this point in my life I’m learning to juggle my feelings of aloneness and frustration with feelings of positivity and constructivism. I guess I just have to jump in the pit. Maybe I’ll get banged up, but I’ll be me, the elbow-throwing badass.