Editorial: A Punk Rock Song Won’t Ever Change the World, but I Can Tell You About A Couple That Changed Me (Or How I Used to ‘Kill the Cops, Up the Punx’ With Complete Seriousness)

Note: The title is stolen from a Wingnut Dishwashers Union song called “Fuck Shit Up.” The lead vocalist, Pat the Bunny, is in a new band called Ramshackle Glory. Support punk music, and check it out. Anyway, on to the essay!

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On Punk Rock and Other Stereotypes

By Vince Bellino

            The first time I went to a punk rock show was in 2011. I was a sophomore, and I saw my friend’s band open for the Misfits. I had no real clue who the fucking Misfits were, nor did I really think they were all that fucking great, but I liked the Croc and I loved my friends’ music, so I decided to go.

There was something about the crowd that I had never felt before. There was some energy to it that I’d never felt. Even my friends’ band, at the time fairly small still, had people circle pitting, moshing like crazy, and there was even a big wall of death. That was the first part of it that drew me in.

The second part was the clothing. No matter what they say, anyone who is drawn into punk rock is at least enticed at first by the clothing. Who can miss the style? The ripped clothing, the cutoffs, the bright hair, leather, denim, spikes, studs, and chains, it was all just something so new to me.

My friends’ band was very good, the other openers were nothing of note, and then the Misfits came out. There was just something about them that I loved. They embodied this wild energy as they tore through their set for two wild hours of wild moshing, crowd surfing, and dancing. They had a fucking awful show that night; they didn’t sound very good, but I loved the show nonetheless. I left that show bruised and elated, but that didn’t push me into punk rock. Sure, I liked the Misfits, I liked the Ramones, and I dusted off Combat Rock for about a day, but I quickly went back into my cavern of death metal, still wanting to be the next Corpsegrinder.

I kind of just forgot about punk rock, except for a few dabblings in the hardcore part of it, bands like Fucktard and Dangers, and some Agitator and a Minor Threat song or two (introduced to me by Slayer’s punk rock cover album). One day, though, I got a Facebook invite to see my friends open up for the Misfits for the second year in a row, and I guess it’s safe to say that that was the night that changed a lot for me. It was at the Croc again; my friends killed it, we saw another band play (who now have a patch on my jacket, and led to a million more great stories) and met some awesome kids, and then the Misfits came on. This time they sounded perfect. The Newtown tragedy had just happened, and Jerry dedicated the set to the victims, telling us that there was a special place in Hell for people who hurt children. They launched ferociously into another set spanning their catalogue, though it was missing a key song (though I can’t remember which), and we really went wild. The Misfits sounded fucking fantastic this time around, and I was caught up in a whirlwind of spikes, studs, and leather. I left that show with a newfound love for punk rock, and a realization that the genre wasn’t just people playing shitty power chord rock because they couldn’t play any better.

The following month led to me discovering bands like the Casualties, Choking Victim, and the Dead Kennedys. My friend and I drove out to New Jersey to see that little band who opened for the Misfits play, and I met some of the most awesome people ever there (yes, Ben, that’s you). We even had a set dedicated to us.

The following weeks had me growing my hair out again, hoping to either put it into liberty spikes or a mohawk, and patching a jacket (a dream of mine for a while), as well as the consideration of just saying “fuck it,” getting my GED, and fucking moving somewhere where I could just play punk rock.

When I found out that the Casualties were in Philly, of course my friend and I begged a ride out. I can’t explain to you how happy I was at that show. I saw The Casualties, Tribe Thirteen, Bucket Flush, Barbaric, and Common Enemy (some of my favorite bands), and the energy was just insane. Everyone there except for me was drinking, which was kind of intimidating to me at first, but they were all just so friendly to me. I fell in love with shows that night, and I danced the entire night, making friends with some of the guys from the bands and realizing that punk rock might have a permanent place in my life. We left before the “Oi Song!” but that’s okay, because that show changed me.

I quickly discovered Pat the Bunny, Mischief Brew, and a million other acoustic bands, as well as a ton of punk and hardcore music that I’d never even listened to before.

As I fell deeper into punk, I also found myself being sucked into the negatives. I had my first cigarette, I found myself listening exclusively to one style, and I wanted to change how I looked just to fit in. I’m so glad that I didn’t do that now. I thought about it, and realized that no one at the shows gave a shit if I had a bright red mohawk or not, because I was there dancing with them, screaming my lungs out to my favorite songs right next to them. It didn’t matter to them that my back patch was Death and theirs were the Casualties and Black Flag, or that my hair was scruffy and theirs was in mohawks and spikes.

I was also obsessed with the idea of running away and hopping trains, basically being a bum, just because Pat the Bunny sang about it.

My point with all of my rambling is that I think it’s important to realize that it’s okay to love a music scene, but you don’t have to change yourself for it. I now feel perfectly comfortable listening to punk music in the same playlist as metal and rap, and I don’t need to cut all of my sleeves off and cut my hair to be so punk. I just have to be myself, and have fun. You don’t have to smoke a pack a day of GPC cigarettes, you don’t have to hop trains, and you don’t have to wear enough studs to overload a metal detector. You DO have to have fun, and be yourself, and I guarantee to you, punk rock will change your life.