Seventy-five teens and young adults are crammed into an old smoky VFW hall. All the kids are slight variations of the ones next to them. They might have a different hairstyle or studs on their jackets. The smell of sweat soaks through the room. Outside at the ticket counter there are pamphlets for “Modern Feminism,” “Going off the Grid” and “How to Take Advantage of Squatting Laws.” There is loud music being blown out through small speakers. There is no stage, just microphones between the crowd and the band. This is a “punk rock show.” This is a community.
“Punk” was a response to the glam and grand scale of the rock music of the ‘80s and ‘90s. It was loud, aggressive and simple. Underneath that aggression was a call for change in society and what was considered normal.
Taman Eggers, a show booker for punk rock shows across the Midwestern United States currently living in Minneapolis, said, “It’s hard to define because there are so many different factions of it. They all contain their own rules and ideals. They all come from the same root, but have splintered off so much.”
The ability to categorize something as important becomes difficult when there are so many different communities that claim to represent it. The word “community” is the word that really stands out, however. Eggers said, “Community is what drives them together. They all strive for a community of like-minded people to work toward making a change.”
The longevity of a community that met in person to celebrate its ideals and music was not sustainable at the core. The rise of the internet has really made it a different place. Eggers said, “People don’t need to go to shows to discover music anymore or to meet like-minded people. They are able to look online. On one hand that is awesome: for people in the middle of nowhere, they have a common ground. For people in the city, though, it can seem like it is tearing it apart from the inside.”
There is a question of if it is still important, and according to Eggers it is. “I think that people’s ability to market themselves to a wider audience through the internet is great. The music style has changed, but the ideals haven’t.”
The mosh-pits and screaming may have gone away, but music is still at the core of what it means to be punk. “The music has evolved into Hip-Hop. A lot of what artists in that community are doing is important because, just like the the ‘80s and ‘90s, it is the disenfranchised that are making the music. They see change that they want enacted and have found a medium to preach that message,” Eggers said in response to the rise of Hip-Hop to take a more directly political approach.
Whether it be wailing guitars or turntables, the punk rock mentality of doing it yourself and making yourself relevant has always been important.