Thursday, December 31, 2009

What If Punk Is Dead?

I went to a punk show last week at 924 Gilman St. I am almost 35 years old and I still attend shows at Gilman regularly. We saw a boy who was maybe around age 11 and we were hyped. I looked around and confirmed, like I have a lot recently, that the average age of people attending punk shows has continued to rise. Where are the youngbloods? Where are the crews of kids rejecting the banality of the suburbs for the rebellion of punks shows?!
They aren't there.

I think punk is dying. It is not in danger of disappearing but it can't continue the way it has since the early 80's. The lifers like myself are still there and so is a huge segment left over from the multiple explosions the scene saw in the 90's. Fresh faces are few and far between.

Punk no longer has the attention of the young rebel. It is old news. With the internet, there is no underground. With no underground, there is little obvious difference between true DIY ethics as rebellion and slick viral marketing. Musically, punk isn't as shocking as it was created to be. I can hear punk riffs, screams, and influences in a lot of top rock acts. So maybe punk as rebel music is dead.

I mentioned 924 Gilman earlier. When it first opened in the late 80's, it took dedication to even want to go there to see bands. Now kids can go to the gentrified section of former-industrial Berkeley and go to Gilman set between a family mega-pub and a bourgie meat and wine joint.

I am not even sure many of the youths who would have been attracted to punk rock even want to genuinely rebel. In this post-modern world, rebellion is less a political act and more a choice of genre. I don't know what kids in the suburbs are into but if AP Magazine and the internet are any clue, teen rebellion/acceptance is purley about buying into styles divorced from any context (a la screamo crunk).

Maybe I don't go to shows that attract the younger crowds. I wonder what those shows are. I don't think the aspect of band and audience being equals that is core to punk resonates with young people anymore. Young people want flashy celebrity that they can dream of or aspire to be but that is always out of reach. Kids don't want a three dimensional "hero" they can interact with (and be let down by). They want (former supposed punk) Pete Wentz who is always on TV and marries the plastic-surgery-pretty psuedo celeb to have babies for TMZ.

We can keep carrying the flag. Our scene won't go anywhere except get smaller and tighter. I would love this rant to be proven wrong, if only because of the value I feel in punk as rebellion.


Blogger Ben Edge said...

"I looked around and confirmed, like I have a lot recently, that the average age of people attending punk shows has continued to rise."

Good. Then I won't feel so damn old when I go to shows.

6:27 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Maybe it's L.A., but I see a lot of younger kids at shows. There are times when I frequently feel old at shows and I'm 25!

9:50 AM  

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