We Need To Talk

June 23, 2014

We need to talk. They say history repeats its self, that things move in cycles, and there's some shit happening right now that I've seen before. I know how it ends, and it needs to stop.

A few weeks ago I was at a show here in Boston. The show was of a much loved, much respected band who's been active since 1976. This is a band who I've personally witnessed turn an ugly seething crowd from anger to joy, covered in streamers and glitter. This is a band I've seen play more than 25 times in multiple countries, and never seen anything but smiles. Until last night.

Last night I watched as a small group of people shut a show down. I watched as a band were booed and insulted for caring about the safety and well-being of all the fans present, not just some meat-head idiots who thought they had a right to do whatever they wanted. I watched as this band explained that the night before, in similar circumstances, a kid broke his neck at their show in NYC, and pleaded with both the crowd and the venue staff to not let that happen again. I watched the crowd respond by pelting them with glass bottles, and the staff do nothing. I watched people in the crowd start to shout racist shit at the band, and go out of their way to hurt people in the crowd who weren't dancing, and didn't want to be involved, knocking them down, and stepping on them rather than picking them up. I saw people rush the stage to shove band members *while they were still playing*, and staff continue to do nothing until a fight erupted and the show was shut down.

I then listened to people call the band "pussies", "faggots" and demand their money back. After a set that lasted more than an hour. After no one did anything to help the situation. Because they thought it was the band who didn't "act Punk Rock".

I'm disgusted. I'm ashamed. And I'm telling you guys we've got a problem.

If you've been listening to internet chatter, you can probably guess who which show i was attending. Maybe you were there, maybe you think you've read enough to know what happened, maybe you saw something else. I don't care. Because this isn't an isolated incident. Festivals and shows around the country are being shut down or scaled back because of people intent on ruining things for everyone else. Punk Rock Bowling saw disgusting behavior this year, including someone shitting in the pool, and no one would be surprised if no one wants to have punk rockers back again next year. If we let things go on this way, we're going to lose every venue, every festival, and every show. We are going to lose every goddamn thing.

News and public media promote the idea that Punk rock is, at it's core, mindless destruction. Self destruction, property destruction, what have you. You and I know that's not true. We love punk rock because it's a music that speaks to all of us. It's a space for the weirdos, the free thinkers, the artists, the off beat, and the passionate to come together. And it's a space where we take care of each other. We have to. No one else will. When someone falls in the pit, you pick them up. You don't fucking swan dive on top of them. And you don't fucking kick them when they're down. Throwing glass, starting fights, trying to hurt people, screaming "faggot" and being racist, none of that shit is punk rock.

I probably go to 150 gigs in a slow year. I've been in this area a long time. A lot of the kids causing trouble last night I've never seen at a show before in my life. I'm not advocating for no new guys, and I'm certainly not advocating for vigilante mob justice, because nothing kills venues faster than fights, but there's a lot of misinformation out there, and we have to do something about it. Talk to people. Meet the new kids. Make it clear that we're ALL here to have a good time. And that means not hurting each other. It means respecting that bands are people, not dancing puppets to be shit on, and the same for other people in the audience. It means promoters being actively involved, and making sure there's appropriate staff at shows, and making sure people trying to start trouble are removed before they get the chance. It means supporting decisions that keep people from being permanently disabled, or even killed, and not lashing out at performers or venues for your own shitty behavior.

The Agitators said it best: "If you're here to have a good time, welcome to the show. If you're gonna be an asshole, we'd rather see you go."


-Jo Problems-

Big Wheel Staff Reporter

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