The Rich Culture of Poor Punks

Probably the most basic question you could ask a musician is, “what are your influences?” or more broadly, “what inspires you the most?”. These are questions whose answers range from the obvious, to the awe-inspiring. Naturally, a crusty, Hardcore Punk band would name bands like Discharge, or Doom as influences. However, you might be surprised to find that they can also draw inspiration from volunteer work. Not many people outside of the Punk community would guess that a lot of these so-called “freaks” are actually quite moral, and truly want to make a positive impact on the world.

You really can't judge people based on appearances, there's a possibility that even that guy in the TapOut shirt isn't all bad; you never know until you talk to him. Admittedly, I more-than-likely won't be striking up a conversation with any “bros” any time soon, but with me, you never know. I'm at least making the attempt to change my perception. We're conditioned to think that people in business attire are respectable, upstanding citizens of the world. In my experience, they're a lot more likely to be the ones exploiting others, and being generally dishonest. In my opinion, anyone who has to launch a campaign to convince you that they aren't lying, is most definitely a liar.

I have no intention of going off on a politically-charged rant here, but I've been screwed over by a hell of a lot more businessmen than all the outsiders, and “weirdos” I've ever met, combined. Not saying that our scene is perfect by any means; we've still got a lot of work to do as far as the “crab in a bucket” mentality goes, but for the most part, there are a lot of good people around here. There are plenty of people who not only love to get out, and rage at Metal, and Hardcore shows, but they have life goals that are sometimes downright noble. I find my inspiration in the wee hours of the morning, maybe after a show, thinking about the words, actions, and intentions of many of my fellow outsiders.

Society at large would struggle to believe the level of positivity on display at most shows I attend. To them we're all just drug abusers, losers, and wastes of space; mostly because the majority of us work menial jobs for low wages. Not by choice, of course, but most people don't want to pay for music. A lot of us are struggling just to eat every day, but never mind that, people feel entitled to free music, and they want it fifteen minutes ago. That's a completely different rant for another time, but my point is; in spite of the difficult times, and mental struggles, most people I meet in the world of underground music are very kind. If they are bitter, and angry about life, they usually only show it through their music.

If only we could get the “normal” people on our side. I know it might put a few people off at first, but I wouldn't mind seeing a little more cultural diversity at house shows. We're never going to be able to affect any real change in the world until we start actively listening to each other, and not rushing to judgment. I'm as guilty as anyone, don't get me wrong, but I'm trying to change. Call me a crazy idealist if you like, but I think it's entirely possible for polo-shirted suburbanites to connect with crusty punks over a few cold beers, and loud guitars.

It's all a matter of keeping an open mind, and acknowledging each other as humans first, before we even attempt attaching a label like “Punk”, “Metalhead”, or “Yuppie” to anyone. One could argue that we shouldn't even have these labels, but being descriptive counts, and sometimes you really can sum up a person in just a word or two. Having said that, we're all just trying to be happy, and live a fulfilling life, no matter what side of town you call home. Some people place a high importance on things like driving the “right” car, and some want to help animals, or work at a nursing home. Regardless of all these things, we can find common ground, and at the very least, be civil towards one another.

It might be a terrible idea to invite the gated community crowd to your local DIY spot for a show, but it could just as likely be a life-affirming, stereotype-destroying experience for everyone involved. It's not easy to change someone's perception, but not many things that are worth doing wind up being simple tasks. So next time you see someone who looks out of place at a show, make them feel welcome, maybe even start up a conversation. You can never be certain of how anyone will react, but you could miss out on a lot by making assumptions about people.

If this former self-proclaimed misanthrope can get out into the world, feel awkward, get over it, carry on a few conversations, feel humbled, and get inspired all in the same night, anyone can; it's only a matter of having the courage to be true to yourself. I know I've missed out on a lot just because I've let negative assumptions make decisions for me; doing things like staying home because I figured I would feel out of place. Truly, “erring on the side of caution” is sometimes just avoiding a challenge. Human beings aren't perfect, but a lot of them are alright if you just give them a chance. We're not going to agree about everything, and we may not understand each other's perspective at first, but I think if we all made the effort, we could achieve greatness.

2 comments:

  1. Hey guys!
    I stumbled across your blog a few weeks ago and I can't thank you enough for all the good reads I've had since then! There's both stuff where I see topics being discussed that my friends & I use to talk about as well as interesting new opinions about and aspects of being a socially awkward music nerd.
    Thank you!!

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    1. You're quite welcome, it always makes my day to see comments like this; thank you very much!

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