Too Old for Punk Rock?

prop1I’m a fan of punk rock. It’s been in my blood since the first time I heard it. I was 13 or 14 in my soccer coach’s truck and he was rocking some type of music that I had no idea existed. Remember, I grew up in St. George. It was a sound of melodic gravel being pounded by a hammer. I loved it. It gave expression to the confusion and angst that I felt growing up in a small town in Utah.

Coach said, “It’s either Op Ivy or Propagandhi. I don’t remember.”

I went to the record store and found Operation Ivy. And then wore out my Discman listening to every song, over and over again. I couldn’t get enough. I would fall asleep with the drums beating in my ears.

It wasn’t until I was 15 or so that I finally found a Propagandhi album. There were a lot of songs that made me feel confused. I didn’t understand what exactly they were talking about. They questioned things that were so concrete in my world that I wasn’t sure what to do with them, except to keep listening. I rocked How to Clean Everything for months on end. It sounded shitty as hell in my beat up ’72 Chevy pick up with a cd player somehow attached to the dash. Don’t ask where the deck came from, but I rocked it nonetheless with hopes that everyone would hear it and know. What? I’m not sure, but there was something there.

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I’ve seen Propagandhi twice now.

The first time was in Las Vegas with Sir Gurr. They were supposed to be opening a new venue but due to the lack of that venue being ready, at the last minute they switched to a new place. I got the address and gave it to the cab driver who took us there. I was sure it was wrong until we opened the doors and heard the drums. Thanks cabbie.

The venue was in a strip mall. Next door was some kind of motorcycle chop shop and there were multiple bikes lying around in different levels of disassembly. There were various people hanging out around the doors, smoking and doing their thing. The doorman took my money and we went inside. There was maybe 50 people there and even with the small crowd it seemed crowded. Most of the people were my age, but there were a dozen or so young punks banging as well. The pit was small at best, most of the punks just stood there with a fist in the air and singing along. I’d be lying if I said my faith in humanity wasn’t restored whilst listening to some 14 year old kid sing Flensing of Sandor Kats. It felt like a small local show, but everyone knew the words and the drummer didn’t suck

This was immediately after they released Supporting Caste.

I have been trying to get to another show ever since. I saw they were playing the western US in the spring and threw up an invite to anyone interested. KB isn’t a big fan of punk music. Jamon quickly responded that he was and we started to lay the foundation for a plan to meet up and see both of the shows in Colorado. Somehow that all fizzled and we never went.

A few weeks ago, he sent me the above video with some commentary about regrets for having missed the above mentioned show. I watched the set and responded likewise. Within a few days, Jamon had found another show in Santa Ana and the plan came back to life, just on the other side of our state.

prop2We drove six hours, one way to see these guys. Was it worth it? Absolutely. Would I do it again tomorrow? Em, maybe not tomorrow.

We arrived in Santa Ana a few hours before the show. We found a brewery, had dinner and some beers and then walked to the venue which happened to be in the middle of some business center. Everything was quiet and closed on a Sunday before Memorial Day, everything except the hive of energy around the Observatory. There were a lot of 30 somethings mulling around in black. Some with tattoos, some without. The bar was selling veggie burgers and $9 PBR.

We watched the opening bands from the balcony. I always assumed standing around was a Utah thing, but no one even thought about running in circles. I took a picture of the people standing directly in front of the stage and not moving.

And there was this guy on the level just above the floor. He was leaning against the railing and then doing push ups. He seemed like he was trying to warm up. As soon as the second band quit playing there was a surge toward the pit. People came in from outside. Those who had been sitting in other levels came down. The music started. The beat was fast and hard. I couldn’t help but move into the pit and run around in circles pushing, shoving, getting knocked down and immediately picked back up. There were swirling faces, sweat and the constant drum beat that kept us all going. Soon anything you touched was wet. The person in front of you, your shirt, that guys elbow that hit you in the face, moving. Friendly chaos controlled only by the beat of the music and how much you wanted to move through the crowd.

I’ve never ran a marathon while doing pushes and being constantly punched, but I think it would be similar to how I feel after that show.

And on second thought, I think I would go back as soon as possible.

P. L. and R.

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