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Punk is not dead, not quite yet.
There have been more and more murmurs overheard at 924 Gilman and 1-2-3-4-Go! lately, whispers of the fallen punk scene. Punk is dead. The scene is dead. Venues are closing. No one is booking. Conversation of how the community’s members have “grown up” and are now “adulting”. Music isn’t being made the same anymore and people are moving on, focusing in new ventures.
Well, tell that to the ex-frontman of legendary punk cults The Arrogant Sons of Bitches and Bomb the Music Industry! because he obviously hasn’t been given the message. We have found hope in the survival of the rebellion through the resonating grace of Jeff Rosenstock. The Long Island native has constructed an intimidating library of party-worthy anthems over his 20 something years of musicianship. Hearing his creations live is the celebration of life. His music is an escapists retreat to summer nights and long drives with friends, the stark realities of long hours and cutting it short on rent, of big dreams, burning ambition, and unrestricted creativity.
The sense of community here is palpable. The music is an empowering spectacle empowering the audience to jump, yell, kick, surf, hug, dance, jeer, and live. And the Jeff Rosenstock crowd is absolutely living. Showgoers could be found two-stepping even further towards the back of the crowd away from majority pit activity, a seemingly peaceful display of connectedness. You’re not going to find many party-ruiners here, for this is a sanctuary for those unsatisfied with our current social climate. A haven for times thought forgotten. What Rosenstock has been able to accomplish is rare, relevancy in longevity. His recent release of POST-, recorded by local legend and all around good-guy, Jack Shirley, is another Rosenstock gift to the perseverance of hardworking musicians.
Opening acts Lemuria and The Hotelier smoothed out the evening into every 2000’s kid dream gig.
Lemuria is the soundtrack for every feel-good indie movie that wasn’t ruined from overexposure. Somewhere warm between Zolof the Rock and Roll Destroyer, Hellogoodbye, and Tigers Jaw, the Buffalo four-piece makes impossible not to love your decision to buy a show ticket for a Thursday night. “This song is a new one and it’s a love song, as per fucking usual”, vocalist-guitarist-founder-awe
Turn up the percussion and distortion a few notches and The Hotelier rips a different kind of emotion through powerful lyrics and an intoxicating energy. They hold a presence that’s become too uncommon in the world of live music. There is passion here. The crowd digs in and takes over vocal controls at frontman Christian Holden’s request, “If you know the words to the songs you have to sing them”. He commends, and they obey. Holden is sick with upcoming tour dates in Portland and Seattle, but t doesn’t seem to much of issue considering the audience belts out every word with accuracy. There is silence when the music drops, the mood heavy, the emotion real. A community found when the alternative scene has been considered to be dead.
Some parts alternative, some parts emo, most parts punk, Jeff Rosenstock, The Hotelier, and Lemuria and are a testament of the power the music community holds for its members. A sold-out evening of power, emotion and hardwork. These are artists pursuing their passion for the sake of the art, telling stories that need to be heard to ears that desperately need to hear them. Punk has many faces, masks that look like Fugazi, like Descendants, like Femmes, like Kennedys. Each face important and fulfilling to those that have created a symbiotic life with its purpose. Right now it looks like Jeff Rosenstock and we should be so grateful to have him. The cult leader of ska and punk, Rosenstock may just actually be the champion we need to resurrect the fading memories of rebellious uproar and to inspire those who need a chord in proper direction.
By Dominic Baldizan