Always Autumn
The sparely-lit stage of a punk show, camera moved during shuttering to create a purple and yellow-blurred portrait of a drum kit, a guitarist, a singer.

Last Night I Went to a House Show

This column is a reprint from Unwinnable Monthly #163. If you like what you see, grab the magazine for less than ten dollars, or subscribe and get all future magazines for half price.


Peripatetic. Orientation. Discourse.


After “Defiance, Ohio Is the Name of a Band

Last night I went to a house show and the vibe was off. Folded arms, cold gazes, straight couples dressed like they wanna be at a club in Williamsburg, which is to say “Kind of gay, but don’t be mistaken.” And they talked over the first two sets waiting for their friends who once had a great punk band that no one has time for anymore to play their set that was no more moving than the crossfaded vocalist on synth, which is probably why it was their last show. The problem with punk is, of course, that there are people who appropriate it. That go to house shows dressed like the queer punks who were the first wave of gentrifiers and felt some responsibility for that. And these straight kids stand there stiff, listening to music with no more enthusiasm than the people up front playing it until after the show Max had to yell “What’s the point?” all the way to my apartment on the other side of the neighborhood. But the last time I saw Tyler play, they told the crowd – half young trans punks in a Margate sports bar – Do whatever it is that makes it hurt less. And they yell hardcore songs about their regrets because, for them, it’s catharsis or just better than hurting. And we danced and we moshed and we skanked. And almost everyone on stage was friends with someone in the crowd. Would hold them up while they floated over the floor that night and again whenever it was they came crashing back to Earth. Had a lifetime ago befriended a girl that found her way to a punk bar when she needed a stranger with a violin to yell at her all the ways she was feeling in the suburbs and in her body. We talked outside a strip mall on that warm Florida night amidst all the legislation targeting those queers who still call the place they’re from home, leaning against that shitty van that probably has more of a right to occupy public space than any of the punks driving it. And the old heads always spend so much energy hating kids these days anyways, as if there aren’t young punks in other basements in the neighborhood and more often in strip malls across America going to shows because that is the one place we can collectively feel the things that need to be yelled, need to be shook from our bodies in dance, need to be knocked out by some stranger in a Pup shirt. And I think those kids at the house show in Bushwick could’ve found that catharsis, could’ve felt the sweat of a stranger start to tear open something in their mind. And I think that I can’t justify that my writing has ever done any good, can’t justify just writing about anime or videogames when so little of it, however you cut it, really matters. But maybe, I tell myself, maybe some of that is someone hurting less. I think what it could mean to form a scene around people doing the thing it is that hurts less – call it DIY, call it indie, call it avant-garde. What myths of a place could folk punk bands spread as their gospel? What will be the legends that inspire the ad copy of the third wave of gentrifiers? I think again that I can’t justify that my writing has ever done any good, but it hurts less.


Autumn Wright is an essayist. They do criticism on games and other media. Find their latest writing at @TheAutumnWright.


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