Monday, January 20, 2014

Abandoned New England Barn Punk Scene Update

By: Corey C.

White Load, Photo by Josh Landes
Harris, the front man of Glue, just got slammed in the face with a piece of pale green insulation by Steve Pid, lead singer of White Load, and now Harris’ nose is bleeding and he looks like Darby Crash, which is cool cuz that’s what he’s going for anyways, and now he’s singing from the huge gaping hole in the wall where Pid got the insulation, and he’s crawling up on this sort of ledge, a piece of wood that’s horizontally criss-crossing the gaping hole, and now he’s shouting from the top of this piece of wood, and he’s turning his back towards the crowd like he’s on the top of the ropes at a wrestling match.  He gets ready to Moonsault into the crowd, and he’s coming my way, and I try catching him, but no one helps, so he lands on my buckled right knee, back-into-knee contact.  It hurts him way more than it hurts me, but he doesn’t show it, and he stalks his way back to the stage, which is really a just an inch-raised platform, where Steve Pid waits again, this time with a hunk of snow, which he proceeds to stuff down the back of the singer’s shirt.  He’s then forced to strip out of his four layers and scrape the snow onto the ground and now he’s shirtless in approximately 25-degree weather and now Harris really does look like fuckin’ Darby. 

In the meantime, I jump into the fracas and spray the rest of my Mayflower IPA into the crowd and onto the hay and I do a little dance into the pit and emerge at the other end of the crowd unscathed.  Spectators who have been taking in the carnage from the loft of the barn start throwing hay from their elevated vantage point, directly onto the people who are beneath them, including me, and now I’m covered in horse food and it’s going down the back of my shirt and it’s all over my Red Sox winter hat.  I’m out of beer and out of breath.

I’m 26 years old and I feel the most alive at DIY punk rock shows.  When will I outgrow this shit?  My first moment of free time in months, with no real responsibilities, and my truest natural instincts demand that I drive two and a half hours from Providence, RI, to the back woods of western Massachusetts.  I land in a barn in Haydenville, a village in the town of Williamsburg, MA, twenty minutes northwest of Northampton. 

I’ll admit, I’m not a punk. I’m a recovering indie rocker.  (Hi, my name is Corey and I used to care about Pitchfork.) I’m the biggest squirrel in the world when I’m in a mosh pit.  I’m not in a band. Whenever I try to practice on my guitar I break a string and get discouraged.  Chances are, if you notice me at a punk show, you’ve thought about what a big pussy I look like. I don’t own a black leather jacket or punk patches or black boots.  My fashion icons are Stephen Malkmus, David Berman, and Mike Watt.  I work a square day job.  I’m in the middle of going to graduate school.  The only alleged creative skill I have is writing, and the jury’s still out on if that’s worth anything.

So why do DIY shows rule?  I’ve been involved in the torture chamber known as the “music biz” for a little while now, and I’ve come to understand some certain, irrefutable truths: fuck booking agents, bouncers, bartenders, roadies, ticket agents, middlemen, sound guys, promoters, record execs, A&R reps, door men, and any other dreadful, soul-sucking, money-grubbing, no-talent hacks that infiltrate music simply for the cash and the ass and the drugs and the scene cred. 

Give me a punk show in a frozen barn with a hole in the wall in the boonies of western Massachusetts.  Give me two punk bands from Providence (Power Masters and White Load), one punk band from Austin, Texas (Glue), and one psych group from Northampton (World Domination).  That’s right folks: four bands, five dollars.  Give me frozen toes, six roaming dogs, a donation bucket, a few bloody noses and black eyes, a trash can fire pit, a barely-working PA systems, and any other conceivable yet solvable obstacle if it means I can get away from people who are involved in ‘the biz’ for all the wrong reasons, which are most of people involved in music.  Give me the rare people who are there for the music, the intensity, the joy, the fucking fun!
Power Masters were the first band to play that night.  While White Load are the filthy elder statesmen of Providence punk, Power Masters are coming of age right in front of our tits.  Their music has evolved from a darker, tortured hardcore sound to a more fun-yet-still-nasty punk sound, a huge improvement.  They have real charisma and are a joy to watch.  Watch out for these guys.
As cool as Power Masters are becoming, they haven’t quite reached the levels of slop that is White Load.  They are the greatest and most underrated of Providence punk bands, three total douches whose music and blasphemy will no doubt be appreciated more in the future than it is today.  Their only LP is called “Wayne’s World 3 b/w Godfather 4”.  I’ve seen them play at least ten times in the past four years, and I after I always feel deeply offended and uncomfortable. 

Unfortunately, the Providence music scene leans more towards self-serious metal, noise, and art rock, and White Load have been unfairly ostracized in town.  (OK, so maybe some of Pid’s shenanigans go a little too far, but if you have any sense of humor, you can appreciate the benefits of his debauchery.)

For example: Pid likes to stalk the crowd as he howls into the mic, pushing, shoving, tackling, and throwing any and all audience members in his way.  His in-between song banter typically consists of him belching to the crowd “YOUR WELCOME.”  He’s more of a punk rock hockey player wrestler.
During Power Masters’ set, the crowd had stayed pretty tame.  But from the first instance of disturbing guitar noise squalls from White Load, the crowd launched into an obnoxious mosh pit.  The insulation, which had been covering that huge hole, was soon taken down and used as a prop in the punk rock game known as ‘moshing’. 

I can’t forget to note that White Load blasted License to Ill out of their amps in between each of their so-called songs, and kept the record going on another channel while they played, so every time the music stopped The Beastie Boys would be mid-way through ‘Brass Monkey’ or ‘No Sleep Til Brooklyn’ and White Load would play along and would pick the perfect moment in the song to launch back into their own hardcore attack on punk music and general sanity.  MCA would’ve been proud, and emotionally scarred

There yah have it, folks: another cooler-than-thou essay about a cooler-than-thou punk show that you didn’t hear about.  Ask yourself: why?  Who are my friends? What was I doing December 28, 2013?  Huffing paint and snap-sexting yr ex-girlfriend’s sister?  Watching Netflix with Honey Boo Boo while drinking sizzurp and smoking middies?  Ballroom dancing with that normal chick you met on OKCupid who looked like a 7 online but is really only a 4.5?  Face it, you fucked up and missed out on once-in-a-lifetime punk rock fiesta.  I’ll never letcha live that one down, bunky.

Listen up: it’s time to turn yr life around.  Stop going to shows supported by Ticketbastard.  Tell booking agents to eat shit and die, motherfuckers.  Refuse to show bartenders ID and instead show them yr rump.  Blaspheme every band you possibly can, and then go see them play, only so you can drunkenly heckle them.  Even drunkenly heckle bands you like.  Dance inappropriately, cut tires, spill drinks, light off fireworks, avoid people who takes themselves seriously, and generally always encourage deplorable behavior.  Then, if you close your legs and wish hard enough, someday you too might be a DIY punk rock king.  

Corey C. is on loan to us from his own Zine, What Goes On