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Punk Rock: Mewling Kittens or Chainsaw Jugglers

Wow, I'm lazy. With the lockout in full swing I can't say I've felt all that motivated to get back into blogging, music or otherwise. Anyways, the following post has been kicking around in my head for weeks now so I'd thought I'd throw out into ever gentle pools of UTP.


A few weeks back I made a terrible mistake. While reading some news article or another on Punknews.org I sunk down to the comments section and floundered about in the questionable content that often swirls in frightening Internet eddies formed in the info streams of the .Org. One particular comment caught my attention that day. A reader of the site remarked that the problem with modern punk music is that is simply is not the dangerous music that it once was. I found the statement intriguing and since then I have been tossing it back and forth in my mind in attempt to gain a really thorough understanding of how I feel danger relates to modern punk rock music.


The best place to start is to try and look at the punk community from an outside perspective. One major thing that people within a subculture forget is that we are fully acclimated to all of our rituals, norms, and quirks. Sitting at Predators hockey games I find myself surprised when I overhear people react to songs like "Shipping Up To Boston" as if they were getting mugged at Disney World. Much like watching action films acclimates one to images of violence, listening to Star Fucking Hipsters day after day will make the sounds and ideas of punk bands seem all that less dangerous. All I'm saying is that punks are probably the worst people to decide if punk is or is not dangerous. At worst I think punk rock has an image problem. Maybe it is just Nashville, but it seems like anytime over the past two years where I've told people that asked that I listen to punk music that the very next thing they say to me is, "oh, like Dashboard Confessional?" So, punk has an image problem. Personally, I don't feel like that is really something worth worrying about.


Does is even matter if punk rock is dangerous? It is common to see complaints about punk bands writing more songs about whisky than politics and anthems for social change. The songs are still often blue collar and whisky just seems to be a metaphor for modern punk nihilism in the endless quest for catharsis. Still, we're talking about just one part of punk music. Sure maybe punk rock was about shocking people--I think if more people heard the heart and soul of punk that they still would shocked--, but I've always felt that finding a sense of community in a world that doesn't usually mesh with us was the ultimate goal. It shouldn't be surprising that group of young, progressive minded people pushing for change in a world that wants to wants to kick them in the ass would need their share of songs about looking for solace in bourbon. Who really cares if some guy over there wearing a Jimmy Buffet shirt thinks that punk music is dangerous? 


Once concern that I should address is if punk music should feel dangerous to the listener. As in, should listening to punk be scary sometimes? Hell, three quarters of the stuff that Peter plays on the podcast freaks me out. So when someone complains about not being challenged enough by their music... well, either go find some new bands, stop being jaded and find a little happiness, or watch some X-Files and see if syncs up with the latest Chotto Ghetto album. Sometimes artists will do it for you. For example the new P.O.S album is freaky. It is so different from anything that he's ever done that it really challenges the fan to sort and process the music. Its unpleasant sometimes but invigorating in a way.


I think I might have summed this entire post up more than I intended, but that's alright. Better to be concise than long-winded. My message is really to just listen to what you love. If you get to telling yourself that what you need isn't out there then you've given up too soon. At the end of the day if you still haven't found something that is dangerous and sort of scary then there is always Emilie Autumn.


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