That was depressing. Far be it from me to say what is and isn’t punk rock, but what I just walked away from definitely had nothing to do with punk rock. Or being a decent human being. Tonight was Jerry Springer with a pop punk soundtrack, and it completely bummed me out.
I’ve been doing a lot to promote the website lately, across all genres of music. Free buttons for bands. Listing any show that anyone remotely interested in punk rock might like. Hanging flyers and posters all over the city. Tonight I made some nifty button/flyer packs and headed down to Altar Bar to hand out stuff after the Hit the Lights show. What I saw was a display of machoism, sexism, and dumb.
I got to the show entirely too early. Like 9:30. So I hung around and talked to people outside. Security and whatnot. I do have to say – of all the venues in Pittsburgh, Altar Bar has some of the nicest security guards that I’ve ever dealt with (even if I feel that the concept of security at a punk show to be unnecessary). I was encouraged by the genuine love of music I saw from some people that I talked to, and the desire to dig deeper into what this amazing scene holds.
That all came to a screeching halt.
Out of the venue came pouring a stream of obscenities, white trash-i-tude, and something that I’d expect to see at a Dropkick Murphys show. One guy yelling about, “this is why I go to REAL hardcore shows.” (As opposed to this show, which I don’t think anyone would even classify as a fake hardcore show). Another man, of about 6’5″ yelling at a small girl threatening to, “fuck her up.” At the same time, this girl was yelling about fighting six other people.
I have to give props to Altar security for preventing this from coming to fisticuffs… but the real question is, WHO THE FUCK FIGHTS AT SHOWS? Secondly, if a fight breaks out at a show, why isn’t EVERYONE in the building scrambling to break that shit up, including the band?
I remember an Anti-Flag show at the Millvale Industrial Theater in the late 1990’s where some guy was getting a little rough in the “pit.” He was warned twice for pushing people over, not helping them up, and throwing punches. When his dick-headed actions persisted, the band stopped, and I watched Justin Sane (who weighs maybe 140 pounds soaking wet) drop his guitar, jump onto the floor, and carry that guy out of the show.
Hit the Lights should have done the same. Unfortunately, that mentality is largely absent in modern pop punk, both among bands and fans. These people don’t really care about any semblance of a scene, nor how their actions affect the scene. They care about getting drunk and getting “rough” in the “pit.” Tonight at Altar Bar, things were kept in check by a solid security team, but what if they hadn’t?
We could have lost another venue, or the venue could stop hosting punk shows.
Someone could have been seriously hurt.
To the drunk assholes who were fighting (and I’ve been plenty drunk at Altar Bar):
– Don’t fight at shows. It doesn’t make you tough. It makes you a dick.
– Don’t talk shit about how, “that bitch touched my girl.” That’s sexist, possessive (and oddly enough, I know your girl. She could take the dude AND you).
– Don’t be a dick.
To Hit the Lights:
– It’s your responsibility to make sure that shit like this doesn’t happen at your shows. Let this be a teaching moment. Instead of standing on stage with your cute little synchronized dance moves and “whoa-oh” lyrics, put down your instruments, break up fights, and encourage your fans to not be dicks to each other. The scene is more important that you finishing your song.