Thanks for reading this. Before I get to the meat of the title I have a few things to say:
Cheap City played our first show last Friday in Portland and it was really great and fun. Wizard Party even said that I could be their fifth wizard! Wow! We are playing again at Fourth River Fest in Pittsburgh, PA this upcoming Saturday and then on Monday we are at WUML in Lowell MA.
This week I’m teaching at a young composers summer camp. The theme of the week is Electronic Music and we have a syllabus for these kids (up to age 13 I think?) that includes music by Aphex Twin, Kate Soper, and Stockhausen.
Anyway, last week I posted a brief blog called “WE NEED TO TALK ABOUT PUNK TIME.” If you didn’t read it and have no idea what I’m talking about let me just summarize. Punk time is a term used in the DIY community to describe things that don’t run on time. I told an anecdote about a show that went absurdly late and then talked about why I think punk time can probably just not be a thing.
The point of writing these blog posts has been more for me to just work on my writing and learning how to convey information. I’m not necessarily concerned with how many people are reading it, although I am posting about it on social media. I’ve been pretty good about NOT checking the analytics on the website because I don’t want to create a situation for myself where I’m getting stressed out about how many people are reading it. BUT the article got quite a few shares (relative to my usual traction) and I saw a good number of people post about it too. So I checked the analytics and saw that WE NEED TO TALK ABOUT PUNK TIME had well over 1,000 views. That’s a lot for me! Things got more interesting when people started sending me screenshots of their facebook friends arguing about it. Most of the arguments boil down to someone saying, “Fuck this guy, it’s punk rock,” and then someone else saying, “This actually kind of resonates with me.”
BUT I want to talk about one response in particular that I’ve been thinking a lot about. My friend sent me a screenshot of someone basically saying, “Yeah fuck this dude,” so I looked him up and read all the comments and spent the weekend really trying to think about them.
The first thing I want to address is a comment that doesn’t seem to be up anymore, but someone said something like, “Greg’s not wrong but this doesn’t bother me too much. I think the condescending tone of the article is much worse though.” That really bummed me out because I really don’t want to come off as condescending (although the more I’ve thought about it the more I’ve come to feel that any piece of writing that disagrees with the reader is probably at least a little condescending on some level). I don’t want to make anyone feel like I’m talking down to them. I genuinely want to use these blog posts as a chance to learn and if nothing else, I want to refine my writing as much as I can to not come off as condescending.
So the initial post in question says something to the effect of, “You’re complaining that you were there for an hour longer than you were supposed to be.” This person is referring to the DIY event that inspired the post. Let’s be very clear here. I was not there for an hour longer than I was supposed to. I was there for THREE hours longer and was ultimately not able to see the whole event. Again, there were three hours of content with two 15 minute breaks scheduled. So that means, that for an event that said it would start at 2 PM, even if it started thirty minutes late, THE WHOLE THING should have been done at 5:30. At 6:30 I had only seen the second act. So that comment leads me to believe that the person in question perhaps did not read the entire article but I could be totally wrong and they might have just misread a specific portion.
Anyway, I want to dig into some of the comments:
“Yo to be fair music at 8 ALWAYS means music at 9.”
This is true but is also the point of the original post. What I was trying to say is that, what if music at 8 actually meant music at 8?
“Lmfao punk rock isn’t orderly enough”
100% not what I said. People seem to think that professionalism and DIY are mutually exclusive concepts. You can run a DIY venue or a house show and still treat it like it’s a club show. That doesn’t mean that you need to turn a profit or have a green room or whatever (although I once played a house show where the person running it made this partition and like, guarded it so only we could go in and that was kinda cool albeit very unnecessary).
The first time I read the comments on this post I saw someone write something to the effect of, “I have a bunch of mutuals with this guy and don’t want to say anything,” which I thought was really interesting and kind of opposite of the typical response to anything on social media. But the comment isn’t there anymore which leads me to wonder if it was EVER there.
The major through line in a lot of the comments is that DIY shows are just for fun and shouldn’t be taken that seriously. I agree that there’s a difference in spirit when you go to a house show versus going to the House of Blues or whatever. But those comments also miss a major point of DIY. Let’s remember that the DIY circuit was started by a group of bands with literally no other alternative. DIY venues and house shows exist as viable alternative to mainstream venues. And while yes, they often function as social events, they aren’t exclusively social events, and lots of touring bands don’t approach DIY shows as social events. That’s certainly an aspect of them and of course I’m not talking about every band in the world here, but it’s important to remember that bands touring to DIY venues are often using the DIY community as a potential springboard to greater commercial success. So they often times actually are expecting things to run relatively smoothly.
The comments about these shows being social events actually confuses me, because I don’t think it’s impossible to have things run on time AND get to hang out and party or whatever. Ask yourself this. If you go to a club show with your friends, does the fact that it runs on time inhibit your ability to socialize?
“I feel like I have to take this article’s lunch money and stuff it in a locker.”
There’s a certain section of the punk community that has this rhetoric of, “Punk is this free space where we can say whatever we want until someone says something that threatens my concept of punk rock so I have to make a joke about violence because I can’t think of a productive argument or response.”
I think that just part of being human is that we tend to see things as all or nothing. I feel like a lot of the negative response to my article has been based around people thinking that I want to take the fun out of shows, as if the mere suggestion that as a community we can run things more efficiently means that we all need to show up to concerts in suits and ties. Someone wrote that these are punk shows, not the TD garden, but all I want to suggest is this: WHAT IF we tried to treat a DIY show even halfway like it was a show at the TD garden. I fundamentally feel that DIY and punk rock are built on growing as a community. Punks love to talk about how progressive they are but are we really that progressive and inclusive if we make jokes about violence when we hear an idea that differs from our own?
If you’ve made it this far let me just try to wrap things up with some final thoughts. All I’m trying to suggest in my previous post and this one is that we, as a community, try something new. I’m not saying that if a show says that it starts at 8 that I’m going to throw a fucking temper tantrum if it starts at 8:15. I’m saying, what if we didn’t have to wait another an hour? A lot of the comments I saw were from people who seemed to feel that I was trying to create restrictions, but from my perspective I find that the insistence on these shows being strictly social events to be an overbearing restriction in and of itself. What if there was a happy medium?