The Meaning of Life by Noah T.
In the beginning, which for me was 2004, one of my cousins got me a copy of the newly released Green Day record American Idiot as a semi-joke for Christmas. It was at that point that my life changed forever, in one way or another, say what you will. Since then I’d gone to three big-scale punk shows (Green Day (I don’t care what anyone has to say about that. They’re one of the greatest bands of all time.), Reel Big Fish/Streetlight Manifesto, and The Dropkick Murphys) and started three bands, the first two of which didn’t go too well, though they were with good friends but at the same time were very… unfun and involved me playing Journey covers and standing on crutches without shoes in the middle of winter and watching the other two guys jump on a trampoline, and the third band which is still going awesomely (Don’t Freak Out the Bearded Dragon for life!)
But that’s not the point. The point is that literally less than two months ago I was living in Seneca, SC, a scary redneck fundamentalist upper-middle-classhole culture with no escape and nothing close to a place where you could go see punk bands play. It was the type of stuff I read about in books all the time and only existed in other places. But I heard about the Greenville scene and the Circle A Ranch and Hang Ten Haus and the Villa from Keith, whose house I stayed at on a Student Government field trip (don’t judge). He showed me his band’s, Tarred & Feathered, demo, and I consider them one of my favorite bands and still really have wanted to see them since then.
So thus it began. Keith told me to becoming social-media friends with Ryan, who is kind of the lead organizer for events in the area. I had to beg and beg my parents for about six months to take me, creeping on Ryan’s Facebook and showing them that he was a first grade teacher and that he wasn’t some crazy guy (not meant to be taken offensively), and that the houses weren’t meth labs and stuff. It took a while, but they gave in. So finally my dad takes me and my totally awesome aunt tags along. We get to the house and all I can think is, “Bob Saget, that guy has an Exploited patch! Crass too! And there are, like, NoFX stickers everywhere! And that guy in the band playing has a Defiance, Ohio patch sewn on his cap!” It felt as though I had come to some faraway place that had always been out of my reach up until then.
What surprised me more were the bands, most of the members of which couldn’t have been more than three years older than me, which is saying a lot when you’ve just turned fifteen. I’ll always remember that the first band I ever saw at a house show was Burning Bridges, and I nearly lost my shit for them and every band that came after that. It was one of the greatest nights of my life! Count Us Out played their last show, which was an amazing Green Day cover set where everyone was singing along. I was smiling through every set, which also included Rubrics and The Soap, both of which were amazing! But the last band to come on, Numb Luck, I had been especially looking forward to, having heard them on the internet before and instantly falling for them.
I walked in when I heard them doing sound check, and I helped them set up a little bit. They were putting blankets over the windows, for they wanted to keep it especially dark when they came on. I had no idea what was coming. When everyone had gathered in it felt like there was some dark ritual going on, for everyone appeared to be silent as the guitar started off strumming a cord and the singer facing away from everyone. But then an explosion went off, and everyone was going nuts! It was almost a bit scary, but that good kind of scary that deep down we all know we live for, the kind of scary that makes us realize that there’s more to life than what we know. The singer was slamming into everyone and screaming while the guitarist raged on with distortion beyond what most minds are capable of. At one point the singer literally lunged on his belly on the wooden floor and was grabbing at my feet, until he realized his mic had become unplugged and then he ran back to put it back in, but no one really seemed to notice.
Before the last song he told a story while he was wearing an air-filtering mask about a dream he had where the world was covered in wax and how his older neighbor seemed to be stuck in her tracks, completely frozen. All the while he was trying to light a candle he was holding above the heads of everyone in the room, and would spill the wax all on the floor, which he would clean up afterwards. It was beautiful.
A few weeks later I came back with my friend, my cousin, and her friend, for my parent were willing to take me a second time as a birthday present. I didn’t think that it could get any better than it had the last time, but I would come to realize that everything is better the second time around. It was better getting to talk to the people there and getting to know them a little better, thus making a lot of friends that I wouldn’t have otherwise. Through each set we danced non-stop, and it was perfect. The last set with Timeshares was the best. It felt like a good climax to such a wonderful night, and unexpectedly I was picked up and surfing, my nose a few inches from the ceiling. I got to Spider Man on the ceiling, something I’d always wanted to do since I was a child, and as I sat up there, beaming, I flipped everybody in the room off, all in good fun and in no way in bad taste, and some smiled right back at me and flipped me off too. It was a great moment, one I shall always remember throughout my life, and that I shall tell future generations of when I’m old and stuff. I fell in love with everyone in the room at that point, and it was a feeling that I had never experienced before.
House shows are important to civilization and keep the world turning. Thanks to all whom keep the Greenville scene going and to my parents, who have always supported me and were willing to take me to shows that no other parent would take me to.
Excerpt from Basements and Living Rooms #3: On the Map
On the Map.
About five years ago my friend Adam and I had a conversation about DIY punk in our current town of Greenville S.C. It’s a beautiful city in the foothills of the Appalachian Mountains, good bike culture, cool record stores and a lot of suburbs. I originally moved back here to teach the 4th grade as I spent a few years of high school in this southern town, I didn’t know much about this town’s punk rock history and I still think it’s because there wasn’t much of one to begin with. I was already involved in doing house shows before I moved here. The first two spaces I was a part of were in an even smaller town with even less of a DIY punk history, a college/old textile town called Greenwood, S.C. The conversation focused on one point; “let’s put our town on the map.” Let’s create a scene based on those that we have been influenced by throughout our lives. Greenville was a fresh start, a new beginning.
We wanted to focus on integrating as much of the younger/high school crowd as possible, because we wished we had a community DIY space or straight up house shows to go to as kids. Instead of the alternative in this area which is sketchy bar shows that have zero community involvement unless your community involves equates to heavy use of “real-drugs” and nu metal. As a rebellion to fashionable music and community-less spaces, we started our first space in Greenville. It was a gigantic warehouse that looked like an airplane hangar. We built a kitchen and made rooms in the air-conditioned section, while we left the back open for shows, practice spaces, a bike co-op and any documentary lounge. We knew what we wanted; a safe space that welcomed young people and since we were testing the waters of Greenville it was a sober space. It was a goal to book at least 2 high school bands per show. The search was on and luckily Myspace was king at the time. We were able to book bands like the Soap, Ditching Cody, the Francis Vertigo, Count Us Out, Throwback; bands made up of high school kids that brought out legions of their friends, which in turn created even more local bands. And furthermore are now our friends and collaboratively book shows with us. Every time a new person came to a show, we embraced them as equals and taught them about the space.
Of course, we had to kick out riff raff from time to time to protect our space and apparently we were intense, ideological and opinionated, but we set the tone of Greenville DIY. Together many people created a city where bands were supported by younger folks that come out and dance like hell with those of us who never will grow up. Adversity has faced us many times and we continue to fight hard to protect our spaces; we are on space number five now. They get shut down for all sorts of reasons, but Greenville DIY will never stop. Radical thinkers and great artists have spawned and thrived here; people are growing up empowered and alive! Some kids move away, yet we are lucky to find new punks yearly as they get older and find our scene. Kids have told me that I have saved their lives, but they have given true meaning to mine. I feel so appreciative to the kids that make this city livable and keep my motivation strong.
The reason I wrote this is because I believe you can do the same for your town. We are nothing special yet we have had some of the largest/most fun/inspiring shows I have ever been to. We pushed our own boundaries and took time to educate those around us. We walked up to parents dropping their kids off at shows and assured them that their child is safe. We called out our friends when they were being fucked up. And we never ever will give up.
A somewhat complete list of bands that have played in Greenville DIY shows (July 2009-July 2012): Ghost Mice, Max Levine Ensemble, Criminal Culture, Recreant, Sidekicks, Menzingers, Math the Band, Timeshares, Puberty Wounds, MC Homeless, Fairy Boy and the Original Suckers, Fat Shadow, Delay, The Blue Letter, Dark Castle, Imperial Can, Taxpayers, Spoonboy, Bridge and Tunnel, Sundials, Coke Bust, Spraynard, Moldar, Matsuri, Factors of 4, Peelander-Z, Dead Uncles, Iron Chic, the Wild, Pullman Strike, Code Orange Kids, Xerxes, Nailbiter, Dead North, Waxahatchee, Elsinores, Tashtego, Zombies Did It, Weak Teeth, Aficionado, Sons of Young, Little League, Small Talk, 1994!, New Creases, Vacation, TRAGWAG, Dads, Suis La Lune, Fellow Project, Calculator, Pala, Still Glow, Gretski!, Laurel, Marathon Girl, Madeline Adams, Eric Ayotte, Toby Foster, Big Attack, Brick Mower, Eddie Brock, This Black Box, Sister Kisser, Pianos Become the Teeth, Former Thieves, Transit, Into It. Over It., Torchrunner, Hostage Calm, Ros Raskin and the Ricecakes, Moldar, Matsuri