Punk Rock’s not dead! It’s only sleeping (Part I)

Image captured from Freaks and Geeks (Episode 15)

Punk Rock. A music genre once prominent in the growls of pissed-off youth seems to be dying… But is it?

The music of anger and angst looms in the catacombs of small-towns, and lurks in grime-filled bars. Punk thrives in a dungeon-esque environment. Dark and dreary. Hidden. The music may be loud, but its impact seems to be quiet. Although still alive, punk rock seems to be subsiding. It is not as easy to find on a mainstream level.

That may sound counterintuitive to what punk rock is, but by mainstream, I mean well-known.  Punk will never be mainstream. That is the complete opposite of its intention. However, Punk throughout history has at least been noticed. Until now.

When was the last time you heard a really great and new punk album that was noticed on a large-scale level?

I am sure there are specific examples of a new punk record that hits all the right notes and handles all of those delicate screams very well.

However, the more I hear people talk about punk, the more it seems that punk is something of the past. What are your favorite bands? “I really like the Sex Pistols.” Yeah, so do I. Everyone does. The Dead Kennedy’s. The Misfits. The Descendents. Bad Brains. The Circle Jerks. The Damned.

Right, yeah. We get it. These are the best punk bands. All of these bands are important, and all of these bands deserve every bit of praise they have received. However, these bands are old. They’re almost as old as the people they were fighting against, if not older.

Glenn Danzig, lead singer of The Misfits is 60 years old. 60 fucking years old. The Misfits’ first album was released in 1982. Ronald Reagan, the supreme leader of the USA at the time, and a main target of punk anger, was 51. Glenn Danzig is older now than the man he most likely hated.

That is not to say that just by being old, you are outdated. It is also not to say that being in-style means being young. However, Glenn Danzig has aged, and so has punk rock. Eventually Glenn will die, and maybe punk has already passed away.

Some music critics and fans believe that true punk rock died with the rise of pop-punk. Punk rock was never meant to be played on mainstream radio, but with the rise of grungy guitar chords, interlaced with melodies, perpetrated the idea that being badass could be commercialized.

It is true that being ‘badass’ has been used for monetary means before. Just look at the fighting industry in sports. Kicking ass and taking names is a moneymaker. However, was the intention of punk to make money?

Or did the rise of pop-punk and groups such as Green Day, Nofx, and Blink-182 lead to this melodic money-making malaise? Was punk truly concerned with commercialization? Or was it this subgenre that took advantage of angst, but did so by means of standardized melody?

However, I don’t think it is all pop-punk’s fault. I am not placing the blame solely on one subgenre. Pop-punk is very interesting in its own right, and there is a lot to be said about anger and angst portrayed through a lighter lens.

However, I do believe that punk may have had its day. Besides local music scenes, punk rock has essentially died out in the eyes of critics – not that they really fucking matter – and it seems that punk only exists as a form of nostalgia.

The Sex Pistols were a really great band. But what about _____? See, I can’t even think of a fantastic punk artist that is well known from the last ten years, let alone five, or even this year.

Basically, punk seems to be dead. But is it only sleeping? Has punk manifested itself into another genre? Where is punk? And how do we wake it up from its shallow grave?

About Tyler Majer 73 Articles
Tyler works out of Peterborough, Ontario, and reluctantly attends Trent University. He loathes deeply, while drinking often. The cigarettes will soon consume his life. Read his poetry while you still can at https://aforeword.com/tag/tyler-majer/ while reading his journalistic work at this very site. I would say that he would be appreciative, but that may not be the truth.