Punk isn’t dead. It’s getting drunk backstage.
The Buzzcocks have fueled the fire of this angst-ridden genre since the 1970s. However, backstage at their Webster Hall show, the youngsters were carrying the torch of punk.
Last Friday, June 9, decked out in my most riot grrrl outfit—a torn t-shirt and plaid schoolgirl mini-skirt—I was ready for the infamous chaos of Buzzcocks. These guys have played and partied with the likes of The Sex Pistols, The Damned, and Siouxsie and the Banshees. Even though they’re all in their 60s, their reputation is still intimidating.
The VIP section was segregated by age. The elder punk rock statesmen were on one side of the balcony, while the younger ones were way across on the other side. So, the green rooms were very far away from each other.
I was ready for old school, Buzzcocks punk rock debauchery. I felt pretty ripped off getting sent to the kid’s table.
As I trotted off to the other side like a kid being sent to their room, I felt like screaming back at them, “I’m an adult now, dad. You can’t tell me what to do anymore, mom.”
Thankfully, when I entered the young bands’ green room, I got the punk rock experience I was looking for.
Openers The So So Glos and Stuyedeyed, were more than welcoming while hanging around with their instruments, drinking PBRs. I felt like, “hey, this is what punk rock really is.” Mirrors covered the walls of the cozy green room, making it appear like there were more people hanging around than there actually were. It made the air feel extra friendly. Even though I’d never met The So So Glos before, we chatted like we were long time friends.
The So So Glos have a reputation of being awesome. They started the popular Brooklyn DIY venue Shea Stadium that tragically had to shut its doors this year. (Help bring back Shea Stadium here.) Their pop-punk sound, performance and even their banter in-between songs, throws you back to the early 2000s. Songs calling out the government for their bullshit, all to a defiant and peppy beat with catchy group vocals that make you want to shout along? Yes, please.
It was a treat getting to know these guys backstage. Stuyedeyed, on the other hand, were a bunch of assholes.
Totally kidding. I love those guys. Brooklyn-natives through and through, they’re super-friendly and high energy rockers who own every stage they step on. Even in venues with fenced off pits like Webster Hall, frontman Nelson Espinal finds his way into the scrum of the crowd.
Backstage was a good time. We drank, pranked each other, danced and took some mirror selfies. It really felt like everything that punk rock stands for was hanging out in that room getting drunk with us.
It was energizing to experience these two bands before Buzzcocks, because to be honest if Buzzcocks’ songs weren’t riotous on their own, I would’ve gotten a little bored.
Don’t get me wrong, I love the Buzzcocks, and maybe I was still a little salty from being separated from them backstage, but they were too laid back for me onstage. For a band known for breaking guitars and other unlucky gear on stage and shouting “fuck you” to the crowd, they didn’t really move around at all.
You can’t blame them though. They’re much older and wiser now, so they probably figured out that breaking expensive equipment wasn’t the smartest or most economically responsible thing to do.
Nonetheless, it was still a great show. Longtime guitarist Steve Diggle lifted that guitar and pointing into the crowd and frontman Pete Shelley belted into the mic. Though it most likely wasn’t anything like their live performances during the height of their career, it was still very much punk rock.
Being able to see these three generations of punk rock in one night was refreshing and some could even say, educational. The energy of the young Stuyedeyed, the adolescent angst of The So So Glos and, of course, Buzzcocks’ reminder of where it all began taught me that punk rock has no age.
To top the night off, the ice cream truck was waiting outside the venue after the show for all us youngins. Of course the kids of Stuyedeyed ran up to it and excitedly ordered their vanilla and chocolate swirls on a cone with extra sprinkles. “Someone get me a strawberry shake,” shouted Stuyedeyed guitarist, Andrea Scanniello, as if she were the little sister of the band.
I think us young punk rockers have earned some ice cream since we’re the next generation in charge of keeping the punk spirit alive.