Features

Punk in a Pandemic

The last time I experienced live music, not through a screen, was early February at an Artisan Market. Among the typography prints and steampunk accessories was the wailing of guitars and a lone headbanger. As the night drew on and the draft beer (I did not consume because I am y’know… A minor) flowed, those once lonesome Chuck Taylor Converse turned into a small mosh as the Blink-182 covers continued. I was amazed. It felt like a place where I and anyone and their mother could belong. This glimmer of awe would soon fall apart. 

At other shows–Between the nosebleeds, elbow shoves, and trying my best to get the greatest iPhone concert video of all time–I found solace in live music. It was a place where I was with my friends, I could be absorbed by the sounds and the sights… to just forget. “San Jose doesn’t really have a lot of opportunities for hardcore and punk bands to play on stages so to be seeing those groups play in way more intimate settings made those nights so amazing to be apart of” explains, Reise Moran from the band Wrip. But that small glimmer of solace was slammed shut, like the rest of the country by mid-march. 

Photo courtesy of Reise Moran (Pictured middle right) taken by Daniel Gutierrez.

“We were playing a few local shows here and there but we were mostly just touring last year. This year we had planned on a 6-month break before some heavy touring in the late half” said Ally from the band awakebutstillinbed. Like many in their situation, covid-19 impacted their schedules and plans heavily. Randy Moore, from another San Jose band, Get Married, had just gotten off a tour and were planning on working on a new record as well as another tour during the summer. 

“There have been a lot of tragic losses during this mess, Rest in Peace Riley Gale,” Ally added, referring to the loss of the lead singer of Power Trip. Who’s influence had spread all across the US especially with the hardcore scene. “I think for me personally, it put in perspective how important it is to know there is going to be music again.” 

Band awakebutstillinbed photo by Tommy Ly

“DIY is not going anywhere, hopefully, it’s lighting the fire in all the bands.” said Ally. Although we can’t jam out at the P&J and Grace Preschool, the San Jose DIY Punk scene is alive and well. “Since the first shelter-in-place we took that time alone to formulate ideas and songs for our next release,” explained Reise, who–like many others, is taking this time to really step back and see what they could be doing with this extra time. 

In the meantime, we should be keeping an eye on our favorite bands and supporting them in any way we can. Ways to help out that I strongly suggest would be buying physical copies of their music as well as merch, like t-shirts and sweater!

As for returning to normalcy, the consensus is just uncertainty and how it might be a little overwhelming. For instance, bands will be trying to make for so much lost time, they’ll be booking shows like crazy and pumping out releases. “I’m not sure to be totally honest… It’s really tough to see how something so polarizing and divisive is going to affect the future of the different music scenes,”  Reise said. 

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