I believe in the power of punk rock. Everything about it– the strobe-lit concerts, the cranked-up stereos and car radios, the teeming masses of all ages, races, and tongues– screams power. It makes people drive faster, punch harder, and roar louder. It carries the ability to reach into the depths of your soul and rip apart everything that is one-dimensional and bland. Punk rock is intense. Punk rock is dangerous.
Imagine walking into a punk rock concert. You are instantly swamped by dozens of lunatics clad in ripped denim, beat-up leather, studded belts, torn gloves, and combat boots. Madmen sporting shaved heads, sleeve tattoos, and multiple piercings are crowd surfing to your left. Tons of maniacs whom are practically held together with chains, zippers, and safety pins are headbanging to your right. And straight ahead, between you and the stage, is one raging whirlpool of utter pandemonium known as the mosh pit. Kids are shoving each other mercilessly and jumping into the air, colliding with each other in a frenzy of skin, sweat, blood, and bone. All for the sake of punk rock, which drives all of these people to be whoever they want to be, and do whatever they want to do.
I was thirteen years old when I was first introduced to punk rock. A friend from school named Kimmy brought me home one day to meet her family. They were different from the families I’d seen on television. Her dad was a long-haired biker and her mum looked similar to Joan Jett. Kimmy’s older sister had an ear gauge, which I’d never even heard of. The whole family intrigued me.
Kimmy showed me into her room. I looked around and noticed a large poster of Jim Morrison hanging on the back of her door. Pictures of bands, artists, and interviews that she had clipped out of magazines covered her walls to the point where the paint didn’t even show. All over her floor were CDs, magazines, and ripped clothing. She put a Ramones CD into the stereo, and that was the first punk band I’d ever heard.
Kimmy’s sister brought me to my first concert (a local band) and taught me “mosh pit etiquette.” She also taught me how to keep my hair spiked for long periods of time and how to make new clothes out of old ones. She gave me some of her old band shirts (the ones I liked), and I still wear those shirts today.
Over the next five years, I met tons of people at shows, practice sessions, and through friends. They were all different, and each person had something that they believed in, whether it was animal rights, anarchism, legalization of marijuana, or just their right to party. We all have one thing in common: we stand our ground, and punk rock is the glue that holds all of us together.
If you enjoyed this essay, please consider making a tax-deductible contribution to This I Believe, Inc.