Punk has always been about freedom, and freedom of speech in particular. It has a lot of the followers to the movement back in the day, often seen as the “marginalised”. Those who didn’t feel they could fit anywhere, those whose ideas wouldn’t conform with what society dictated and considered as “the norm.” They found comfort in punk, they found people like them and suddenly, their uniqueness became a strength. Instead of being isolated, they started to belong to something, against all odds.
Not too long ago, in 1977 in Great Britain, the BBC banned the Sex Pistols’ “God Save The Queen.” Even today punk rock artists like Pussy Riot are still arrested and prosecuted for defending social justice and protesting against unfair politics. In Europe and Western countries generally, we are lucky enough to be able to make use of our earned freedom. We are allowed to enjoy making and listening to the music that we want, or to go to gigs and have fun whenever we decide to. But paradoxically enough, ideas and lifestyles that go against what society defines as “normal” still have a hard time being accepted. It results in (silent) suffering and loneliness. That’s when it becomes crucial that artists like Nervus, Great Wight and Worriers come into play.
Speaking about self-assertion, being trans, living as a person of color in America, or simply wanting to create genuine, meaningful relationships with the others; these are some of the few bands who created safer spaces for everyone to feel comfortable and understood. It all comes with a sense of belonging to a community, where everyone exist in their uniqueness. You will always feel closer to someone at a punk show because when there is nothing but a basement hosting a band whose music truly speaks to you, it creates a bond between individuals attending. This is what happened a few weeks ago.
It’s a week night – the kind of week night when you’re exhausted and jaded and just wanna sleep – when we hit our local basement venue to catch three amazing bands: Great Wight, Nervus and Worriers.
All of them bring up anxiety and the idea of struggling with your identity in their songs, all in different ways, while also celebrating those identities and owning them. They all tell the tale of what it’s like to be a misfit in this music scene, but also in this world. While you might be privileged on that end, you probably have a friend who had to deal with bullies because of their sexuality, their gender identity, their racial identity, their appearance or else, whether it was at a show or in another situation where they should’ve felt comfortable. And we sure hope you wish, like we do, that life was easier for everyone and idiots wouldn’t add violence to our own insecurities or anxiety.
Something else these bands have in common is the sense of ease they immediately bring when you listen to their music. It’s a weird thing to put into words, but no matter the theme of the song, their sounds are like comfy blankets for your heart (wait… are we going too far with this?) These three bands also manage to always make their shows positive, love-filled bubbles that we certainly all need.
Great Wight does that by making their lyrics incredibly relatable. Paradoxically, they sometimes do this by bringing up niche references, but that’s the magic ability of our music scene (Modern Baseball anyone ?) One that really hit home for us was that line in “It Turns Out There Aren’t Many Perks of Being a Wallflower”: I went to the Tiny Moving Parts show last night and I swear that it changed my life. This line, and so many others in the band’s debut album, sounds like it could be an excerpt from our group chat. And that is pretty neat. The NY combo also spreads cheer and laughs in any circumstance, no matter how sick their singer feels (hope you feel better by now Erik!)
When it comes to Nervus, the trick is definitely in the anthemic choruses and frontwoman Em’s assured stage presence. The band has incredibly infectious melodies and brutally honest lyrics, which is the best of both worlds for sure. Nervus recounts the struggles but also the joy and satisfaction of figuring out your identity, especially as a trans person, and their songs really take an even broader dimension live. We obviously can’t forget to acknowledge their keyboardist’s dance moves, who never fail to brighten the night.
By the time Worriers took the stage, we were feeling warm and fuzzy from the love and respect in the room. That’s when some people decided to invade others’ personal space and kind of ruin the mood for a second. Luckily, this minor incident ended pretty quickly and smoothly, which is not the case at every show we attend. Lauren Denitzio and their friends then resumed to shower us with infectious guitar hooks and everlasting resilience. We were left not knowing what got us feels quicker, the melodies or the lyrics. Probably a mix of both. The ending point being that we were definitely moved.
This night reminded us that our community is stronger than any type of hate, and that -no matter how hard some people try to make us think that- punk is NOT about having a place to blow some steam by hitting random people. Punk is about expressing yourself and having a great time however you want to, while respecting people around you.
PS : Shout out to Em for playing live with all three bands that night !
Words : Gaëlle P. , Jeb & Mary