Revive the scene / Suppress the shingles

A band performing on a darkened under ruby-red lights before a packed crowd
Images by jj skolnik

Today: Activist, musician, and writer jj skolnik; and Laurie Woolever, author of Appetites, World Travel, and Bourdain: the Definitive Oral Biography.

Issue No. 70

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jj skolnik

Sweltering Past 50
Laurie Woolever

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by jj skolnik


I’m not much for reunion shows; there’s only one situation in which they’re good, and that’s when the band members are genuinely having a ball playing together again. There’s nothing more grueling than watching a handful of AARP members inhospitably occupy the same space while they run lifelessly through their most-loved catalog moments—other than perhaps watching one original member with three 22-year-old hired guns try to recapture a flame. (Lest one think I am casting stones unfairly, I am 45 and already receiving the mailings.)

The nostalgia cycle works in roughly 20–30 year arcs, and so my friends and contemporaries with whom I shared basements, VFW halls, squats, record stores, and other oddball venues that let punks overrun them on their off hours (dance studios!—an office for a cleaning service!) are now doing the reunion circuit. Some of them have managed to make a go at being full-time musicians, but most have day jobs. They’ve remained lifers, though, whether they’re going to shows all the time or not—in love with music, trying to bring the principles that meant something to them from punk into adult life. A commitment to building and envisioning a radically better world; a commitment to prosocial relationships and community; a critique of corporatism, capitalism, and bigotry. 

And so here I am at the screamo show. The lineup is Saetia—containing some friendly acquaintances—City of Caterpillar, and pg.99, who are also my age and who I saw play all the time because I’m from the D.C. area and they’re from Virginia, and Crowning, who are young screamo revivalists. We unfortunately miss Crowning, though I am told that they rip, they are loudly pro-Palestine (no art as usual!), and that they open with a nod to the Sears air conditioner ad, which is fucking beautiful, a perfectly elegant pisstake on their own ’90s revivalism and the ’90s as understood through memes. I love them in absentia.

It’s a paywall, but a small one

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