BLAG, Vol. 18: (We're From The Future)
Featured Image is of Heterophobia, during their set at Chapel Hill's Nightlight on July 8, 2019.
In the last volume of BLAG, I discussed reunions. Or, how all this emotional and financial investment into our nostalgic past could be better aligned towards supporting the relevant present, therefore taking a bigger stake in our future. It’s not that I’m anti-reunion, but I wish just as much effort went forwards. Human nature fears the unfamiliar, I know.
To wade y'all in, here's a new song from recently reunited queercore pioneers, Team Dresch.
It's classic Team Dresch -- albeit a hefty amount of polish. While the band writes fantastic political ass-kickers, they equally excel at ballads, with politics subtly cut in by a turn of pronouns. Frank Ocean mainstreamed this in a big way with his coming out on Channel Orange, and it's been a productive 15 years for gay rights, so it's not quite the deep revelation. It's just another love song, and in context, that's comforting.
At the turn of the millennium, lots of attention -- mostly in the form of the talking heads documentary -- focused on the advent of US hardcore in the 1980s. You know, the 20-year retro rule. Referring back to these writings and interviews, there's a common refrain from The Greatest Generation of punk: who knew this was going to be such a big deal?
I’m now at that age where the dumb bands of my youth are garnering festival headlines and tremendous social media hysteria. It’s interesting to see what’s percolated, and what hasn’t. Most of these bands didn’t have this legendary aura about them then, and, for the most part, no one knew what was to come decades later.
Usually, we don’t have the presence to know what bands will go down as historically significant. But, occasionally, you come across an act where you know, at that moment, they’re special. I began this digression in the last BLAG, but decided to omit it -- this story warranted its own piece.
G.L.O.S.S. had a ton of hype behind them. So, when they announced a cross-country tour on the strength of an impressive demo, it was on everyone’s radar. Their North Carolina stop was at Static Age Records in Asheville.
I checked the event page to see if I knew anyone going. The discussion board was littered with carpool requests. That’s not unusual, but it was interesting to note that these kids were looking for rides from places like rural Tennessee, middle-of-nowhere Georgia, or non-Columbia South Carolina. Kids were coming far and wide for this.
I went to the show knowing no one, still new to this post-aughts North Carolinian punk scene. To compound the loneliness, I arrived at the posted time, not accounting for punk time. The bands were just arriving, so I pitched in a hand to help unload. I walked over to a gas station, got a six pack, strolled outside the Moog factory, then came back to Static Age to aimlessly flip through records as the crowd started building. Sadie Switchblade must have noticed -- she walked over to introduce herself and I thanked them for coming. Perhaps she was intuitive to that loneliness or briefly crossed that bridge between two marginalized peoples. Or both. Real recognizes real, to quote Waka Flocka Flame. Or Icepick. Eh, pick your queen.
In the idle time before the rock’n roll, I weaved through the crowd until it filled up to standing room only. A literal wallflower with my back against the wall, I noted the fire exits -- an artifact of going to shows around 2003 -- and people watched. I noticed the lack of black-clad Punx typical for a d-beat show. That didn’t surprise me -- the hype behind G.L.O.S.S. was starting to culminate in some backlash with the contrarians. Still, the place was packed.
Something caught my ear.
“This is the first time I’ve worn a dress in public.”
“You look so beautiful!”
“Thank you! I feel great.”
I looked over to the source and saw a crew of about a dozen really young kids, bushy-eyed and bright-tailed in that purgatory of awkward adolescence. I scanned the room and realized, it wasn’t so much a punk crowd, or even the queercore crowd from my own teenage years. This was a next generation of LGBT youth. Maybe some of these kids weren’t even into punk at all.
Then, I thought about all those carpool requests. The ones that trekked from far away. The gay and trans kids from rural Tennessee, middle-of-nowhere Georgia, or non-Columbia South Carolina, desperate to see a band that spoke to them and desperate to be seen in the open, at least in the comfort of allies.
As G.L.O.S.S. took the stage, you could feel the anticipation hanging languidly in the hot, humid North Carolinian air. This was bigger than my lil' weekend trek to the mountains, bigger than our little insular punk world, and it was going to be something special. When Sadie kicked it off by belting out the rallying cry on the demo, I was grateful I could bear witness.
They told us we were girls
How we talk, dress, look, and cry
They told us we were girls
So we claimed our female lives
Now they tell us we aren't girls
Our femininity doesn't fit
We're fucking future girls
Living outside society's shit