Y’all- I love live music. This is by no means a controversial opinion, but my scene back in Atlanta is a thriving, diverse collection of folks and their clashing musical politics, and I miss it like a tooth. My first ever house show was seeing Pinkest open for Lowertown, and that was the gateway to find the kind of shows I really liked. My friend Addie and I were basically FBI interrogating the poor folks of this backyard venue, showing up an hour early like the sweet youths we were, and through that Pinkest show (lowertown never got to play, the cops got called) I had the genuine privilege of discovering our punk scene. Finding the alternative underground in Atlanta was the best thing that could have possibly happened to me. At 16, I was a loud mouthed, musical know it all. Prince was the peak of any artist, ever. My clothes consisted exclusively of Kohl's concert tees and Goodwill jeans. My experience with concerts thus far (excluding the Pinkest show) was confined to a John Denver Tribute at the Chattahoochee Nature Center. No, really. So when I was getting ready for my first punk show, I was practically vibrating from anticipation. I had my finest (only) Black Flag shirt on, and some dollar store eyeliner, and as ready as I felt, nothing could have prepared me for my first ever punk show. Every molecule in my 16 year old self was enraptured- loud clothes, louder music, a drink in every hand, a too big grin on every face. The constant press of sound- and elbows, actually. I didn’t start out moshing but the evening certainly ended there- was intoxicating. I was ecstatic, like, the jumping-up-and-down, embarrassing squealing noises kind of happy. It could be time and tenderness have worn this memory into something more comfortable, but looking back, it’s no wonder that this show, that these shows, would become my life. 2 years later, my “know-it-all”-ness has certainly vanished. There’s nothing like punk to humble you. If you read this and think it's pretentious, that’s your right, but I’m perfectly earnest.
Caked in red dirt, stale sweat, and the occasional liter of root beer though we are, my scene is a testament to the goodness and giving of human nature. In between sets by bands called Evil Intent and Splooge, (listen here) the lead singers urge the audience to donate to our local mutual aid funds, to help house a fellow punk, to spend some money on merch so they can afford to eat. Yeah, you may have personally broken someone’s nose, or clavicle, painted them with fake and real blood alike. You may have kicked the ever loving hell out of someone’s lower legs, but the second they fall? The second you do? There’s 4 sets of hands hauling your sorry ass off the ground. This sense of community and camaraderie was something I took for granted- shows are a fundamental aspect of my life here on planet earth, and going without that energy and those bruises has literally lessened my quality of life. Here is a place where bigotry knows no home, where “you were insane out there!” is the highest compliment to be given, where even a poser like me could find the courage in myself to move away from the walls.
The Atlanta Punx have known more than their fair share of misery, financial stress, and alienation. So much of that comes from the outside world, but we’ve been known to have some of our own slimebags and flea sacks. One thing I can say though? They never last long. This scene works too hard, these people work too hard, to let that stand. Blood, Sweat, and Tears does not even begin to encompass the amount of energy that goes into this motley collection of sincerely fantastic human beings. Punk messiah (and my biggest role model) Bambi Nicole is the perfect example of an Atlanta punk. I can’t even start this sentence by saying “known for” because she’s literally too well versed in this scene to limit to a few attributes, but I’ll list some anyways. Not only does Bambi front a band called Stripper Cult (who are genuinely my favorite ATL band, sorry Splooge), she also prints her own patches, does criminally good photography, tours the country supporting other scenes, and, oh yeah, is a public defense intern for folks who can’t afford lawyer fees. Shows with Bambi are a pleasure and a joy. When my star struck self bought a patch from her at her birthday show, and tried and failed at playing it cool, she was personable, kind, and gave me a free pin.
A culmination of every bruise and act of brazen, unashamed human decency is what makes the Atlanta scene my home.
As an aside- there are undoubtedly people that are much better qualified to write this love letter. Folks who have been at it longer, harder, been to more shows, helped more people, started more bands. Folks like Scum, who pushed me into my very first pit, who pushes me still, today, to know more and to do better. Who tirelessly books shows, plays them, and keeps in contact with every stud-covered person from here to Namibia. Folks like Fisch, who freely housed my friends and so many others when they came to his side of town for a show, who is personally responsible for the lack of pedophiles in our scene, who initiated a campaign to get a stranger off the street (which you can still donate to, DM me). I am merely an audience member. These people are everything. The folks that read this will undoubtedly make fun of me for the flowery language, my romanization, and maybe my run on sentences. But even with my limited experience- I can’t help but love this place, these people.
If you’re ever in A-Town, hit my line. Let us show you something imperfectly unforgettable.
Until next time, friends and strangers!
- DJ Lisa Frankenstein (@cz.erniawsky)
P.S: a longer (yes, longer. shoot me.) version of this letter, with real interviews and less foaming at the mouth, is coming later! But contrary to popular belief, I am a college student with finals, so it’s gonna take a second. I would put out a rough draft, but we both deserve better than that, I think.
P.P.S: if you got this far, you deserve some kind of prize. DM me at @cz.erniawsky on insta and we’ll work it out.