Notes On the New Boots and (social) Contracts
When George Orwell wrote, “If you want a picture of the future, imagine a boot stamping on a human face—for ever,” he couldn’t have known he was drafting the first PR email for the street punk revival of 2023. That’s the limitation of even the greatest literature; it can predict a boot party, but exactly what score the boot party will be given by Pitchfork is unknowable.
In the last two days, I’ve heard from two different friends, who don’t know each other; both wishing to discuss the contemporary influence of late-era Blitz, the legendary English Oi! punk band whose transition, from gang vocal brutishness to new wave post-punk, was once widely (as far as that goes) derided.
Also, I went out the other night and two different people came up to me and asked if I “was still working at the library,” because both of them confused me for the bassist of the longstanding Oi!/R&B band, the 45 Adapters.*
Finally, as I woke up today, I received a dm from a friend who’d recently been talking to a stalwart of the New York boots n’ braces scene, who has been in skinhead bands since the early 1990s and had attended a recent performance of the L.A. street punk band, Castillo. This friend of my friend said to him: “Have you been to an Oi! show lately? There aren’t any fights anymore. It’s weird.”
When, a few years ago, I predicted a full on yob-rock revival, I was almost wrong. What I saw as a vibe shift, in the direction of riff-raff-riffs and Cosmic Psychosis, turned out to be more of a vibe tremor. While assuming I had some small understanding of how cycles of nostalgia worked within the context of history constantly repeating itself, I failed to anticipate history repeating itself in a paired recurrence; in the same order it had transpired half a century prior. I failed to anticipate what has been, in effect, a chronologically pedantic revival package; one where—in the same short amount of time it took for Joe Strummer to trade in the keys to your heart for some new boots and contracts—a pub rock revival has been eclipsed by a punk revival. And not just a punk revival, but a full on street punk** revival.
Maybe I just overestimated the appeal of the mullet.
I won’t pretend I’m not more than a little impressed with how things are shaking out. Street punk has always had its adherents, but the idea of it coming even within spitting distance of being fashionable (outside of pop stars wearing discourse exhausting L.E.S. Stitches patches on their pre-distressed black leather jackets) has always been a dream nobody bothered having. NYC in particular has always had a strong skin/Oi!/streetpunk community—from Agnostic Front and all their offshoot bands, to Sick of It All, to Sheer Terror, to The Templars and 45 Adapters, to popular new(ish) bands like The Brass and New York Hounds—but, at least for the last decade, an alarming number of streetpunk shows failed to really represent that vital heritage. Instead, the city presented borderline (to put it generously) sketchy affairs—weird shows in strange bars, draped in American flags, and sparsely populated by a confusing Venn diagram of white coke dealers and latino Proud Boys. Or else we had Quincy Punx-esque showcases for aged spikey-jacket-pop-punkers, long banned from Warped tour, whose greatest collective claim to relevance was often in how accurately both the bands and audience demonstrated the predatory perils of age-gap dating.
Now, every week brings a new five band bill—at either The Monarch or TV Eye—consisting of tuff and swell bands from New York, the West Coast, Chicago, Houston, the UK, and France, with names like The Chisel, Mess, Castillo, Bullshit Detector, Béton Armé, Loosey, Brux, Intimidation, Violent Way, The Stress, Liberty and Justice, and Syndrome 81. Some of these bands are more UK82-style punk, some are basically hardcore. Some are fun, if only as interesting as strict adherence to genre tropes will allow. Some of them are quite a bit more than that. All of them are at least decent. And a few of them are absolutely—in their way—beautiful.
It should be noted that some of the old audience aren’t exactly thrilled about all the new faces, both on and off the stage. (More about that later.) And it should be noted that some new bands within this revival will take some offense at being called punks. Some probably consider themselves skinheads exclusively and a fair number reject “punk” entirely, adhering to the template of differentiating themselves from mods and teds by the cut of their Paul Weller jib; seeing themselves as working exclusively within the traditions of Oi!, maximum R&B, and, indeed, pub rock. Well, those bands can absolutely claim what they like. I won’t argue. Some of them are scary! But the fact remains that a number of the bands who seem to consider themselves to be Oi! purists—and who have cowed critics into towing the line—do indeed sound a bit like The 4-Skins… and an awful lot like Rancid.
Those who do take offense should keep in mind that, at the risk of using some unfair stereotypes*** (in both directions) to my advantage, I’m Jewish and look like it. If anyone is going to beat me into a paste, they should first grow their hair out a bit. Just for appearances sake.
It also bears mentioning that, when I’m talking about a “revival,” I’ll be the first to admit that we aren’t talking huge numbers. Probably more than the death rock revival, less than the ska revival, way less than whatever iteration of the emo revival we’re currently suffering through, and way WAY less monthly listeners than the mass market pop punk revival. Even within the endless quarrel that is the back and forth of hardcore’s popularity, the Oi! end of the spectrum (with Chubby and The Gang and The Chisel arguably being the most popular) hardly registers as a blip when compared to the stadium DIY of Turnstile and all the passably tuneful strivers who have risen to the upper-middle in the wake of that band’s (probably impossible to replicate) success. Hell, The Chisel currently has 1/10th the monthly listeners of Amyl and the Sniffers; the band that spearheads the yob rock scene I’m claiming is being eclipsed.
Still, there sure are a lot more bands dressing like soccer hooligans, and singing about fightin’ and boozin’, then there were three years ago. If none of them approach Amyl and the Sniffers in terms of popularity, there are inarguably more bands attempting to recreate the Blitz songbook than there are even trying to approximate Amyls’ bracingly peculiar (and admittedly more difficult to imitate than it might appear) brand of rabble-rousing. In fact, outside of Australia, I’m hard pressed to think of any yob-rock bands that made it past year two of the Sniffers’ ascension.
Conversely, there’s currently enough straight up skinhead bands that there’s a band called Skinhead, the project of a hardcore veteran named “Skull,” who have devoted two EPs to the topic of beating up “fake skinheads.” The fact that Skinhead itself sounds more like Modern Life Is War covering The Hold Steady than they do, say, the Oppressed, is irrelevant. They exist, they are quite good, they have songs called “1% Skinhead,” with lyrics like “excuse me/beg your pardon/you’re 32 years old and you’re in skindergarten,” and their singer’s old band had a song called “Down The Stairs” (about throwing someone down a flight of stairs), which is apparently autobiographical. If a scene is, in part, defined by the energy of its backlash****, then the Oi!/street punk revival is punching above its weight.
Not literally. Literally, the neo-Oi! scene is probably punching at whatever weight is looking at it funny.
Like most so called revivals, what we’re currently in the throes of is less a dramatic recurrence than a continuation of a subgenre that never fully went away, but that is now undergoing a big enough swell that hipsters (such as myself) and squares (such as people like me, but different) have begun to take notice. When Pitchfork reviewed Chubby and The Gang’s debut full length in 2020, the coverage was met with equal parts amusement and bemusement. The idea of a band like Chubby + Gang being in Pitchfork (and signing to Partisan Records) was indeed strange—as strange as Amyl & The Sniffers being signed to ATO. But, if anything, the typically AC/DC/Sham 69 averse critical intelligentsia embracing such acts had been foreshadowed by said intelligentsia’s embracing of G.L.O.S.S. in 2016. In fact, that earlier hype was even more peculiar. Not because G.L.O.S.S. was a trans band, or that the praise was undeserved (G.L.O.S.S.’s two EPs still go hard), but because the critics who claimed to be bumping Trans Day of Revenge on their home stereos hadn’t previously shown much affection for other bands that sounded so much like The Casualties.
Accepting that there has always been—and hopefully always will be—bands that love hard Australian rock riffage as much as they do Blitz-esque gang vocals and lead vocals that split the difference between Lemmy Kilmeister ragged and Jerry A. ravaged, it’s worth considering the current upswing. Not so much “why play skinhead (or its adjacents) rock, initially?” (Oi! is easy to play and sounds good when you’re drunk) or even “whither skinheads?” (to the bar and/or infirmary of course!), but rather, “why now?”
On the way to any of those questions, the reader will have to forgive me for not attempting to summarize the origins of hardrock, skinhead culture, punk, or class divisions. The true price of Google won’t be known till the next world, but for now it’s supposedly free. Readers disinclined towards reading are directed to the The Story of Skinheads with Don Letts, the formative discographies of Coloured Balls, Rose Tattoo*****, Cock Sparrer, and Blitz, Sheer Terror’s Just Can’t Hate Enough, any Templars album chosen at random, and the Strength Through Oi! comp.
(If it even needs saying, the reader is warned that even a casual exploration of these subgenres will lead the listener to some songs/artists that will bum them the fuck out. Luckily, the reader will also find that, unlike black metal, there isn’t a lot of heavy lifting involved in finding out which bands’ violent tendencies are more ideological than pathological. And, no, you don’t need to hear the first Skrewdriver album. Yeah yeah cool cool, it’s “not the racist one.” Great. Lemme just get back to framing these Hitler watercolors. It’s fine. He was a totally different Hitler when he did them.)
Anyhoo, readers of especially delicate dispositions, who might prefer to avoid any problematic views/lyrics altogether, can probably just listen to the Redskins (yeah… the name. It was the ‘80s and they were communist skinheads, so… I dunno… ), Sham 69, or Hard Skin, and get a general enough gist. Or they can just listen to the first few AC/DC albums, and choose to take all the double entendres at face value.
As to the specific question of “why street punk now?” Well, besides the normal, pretty boring and possibly pretty true, reasons (listed below), I do have a few other theories. Shaky theories, but theories nonetheless. Really, they’re less “theories” than “stray thoughts"; more potential signposts than maps. I’m not sure a set cartography is possible when trying to determine how music forms and travels.
The boring—possibly true, but so what—reasons:
- The New Wave of British Hardcore—which has been windmilling under that title since at least 2014, and been burbling over through Static Shock Records (the label run by ex-The Chisel and ex-Shitty Limits member Tom Ellis) since the late aughts—has always favored tighter skinhead fashion over varsity gear or baggy shorts. Having existed for over a decade, the scene (and its stateside partisans) has done what nearly all youthful scenes have historically done; it’s gotten super into cocaine, and finally come around on the appeal of coded messages in slowed down songs.
- There is, in fact, no revival. There is exactly the same amount of Oi!-type bands now as there were five years ago, it’s just finally gotten on the radar of poseurs. If anything, considering the long standing fan bases for Canadian/UK/European skinhead bands (such as Haymaker, Bishops Green, and Lion’s Law), the fact that terrific and aggressively progressive bands (like Death Ridge Boys, Hard Left, and Young Offenders) have been drawing from Oi! to exist within various punky scenes for years, and considering that Contra Records and Pirate Press and TKO Records all appear to be thriving… What might be getting attention now is a less polished and less popular version of the scene (and therefore one more appealing to hipsters). As one of the Baby Shakes said to me, when I ran into her at the Castillo/Loosey show at TV Eye, “well, well, well… look who’s at an Oi! show.” (It was a fair jab, and she was laughing when she said it, but in my defense; I’ve always liked the music! I swear! It’s just that she tended bar with me in the aughts, when I was consistently failing to keep members of the 211 Crew from beating up our customers. So *cough* it’s possible I may have expressed some opinions that gave the impression that I wasn’t a big Cock Sparrer fan… )******
- Never dismiss the propulsive power of the bandwagon. Remember when all the the punx, in the span of six months, went from playing d-beat to death rock? And the streets were littered with discarded shoelace headbands? This could be that.
Conceding all those possibilities—and acknowledging that Rancid are practically the Rolling Stones at this point, and (streetpunk gateway band) Grade 2 have been signed to Hellcat Records since 2018—I’d say there’s a few other significant factors in the resurgence of brawny, borderline thuggish, punky rock n’ roll. A few factors—zeitgeist threads in the culture rather than presumptions of any specific artists’ conscious intent—that might help explain the resurgent popularity. And even, to a lesser extent, the proliferation of the bands themselves.
Those factors are: First, Trump leaving office. Second, the Sleaford Mods. Third, Turnstile.
First: Simply put, I think that, during the Trump years, there was—on both sides of the pond—a reasonable pressure to make some sort of protest music. This pressure led to some apolitical bands becoming political, some political bands becoming almost popular, and a whole lot of liars sending out press releases that used the phrase “in these dark days” and touted the lying liars' newfound interest in Black people; both in their suffering and their willingness to add a bit of justice to the lying liars’ label roster. This was all fine, and occasionally good. But by the time Hunter Biden’s dad had ascended to the White House throne, the latter of those results had begun to feel a bit cloying. Especially to those who had been at least dimly aware of politics and racial inequality prior to 2016.
I was afraid that Biden’s presidency would result in a mass return of apolitics amongst the rockin’ classes. I was happily wrong about that. But I do think that there are a fair amount of artists who have come out of the Trump years with a hardened disillusionment in both traditional left and right. Which is not to subscribe to horseshoe theory, or to say any of these theoretical artists conflate the left with the right equally. Merely to suggest that there was, in some quarters, a desire to shout about shit without the pressure of said shit being “important.” This desire could have resulted in barely sublimated reactionarism; the musical equivalent of the “classic liberal” dodge, with bands taking Trump’s exit as a cue to go back to playing neo folk/blackened thrash, and subscribing to nuances that conveniently leaned towards a fatalist status quo.
Luckily that has not been the case. Everybody now knows that neo-folk always sucked and black metal is best left to Satan. And even those who might be tempted by the siren call of edgelordship realize that the overton window has shifted enough to the left that even the most antisocial hooligan rocker knows to add a cozy “fuck nazis” on the bottom of their bandcamp page. So, rather than a wholesale retreat from progressiveness, we have a class conscious/obsessed street punk (etc) revival. One where a fair amount of leftism (and even identity politics) has been retained, but with a thin (or thick) veneer of violent sociopathy layered on top. So everybody can feel (and, often enough, be) edgy enough to hate fascists and still, at the same time, make antifa seem like uptight prudes, and make liberals—those with reasonable enough historical concerns about bald dudes in combat boots—sweat a bit online. So now—whether it’s the Australian band Civic serving as an updated Kaiser Chiefs, the lads in Spiritual Cramp fulfilling the Young Offenders dream of mixing mod with gang vocals, The Chisel being expansive in the “It All” that they’re Sick Of, or New York City’s Loosey rendition of their own singular glam grievance—all the shouting and finger pointing has an additional aspect of unabashed, track-suited and hard-partying, end-time debauchery.
Second; Sleaford Mods. OK, hear me out. I’m not saying that the Sprechstimme agit-prop duo paved the way for Chubby & The Gang (though God knows that the Mods would be the first to mournfully concede that Idles are entirely their fault). The duo are not remotely part of any underground scene and, despite having an obvious affinity for New Model Army, are far more interested in the working class genres of classic rock and hip hop than they are in Oi!. So they didn’t affect the forming of these bands. Instead what I am saying is that they opened new ears to what might previously have been a hurdle (for some) in one’s enjoyment of all things street punk. I’m saying that Jason Williamson did perhaps pave the way for a new generation to hear a thick, working class accent as not just cool, but also as a sign of authenticity. This change in ways of hearing’s influence is evident in the popularity of all Sprechstimme landfill indie clogging up the UK charts (even in the case of obvious Arctic Monkeys cosplayers like The Reytons) and the Big Guitar revivalists like Sam Fender (an English singer/songwriter who writes anthemic, self-flagellating odes to mental illness and hardscrabble loss, who looks like the last five guys who ghosted you, and who currently sells out stadiums in the UK) and High Vis (the skinhead U2). But it could also be argued that Chubby and The Gang wouldn’t have been reviewed in Pitchfork, and that—regardless Tom Breihan’s generally excellent hardcore coverage—The Chisel wouldn’t have an Album of the Week in Stereogum, if Sleaford Mods hadn’t first primed American ears to accept singers who sound like chimney sweeps.
(A similar argument can be made, on a smaller scale, that the works of John Sharkey lll—particularly hard britpop of Dark Blue and/or his noise rockification of a Negative Approach standard—helped normalize/romanticize an Oi! aesthetic for the hepper normies. He wouldn’t necessarily celebrate being included as a potential factor in the ruination of contemporary UK82 culture but then again, being a bit of a scamp, he might.)*******
Third; Turnstile. This one is pretty intuitive. While it’s true that—compared to the initial New Wave of British Hardcore—the current street punk bands are almost pop; bands like Castillo, Lost Legion, and Liberty & Justice operate from a rough hewn air of danger, one in direct inverse to the studious accessibility of Turnstile’s brand of hardcore. TO BE CLEAR: I’m not implying one mode of hardcore is inherently better (or more “hardcore”) than the other. Nor am I implying that any street punk bands sit around thinking “I don’t like that people feel welcome at Turnstile shows. We should have more fights.” I’m merely pointing out that culture responds to culture, and it is (one of) punk’s nature(s) to retreat (or, if you prefer, advance) into itself, like an ornery turtle, when threatened by the possibility of too many people liking it.
A more skeptical version of both the first and third of the above theories is expressed by another friend, a NYC native who has been in and out of various NYHC scenes since the ‘80s.
He says: “Lemme say this about the new user-friendly Oi! Shows; the threat of violence and right wing politics was what kind of left it alone from the greater media eye forever. So it’s interesting that now these bands like Chisel and Chubby draw non-scene non-skinhead crowds. But there is always that tension that the old thing will rear its ugly head which in a weird way might be part of the attraction.” While cynical, I suspect my friend’s view is at least partially correct… at least in terms of how critics approach the scene. As he sums up, “There’s a certain voyeuristic quality. Like if you go to these shows you might see REAL SKINHEADS. And you will.”
Of course, all of my theories are, at best, the musings of an outsider who, while a fan, has no concrete idea why the Oxblood market is all of a sudden booming. The simple answer may be that the street punk revival is just the long tail of Fucked Up finally eating its own tail. Or, more likely, the Italian neo-glam band, Giuda, making hipsters feel like they can enter a room full of short haired dudes in tracksuits without coming to any harm. Or maybe it’s simply that enough people eventually saw Rixe or Condor (the correctly revered French Oi! outfits fronted by Maxime Smadja), thought Smadja looked impossibly cool, and figured anything had to be better than another emo revival.
A reasonable reader might wonder, after 5,000 words, just what the fuck we’re even doing here. I am putting a lot of thought into a scene that I’m the first to admit that I don’t totally understand, which is populated by an inordinate number of bands who would want nothing to with me (and vice versa), and of which I have further taken pains to admit is perhaps not even going through a resurgence in the first place. Further, to be clear, and to avoid anything beyond the already admittedly overheated romanticism: skinhead culture, even anti racist skinhead culture can be deeply weird. Much of it is righteously working class, and some of it is chiefly concerned with five-to-one beat downs of strangers in bars, with the added touch of crucifixion imagery lest anyone forget who they see as the real victims. Some of these people are undoubtedly awful. Some are violent, some are violent because of violence enacted upon them and some were just born to be jerks. Some are undoubtedly cruel, and some are dumber than hell, with the politics no different than the worst uncles on earth********. Some were bad actors in their youth and have strained against their own instincts in order to become better, and some will go to their early graves as unrepentant scumbags. I know none of these bands personally and I’m vouching for nothing here. Buyer beware. I suspect most of the bands discussed here would co-sign that warning. They never asked for any of us to come around in the first place.
So, with that pretty major caveat admitted; Why? Are? We? Here?
Well, first of all, a caveat to that last caveat: a fair amount of those qualifiers also apply to people—specifically, but not limited to, men—in general, including many of those in indie, punk, etc circles. And the crucified skinhead imagery is indeed a pretty slick mascot.
Now then (and with that rationalization out of the way)... simply put; I love this shit. And I love this shit more than I do a lot of music more commensurate with my background and disposition. Not all of it. Not even most of it. But the bands that move me (namely Liberty and Justice, No Class, Bromure, Lost Legion, Mass Arrest, Loosey, that first Vanity album when they sounded like Lazy Cowgirls, and, yeah, Skinhead), really move me.
Liberty & Justice and Loosey, in particular, put forth the kind of rock and roll and heartache and brickbat poetry that I loved from bands like the Dicks, Leatherface, and Sheer Terror (and which I still love from unpunk rockers like A Giant Dog). I don’t care about authenticity********* or, to be honest, Coloured Balls. But I do love me a brutalist sincerity, a weird and enraged wit, and an intelligence that comes at you sideways, delivered—with an air of imminent danger—by a cookie monster in cool shoes. It’s been that way since I was 16 and heard Thanks For Nuthin’—the Sheer Terror album where the jagged Celtic Frost guitars of their debut were sanded down to an almost droning series of swells and crashes, and the self loathing and suicide ideation previously hinted at in Paul Bearer’s lyrics was given full bloom—for the first time, and discovered I could get all the high sad drama I craved—all the Social Distortion and Sisters of Mercy and Joy Division—performed like a kick to the head.
Look, to say the negative before anyone else can; I am not a tough guy, and I always wished I was. At middle age, I’m significantly less concerned with this aspect of myself than I was in my twenties. But I won’t deny that the feeling continues to play into my romanticized affection for men singing about doing things that I, in reality, wouldn’t want done to me or by me.
Less embarrassingly, I appreciate Oi! as one of the few artistic arenas, especially in music, especially in America, where class is not only discussed but is the focus. And not, as is so often the case in punk adjacent Springsteen cosplayers, as myth or parable or, worse, romantic setting for nostalgic reverie for that time the singer drank a beer in a basement and regretted not saying the right thing to a potential DIY sex partner.
Am I saying Sheer Terror was our Kinks and Liberty and Justice are our Pulp? Well, let’s just say that I’m not not saying that.
Too much? OK fine. I’m getting a bit overstimulated. But I’m going to stand by the fact that at the very least, with the sax and vocals and worldview, the distance between Liberty and Justice’s Pressure and Psychedelic Furs’ first album is a lot shorter than you might think. And Lost Legion do a killer Go-Go's cover.
*A friend points out that the 45 Adaptors bassist does indeed look like me, if I “were from Pittsburgh and could fight.”
** I’m using “street punk” in a very broad sense. I have a friend who’s still mad at Stereogum for calling the French Oi! band, Rixe, “street punk” and I don’t need that kind of heat. So, for our purposes, I mean the term as an umbrella term that, like “post-punk,” encompasses Oi!, streetpunk, late-Blitz new wave, UK82 punk, and even a little ska and/or Small Faces-type garage rock; just so long as the music is agro, the crowd at least formerly intimidating, and at least half the performers on stage are either wearing a parka indoors, have skull tattoos, or look like a mixed-ethnicity Michael Chiklis. Basically all the music that, like, feels right.
*** The stereotype of skinheads is that of one of white supremacy. In some regions, that stereotype might be accurate (what’s up, Florida) but I live in NYC, where a lot of the individual skinheads are, like, 50% Irish 50% Puerto Rican 50% Dominican 50% Cuban 50% Lebanese 50% Staten Island etc., and whatever space is leftover in their bloodstream is usually, on one side or another, Jewish.
**** It’s also worth quoting extensively from the bio of Chicago’s Fuerza Bruta, which was written five years ago and reads:
“2017, the year scores of bands playing ‘This Is England’-core and turning the scene into an increasingly unfunny joke ever since the last 86 Mentality tour turned their attention to Snix and Nabat, copping riffs (and fashion tips) from those classics that we’d managed to keep to ourselves for the last 35 years. And when did these rich snobby punks that turn their noses up at skins start swooning over French Oi? Did the No Fun Club lift the moratorium on short hair and cuffed jeans?”
This implies that not only are we in the midst of a revival, we’re even in the midst of a revival backlash revival.
***** Rose Tattoo singer is far right, and songs don't hold up for shit. But “Nice Boys” is still pretty killer, and the catalog is worth checking out in the way cave paintings are.
****** I sort of present myself as someone with experience with skinhead violence but that’s a bit of a pose in itself. Yes, I worked at a bar where a lot of skinheads hung out, and they often scared the shit out of me. But, on average, they didn’t actually put hands on me more than any other regulars did. And yes Dennis from Fed Up did once throw an office chair at me but I realize that if your most notable story is “Dennis From Fed Up once threw an office chair at me,” it’s a lot like bragging about doing coke with the bassist of Nashville Pussy. Anecdote can’t set policy, especially when nobody under the age of 40 (or over the age of 50) knows/cares what you’re talking about.
******* I decided to write John Sharkey lll and get his view on all these exciting advancements in Oi! technology. Bemused as always, he was kind enough to respond with some valuable insights. First, in line with my Trump theory, he pointed out that, in the popular eye, the image of skinheads as the archetypal racist has been replaced by out-of-shape beardos in ill fitting Fred Perrys (at best). Further he said: “There’s two points I may have mentioned before about this whole new skinhead deal. One, it’s way safer a society. When I was a kid going to Stalag 13, you could smell the violence in the air on certain nights. You had to fight off nazi skinheads sometimes. And nobody had a cellphone to tape anything so you could email their boss the next day and plaster their shit all over Twitter. Two, skinhead shit is just cool. It’s great music and now that it’s safer, and truly less sketchy, people want to take part.”
Finally, he added, “It’s a revival. It’s the fun redo. Just like the early 2000s with the Strokes, except more of the bands are good.”
******** While writing this, another friend (in a scene that frowns on chit chat to an almost biblical degree, nobody really wants their names used) mentioned that, on the second night of the Oi! mini-fest (where I’d seen Liberty & Justice), he’d turned away a crew of Columbian nazis from the bar he works at. And the night before, one skinhead musician I was talking to described how just the previous month he’d beaten up a nazi and scolded him in front of an approving audience. Admirable as these stories might be (and they are), it’s fair to bring up all the other scenes, where I’m told that one can go days, months, or even years at a time without seeing a single National Socialist. A fair minded person might, at a certain juncture, point out that—if you find yourself fighting nazis all the time—it might be worth wondering just what it is that you’re doing that nazis find so gosh darn appealing.
******** The one thing that might arguably invalidate the whole neo-skinhead scene is, to be honest, the fact that a lot of these bands can play their instruments. As my friend Ben Smith (from Sweet Diesel, the Brought Low, and currently playing in—with a Templar—Lvger) says, ““By properly executing a drum fill you show a fundamental misunderstanding of Oi!”
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