If anything good will come out of a spray-tan-orange shitstain taking over the White House on January 20, it’s that we’ll finally know once and for all if punk rock is dead.
We’re talking the real crusty deal, not the radio-friendly kiddie pop peddled by Green Day and Blink-182. And sure as the Vandals stank after Stevo left, and Tim Armstrong learned you can’t grow a mohawk after your hair heads for the hills, the genre has been on life support for nearly two decades.
No one should be surprised. Remember when Bill Clinton was president? Everyone in North America—and that includes north-of-the-border cheeseheads—was in a great mood, popping E like M&Ms, dancing until sunrise at illegal raves, and generally going to bed convinced the world was an endlessly great place.
The rise of George W. Bush should have been great for punk rock, but America was understandably too busy rallying around the post–9/11 flag to get pissed off. NOFX gave it the good old college try with “Idiot Son of an Asshole”, but mostly it was eight years of the Warped Tour being hijacked by electro-pop ponces like 3OH!3.
Nothing was worse for punk than eight years of Barack Obama. It’s hard to hate your parents, high-school teacher, and Burger King manager when you’ve got a class act in the White House preaching tolerance, compassion, and respect.
The rise of social media didn’t help any either. When you’re young, impressionable, and looking for a tribe to join, some genres seem far more appealing than others.
What looks like more fun on Instagram? Dancing wearing giant rubber unicorn heads at the EDM stage at Pemberton while Dada Life sprays Champagne all over 12 dancing bananas? Or lying on a pile of soggy newspapers in a Granville Mall doorway eating cold McDonald’s fries retrieved from a garbage can while Jacques the Quebec Crusty Punk plays the Casualties on his fourth-generation iPhone?
You know the answer.
And here’s where the arrival of Donald J. Trump in the White House may change the game.
As a wise mohawk—Mark Civitarese of Boston’s Unseen—once told the Georgia Straight, the great thing about a Republican president landing in the Oval Office is that everyone in North America who’s not old and white ends up pissed off.
Think back to the Ronald Reagan–led ’80s, when punk rock first exploded in the dive clubs of North America. Either you sat back and marvelled as the Gipper dismantled social safety nets while pouring billions into arms manufacturing, or you picked up a guitar and did something about it.
It’s no accident that the ’80s saw the early giants of punk and hardcore—D.O.A., Black Flag, Dead Kennedys, and Bad Brains—reach the height of their considerable and epically pissed-off powers. And while Reagan is now long gone, his memory lives on in songs like Wasted Youth’s “Reagan’s In”, D.R.I.’s “Reaganomics”, and Suicidal Tendencies’ “I Shot the Devil”.
So if there’s anything even remotely resembling a strain of rebellion in today’s teenager, we can all get ready for a wave of punk that’s faster and more vicious than anything the world’s ever seen. And in that, we include the Circle Jerks’ “Red Tape”, M.D.C.’s “John Wayne Was a Nazi”, and Minor Threat’s “Straight Edge”.
You fight fire with a fucking flame-thrower. Christ knows that no one deserves to be in the crosshairs more than a man who’d actually tweet things like “26,000 unreported sexual assults [sic] in the military-only 238 convictions. What did these geniuses expect when they put men & women together?”
Never mind foreign policy, social-services cuts, and his targeting of Planned Parenthood—as long as the man Jon Stewart once called Fuckface Von Clownstick has an Internet connection and can remember his Twitter password, there’s going to be no shortage of things to get outraged about.
So as much as Galantis’s “Peanut Butter Jelly” is the greatest modern-day mix-tape song this side of Skrillex’s “First of the Year (Equinox)”, if you’ve got a conscience, it’s time to put the rubber unicorn heads away and unplug the Ableton software.
Instead, get ahead of the curve by investing in a Dan Armstrong Plexi electric guitar and a 100-watt Marshall half-stack. For the first time since the ’80s, punk rock officially looks like the wave of the future, a guaranteed go-to soundtrack for what will likely be the most turbulent times in the history of modern humankind.
We might learn that punk’s not dead—it’s just been sleeping. And if that’s the case, here’s a simple request for the new troops: this time, don’t forget to bathe.