What is it about Punk, as an entire sub-culture that has given it such longevity? In Blackpool, we have just had the Rebellion Festival. The town is awash with mohawks, ripped jeans and all kinds of denim and clothes patches every year in August and the town has a really good vibe about it. Considering how short the initial Punk movement was, how has it survived for so long?
I recently attended an 80’s tribute show, there were a few people that were dressed up in generic 80s fancy dress but it was clearly that – fancy dress. It wasn’t people who clearly still live the life, listen to the music – the old and the new – and dress that way in every day life. It would probably weird to see a New Romantic walking down the street but seeing a punk, on any day, would not be too unusual.
Punks influence has been massive. Some of my favourite bands come from the post-punk era we call New Wave. Elvis Costello, The Police and Blondie are 3 top ones for me, each doing New Wave their own way. It is credited as being the major influence of Grunge, I once heard Grunge described quite nicely I think as Punk with melody. But it is only the Punk style that has regenerated itself numerous times and in different ‘scenes’ with its origins in London but there being a strong (and now quite famous) underground scene through the 80’s in the Washington D.C area to name but 2.
The other rather striking thing about the Rebellion Festival is that how appearances can be deceiving. Blackpool hosts a few events for different groups year after year. We’re obviously a great choice for Stag and Hen parties, we get Pigeon Fanciers, Darts, Dancing competitions of many denominations and until fairly recently Political Parties conferences. Some of these visitors are more welcome than others, but I’d like to compare and contrast between 2 specific groups that take up quite a bit of street space the first being the Punks and the second is the Young Farmers. Thinking about it from the outside you’d bet on the young people that are supposed to be the back bone of our country would be respectful to the town and other people, but its quite the opposite. Its like a stag and hen do on acid, speed and any other concoction you could throw at people, plus they left their anti-psychotic medication in their Massey Ferguson. Where as the Punks enjoy their festival, drink and whatever other pleasures they may wish to without bothering anybody. Despite having the appearance that would make my Nan clutch her bag a little closer to her chest I know whose company I’d rather be in.
With that said, is true Punk dead? Anarchy in the U.K is the message we get from Punk. F**k the establishment, tear up the streets, The Sex Pistols being banned from playing at most venues they set foot in. I’m sure we’ve all seen the footage. From what I’ve seen over the years, since the festival started in 1996 that spirit, at least on the streets has gone. People aren’t fighting against the establishment like before. Why not? In my humble opinion there is a lot to fight against.
Why has punk continued for so long and where has that punk spirit gone?