Sunday, October 17, 2010

"The Scene"

On this tour, some folks have noticed that we seem a little... on edge. This is true. The Dreadnoughts are angry. Normally, we don't express our anger, but we have discovered that this policy of repressing our wish-fulfillment drives is manifesting itself in a deep and persistent neurosis. Our therapist, Dr. Tholdt, has suggested that a little creative venting might help. In particular, he has instructed us to write a letter addressed to those people who most upset us. So, here it is:

DEAR ANYONE who is involved in the rock/punk music scene in any reasonably sized North American city or town, any musician, booker or promoter who has found themselves saying any of the following things:

  • "Yeah, the scene here sucks. It's way better in [insert other city here]."
  • "I hate the [rock genre] scene in this town: audiences never move around or dance or anything."
  • "Kids just aren't listening to [insert rock genre here] anymore."
  • "This city is no fun"...



The Dreadnoughts


In Guelph, Ontario, after being told by another douchebag "promoter" (who failed to make or put up a single poster for our show) that "punk is dying", we snapped. Ladies and gentlemen, we just frigging snapped. We can't take this anymore. We can't handle the way that people blame their own artistic failures on "the scene" or "the city" or "the kids" and their alleged preferences. Shut up. Just god damned shut up. Maybe it's hard, maybe it isn't, but SHUT UP.

A couple of years ago, a local Vancouver band called Mexican Drug Patrol decided that while their shows were going well, they would be happy with a bigger crowd response, more dancing, more movement. So, they went online, watched some old videos of some of the greatest live bands of all time, and began to re-invent their live show. I saw them on New Years' Eve 2009, and it was probably the most mind-blowing show I saw all year. They destroyed that crowd, and they destroyed the crowd because they took some responsibility for their own performance.

CONTRAST TIME: Before the wall fell, punks in East Berlin were routinely arrested, jailed and raided by the Stasi police. The government sent informers into the punk scene who would report any rebellious activities to the authorities. A punk could find herself being sent to jail on testimony from someone she thought was a friend, a comrade. She could find her apartment searched for lyrics sheets that contain anti-communist sentiments. She could even go to jail just for attending a show.

East Berlin, 1982: No Fun City. Look it up, friends. Then try to tell yourselves, again, that your town just can't have a good rock/punk/metal/whatever music scene because of X/Y/Z.

Now, we all know that it's difficult to carve out a space for rock/punk/metal in any city: that's a given. It's also difficult to start a bakery or a hair salon. Restrictions, taxes, evictions, rental hikes and various economic policies make it tough for anyone who decides to do anything other than live in a box and eat worms. Maybe it's even particularly tough for artists, I don't really know. But what I do know is that a whooooole lot of energy is being put into complaining about why we fail, and that seems like energy that could be used more productively. Like, for example, we could use it to stop failing.

If there are more than 10000 people aged 18-25 in your town, there will always be a market for good, powerful live music. You can either bitch endlessly to anyone who'll listen about how there is no scene, or you can help to create a scene. The choice is yours. But don't expect people who actually work their asses off creating a scene to stay quiet while you trash the very thing they're working so hard to nurture. Mmmmkay? Thanks.


  1. Too. Fuckin'. Right.

  2. Having just seen you guys twice in a week (Toronto and Kingston) I just have to comment on what a blinding performance you offer...I couldn't give a toss about "scenes"...and I completely agree about there always being a market for good, powerful live music...and The Dreadnoughts deliver in spades! Please come back to Kingston :)

  3. Next time you come to Guelph, I will make sure the show is widely publicized. You guys are far too good for that kind of bullshit you were put through; so glad you decided to play the show afterall.