It was Morrissey that said “Nothing else ever in your life will affect you like music did in your early teens, and it puts you on a certain course. It’s like a love affair. It widens your taste and it broadens your view on everything. It saves you.”
My upbringing fed me a strict diet of rock and motown and my tastes today have evolved so far from my teenage years that I would never dream of pigeonholing myself into one category by saying ‘oh, I’m only into________ music’.
But in highschool, the genre I most closely affiliated myself with was that of the pop-punk persuasion. I can still remember being front row for NOFX at my very first Warped Tour. It was the first time I went to a concert alone with friends, the first time I had immersed myself fully in a pit, and the first time I was so close to every one that I didn’t know whose sweat belonged to who. I had horizontal bruises on my chest from being pushed against barricade bars over a week later. All of the music from that era of my life is ingrained there in a way new music could never be. It was along for all my firsts. It was at all my favorite parties, playing in the cars of friends that learned to drive and in playing constantly in my room; they made me long for a California childhood that I never had. It doesn’t matter if in hindsight it’s not terribly good, or complicated, or anything like your tastes today, the music of your youth is timeless in a way that no other music will be.
Most so-cal punk bands like NOFX, Lagwagon, NFG, Pennywise, Rancid and my personal favorite, No Use For A Name are all an unmovable part of my adolescence. They embody that sound of rebellion, of stepping out on my own. No matter what opinion you have on punk music, or your preferred sub-genre or time period of it, punk has always had the same message no matter when it was made: Don’t care what anyone thinks. Be yourself, no matter the cost.
No Use For A Name was the perfect band to me. I think I played their CD ‘More Betterness‘ until it physically wouldn’t play anymore. Over the years they’ve become a little more melodic and been able to stay current through the integration of more pop into the genre, but they still have that perfect gritty backbone, those lyrics about frustration and fitting in.
They’re playing a free show this June 14th at Dundas Square in Toronto for NXNE, and I’m so excited to dance to the music I’ve been in love with for so long. I still remember that girl, that 15 year old me dancing alone in her room. She was naive, and a little silly, but I liked her. Still do. Put on the songs you grew up with today. Take a look back, and remind yourself how far you’ve come. And no matter what kind of music you’re into now, or who you’ve become, remember what punk music taught us: Stay true. Stay you.