It's a Tuesday night in South Minneapolis and kids are scattered across a glass-speckled lawn, smoking cigarettes and throwing back 40s of Olde English. A lone hippie wanders the perimeter, his dilated pupils aimed at nothing in particular. In the corner, an oogle sits alone, scratching at his scabies and scheming about how to get more money for dope. A crust punk runs his hand through a greasy mohawk, his dandruff floating lightly towards the dirt like snowflakes. In the basement, an angry bald guy shakes his head at the blatant alcoholic, yelling something about how he's 31 years old and doesn't have time for this shit.
Welcome to a basement show, where the flier says nine and the show starts at midnight. Before you get your boxers in a bunch over the stereotypes that follow, allow me to throw myself under the bus: I'm the sellout alt-weekly writer in the floral dress who throws a few too many elbows in the pit. Happy?
10. The Confused Hippie
The confused hippie was told there would be drugs here, but there's just really loud music and people who smell like her and don't smile. She can maybe get down with your basement show, since this music sort of sounds like Led Zeppelin, so long as you don't destroy her in the mosh pit. In the end, we're all just looking for, like, world peace, right? The confused hippie immediately regrets her decision to bring up Occupy Wall Street in front of a bunch of insurrectionist anarchists. Please stop yelling at the confused hippie. Your anger reminds her of violence which reminds her of war, and it's like seriously not jiving with her trip right now, maaan.
9. The Music Aficianado
8. The Art School Kid
Punks and hipsters aren't too different at this point. Punks just had it worse in grade school and gravitated towards anti-everything politics because of it. The art-school hipster kid who shows up to the punk show will spend the majority of the evening with his or her eyes wide, mouth gaping, and Instagram filters ready as a full-sized couch is thrown across the room by a man wearing nothing but a bowtie and cheetah-print thong. S/he will proceed to go home and write a short story for a creative non-fiction class about having walked into the bathroom to find an Oogle standing over another Oogle and peeing between her legs while she picked lice from her shitlocks. Your basement show is a spectacle for the art school kid to exploit. Good job.
7. The Suburban Bro
You brought another one of your bro friends to the punk show, didn't you? Don't pretend he's not with you. We all saw you walk in together. "You'll be fine," you promised him. "You'll fit right in." As the only person in the building wearing a Twins hat and non-ironic Realtree, he clearly does not fit right in. Instead, he stands alone in the corner muttering something about these gross idiots and their insufferable music.
But maybe you brought one of those punk show bros who mistakes the mosh pit for a Fight Club reenactment and amuses the crowd until he dropkicks a crusty while calling him a "little bitch." Punks may be scrawny, but most will go straight Super Saiyan if you drop any misogynist shit.[page]
6. The Angry Bald Guy/Drew Ailes
Drew Ailes of Brain Tumors (and City Pages) is a stocky bald dude who can usually be found yelling for kids to donate to touring bands, yelling across the room to one of his many punk friends, or yelling indecipherable lyrics into a microphone. When his glasses come off, the beer cans start flying. One will hit him in the head. Another will hit him in the chest. Someone will take Ailes's own beer from his hands and whip it at his mouth. When Ailes is in hardcore mode, he's unstoppable, uninjurable, and unglued. He picks up chairs and throws them across the room. He beats himself over the head. He bleeds. He laughs.
If your city lacks a Drew Ailes, we will gladly lend him to you, but we require his safe return within seven days.
5. The Blatant Alcoholic/Addict
The blatant alcoholic is a pretty cool guy for the first half of the night, just after his hangover subsides. But by his second 40, his shitty-drunk self kicks in and he's tossing out death threats, ripping your favorite Circle Jerks poster off the wall, and will inevitably end up naked and mounting your tall bike before midnight. The blatant alcoholic tries drinking more water, cutting out liquor, and only drinking from home, but he usually falls back off the deep end and breaks his head open. The blatant drug addict is quieter, which makes him or her a stealthy candidate for rummaging through your punk house and stealing your thrifted loot while you headbang in the basement.
Many blatant drunks and addicts become Oogles after ostracizing themselves in their local punk communities. On the flip side, many addict and alcoholic oogles find cities to settle down in when the DTs and signs of liver failure start to kick in.[page]
4. The Oogle
Oogles are not to be confused with crust punks, though their styles, smells, and stick-and-poke choices tend to intersect. Ooglehood is about the lifestyle. Don't expect the oogle you saw at the show last night to be around next week, for the oogle lives a transient life. She's here one week and in jail in Havre, Montana, after being pulled off a freight train the next.
Oogles hop trains. Oogles hitchhike. Oogles go to punk shows to steal your booze. Oogles may do one or all of those things with a dog, or doogle, in tow. Oogles who aren't on the road can usually be found getting drunk off Steel Reserve in your backyard while screaming about the unfairness of life and that stupid shit who fucked so and so over last week. Oogles are generally not the smartest people. Their adventurous lifestyles and loud personalities may win people over at first, but they often prove to be manipulative, drug-addicted assholes who will probably get drunk and lose a limb on the tracks someday.
If an Oogle ends up at your basement show, resist the urge to let them stay on your couch unless they've been vouched for by someone you trust. Oogles know no limits.
3. The Metalhead
The metalhead's flowing hair, pentagram chest piece, and black sweatbands around his wrists make him easy to spot. In the pit, he rarely moshes. Instead, he headbangs at a drastic angle to achieve maximum hair flippage. The metalhead hair that whips you in the face will come as a welcomed departure from the crusty dread mullet that hits you in the face, since it doesn't smell like an animal curled up and died inside of it.
Though most metalheads would rather be listening to longer, darker music, they suppose your 30-second powerviolence songs will suffice.[page]
2. The Crust Punk
The first and most obvious sign that you've encountered a crust punk is the smell. If rank body odor isn't detectable from 10 feet away, you may be looking at a street punk. Move closer. Notice the patches. Be on the lookout for anything in messy, metal-inspired font that reads "Dystopia," "Nausea," or "Amebix." Crust punks, like almost everyone else at your basement punk show, will be drinking excessively. In the mosh pit, their long shitlocked mullets will hit art school kids in the faces. During pauses between songs, the art school kids will turn up their noses and whisper to their friends," OMG, do you smell that guy?!" If the crust punk hears, he will give his best Beavis laugh, flash his rotten teeth, and maybe smash a beer can on his head.
In recent years, crust punks and anarcho-primitivist styles have merged ever so slightly, so don't be surprised if you encounter a crusty with squirrel bone earrings or a fox femur necklace.
1. The "Punker Than Thou" Asshole
The vast majority of the people you find at basement shows fall under the punker than thou category. These are the punks who put hours of effort into trying to make themselves look like garbage pail kids so they can hang out at punk shows and size you up by how many studs you've stabbed into your jacket. These are the punks for whom a straightforward mohawk is no longer enough. It's all about the half-shaved, half-dreaded, pink and green mullet with choppy bangs, you poser idiot.
For the Punker Than Thou, the scene is like a fraternity and initiation requires being arrested for vandalism, building your own tall bike, and hopping a train to Portland to talk shop with your punker than thou friends in the West. Unless you and the Punker Than Thou Asshole grew up in the same suburb, you can usually find them glaring at you from across the room while asserting their dominance by yelling about last night's punk as fuck drunken blackout.
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