By Andi Hammond
In Hanif Abdurraqib’s article “Pop Punk Prodigies” he writes about the up and coming band Meet Me @ The Altar. The band is a pop-punk band made up of three young women of color. The members had to forge this band with their bare hands via the internet to create something that will hopefully power through the difficulty of pulling an entire genre back into the mainstream with a totally new look.
I believe that modern Scenes rarely truly die and even less often stay dead. Campbell’s explanation that, “Pop-punk didn’t go away… the mainstream just stopped paying attention” is what trends go through. When pop-punk “found [its] peak influence in the early and mid-aughts” it was sensational, it was mainstream. All capitalist industries are capricious, and so the music industry moved on to the next big thing that was going to make them even more money. As pop-punk was played less and less on the radio it went down on the charts and was dismissed by the mainstream.
But subcultures are stubborn. Campbell said, “There is a scene, there will always be a scene,” and in my experience that is true. To my friends, pop-punk was the main genre they listened to and dressed to emulate for most of their middle and high school years. From my perspective, what I expose myself to on the internet is evidence that gen-z has been amassing numbers in the punk and alternative scenes and is helping to give them a more mainstream comeback. But this is my perspective. To someone else they might think that the punk scene died for good back in the 90s and haven’t heard a peep about it since.
Small communities band together and when people weren’t interested in pop-punk any more, those that were found each other, often through the internet. Abdurraqib described the experience as,
“An era spent spiraling into message boards and chat rooms, lonely or bored and reaching out into a thrumming wilderness of faceless personas, hoping to brush up against another set of hands that matched enough of your desires to form something that felt like a bond.“
Making a friend who likes the same stuff as you is great; it’s even better when they look like you, express themselves like you or love similarly to you. You can bond easily over your shared experiences as Russian nesting dolls that stack together into a person. But what can be truly magical is to see idols like you. In a scene where all the biggest most popular figures look nothing like you, there is a hidden power in seeing a big popular figure who is like you.
Campbell says that Meet Me @ The Alter wants to be the biggest band in the world, “for the sole purpose of being able to have a bigger platform so more people can discover us and realize, ‘I have someone who looks like me in this band that I have never seen before.” And this desire and need to be the change you want to see in your favorite media goes beyond music into all art forms. It transcends our capitalist society and always will.