Up until a few weeks ago, if you had asked me, "Hey, Alex, what do you think about the future of punk rock in Santa Fe?" I would have said something like, "Yeeesh!" And then I would have put my head in my hands and wept. Never had the phrase "punk is dead" sounded more true in Santa Fe.
But then I received an email from a woman named Sophie Rousmaniere. She told me that her new Santa Fe punk band The Elected Officials was throwing a show with Albuquerque punk acts Dead on Point Five and Domestic Violence. My brain flared with memories of bands such as The Fraid Knots, People that Look Famous and The Floors. I visited TEO's website and discovered the band to be officially awesome.
Imagine DOA colliding with Dead Kennedys and doing a few shots of Bikini Kill. In other words, The Elected Officials plays fast-paced, hard-hitting music that is politically charged and angry. Its members are pro-social-justice and anti-corporate-greed. Basically, the band is everything that makes punk rock great. The Elected Officials—vocalist Rousmaniere, guitarist Jay Minton, drummer Shane Pennington (of Blackie and Chopper Sick Balls fame!) and bassist Robin Hood—represents legitimate hope for local punk.
Other punk-ish bands loiter around Santa Fe venues, but pop and indie overtones always overshadow punk roots. Most of the scene, of course, is trapped in some kind of DJ/Americana stranglehold.
"I guess it's because punk shows aren't as profitable," Rousmaniere says. "But we've had an easier time booking shows in Albuquerque and Taos and even Arizona…we don't even get called back in Santa Fe."
So where is the promoter/audience/band connection failing? Is money the culprit behind the lack of variety? As a paying customer, if I go to an indie show and every band's set is basically the same, I'm bored by the second song of the second act. What happened to shows that contain some hairdo's emo band, a third-wave ska act that just refuses to admit defeat and an awful metal band with a drummer who never heard of a drum key? Whoever decided that shows must be so homogenous is a jerk. Booking a punk act alongside a nonpunk act totally isn't going to break the planet or anything; I think a lot of people would appreciate it.
In the meantime, I've been waiting for the teens of Santa Fe to wake up and realize they hate their folks or their schools or that we have two fucking WalMarts in one small town. I've had grand visions of youthful bands sloppily blasting out terrible music about government issues they don't fully understand and the lives they're just beginning to live. Kids need self-expression, music on their own terms and ways to vent everything they deal with.
But without more punk representation and solid all-ages venues, the youth don't have much of a chance. The Elected Officials are dedicated to solving that problem, though.
"It's not punk if it's not all-ages," Pennington says.
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