"Ruby ruby ruby ruby soho. Ruby ruby ruby ruby soho!" I screamed into the microphone and slammed down on my guitar. "Thanks for coming, that was ruby soho by an all time favorite, Rancid," I said as my band finished our cover song.
"This one's a new one. Bryan just finished it last night, so it might sound like shit," Tim said as we prepared the highly unrehearsed song.
I played the intro to the song and coughed a few times, doing so would scratch up my voice needed to get that necessary rasp.
"Seeds of revolution now trampled, your hard fought riots for nothing, we watched, we watched, we watched punk rock die. We watched, we watched, we watched punk rock die." My voice sang out as a few flashes came from the crowd. I looked down to see Kirsten with the camera I gave her just before the gig. She was the best thing that had ever happened to me and I think she knew it.
"Your war has been lost, you fought, but the law won, you raged on, but anarchy has failed. Our punk rock days have sailed!" Tim screamed in his deep scratchy voice. The crowd started to cheer and Kirsten's camera sent blinding flashes at my eyes. The cloud of smoke from the hundred lit cigarettes hung over the crowd, and the colored lights illuminated it, providing a perfect affect. The floor that only a half an hour ago was bare except for some garbage wildly scattered was now crowded with possible fans.
"We watched, we watched, we watched punk rock die. We watched, we watched, we watched punk rock die." I repeated as the crowd echoed the chorus. Then, as Tim took over singing, I mechanically played on as my thoughts drifted to my next year. I had dipped into my college fund to pay for my car, my guitar, and my amp. I didn't really have much left for college and I was debating whether I should even bother trying to attend now. I was more concerned with getting the band started and moving away from this town.
"Our land's been lost, god won't save our queen again!" Tim finished his lyric and looked at me to start the chorus and I snapped out of my world and was back at the show.
"We watched, we watched, we watched punk rock die." My voice grew scratchy. I was sick of high school, sick of my parents, and sick of having a prepared life being set out in front of me like a plate of food to a high-chair infant: high school, college, a working class job. Then I'm stuck in a cubicle staring out a small window in a building and only being able to admire the outside birds flying freely. I’ve always only been able to watch others fly freely. I needed to break out. My hometown had caged me for too many years and I started to hate every street, every house, and every minor store that lined its only main road. This town wasn't for me. I was suffocating in it. My parents rejected who I had become, they rejected my girlfriend, they rejected my band, my music. Yet it was my life and they hated it.
"You killed, you killed, you killed our punk rock. You killed, you killed, you killed our punk rock." I sang in defiance. This was the first time I’d actually heard my lyrics, I could have sworn that bit sounded better the night before as I scribbled it down. I drifted off again. "College?" I thought. I didn't want to go to college, I wanted to play music and be around Kirsten. I was sick of living up to the expectations of everyone else. My town didn't know real music and I didn't fit in. I wanted to stay out here on this stage forever and savor each picture that Kirsten could take on a never-ending roll of film in a never-ending song, on a never-ending night.
"Go to college, don't take even a year off because then you'll never go. Listen to me, since no one else in your family has and look at them." The wise words of my uncle repeated in my head.
“If you take a year off and decide not to go to college, isn't that out of your happiness in lacking another four years of education? If you enjoy what you're doing, but didn't get fully educated to do it perfectly, is that so bad? Maybe there's a reason people don't return to college after a year.” I fought his supposedly wise advice.
"Your rebellion was crushed, your riot was squashed, your revolution was smashed, we cry as your punk rock dies." I sang before I faded back into my own world of thought again. Choose a college. Choose a major. Choose a job. Choose a wife. Choose a house. Choose posters to hang in my cubicle. Choose paper for my walls. Choose colors for my baby's room. Choose colors for my texture design. Choose a retirement plan. Choose a retirement home. It all seemed too soon. I wanted time to live. I didn't want to choose. I wanted to drop from this life and seep into the subculture that my music was made for. These suburbs, these parents, these choices, these lives . . . I wanted to get away from them all. I was sick of it all.
"No more going to the show. No more let’s go. No more hey ho." Tim's raspy voice spewed out the words that were scribbled on a napkin from a late night diner. When I wrote the song it sounded much more satirical than it did hearing it played in front of a live audience, but then again what the band hears and what the audience hears are always different.
" No more going to the show. No more let’s go. No more hey ho." I joined in as it dropped to a bass and drums medley. Kirsten was now angled to get better shots of the band as a whole. Each flash seemed to last an hour each. Her purple tipped blond hair draped over the camera. Her beauty was stunning. She was older than me by a few years and had not gone to college yet. She lived in a nine by nine room, on paid for by a six dollars and fifty cents an hour job. It was inspiring. I admired every aspect of her life. I'd rather live like that than waste away for the price of steady pay. Twenty-five dollars an hour, driving my sports car into my large garage attached to my even larger house. My distain for such a lifestyle made me nauseous. I couldn't even think if twenty-five dollars an hour was a lot, but it didn't matter, it's not who I wanted to be.
I jumped into the medley with my guitar screaming. Tim joined in shortly after that and the crowd approved. The camera flashed as the four of us did what we felt we were born to do. Pete was a great drummer and Joe was probably the best bassist Tim and I could ever hope to find in this small suburban town. The band took four months just to assemble let alone learn to play together, yet there we were at our first gig. Who played punk anymore? Who listened to punk anymore? I was up there singing about how it's dead and yet it felt so alive. It was in my veins, in my blood, in every cell of my body.
"So take your patches take your pins, take your CDs and burn them all. Their artifacts of an ancient sound, artifacts not meant to be found." I thought I was going to lose my voice or break a string. This song had been going on for so long I didn't think the both of them would last. I took in everything I could see in the small dark club. It all became very precious to me.
"We watched, we watched, we watched punk rock die. We watched, we watched, we watched punk rock die." Sang the crowd in a unified voice. I looked out and even the people in the back were tapping a foot and drumming their fingers on the tables to the beat. How could I ever do anything but this, I wondered.
"We watched, we watched, we watched punk rock live. We watched, we watched, we watched punk rock live!" Tim and I screamed into the microphones. I continued to play along, lost in my endless song and dwelling on thoughts of escaping this planned life. I wouldn’t go to college. I wanted to spend my life doing this. Even if we never became a well-known band, I’d rather keep playing than stare into a computer, confined to a cubicle. Of course, I’d be rejected by my parents and I’d fail them once more, but it was for something I loved. I hoped they’d understand that much. Tim tapped me, and I noticed I was the only one left playing, the song had ended.
"How long was that song?" I asked as we tuned our guitars
"You wrote it, you should know it was only three minutes long." Tim replied confused.