Not a big punk fan? No problem. Some of the scheduled bands have been known to dabble in rock and alternative, so go anyway.
Chattanooga may be shaping up to quite the underground music hub these days, but there are those who remember differently. Eric Scealf, front man for Chattanooga punk/glam rock band The Unsatisfied, has witnessed the growing pains and pleasures of the local punk scene since The Unsatisfied got their start by playing a house party one Halloween night in 1986. Eric remembers a very different Chattanooga than the one we have today. “Chattanooga was the strangest place to be in the 1980s. Very dangerous situations all over this town back then. Dark and depressing—you did not go down town,” he said.
Since the genesis of the punk rock genre around 1974, punk bands in the States as well as across the Pond had a hard time finding places to play shows. Even at an early stage, politically charged punk rock was deemed “dangerous” because it bucked the mainstream and rejected commercialized mass-produced music, opting instead for free thinkers and raw, unpolished, devoted talent. Venues weren’t quick to open their doors to punk acts. This was especially true in the South where country music (please apply appropriate drawl and emphasis to the first syllable in “country”) is the preferred delicacy next to road kill and cracklin’.
“I had a lot of luck out of town,” Scealf said. “For me it seemed the farther I got out of the South the better it was for what I was trying to do.”
Though Chattanooga’s punk-rock scene in the ’80s lagged behind the rest of the country by about a decade, it has held its own since. Black Flag, the Descendants and the Red Hot Chili Peppers all played a gritty punk/alternative club called the Nucleus located at 405 Market Street (about where The Mix is now) before they hit it big. Whatever the reason for our late start, we appear to be making up for it now. Chattanooga is cooler than Johnny Rotten’s spiky orange hair (…not really, but we can dream).
But ultimately, It doesn’t matter whether you’re a seasoned old-timer who remembers seeing HANK, Feast of Pigs or The Kreed play around Chattanooga back in the day, or a newcomer who tosses back $2 PBR tall boys and swaps sweat with strangers at JJ’s or Sluggo’s, Do Ya Hear We? Punk Fest 2013 will not disappoint.
Get warmed up with a free pre-fest party at JJ’s, 231 E. MLK Blvd. on Thursday, June 20. The festival shenanigans officially begin Friday June 21 at 7 p.m. at Sluggo’s North, 501 Cherokee Blvd. and continue there Saturday at 5 p.m. On Sunday, everything wraps up with a final show at 5 p.m. at JJ’s Bohemia. Shows at Sluggo’s are all ages, but shows at JJ’s are 21 and up, which means, if she doesn’t know who Glen Danzig is, she’s probably too young for you, bro.
Form a straight line, go through a tight wind, and lose your minds at Chattanooga’s annual punk fest. Nooga Calling! Oh, yeah, we hear ya.