Violence in punk rock here in San Antonio is substantially more prominent than anywhere else I’ve been. I’m not sure why that is (though I do have a theory involving the city government pumping experimental steroids into the water to breed a better class of football team). Regardless, it’s an issue that’s grown impossible to ignore.
There are several violent-show-goer archetypes around here, but I won’t get too in-depth about them because, frankly, I’m a pussy, and I don’t wanna get beat up because someone gets offended by some chump’s article in the local free weekly. But there’s one type of guy, and you all know who I’m talking about here ... I encountered him for the first time at a Queers show upon first moving to Texas about five years ago.
I was quite excited to see the Queers, first off. For whatever reason, I’d managed to miss them most times they passed through my original home state, only catching them live once when they played with the Mr T Experience and the Parasites. I think I was about 14. Needless to say, it was awesome (though, in full disclosure, MTX was the band that really stole the show for me — as I already mentioned, I’m a pussy).
So anyway, I was excited to see the Queers for the first time in a decade or so, and my excitement was only amplified when I got to the show and found that basically every person in San Antonio who even so much as knew what punk rock was showed up. It was packed, and rightly so. I was up close when they finally took the stage, and, predictably, the entire club exploded with energy as soon as the band picked up their instruments and screamed, “This place sucks!” It was beautiful. A good hundred or so drunk dudes with their arms around one another, beer flying everywhere, everyone singing along to every word ... drunken buffoonery of the highest caliber. San Antonio, punk-rock capital of Texas.
About halfway through the set, things got a little ... weird. You’re all familiar with the basic layout of the crowd at a punk show, right? You’ve got the stage, OK, and immediately in front of that are two or three rows of people squished together from the force of the mosh pit. These people aren’t pitting, but they still feel the effects. Behind them, of course, is the pit, where teenagers jaked on Ritalin can recreate moves they saw in Repo Man, and behind that is the first row of people standing close but not pitting. This is rarely a happy bunch. And then, behind them, is everyone who doesn’t feel like being squished or knocked down or slammed into. Right? Let’s keep note of that, by the way: The people who don’t want to get knocked down stand in the back, away from the pit.
OK. At this point in the show, I was in one of those first couple rows of people, being condensed into a paste between the force of the mosh pit and the unyielding stage. There’s something so weirdly comforting about that spot. Like watching the band from a nice, warm womb or something. I mean, you know, a really loud womb that’s being jostled around and shoved every two seconds, and that’s thick with cigarette smoke and visible sweat vapors pouring off all the other people sharing the same womb, but a womb nonetheless. So there I am, having my fun — EXCEPT — for the guy in front of me.
This guy’s girlfriend is all the way in the front, leaning up against the stage. He stands behind her, his arms out and around her at either side, protecting her from the excited kids behind her. And any time someone gets too close, BAM! He cocks his elbow into them as hard as he can. Now, one would think that, if you don’t want to get bumped into, maybe standing right in the middle of exactly where everyone is going to bump into you, guaranteed, is... I don’t want to say “exasperatingly retarded” because I’m a nice guy, so I’ll just say “misguided.” I went home covered in bruises from this guy’s elbow alone.
I assume you can all guess where this is going. Last week, Friday, February 6, I was at a pop- punk show down at the Warhol. Half a block away, Rock Bottom had a punk show of its own. From what I’ve gathered based on what they wrote in the daily and accounts of people who were there, someone’s girlfriend got knocked down in the pit. In the pit. Which, to over-clarify, is the part of the crowd people stand in when they specifically want to be shoved and occasionally knocked over. So this guy, Eric Scheese, knocks over this girl. He then proceeds to help her up and apologize, which is 100-percent good pit etiquette. Her boyfriend comes over all pissed. Scheese reportedly said something like, “I already apologized to her. What more do you want?” After the show, the boyfriend reportedly went out to his car, drove past Scheese outside the bar, shot him in the chest, and drove off. (Scheese survived and was transported to Brooke Army Medical Center.)
I heard the gunshots from the patio out behind the Warhol. We all laughed and made jokes that someone was shooting at us, not considering for a second that the sound we’d heard was actually gunfire. This was a punk show, after all. Punk shows can get a little violent at times, sure, but I’d never heard of anyone pulling a gun (unless you count the fucking cops).
I don’t know. I don’t want to make jokes because it’s not funny, and I don’t want to call anyone out because I don’t wanna wind up with a bullet wound. But is this what the scene’s come to? I don’t even know what to say about the whole thing. Not cool. Not cool at all. •