Saturday, September 27, 2008
A Tale of Two Cities
The Ozark punk scene was focused in southwest Missouri’s two largest cities: Joplin and Springfield. There was one notable band based in Lebanon, Mo (AWOL 13), and a handful of punk music fans in smaller towns like Neosho and Nevada, but is was Springfield and Joplin that produced the notable bands and hosted the big shows in the 1990’s. It was about an hour’s drive between the two punk strongholds, and pilgrimages were commonly made by both bands and fans to attend shows and parties. However despite their close proximity the scenes in Springfield and Joplin were very different. The scene in Joplin was a lot bigger. In Springfield, a punk show featuring all local bands was lucky to draw 50 people. In Joplin, crowds of 150 punkers or more were not uncommon at local gigs. People in the Joplin scene were also as a whole younger, cleaner living, and more friendly. Kids as young as 12 attended punk shows in Joplin, and you never had to worry about getting beat up (although the backbiting could get a little extreme sometimes). Springfield, on the other hand, had an older scene with lots of drugs, violence, and general unpleasantness. I personally attended several punk shows in Springfield that ended with one or more persons having to go to the emergency room. There was a period when several Joplin-based bands refused to play shows in Springfield. If this all seems to painting Springfield in a bad light, remember I’m a Springfield boy myself, and I loved the place. We punk people in Springfield kind of developed a tough attitude, and in a weird way took pride in being able to take care of ourselves in such a rough scene. I always loved both scenes, with Joplin providing some good, positive fun while Springfield would give you a dose of tough reality. Like a bizarre yin and yang dynamic, Springfield and Joplin complemented each other, and their respective punk subcultures provided balance and inspiration to each other.