I found myself in South Bend visiting my mother and her family on Oct 16. I had heard rumors that South Bend hosted its own Punk Rock Night and that got me thinking: What is South Bend's all-ages scene like? Does it have the same zoning issues as we do? Do people make anonymous calls regarding venues, ratting said venue out for a lack of permits?
Thanks to the wonders of the Internet, I learned that, while Punk Rock Night is no more, there is a lone store — The Generic Shop — keeping it real in Michiana.
There was a time when Indianapolis had legitimately awesome punk stores. Future Shock, being the oldest and most frequented, has seen better days. Before places like Hot Topic, one would either hit up ye old Future Shock or the neighborhood thrift store when looking for clothes and apparel to compliment one's alternative “persona." Hardly anything of this sort that’s worthwhile remains in Indianapolis.
The Generic Shop covers every angle of awesome one can fathom — and at a decent price. The front of the store is dominated by racks of vintage graphic t-shirts. Different corners harbor action figures, studded bracelets and cartoon-themed dishware.
As I walked towards the back of the Shop, I saw a crowd of people bobbing up and down to the pop-punk stylings of The Distractions. Featuring former members of Double Agent and The Hellville Strangers, this guys in this band prides themselves on a fun, sing along attitude, and recently played Indy with Flamingo Nosebleed and The Down-fi.
After their set was The Scumbags. I’m not going to lie — during their whole performance, I couldn’t help but think of Up! Scumbag and their days playing the FOP lodge in Anderson. The Scumbags were similar, but definitely their own beast. After every song they looked wide-eyed into the audience and made humorous comments about the crowd's lack of enthusiasm. But they don't have much worry about — I spotted a 12-year-old boy sporting a homemade “Scumbags” shirt that he eventually had them all autograph.
It was at this point during the show that I noticed a large sign above the stage saying something to the effect of, “Help Wanted: Irish Need Not Apply." I found this especially hilarious because I had attended the Notre Dame vs. Western Michigan football game earlier in the day. Standing outside between bands I heard comments and jeers such as, “Notre Dame? If you want that shit you can go next door.” Where our scene is sick of The Colts and their reign over Indianapolis, South Bend knows all too well about the power football holds over a town.
Headlining the evening were the River City Rebels, a band from Vermont which I hadn't seen since a Warped Tour appearance many years ago. The band was energetic, and it’s truly the sign of a good act when they can overcome the handicap of a small crowd and still have fun with their craft. Throughout their career, the band has gone through multiple member changes and have experimented with several genres including ska. This time around they played heartfelt punk infused with violin and keyboards. Singer Dan “The Bopper” O’Day was charismatic — every word he spoke seemed to evoke a smile from the band. Songs like "Here Comes My Love Running" were anything but abrasive, and this current lineup fares well as a melodic punk act.