What happened to teenage punk rock?


Photo courtesy of Lindsey Rhoades

Mishawaka High School Juniors Dalton Frantz and Xavier Hartley and Elkhart Memorial Juniors Jenaro Delprete and Gavin Mullet outside of Mishawaka High School. They are one of few active teenage bands in the area.

Jenaro DelPrete, Staff Writer

So here’s the thing: local music is my life. I have been deeply immersed in the “scene” since the ripe old age of eight: hardcore, indie, hip-hop, jazz, rock, even cover bands. I’ve been involved in it for as long as I can remember.

In recent years, I’ve noticed a decline in certain aspects of what makes local music so great in the first place. Teenagers are missing from a large portion of the equation, attendance is seeing an overall decline, and lastly, all ages shows are being left behind as a whole.

During my early years of being integrated into the “scene,” I was engulfed in an environment inundated by teenagers. All the people I saw were 15-18, and there were rarely adults other than a few local veterans. Venues were always as close to home as possible: inside a band’s garage, at a local music shop, inside a hipster coffee shop. Everything felt down to earth and the environment that surrounded me was comfortable— we were all family. Recently (as in the last few years) I’m not so sure I can call most of the local music scene as cushy as it used to be.

Now the popular spots to go are in downtown bars, out of town mini-festivals, and house shows that are deliberately 21+. Don’t get me wrong, there is nothing wrong with having shows at bars. The crowds are always great and people are respectable enough most of the time, but I just can’t help but feel like there is something missing. The teenagers are what is missing.

“The youth can really connect to the scene because of the raw emotion of it,” Dalton Frantz, a junior at nearby Mishawaka High School, said about being one of few teenagers actively involved in our local music scene. “I mean it’s cool to see someone you know up on stage and telling a story.”

It is true that the local music scene brings people together for a collective goal, but lately the majority of the bands we see are in their late twenties, nothing anywhere near the high school age range. Demographics change, but the root of youth music has to be the true adolescent endeavor.

Without kids in this demographic being involved, the local music scene is going to steadily decline, unless we do something about it.

There’s something inherently wrong with saying local music is going to die. This is very obviously false, but on the other hand, all music starts locally, no matter how we look at it. Even for bands and rappers that gained popularity through the internet, local aspects of music creation occurred prior.

Society moves mediums over time, all forms of media shifts itself into another form in time. News wasn’t always going to be in print, mail wasn’t always going to be in letters delivered by hand. In that same way, music wasn’t always going to be presented in the form of a local community.

“In a world of instant gratification, too many people give up the rewards of being good at an instrument or performing in a band, or writing a good song,” Frantz said.

Photo courtesy of Lindsey Rhoades.
Mishawaka High School Junior Dalton Frantz plays guitar at The Well in South Bend on Saturday, Sept. 2018.

“On the other hand, right now, I feel like there is a disconnect in the local scene because of the age gap,” Frantz said. “There aren’t a whole lot of teenagers in the scene going out and just going for it.”

So, according to Frantz, one could come to the conclusion that a lack of teens participating in the music scene is in part due to the lack of all ages shows.

Gavin Mullet, a junior at Elkhart Memorial, has a similar mindset to Frantz:

“… [we] need more younger kids making and playing music because frankly, most of the bands in the area are just generic…”

On the topic of all ages shows, Mullet agrees, “I personally think there should be less 21+ shows. We need more young people to go to shows.”

Why aren’t younger people getting involved? Why aren’t teenagers starting bands or going to shows? 

Frantz said that young people aren’t starting bands because of “the fact that it’s a slow process in the world of instant gratification…” He went on to add that “it’s not even a generational thing. It’s just the fact that normal people don’t want to put this massive amount of effort into something that isn’t going to turn out reward even within the first few years.”

Mullet had a different perspective on the gap we have in local music.

“It’s intimidating,” he said. “The scene is so saturated with generic bands that I feel like people will think that nobody will pay attention to their band unless it’s whatever-core, but in reality, it’s what everyone wants and what the area needs.”

Instant gratification and intimidating circumstances. Artistic outlets are some of the most daunting and hardest things to put effort into, but sometimes can be the most rewarding thing to young adults.

Both Frantz and Mullet are local musicians, both age 17, and both creatives struggling in a music scene with low attendance and less than appealing circumstances. Like myself, these guys have dedicated lots of time and energy into a craft they personally believe in and want to share with others.

“I would just like to see some more people my age or younger just making the same effort,” Frantz said. “I think it just boils down to actually getting involved in some kind of way first.”  

Frantz offers some words of advice for young people struggling in this same situation:

“Just go for it, get some friends and just play some music. Record a trashy demo in your bedroom. Just get out there and see where it goes.”

Mullet urges for something more:

“To the people our age: just go to shows. Attendance is one of the most important things to the bands. Support your friends and they’ll support you back.”

The local scene can only thrive with those who create and support youth music. Create anything you can. Come support your friends at shows. Buy your friend’s artwork. It can be as simple as sharing a post on Facebook or giving them a retweet. Don’t be afraid. Be the start of the community you want to be a part of.

To my creatives and non-creatives alike: We’re all in this together, we can only do this together. Support everything and everyone you can.

Photo courtesy of Lindsey Rhoades
MHS Junior Xavier Hartley and EMHS Juniors Jenaro DelPrete and Gavin Mullet play together at Smith’s in Mishawaka, Friday, April 13.