You can hear a lot of chatter from the top of the stairs, but you never would guess just how many kids can cram themselves into a basement in the name of punk.
They’re all lined up down there, mostly on the floor. Seating on the washer and dryer is given on a first-come, first-serve system. They watch their friends set up amps and microphones as they wait for the show to begin.
For local garage bands, this is a typical scene. Each plays a set of anywhere from five to 10 songs – many of which the audience knows – until the pizza delivery arrives hours later.
“I see us just traveling all over playing shows everywhere from basements to bedrooms to backyards,” said Victor Hroncek of his two-man band the Socialistic Pizza Movement, “or if one day we actually become popular enough, I’d love to just travel and meet people and play at real venues.”
Victor and his friend Christopher Ayers, both 15 and sophomores at Lake Shore High School, began playing together over a year ago.
Nick Jones, 18, a Lake Shore High School graduate who has played with Christopher and Victor, doesn’t dream of Nashville or New York; he dreams of Bloomington, Ind.
“Bloomington is where folk punk got its start,” said Nick, who plays guitar and sings for a folk punk trio called Livin’ It. Its harmonica-fiddle-infused punk is not your typical teen endeavor.
“We aren’t going for any genre; we’re sticking with what we’re into. And I like punk,” Nick said. “Shows are DIY or out of a random building. It’s intense, it’s crazy, and it’s like a live feeling, and you can just drop whatever you were before you walk in and be who you are at that moment.”
But how do you get out of the garage?
Brad Martynowicz, the lead vocalist of Dollar Diplomacy and a Lake Shore graduate, has some suggestions. His band played recently at the Waiting Room downtown, where there was no washer-dryer seating to be found. The stage was off the ground instead of in a taped-off corner of the room, and refreshments came in the form of a bar rather than a communal jug of iced tea.
The band formed just over a year ago and hit the ground running. Dollar Diplomacy has performed at block parties, private events and other venues in Western New York.
“You can’t set limits for yourself,” Martynowicz said. “You have to play anywhere and everywhere you can, and take what you can get.”
The band’s guitarist, Tyler Wright, a student at SUNY Fredonia State and a graduate of Eden High School, said the band wouldn’t have gotten anywhere without being such good friends.
“Building chemistry between your band members is key,” Wright said. “In practice or outside of it, you won’t get anywhere without working hard and being tight.”
Listen to Dollar Diplomacy at all-ages shows on Nov. 9 at Broadway Joe’s, 3051 Main St.; Dec. 22 at the Waiting Room, 334 Delaware; and Jan. 12 at the Forvm, 4224 Maple Road, Amherst.
Alina Clough is a senior at Lake Shore High School.