Julien Baker’s Grammy Speech

“All I ever wanted to do in my life was be in a band. I feel like music is the language I used to find my family, since I was a kid. I just want to say thank you to everbody who ever watched me play. To these guys [points to Phoebe and Lucy] for touring in a freaking van, and a Prius.” 

    Two things cracked to my front of my mind when I first watched a video of this. First, was how eerily similar her opening line was to the opening sequence of AFI’s music video for the 1996 song “He Who Laughs Last”. (As far back as I could remember, I always wanted to be in a hardcore band.”) The phrasing of both is not overtly unique but something in the tone and delivery registered. 
    The second thing I thought about was a 2017 story in The New Yorker,  written by Jia Tolentino. (Tolentino is most famous for her essays on X and X, but all of my personal favorite writing of her’s is when she is tasked with writing about musicians: the Caroline P profile, the Waxahactee.) In the article, “A house show feels like a true faith community, socialist and communal,” she said. “The lead singer is less than two feet away from thirty people who are screaming the same thing. Punk teaches the same inversion of power as the Gospel—you learn that the coolest thing about having a microphone is turning it away from your own mouth.”

Dogs in Television Shows and Movies

Black Flag’s 1981 set at San Pedro High School

    There is an iconic photo of a baby-faced Henry Rolls—shaved head, sleeveless shirt, inhaling a gallon’s worth of California air—mid-concert in front of San Pedro High School. The image has long made its rounds in punk-centric corners of the Internet, and is also the cover of an oral history zine published by Craig Ibarra that I recently purchased. The precense of Black Flag looms large in the South Bay, where I grew up. If you couldn’t play “Rise Above” on guitar by the time you hit high school, then knowing how to play guitar was pointless. It got me thinking about the era I grew up in: teen centers. In Torrance, there was The Attic. The rest didn’t even both to get names: El Segundo Teen Center, Westchester Teen Center, Manhattan Beach Teen Center, Redondo Beach Teen Center. (Did Hermosa Beach have one? I can’t remember.) 
     There were plenty of other venues for punk and hardcore shows, too. A coffee shop in San Pedro called Sacred Grounds. Veterans Skate Park in Carson. Suzy’s in Hermosa Beach. Westchester Bar and Grill. In Torrance, we booked shows in the storage room of a Japanase convience store and in the front of a boba shop. Plus the assorted house shows in Harbor City, Torrance, 

For a while, the Koos Café promoters put on shows in San Pedro and Long Beach.

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