In many ways, the concept of D.I.Y. is what binds this scene together more than anything else. And I know the obvious response to that is, “Hey jackass, what about music?” But what this scene really means and is about isn’t necessarily the music as an art form in and of itself. The Philharmonic is music; Top 40 is music. The true defining characteristic of this scene is the do it yourself mentality, the pure creative drive to make what isn’t there and to do so under your own authority. D.I.Y. has given us more than just the music. It has given us record labels, publications, festivals, merchandise, venues – and no place in the world feels more like home than a good D.I.Y. venue. Last weekend marked the end of a good one
Fortunately enough, the Bomb Shelter did manage to get one final send off, and god damn was this one to remember, with a lineup featuring Smooch, Old Hands, American Lions, The Blithedale Romance, and Milkmen. It was a meaningful group of artists, as many had lived, rehearsed, and performed in the house for several years. For many, it was a bittersweet night as the show brought such times to a close, but as Jason Renna said during his set with Old Hands, “This is sad, but it’s also happy, because you’re all here to celebrate it.”
The show itself was more than anyone could’ve asked for. All of the bands gave incredible performances, as they’ve all been well known to do. American Lions got possibly the biggest rise out of a crowd as I’ve seen for a long time, but then again, you can expect a level of energy and passion from a basement show that is unmatched at most other venues, with 100+ wild punks going absolutely fucking apeshit to the point that if the walls weren’t two feet thick of solid concrete, encased by 10 feet of dense earth, the place would’ve been torn to the fucking ground.
I don’t know how to use words to describe this show, but it encompassed everything New Brunswick basement shows have become infamous for. It started anew each time a band took the stage and a waterfall of people cascaded down the stairs and flooded the basement. The crowd danced and moshed as hard as any at any show I’ve ever experienced; bodies hitting bodies, knocking over mic stands, lights getting knocked out, dude’s getting their head’s shaved in the middle of a set, and shit – the ceiling wasn’t even in one piece by the time the night was over. The artists were just as much a part of this by playing in the crowd and on the crowd. The place was ripped apart to the point that by the following morning, there would be no signs left of the legacy that had been made, aside from the old grungy banner that had been the backdrop for so many great shows throughout the years.
By their nature, D.I.Y. spaces come and go. Some last longer than others (R.I.P. to the Meatlocker after nearly 30 years), but what they give to us for any amount of time is sure to be remembered and appreciated. But if there’s another takeaway from Saturday night, aside from how much the Bomb Shelter was loved and will be missed, it’s that over 100 people will show up to a show in a stranger’s basement to hear some good honest tunes and mosh around in a crowd of people. The faces change, the places change, but the spirit of D.I.Y. stays the same.
Thank you to the Bomb Shelter, and thank you especially to all the people that made it what it was.
Adam gave man-birth to N.J. Racket and is as close to an "editor-in-chief" the site has. He's a god awful photographer.