“There was promising life in Youngstown hidden under a rock that every DIY scene would envy. People were making things happen, everyone had positive creative outlooks. It was outrageously diverse and collective, and the best part was it seemed like it was all done for our friends. I can’t get over how respectful everyone was with all the music being completely different. Always a good crowd of people who actually listened to the music. Now it’s a ghost town when it comes to tunes and venues. Too many people gave up or quit making things happen. Stofko’s house was a well kept secret.
I can’t believe how all the music disappeared. Like not just Stofkos, but in the area in general.”
I moved home from Los Angeles pretty suddenly and ended up living in Younsgtown, Ohio for the first time since I was eighteen. One day I jumped out of my friend OB’s trunk and surprised Sarah Stofko. I didn’t tell anyone I was moving back so many of my friends were a bit shocked. Sarah knew that I was a touring machine and had a lot of connections with other artists. We talked about how it would be cool to do shows in her basement. It was a nasty little place with vulgar writing on the walls, perfect for punk rock. The first few shows were a gathering of friends. We liked to drink, smoke, and watch live music. Nobody was posing. We were all genuinely interested and invested in the art. There were core members of our crew that played every show. The guys in Tay Sachs easily became the fan favorites. They were a powerful punk rock band with offensive lyrics that carried the torch nicely for Ohio based hardcore. Garrett Gorsuch played most shows too. He did funny acoustic songs and usually opened for touring punk or hip hop acts. Two other regulars were MC Homeless and Baker. They performed fast hip hop with punk rock ethics and explosive live performances. Baker was in Tay Sachs and MC Homeless played in many local hardcore/punk bands such as John Revolta, Knuckles and Nipples, and Sunk In Ships. Sunk In Ships shared bassist Zach with Tay Sachs. Looking back, we were actually a musical family and a powerhouse of raw talent. The parties never ended and neither did the laughs. Everyone loved Sarah. She was an awesome host. I booked most of the shows and then Chris Nichols of Tay Sachs stepped in and did some booking as well. He started bringing people to the shows that weren’t in our immediate friend circle. Everyone was respectful and the scene started to turn into something people talked about.
I began throwing more shows for touring acts such as Ceschi and Tinsel Teeth, only making things much bigger. Nobody hesitated to pass you a blunt and if you got knocked down in the pit, you were getting scooped right back up. I never thought those days were something I would look back on and terribly miss. You don’t know what you have ‘til it’s gone and that scene is gone forever. Youngstown, Ohio is a depressing abyss. Everybody knows it. These shows gave people a positive outlet and something to look forward to. It began with music and in turn forged new friendships. We played basketball outside with Sarah’s nephew until it was his bed time. We watched Cavs games on the upstairs television as people played beer pong and chatted in the garage. Touring artists were fed and always enjoyed their stay in a city that is only known for bad things. It’s all gone now though. Sarah moved to a new house and I moved to Texas. Music was going strong at Lemon Grove for a minute but they hated punk rock and shut down anyways. Youngstown is a black hole. Black holes are supposed to create angry and brilliant music though! I urgently hope another scene like Sarah’s house pops up.
-Matt G @rustbelthammer
This is a partial list of bands that played this hidden lair; Garrett, Horses Have People Teeth, Tinsel Teeth, Beast In The Field, Knuckles and Nipples, Mower, Ceschi Ramos, AWOL One, Stillborn Identity, MC Homeless, Tay Sachs, Baker, Juicy Karkass, Ray Strife, JE Double F, John Revolta, Sunk In Ships, Presque Vu, Dropjaw, PP Burnem, Riddlore, More States, Weak Teeth, Jesuscentric, Greenlander, Richardbenjamin, Kevin Swadener, More States, Violent Offense, Stereotype, Indian Catastrophe, Mic Ra , Antique Scream and more!