My first ever musical performance was as the teenage singer of a happily sloppy grindcore outfit known as Combat Shock. Our show was in the booze free city of wonders, Canfield, Ohio. I organized the show in a sleepy little Christian neighborhood at the local Grange Hall. It was cheap to rent and had previously hosted a cool show I attended. I was the main organizer for this event, a clueless rookie of the scene. The show was a benefit for charity and had pretty impressive attendance. Only one problem, I didn’t know what the hell a PA system was. Oh lord! One of the many bands on the stacked bill just happened to bring a PA and offered to let me use their speakers for twenty dollars. Close call, I was already flirting closely with disaster. Bands kept the stage occupied, jamming one after another. Boy did I feel awesome with my spiky green hair and gas station attendant shirt decorated in patches. Punk rock glory!


Combat Shock played in the middle; it was our time to shine. We opened with our stupidly anthemic ode to off-brand cereal. The lyrics “generic cereal rules” were indistinctly growled over and over again as I threw a box of “Honey Nut Scooters” into the audience. When it came time for our song “Destruction”, I secured a folding chair and proceeded to smash it into the ground. Harmless immature punk rock at it’s finest. Our drummer Matt had only been beating the skins for a month but played fast. Our second guitarist Aaron realized after our set that his instrument wasn’t even plugged in. Whoops. We illustrated the finer points of being young and dumb with our naivety. A few awkward teens moshed up an Ohio tornado during our set. It’s painfully hilarious to now think about. Philadelphia Experiment was the band whose PA we used, and as Combat Shock bashfully fumbled off the stage their singer took the opportunity to berate me for breaking the chair. I didn’t really know what to say to this older dude. I was just a skinny dork trying to be cool.


A cute girl came up to me after the skinhead scolding incident and asked for my sweet Hot Topic spiked bracelet. I was caught a bit off guard as she said “I will show you my boobs”. Now, I had never seen a pair of tits before so this wasn’t an opportunity to be missed. I unbuttoned the sweaty leather bracelet and placed it in her hands while getting a sneak peak at some pierced nipples. I thought that was pretty cool and considered the trade to be fair. For all I knew, those were the only titties I’d ever see during my measly existence. Next person to sneak up on me was Jonah, our main guitarist. His parents were there and witnessed the flashing of teenage tit. He wasn’t too happy and neither were mom and dad. I think Jonah stormed out of the building but I was too preoccupied with flesh to give much of a care.

Philadelphia Experiment was now taking stage. These guys all scowled something tough and had freshly shaved heads. Apparently they were “anti-racist skinheads”. The singer clutched the mic and immediately called me a “poseur, prick and asshole”. Ouch. I was a bit shocked and hurt but wasn’t yet the unhinged brawler that I would later become. They played mediocre and melodic “oi” music. The fifteen year old kids seemed to really enjoy it. Philly Experiment ended with the song “Crucified”, announcing it as an Agnostic Front cover. After their intimidating set I was greeted by a few older punks who laughed at this band, saying they had probably been “skinheads” for two weeks. I was also notified that “Crucified” was an Iron Cross song, and not originally by Agnostic Front. Sweet relief. Luckily these “tuff skins” never amounted to be anything significant in the punk rock realm and are now a cringe worthy memory. A//Political was supposed to headline but their van fueled by vegan farts never made it to Ohio. Oh well. I went home unscathed and raised a small amount of money for charity. Ladies and gentlemen, this was my introduction to the world of DIY punk rock shows. Ahh, growing pains. Thank God I am no longer sixteen.