Lez’hur Ledger: Polo, meet punk

September 10, 2009

No one ever cracked his head open on the I-shaped metal beam, I had been assured. I was at the Corpse Fortress, a house turned punk rock venue in Silver Spring, Maryland, and I was skeptical. With eight or so people hurtling in a circle around it, pummeling and being pummeled, the beam looked like a totem in some deadly game of Musical Chairs.
Last April, Voice music writer Jim McGrory challenged Georgetown to doff its pearls and Nantucket Reds to attend a District-area area punk show. Given D.C.’s status as the birthplace of seminal hardcore bands like Minor Threat and Bad Brains, attending a punk show seemed as D.C. as going to Ben’s Chili Bowl or the National Mall.
On Tuesday—after being warned by Jim that wearing a collared shirt and shorts would earn me an ass-kicking—I set out for Silver Springs and the Corpse Fortress in my most Average Joe outfit (jeans and a striped t-shirt).
The suburbs seem like a strange place to hold punk concerts, until you realize that there are plenty of things to be alienated from in Silver Spring—the Metro passengers seem a little sadder, and the half-full condominium complexes suggest hollow-eyed affluence. Georgetown has its own hollow-eyed affluence, but at least we can point to a grotesquely expensive townhouse and say “JFK lived there.”
Luckily for disaffected area punks, the Corpse Fortress is sandwiched between a towing company and a plumbing company, which explains how it can exist in a suburb without racking up daily noise complaints.
I chatted up some punks in between bands, in case a mosh pit got rough and I needed friends. The punks I met were exceedingly friendly, sharing their vegan birthday cake and ignoring my stolen sips of Wild Turkey. Fortress resident Dylan discouraged me, however, from pursuing anything more than friendship with scene girls. He avoids them himself, he said, because whoever he hooks up with will inevitably be someone’s ex-girlfriend, and things could get weird.
Dylan was more of a metal man, though, so I asked him to introduce me to someone truly hardcore. While looking for an example of true punkness, we passed two male punks complaining that someone had scratched a DVD copy of Bride Wars, and caught a glimpse of a drawing on the wall of a penis inserted into Bambi’s rabbit friend Thumper. The Corpse Fortress: where the sweet and profane mix it up.
Bands play in the house’s basement, which leaves about as much room for both the band and audience as a cramped ICC classroom. The music all blended together for me, but the atmosphere was incredible. An angry Andrew W.K. lookalike singer threatened to put out eyes with his microphone, while a dozen kids heaved and stank under the low ceiling. It didn’t matter that the hardest punk I can stomach is the Clash’s London Calling, or that one guy would end the night with an ugly gash on his hand from the I-beam. We were all just sweaty and excited to have something to do.

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    correction: someone did split there head open on the beam.

    yes, corpse fortress it is..
    all the venues and clubs/bars in dc would rather not host an actual hardcore punk show, and/or have shut down. hence a unique(for this metro area..) spot that happens to be a few blocks from dc.

    indie rockers are hip and accepted in dc, but they got to be that way on the backs of people who were into punk/hardcore. for shame but thats how its been going.

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