At around 11:30 p.m. on a cold night roughly ten years ago, I begged my mom to let me go to the pizza restaurant Comet Ping Pong with my dad. My uncle’s band, Adrian H and the Wounds, performed that night at the local venue in Northwest Washington, D.C. After much convincing, I attended my first-ever concert in my 2013 Tumblr-era skinny jeans and black converse high tops. I remember going backstage to greet my uncle but, unfortunately, did not enjoy his heavy, dark, industrial music at the ripe age of ten.
When my friends and I decided to attend a show by local acts Thee Deluxe, Destructo Disk, and Teen Mortgage on February 17th, I was excited to return to Comet Ping Pong after all these years. We arrived late to Thee Deluxe’s set but managed to catch the very end. Destructo Disk, a Richmond-based band I had heard of through Spotify-automated recommendations but had not yet experienced live, followed them up. They came out with great energy that kept the audience unwaveringly engaged, even throwing out Slim Jims to audience members when they found too many in their guitar cases.
The next band to play was Teen Mortgage, a Washington, D.C.-based duo. They entered the stage to a loud backtrack and immediately started playing heavy rock music. My favorite part about punk rock is how short the songs usually are; I love a good minute-and-a-half-long pocket of energy about the simple things in life. Teen Mortgage, for example, explained that one brief piece was about getting high at work, followed by a track about why you need to get high at work. No one could understand any of the words, but something about seeing the chaotic and energetic genre live made all of the nonsense make sense.
What I most remember from Teen Mortgage’s set was that something went wrong in true live-music fashion. I’m not sure exactly what happened, but a technical issue caused a slight break in the middle of the set. However, immediately after the pause, the well-known lyrics, “If you’re gonna scream, scream with me!” from the Misfits’ hit song “Hybrid Moments,” rang through the venue. I looked around the room as everyone belted the familiar tune with a passion beyond anything I had seen so far that night or even at any other Washington, D.C. concert.
I’ve been telling myself to get into Washington, D.C.’s DIY scene for years. DIY (do it yourself) scenes have been around since the 1970s, with DIY record labels, venues, and bands making up the crafty aspect, but my knowledge of the D.C DIY scene stopped in the 80s with Ian MacKaye’s Dischord Records. While I joined a Facebook Group years ago that would advertise local bands, I never caught any of the shows. Though I am just starting to attend local shows, I notice a difference between local acts and bands touring in town. The local acts promote each other and form a community. At the end of Teen Mortgage’s set, for example, a girl handed me and my friends a flier for more local bands playing at another venue, The Runaway. There is a network of small venues outside of the larger venues many Georgetown students have probably been to.
After seeing Teen Mortgage at Comet Ping Pong, I can confirm that local music is worth dedicating your time to. Returning to Comet Ping Pong (still wearing converse black high tops but a few sizes larger) was a nostalgic and hopeful experience that made me realize how much of the vibrant music scene is still to be discovered in my hometown. There’s something magical, almost religious, about gathering with a crowd of people to indulge in a collective passion for enjoying music. Catch Teen Mortgage around the DMV and visit them at teenmortgage.bandcamp.com for more info about their touring dates and new releases!
Carolina Permuy is a sophomore in the SFS studying Culture and Politics. She is the INDY’s Spotlight Editor.