This is how the revolution began: a dozen bands and a bunch of kids in some ratty basement screaming their lungs out. D.C. punk rock, pure and innocent. Now, almost 20 years later, that same basement – the infamous Wilson Center in the heart of D.C. – is legendary. After two decades as an epicenter for all things punk rock, the Wilson Center packed in scenesters young and old last Friday for its last show.
Pushed tightly within the center’s walls, hundreds of kids and adults shuffled around each other, inching closer to a small stage set in the back of the room.
Spiky-haired teens mixed with straight-laced forty-somethings and tattooed skinheads. They were bound by a common knowledge and respect for D.C. punk, a movement that took place largely where they stood.
This was a mass convergence of the D.C. alternative scene. Punk, indie, hardcore – it was all there. Each of the bands took the stage with a somber seriousness in their eyes. This was the end, the end of a long emotional run for the D.C. punk scene, the end of the Wison Center.
Since its opening in the ’80s, the Wilson Center has been one of the major hubs of the punk movement showcasing bands such as the Bad Brains, Minor Threat, SOA, and Fugazi.
Members of Del Cielo, a local female trio, were noticeably uneasy as they took the stage. Comprised of three teenage girls, they admitted from the outset they felt out of their element playing for so many people.
Up-and-coming street punk band Crispus Attucks, one of the most anticipated acts of the night, took the stage with focused intent. Spitting out a quick, harsh set, the band created the atmosphere of old-school punk days. Calling for more energy from the crowd, members sparked intense circle pits and an exuberating rush for the stage.
Fans were waiting for something extraordinary to happen as hardcore act Pg. 99 rose to the stage. Pg. 99, a band that embodies the ethic of outrageous hardcore, played speedy riffs coupled with violent screams of fury.
The band invited the audience onstage for the final number. The stage saw a swirl of life as the crowd charged to join the band on stage. A loud chorus resounded throughout the place, as musicians and fans screamed together onstage amid the turbulence of flying bodies and musical instruments.
As final act Strike Anywhere took the stage, an exhausted crowd rose once more for one last chance to rock out the Wilson Center. The audience members moshed, creating general havoc. Strike Anywhere provided a speedy-punk soundtrack.
There was noise, movement and screaming, and then with one final resounding crash the song was done and there was silence.
The crowd slowly filed out of the room looking back as they went, for one last glimpse of their own personal punk rock heaven.