Big Bleach welcomes diversity in punk scene
A funky purple and black border and four familiar faces adorn the front of Big Bleach’s latest tape, “Under the Bleacherz.” The cassette was avail- able at the band’s homecoming performance at Spice World, the latest addition to the do- it-yourself punk scene. It is evident from the heightened intensity of the crowd why Big Bleach commands the scene.
The band members not only engage the audience while performing, but will call crowd members by name and give them a “thanks, man” after the show. It is their unmitigated hospitality in Hattiesburg and on tour that continues to expand the local music scene beyond local performances.
Big Bleach’s successful performance at Spice World on Jan. 21 resulted from their recent 10-day tour spanning across nine states. During the set, the band received praise that reciprocated their performance’s intensity.
The tour influenced more than their amplified performance ability. According to the band, punks from all over are talking about Hattiesburg. Some out-of-state bands want to deliver their own unique punk brand to the Hub City.
Big Bleach guitarist and Baghead singer Hampton Martin shared his personal thoughts on how the tour has positively impacted the punk scene in Hattiesburg and at large.
“More punk bands wanting to play in Hattiesburg can only be a positive thing,” Martin said. “The entirety of the punk DIY subculture revolves around live music [and] always has. Without the music and these bands, [the scene] could never evolve into something greater. More bands mean more shows, and more shows can mean a lot of things.”
It is more than the music. The scene’s expansion allows for a wider array of diversification. The welcoming environment of both the Porn Hall and Spice World cater to the band’s mentality to inspire everyone around them to join. Martin commented on the idea of expanding the punk scene not only in terms of sound but the people involved.
“There’s been a huge push in the punk scene for a greater representation of the non-white male,” Martin said. “Seeing a band that does have [a member who is] black, trans, female or whatever — it can be super important to someone and give them that push to want to join the greater punk scene.”
Big Bleach’s determination has not gone unnoticed by frequent venue participants. Hattiesburg resident punk head Jordy Boof said the Porn Hall, its residents and the people who frequent it are the new generation of local freethinkers who have an ability to impact their surroundings for the better.
“I can honestly say they’re some of the most motivated, determined group of young adults I’ve had the pleasure of knowing,” Boof said. “With all of the incarnations of all of their bands, they’ve certainly done a lot for the local scene. They’re the last vestige of DIY in this godforsaken town.”
The impression Big Bleach has made on people around the country engage them to talk about Hattiesburg’s music scene. Their success as a sub-culture gives people hope and that is why it is imperative to expand the scene.
Big Bleach bassist Harley White said there was an almost overwhelming sense of hospitality in every city they visited.
“It has done a lot for our scene in Hattiesburg because we have met so many people that had no idea that Hattiesburg was the rock and roll capital of the Southeast,” White said.
Evidence suggests that Big Bleach’s warmth has a residual effect on everyone who participates in its shows or shows hosted at its venues. The value of the punk subculture in Hattiesburg has extended to the national scene.
By this merit, local artists’ significance will only grow.