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Eeeeeee! Erghurghurghurgh. Badum, badum, badum.
If you were a plugged-in kid who dug punk rock in the 1990s, that sound—the screeching and white noise of dial-up Internet—probably preceded a few different online destinations: alternative-culture newsgroups, IRC chat rooms, punk-rock listservs, and later, “scene” message boards like the ones at crewcial.org and vivalavinyl.com. If you weren’t learning about shows from fliers alone, you may have been on a local email list, too, like the D.C. and Baltimore all-ages show list started by Jimmy Askew in 1999.
Yet few local punk resources were as handy as the simple site launched in 1998 by a then-16-year-old in Northern Virginia named Pablo Van Winkle. Between 2000 and 2004, Van Winkle’s pheer.com was the broader D.C. region’s most important source of information about local punk shows. Its DNA was simple: an HTML calendar with a show list organized by month. (The font: Times New Roman.) But as Van Winkle expanded pheer, adding a message board and multimedia files, he hit hurdle after hurdle: trolls descended, Web hosts cried bootlegging, his site kept getting shut down. Finally, in 2009, he killed pheer.com for good. By then, social media had already lured kids away from other forms of promotion anyway.
Social media has become awfully cacophonous since. In the days of Facebook, there are too many damn event invitations, and they’re not presented in any canonical way. So some enterprising punks have gone back to the formula perfected locally by pheer.com and started basic Web sites devoted only to D.C. DIY all-ages shows. If you’re a D.C. punk in 2014, bookmark these sites (assuming anyone bookmarks stuff anymore)—and if they lead you to anything cool, remember the No. 1 rule of attending a show in someone’s living room: Don’t be an asshole.
Run by D.C. resident Bobbie Dougherty since 2012, DC Show Space is the most comprehensive and reliable repository of D.C. DIY shows online. Dougherty also runs inyrbasement, a Tumblr site she started for punk listings in 2010. Now it houses mostly fliers.
This site, updated every five minutes, scrapes the popular (but spam-ridden) DC DIY Shows Facebook group for show posts and arrays the information in a simple, organized table. Very helpful.
Catherine Lewis’ Show List DC is probably the D.C. area’s most genre-agnostic show list, and it’s not just for DIY events—most of the shows it posts are at legit venues.
Launched in December 2013 by local scene-booster and musician Nick DePrey, this calendar of D.C. shows (mostly house gigs) isn’t as comprehensive as DC Show Space, but that’s intentional—DePrey wants to keep it selective. In the months ahead, he hopes to spotlight nonmusic events, too.
The original version of this blog post misidentified the parties who suspected Pablo Van Winkle of bootlegging. It was his Web hosts, not bands.