12 December 2007

Live From The Bottom Shelf: The Punk Farm Nation

Punkfarmspace: How Social Networking is Transforming Fandom

by Cluck Roosterman

On Monday I wrote about how Punk Farm is quietly undermining the oppressive foundation of the corporate music industry. And while it is true that the creative force of the band is the engine that drives this movement, the deeper reality is that without their fans, Punk Farm would be stuck in neutral. Any great movement needs a critical mass of support in order to gain the necessary momentum towards lasting social change.

So, does Punk Farm must have a critical mass of fans?

You have no idea.

As I followed the band on the road, I was struck by the hysteria that greeted us at each site. As a rock historian, I haven't seen a group of fans identify this closely with a band since the Phishheads of the early 90s... and before that, the Deadheads who followed the Grateful Dead to concerts all over the world. I couldn't wrap my chicken little head around this... how did a small underground farm band gain such a loyal and downright obsessive fanbase? How did the Punk Farm Nation come into being, let alone reach such a feverish pitch?

The answer was simple: Social Networking.

We are in the Age of MySpace and Facebook, an age where an army of similarly-minded people are but a few clicks away. Whereas before it could take years for an upstart band to gain any sort of traction, today you are just a cool website or a hipster doofus music video away from superstardom. People can debate the positives and the negatives of this evolution of human interaction, but there is no debating this: Social Networking is a force to be reckoned with.

The Punk Farm Nation started out with a few loyal fans but spread like wildfire with the launching of Punkfarmspace, an on-line community where fans could convene to discuss their favorite thing: Punk Farm.

This has had a revolutionary effect on the very nature of fandom. No longer are fans just anonymous faces in a crowd of adoring and screaming Beatlemaniacs. Through the power of these social networks, fans are not just just observers, they now have the power to shape the destiny of their favorite band by engaging in what is being dubbed "participatory fanhood."

But that's enough from me. I could go on for days, but rather than listen to me describe the Punk Farm Nation, I decided to do what any intrepid reporter would do and go straight to the source. So while Punk Farm was rockin' out stage, I waded through the crowds and interviewed some of the citizens of the growing Punk Farm Nation. Here's a taste of what I found.

Fan 1: Isaiah (Colorado)

CR: As a Punk Farm uber-fan, do you ever worry that your adoration will undermine the punk rock spirit of the band? Is popularity at odds with punk rock?

Isaiah: N'aaaah. I wouldn't say. It's more of a movement than anything. As long as the dudes and dudettes of PF don't let all that love go to their heads, they'll be fine. They've been rocking the underground scene for so long now, if a little success goes their way, that's cool. As long as they keep true to their spirit and they continue to share that spirit with others, it's all good.

Fan 2: Shep (Wisconsin)

Describe the experience of hearing Punk Farm for the first time. What is it about Punk Farm that appeals to you?

Shep: Oh man, oh man - I was there! I was there at one of their very first shows in Wisconsin. It blew my mind, shattered my sense of reality. I've seen every Punk Farm show since. And what appeals to me... What doesn't? The drumming, the bass....all the chicken feed you can eat!

Fan 3: Jesi (Texas)

CR: Has listening to Punk Farm had any effect on your relationship with your farmer?

Jesi: OMG - I like totally snuck out of the barn with my BFF to see the show when they were in town. The farmer caught us when we were trying to sneak back in and he made us do all this extra work. So yeah, it put a strain on us and now he has trust issues, but like - it's Punk Farm. I saw them live! I touched Pig, I took a picture with him! That's stuff I'll be telling my grandkids!

(Note: In this author's opinion, Jesi is definitely the frontrunner to win Pig's portrait in the Punk Farm Raffle. She's got #1 Pig Fan written all over her... literally. Seriously, I think she took a magic marker and wrote "#1 Pig Fan" all over her arms and hooves.)

Fan 4: Jerome (Maine)

CR: Is Punk Farm better recorded or live?

Jerome: Oh man, it's no comparison. I mean, don't get me wrong, I love PF's tracks and the sound that they are able to achieve in the studio, it's like putting a genie in a bottle, but you just can't fully replicate the experience in a recording. Seeing PF live is so wicked cool and I highly suggest it to any animal who may be reading this right now. You get to get your groove on with like minded individuals and just soak in the rock!

Fan 5: Tammy (Florida)

CR: If you could choose another band/artist for Punk Farm to collaborate with, which band/artist would that be?

Tammy: I listen to a lot of obscure bands, some stuff from overseas, so I'd love to see PF take a route less taken. What about Puffy Amiyumi? That would becool. Though they wouldn't understand each other. Or maybe the Groovie Ghoulies? I don't know. I just think it would be cool to see a collaboration no one would expect!

...and that's just the tip of the iceberg. Go to Punkfarmspace and you'll see that the Punk Farm Nation extends far beyond the fences of any barnyard, far beyond any artificial boundaries... in fact, if I've learned anything on this long strange trip, it's this: Once the rock gets rolling, it cannot be stopped.


Cluck Roosterman is a renowned rock critic and best-selling author os Sex, Drugs, & Chicken Feed and Last One is a Rotten Egg: The Merciful Death of Glamrock. His newest book, Dark Meat Only: The Resurgence of Goth Culture will be released in the Spring.


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