Updated: Dec 26, 2022
While Albuquerque’s 2022 brought more business closures, police violence, and an increased awareness of homelessness, the people in one particular scene have found more commonality than we’ve seen in years. The diy music scene in Albuquerque has grown exponentially, and with it, the community that surrounds it.
I’ll be honest, I thought it was just me coming in green to a scene that had been thriving. I’ve been very intentional about getting out of the house to play and support Albuquerque’s venues and bands this year. The more I spoke with promoters, venue owners, and bands, I found that something enchanting is happening. New bands seem to be crawling up out of the dry ditches, and the greater majority are releasing some pretty high quality shit. 2022 has proven to be an incredible year for local music and shows, and something I’m honestly proud to be a part of.
2022 has been what Barney Lopez, Booker at the Lauchpad and Bassist of the Red Light Cameras, describes as a “year of growth for the ABQ music scene”
“...with so many new bands rising to prominence. While some of the stalwart local bands of the last decade have pulled back, the younger bands are stepping up. There's also a ton of energy behind the newest of ABQ bands.”
Third Vision and Morbid, two of the most consistent promoters in Burque without a brick & mortar venue, have been hustling their asses off this year. Follow both on social media. Each host a good amount of All-Ages shows that bring out hardcore kids and punks alike. Follow them on social media to keep up with their shows. If you’re not, you’re missing out.
Beyond the promoters, the DIY music scene has grown to embrace this new, hungry community. With new venues like La Chancla, co-run by Bethany Baca and Adri De Las Cruz, to Adam Smith’s almighty Fly Honey Warehouse (voted best illegal nightclub by Weekly Alibi), there is no shortage of venues for local and touring acts to find a raucous collective of punks, looking for an evening of light rebellion.
Located in Barelas, La Chancla, who's opening art show debuted January 7th of 2022, followed by their first live music on February 19th with Los Mocos, Loaded Hippies, and Big Hen, has become a staple of this incipient, punk scene. Bethany Baca has seen “revival” in the air starting “at the tail end of 2021.’ It ‘went full speed in 2022. A lot of people said COVID killed the music scene, but I think it actually revived it. Previous to COVID, there was an eerie lull over the last ten or so years. A lot of the music spaces were taken over by people who were not from here and not truly inclusive of this community; it fueled a lot of gatekeeping and nepotism which I think is part of what killed the magic of our underground music scene. If anything, COVID ended that era and really weeded out who is invested for the long haul. Almost all the bands and music spaces involved now truly care about protecting the integrity of this special place and the amazing talent within it.”
I don’t know if anyone truly expected the scene to come out the way it did. It's something we always hope for, but aren’t really sure if it’s going to happen.
“To be honest,” said Bethany, “I thought I was going to book one, maybe two shows a month, but because of how much momentum it instantly had and because of how excited people were for a space like that, I just went with it.”
Promoters, individuals and bands are all pulling their share of weight to make this all happen.
“Those first two shows at Taylor’s art closing and the Big Hen/Mocos/Loaded Hippies are literally the only two shows i’ve curated from the grount up. Literally the rest have been locals or touring bands that reached out and asked La Chancla.”
With the array of genres and sub-genres, division and cliques are something that would be expected between scenes, but that hasn’t been the case. Shows are stacked with metal, hardcore, hip-hop, doom, emo, and punk. Manny Perez, Vocalist of Mishap described the scene as people “just vibing.”
“I thought it was pretty cool that different scenes meshed well together. Everybody was just vibing. Every show was really cool–there was so much energy.”
Mishap dropped their Space 2 Breathe EP on February 18th of this year, hitting harder than the nuclear explosion of 1945 in Los Alamos. I missed their first couple shows, but every time I’ve seen Mishap live, the crowd is nothing less than war. Fists fly, faces bleed, and a strange mixture of rage and joy fill the eyes of everyone within earshot. Terror and camaraderie ensue.
“Albuquerque has something really beautiful here cause everyone's super supportive of each other, and just has each other's backs–I think Albuquerque’s on an awesome path.”
“Los Mocos lead a pack of amazing new punk and hardcore bands like Contact, Ōverwhelm, nomestomper, Royal Drug, Street Fighter, & THC-Worm.” said Barney Lopez. “Meanwhile groups like Monsoon Music Collective and Badlands Studios are creating communities that support artists like Jimmy Climbs, Lowmello, Willajay, Bellowing Bear, Anima, Vice Love, Emariposa, Jav!er Santos & so many more. It's exciting to see the scene lifting it self up by supporting each others shows.”
I’m sure I sound old saying this, but watching Gen Z not only show up in droves to All-Ages shows, but create incredible music has been a personal highlight of 2023.
Alex DenBaars, straight-edge Vocalist of Self Neglect said “The body of work that bands in Albuquerque generated in 2022 is astonishing. This last year really showed that Albuquerque is a nexus of creativity that far exceeds its size.”
[Self Neglect released Miserable/Comfortable in September 2022, securing a place in my top 10 favorite bands of all-time.]
“That really has been one of the most exciting things for me this year” said Bethany Baca, “to see all these young people making really cool, interesting music. They are a major part of what has renewed the burque music scene magic, and it's been a total blast to watch unfold.”
“Albuquerque has something really beautiful here" said Manny Perez, "cause everyone's super supportive of each other, and just has each other's backs.”
The past few years have brought a lot of heart-ache and disappointment on so many levels, but I think our community is on track to creating its own fortune. Bands are pushing themselves and people are showing up now, more than ever.
Manny Perez wants to see more of that going forward. “Just nothing but love for eachother, and just bringing each other up, and making shows better and more energetic.”
This is the call to action. All of us have an opportunity to be a part of something that’s only just beginning. There’s no room for elitism. Show up to support your friends, bands, venues, and promoters. Fuck competition. We can only keep this momentum if we will commit to collaborating with each other and making this scene safe, energetic, and punk as fuck.
The space is built, the big top is up, the freak show is ready to perform. We just have to show up. So what could 2023 hold?
Alex summed up my hopes and thoughts better than I could have, so I’ll leave you with this:
“My prediction for the coming year is that musicians here will continue to cultivate and refine their sounds and start to break new ground in their genres. I think that record labels and collectives might start to spring up to help local acts get greater reach and get more consistent support. I also think Albuquerque bands will start playing outside the city more frequently, which will not only spur them onward in their musical journeys by bringing them into contact with other talents in their genre, but also start building relationships out-of-state and get more larger acts to tour through here that otherwise would skip. Finally, I think 2023 is going to see 2-3 releases that will be mandatory listening for years to come and those releases will become the bedrock of a more stable and established scene. Don’t let me be wrong. Keep working hard and lifting each other up.”
Alex put together a playlist of Albuquerque’s most notable metal, hardcore, punk, emo, and post-hardcore, releases in 2022.
This list includes:
Price Of Life
on my deathbed.
Exist to Infect
My Hair is a Rat’s Next
Josh T. Romero
Kill The Bandit Leader
Pieces of the Past
I’m also giving an honorable mention to Time X Heist, a straight-edge band out of Denver. Their vocalist, Mark is from Albuquerque, and they just dropped a killer EP in late November. Spin the shit out of it along with all the other locals you know of! Learn their shit to scream it back at them.
By Josh T. Romero