Exploring the DMV’s underground grunge scene

Steven Johnson

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Photo by Steven Johnson

Teenagers rock out at the Garrett-Fest 2022 in Kensington.

Teenage angst, moshing and heavy music distortion defines the grunge scene in DMV. Over the past couple years, the grunge community has slowly risen out of obscurity with the creation of new bands and an ever-growing social media presence.

Originating from the American Northwest, grunge is a subculture of rock music that combines the sounds of heavy metal with the angsty lyrics that accompany punk rock. Grunge evolved from the repressed anger teenagers are faced with and, through music, they express their discontent with the state of their society.

“The grunge scene got major inspiration from the social-economic differences in the general population. It flourished by expressing the anger, depression and other emotions and actions resulting from the oppression that townsfolk experience due to the ways in which the government has operated for decades,” Concertgoer Ekko Rose said.

Grunge, alongside multiple other music genres, lead to the creation of an environment where teenagers can enjoy and relate to one another through music.

“When I was a teenager, the local scene gave me a place to forget about all my problems at school or in life in general. It was a safe place for me to get to watch awesome bands and hang out with my friends, and nothing beats that. It gives you a sense of belonging. You’re all there for the same goal of experiencing the music together, no matter what’s going on outside of the venue,” Bedroom Floor lead vocalist Jesse Binge said.

The grunge scene in the DMV originated with teenagers forming small bands and performing locally at basement shows or small venues. Over time, these small bands would gain popularity within the music community and influence new generations of musicians.

“The scene grows and evolves more and more with the formation of new bands. It’s a cycle of high schoolers going to shows, realizing they want to be a musician just like the people they see and then starting their own bands,” Binge said. “We all come together for that same cause, and having more people involved with creating their own music will only help the scene flourish.”

The evolution of grunge music over the last 40 years not only led to the creation of new subgenres but started a movement based in anti-capitalistism and gender inclusivity. This has influenced their unique taste in fashion, rooted in closing the socioeconomic gap.

“Grunge fashion is also pretty affordable; the majority of pieces can be found at thrift stores. I think that because the grunge fashion pieces are very androgynous, it can really promote inclusivity between people on every part of the gender spectrum because the style doesn’t change depending on gender. As a non-binary individual, I feel very comfortable in grunge fashion because I don’t feel very feminine or masculine in it,” senior Melody Montgomery said.
Grunge has allowed for individuals to express themselves and be surrounded by like-minded individuals who value their ideas. It’s a safe place for individuals to express their true selves without judgment. Over the past 40 years, it has developed into a powerful, creative and inclusive environment where art can be created and enjoyed in a positive manner.

Being able to be a part of something truly positive just for the sake of art and enjoying your life while you have it is something that I think gets a lot of teens hooked on music rather than many other negative things in life. ”

— Logan Wilms