There aren’t many places in Baltimore where you feel safe, and The Ottobar, Maryland’s premier punk rock bar, certainly isn’t one of them. It’s located in one of the worst neighborhoods in the city, the parking lot is literally a barbed wire cage, the bathrooms are covered in graffiti and piss, and worst of all, there’s no obvious signage – without the assemblage of skinny-jeaned punks outside, I would have never found the place. Despite the fact that the venue may have been better destined as a crack house, it serves its purpose rightfully, showcasing rising bands in a dying alt-rock scene in an atmosphere as gritty and desperate as the sound it encloses. Thinking back, it was probably the perfect setting to see The Menzingers. The band’s live performance is pretty much the aural equivalent of getting punched in the face, offering as much noise and energy as anyone would ever want in a punk rock show, and then some. In a genre that for the most part has become predictable and juvenile, the band is an exception, producing music that bleeds as much honesty as it does classic punk musicality. It’s all there – the hooks, the passion, and the classic punk tongue-in-cheek one-liners, from the self-deprecating: “If everyone needs a crutch then I need a wheelchair” to the aggressive: “I wanna chew up my dinner and spit it in your face.” If there’s a band out there that could bring some respectability back to the punk genre, these guys might just have what it takes.
Fraumeni is a member of
the class of 2017.