Arts District

Relics of Baltimore's Forgotten Punk Scene Showcased in New Metro Gallery Exhibit

Celebrated Summer Records owner Tony Pence curates fliers, photos, and music from 1977 to 1989.

Kristina Gaddy | July 30, 2019, 11:00 am

A Bad Brains show flier made by London May, one of many punk show fliers on display. -Tony Pence
Arts District

Relics of Baltimore's Forgotten Punk Scene Showcased in New Metro Gallery Exhibit

Celebrated Summer Records owner Tony Pence curates fliers, photos, and music from 1977 to 1989.

Kristina Gaddy | July 30, 2019, 11:00 am

A Bad Brains show flier made by London May, one of many punk show fliers on display. -Tony Pence

More than half a dozen books and documentaries tell the stories of Washington, D.C.’s punk music scene—one that birthed famous musicians, created noteworthy clubs and venues, and continues to inspire bands and social activists today. People who know anything about punk know groups who emerged from D.C., including the likes of Fugazi, Bad Brains, Minor Threat, and Bikini Kill.

Often forgotten and ignored—although just forty-five minutes away—Baltimore had a punk scene, too. But finding anything that tells the story of it today is nearly impossible. That is, unless you’ve been to Celebrated Summer Records in Hampden, where owner Tony Pence has created a mini museum of punk fliers, photos, t-shirts, posters, and setlists that he’s collected throughout the years.

While his items highlight many bands, scenes, and genres that interest him outside of his native Baltimore, he has perhaps one of the best collections documenting the local punk scene.

This August, Pence is compiling hundreds of his keepsakes in a show of “raw and rare ephemera” at Metro Gallery, featuring Baltimore’s lesser known punk underground from 1977 to 1989.

“Baltimore had a scene too,” Pence says. “People forget that this happened here.” He adds that he wants to celebrate Baltimore musicians and venues that hosted more famous bands on tour, like the Circle Jerks, Dead Kennedys, and Black Flag.

To show that this era still inspires, the exhibit will open with a reception and live performances on August 3rd. Coinciding with Celebrated Summer’s 13th anniversary, the event will feature bands that capture the general style of 1980s punk, including Philadelphia-based Dark Thoughts, Pence’s band Glue Traps, and Ammo from New Jersey.

"It's going be an interesting glimpse into the subculture of this city that doesn't really get a light shone on it very much," says Metro Gallery manager Patrick Martin.

The exhibit itself ends up being as close to a time machine as Pence can offer. Hundreds of artifacts create an immersive experience of what it would have been like at iconic spaces such as the Marble Bar, Godfrey’s Ballroom, and Eutaw Clubhouse in the late 1970s and 1980s. As much as possible, Pence has organized the material chronologically and by specific shows.

Photographs taken by documentary filmmaker Skizz Cyzyk—who was then just a punk kid playing in bands—put you in the room. Contemporaneous reviews in fan zines comment on shows, while Maximum Rock n’ Roll provides Baltimore “scene reports.”

On a mixtape, you can listen to demos and songs off of rare albums. At least 150 fliers plaster the walls, like they would have plastered the streets of Baltimore, consisting of both original Xeroxed handouts and artwork cut out and taped together.

Almost every one includes an out-of-town and Baltimore band on the bill, and while local bands like Reptile House and Lungfish ended up being more well-known, Pence admits that many of the hometown names were “born and dead before anyone knew them.” He also has band t-shirts, setlists, tickets, the actual albums, and even a contract from when Black Flag played at Jules Loft on display.

He gave the show the name “Killed by Charm,” a reference to bootleg punk compilations from the late 1980s featuring the obscure and forgotten—one of which included Baltimore band Ebenezer and the Bludgeons. The earliest flier Pence has on display is from when the band played at the Oddfellows Hall in Towson in 1977.

“I didn’t go to these original shows," Pence says, explaining that he wasn’t old enough and was more into metal as a teenager. “This isn’t supposed to be definitive." He adds that he hopes this show will help other punk enthusiasts come out of the woodwork to share their experiences. “There are people out there with more knowledge.”

Although he loves the ephemera, he doesn’t hang it just to show off. Instead, he wants to highlight the DIY ethos of punk—something he hopes the Killed by Charm show highlights.

During that era, punk was underground. Fliers were handmade, the albums were self-released or on small labels, and the were venues small. He says his true desire is for kids to see and hear all of this, and then think, “I can start a band. I can make a flier.” Then, he says, the punk tradition passes forward.





You May Also Like


MaxSpace

Movie Review: A Beautiful Day in the Neighborhood

Tom Hanks as Mr. Rogers is exactly what we all need right now.

Arts & Culture

2019: Year In Review

Twenty of the most pivotal events in Baltimore this year, in chronological order.

On The Town

Holiday Markets and Craft Fairs to Shop for Handmade Gifts This Season

Here's where to find one-of-a-kind presents for everyone on your list.


Arts District

Maryland Native Maggie Rogers Receives First Grammy Nomination

The singer-songwriter was nominated for “Best New Artist” alongside big-name acts.

Arts District

Four Key Updates on the Baltimore Symphony Orchestra

Here’s what the BSO has been up to since performances resumed in September.

The Chatter

Signal Station North Hopes to Light Up the Neighborhood at Night

New initiative aims to draw foot traffic by illuminating artwork and businesses.

Connect With Us

Most Read


Gervonta Davis Wins Another World Title Belt, Eyes ‘Big Year’ Ahead: West Baltimore’s own was bruised, but not beaten in longest fight of his pro career.

What to Know About the Maryland Cycling Classic Coming September 2020: For starters, Baltimore's pro cycling event will be more than 100 miles long.

Will Judge Make an Example Out of Catherine Pugh?: With the former mayor’s sentencing scheduled for February, both sides get to work on their case.

Maryland Politicians React to Trump Impeachment: Local leaders reflect and look ahead at Senate trial.

Maryland Native Maggie Rogers Receives First Grammy Nomination: The singer-songwriter was nominated for “Best New Artist” alongside big-name acts.