Tucked away on quiet Patricia Drive near Bishop Peak resides a house notorious in the punk community. They call it the Chlorophyll Cave, named after the homeowner’s love of veganism. An entire community finds a home here, passionate for self-expression and sound.
A group of around 50 people in San Luis Obispo, the ‘punk-rocker’ community thrives “underground.” All concerts are held in local homes and they refer to themselves as the “DIY” or ‘do it yourself’ scene.
On a Tuesday afternoon, bands from Oakland and Ventura began to carry their instruments into the living room of the Chlorophyll Cave. Attendees stopped at the front gate and placed $5 into a jar near the entrance before entering the living room. Shabang Music Festival Manager Jake Schoonmaker talked about the priority of music over money in the DIY scene.
Currently, Shabang is the most well-known DIY event in San Luis Obispo. A festival that originally began on Cuesta Ridge transformed into an event with more than 4,000 tickets sold this year. All of the money funds the next Shabang as well as local charity.
“The money should help perpetuate the art,” Schoonmaker said. “I think some of the people here are definitely doing the same thing.”
Weeks before performing at the festival, Vibe Out! band member and journalism junior Spenser Judd talked about the high value of self expression and personal freedom within the punk community and its music. To Judd, punk is an emotional release.
“Punk music is an outlet for your aggression against whatever you’re feeling anger toward and it’s also an outlet for freedom of expression,” Judd said. “You’re able to just say your thoughts and not have to care about conforming yourself to musical standards like a lot of other genres do. There’s no rules really.”
The Chlorophyll Cave currently belongs to the well-established hardcore band Crucial Measures. Ian Mann, a Cal Poly environmental earth and soil science junior and the lead guitarist of Crucial Measures, talked about the hard work the band went through to pay for the soundproofing of their living room after they received noise violations for concerts in the garage.
“We threw our first show in the garage and the second show someone called a noise violation on us at 6 p.m.,” Mann said. “We’ve had two noise violations called on us as a band and one of them was at 12 in the afternoon. That’s why we have the shows early and in our living room, which has a lot less space. We sound-proofed the ever-living fuck out of it and have not had any problems since then.”
Inside the living room, mattresses cover the windows and walls to block out sound. Mann and their roommates invested almost $1,000 to soundproof the home enough to avoid noise citations.
Mann said they felt the punk genre is often marginalized due to its aggressive nature. However, many members of the punk community consider the music to be a part of their own identities. On their tour to Canada, the band World Peace made sure to stop at the Chlorophyll Cave to perform.
“Even as a kid, I always searched for uglysounding things or unconventional music. It’s a release,” World Peace bassist Christian Huft Robbins said.
From the outside of the Chlorophyll Cave, no noise can be heard. Step inside the home and the music is near-deafening. The sound of the drums and fast-paced guitar riffs vibrate the chests of everyone in the room. The audience begun to dance, headbanging and jumping to the sound. Some members quietly watched from the back of the living room against the wall.
The living room is small, loud and heavily decorated. A couch on one side of the room is for people to be thrown onto if the group decides to mosh. Moshing is when a punk crowd pushes each other around while listening to the music to add to the experience.
Despite often aggressive or angry lyrics, many members of the DIY community emphasized how serious they take safety and positivity at their events. A sign at the entrance of the Chlorophyll Cave made this goal incredibly clear.
“No alcohol. No drugs. No racism. No sexism. No homophobia. No transphobia. No violence. Keep this venue all ages and positive for everyone!” it said on a cardboard cutout.
Many of the punk fans identify as “straight-edge.” Mann said that being straight edge is a movement against the popular culture of substance use.
“[Being straight-edge is]essentially adopting a positive lifestyle in a world where negativity and self-destruction [are] the cultural norm,” Mann said.
Despite punk’s commonly misunderstood wild and aggressive stigma, no one is allowed to be intoxicated at their shows. Straight -edged people often refuse all drugs and alcohol. Several Chlorophyll Cave attendees had large Xs somewhere on their body to display their identity as straight-edge.
Twenty-two-year-old Selena Salazar drove from Ventura, California April 25 to see Civil Conflict perform at the Chlorophyll Cave. Many of the people in the DIY scene have had an early start with punk music, some as young as 5-years-old.
“My dad used to play a lot of punk music and sometimes he would sneak us off to a show here and there and not tell my mom. It was always very loud and full of energy and the people were always very nice,” Salazar said.
Anyone is welcome to attend the DIY shows. Seventeen-year-old Atascadero High School student Cora Balogh has played at the Chlorophyll Cave with her band multiple times.
“I like the acceptance, especially of people in the LGBTQIA+ community,” Balogh said. “I’m not a college student, so I’m not as immersed in the punk culture as some of the other people here are. I think it’s super cool that they’re so accepting and let people our age come play at the shows and hang out.”