Punks Give Back! Bloomington is a local branch of Punks Give Back!, a national, not-for-profit organization that supports local artists and organizers to raise money for local nonprofit organizations. Punks Give Back! Bloomington organizes a monthly event with music and poetry in order to channel funds into various organizations that support local underserved and underprivileged populations. On March 4, this organization’s first event raised money in support of the UndocuHoosier’s fund. UndocuHoosier Alliance is a group that serves the needs of undocumented people at Indiana University and in Bloomington. The second event, held after Bloomington’s Zinefest, raised funds for the Bloomington Anarchist Black Cross and local prisoner support efforts. On Thursday, I caught Punks Give Back No. 3, a benefit show for the All-Options Pregnancy Resource Center in Bloomington. This center provides a number of services to people in the community: free pregnancy tests, peer counseling, diapers and baby clothes, abortion funding, condoms, adoption information, support groups, and referrals.
The third installment of Punks Give Back! Bloomington was held at the Root Cellar. Accessible via two different alleyways and through a parking lot, the Root Cellar occupies the basement of Farm, a popular restaurant in town. One has to walk through an unmarked door at the bottom of a flight of stairs to enter the Root Cellar. Despite its conspicuous location, The Root Cellar, with its hipster-meets-rustic-grime aesthetic, is a popular spot for those who prefer to avoid the more mainstream bars that cater to Indiana University’s overwhelmingly present Greek life.
Because a portion of the night’s drink sales was donated to the Resource Center, I felt less shitty about ordering a “Bill effing Murray” before I settled into a corner of the Root Cellar for the poetry portion of the night. Punks Give Back No.3 featured 8 poets: Dan “Sully” Sullivan, Mobe, Bella Bravo, Jasper Wirthshafter, T.K. Williams, Michelle Gottschich, Emily Corwin, and Eszi Waters. After a brief introduction, each poet took the stage for about five minutes. Talking points ranged from love and heartbreak to racism and gender equality. Typical to most Bloomington shows that I’ve been to, the audience, which was already impressive for a mid-week event opener, was supportive and respectful of the performers.
After the poetry had finished, the crowd reshuffled while the stage was prepared for the musical acts to come. I grabbed my second drink and wormed my way into the back of the standing room for Yalla Stockings, the first local musician of the night. Yalla Stockings is the solo venture of British transplant Charlie Jones. With a synth pad, a looping pedal, and her own airy vocals, Jones constructed ethereal, dreamy, meandering synth pop with haunting, repetitive vocal motifs. As the music began to unfold at the root cellar, the audience was physically responsive, despite the fact that Yalla Stockings was the most low-key act of the night. Yalla Stockings is not yet available for streaming anywhere on the Internet, so one has to come to Bloomington if they want to experience it.