Out of the Basement: From Cheap Trick to DIY Punk in Rockford, Illinois, 1973-2005
By David A. Ensminger
Yes, punk rock in Rockford, Ill. is a very specific genre, but that’s the beauty of the Scene History Series from Microcosm Publishing. The focus is on very targeted music movement that generally doesn’t get much attention outside of local bars. And while Cheap Trick, Rockford’s favorite sons, have certainly garnered international attention over the past three or four decades, unless you were a punk kid hanging around the Rust Belt in the 1980s, you likely have no idea who Bludgeoned Nun or We Hate Cake were.
Rockford native and music writer David A. Ensminger does an excellent job of describing the music scene in the area from the early ‘70s up to the mid-aughts. His style, combined with plenty of quotes from scene regulars manage to make someone else’s musical history relatable to the masses (or at least punk music fans). There are plenty of stories of much bigger bands touring through the area, like an anecdote about a pre-fame Green Day that makes Billie Joe sound like a complete asshole at the time, but the real talent comes in making stories of these niche, local bands relatable to folks who couldn’t find Rockford on a map.
Out of the Basement is for anyone who ever saw a show at the local VFW, regardless of where you grew up.