“We haven’t played in 15 fuckin’ years!” Zach Burton shouted through a mic at a sweat dampened, frenetic crowd.
He and his band, including members of both Baghead and Big Bleach in Hattiesburg and Ralph Rivera from Chicago hardcore band the Bug, began hammering out songs by Boston’s D.Y.S.
Sarah Krock, a member of Big Bleach and all-girl act Holy Teen, played bass for their D.Y.S. cover band that night and before had transformed her living room into a space fit for loud music and frequent moshing. “Spice World” as it is called for shows, is one of a few DIY venues around Hattiesburg also including Burton’s Porn Hall. Burton, Krock and Hampton Martin (Baghead, Big Bleach) over the last couple of years have constructed a base for the DIY punk scene in Hattiesburg, attracting punk-loving patrons as well as those new to hardcore, yet each is embraced equally.
On this night in an already muggy Hattiesburg, the heat only increased upon entry to the Spice World’s back to school rock-n-roll date party, wherein members of bands Dumspell, Nossiens and others from both in Hattiesburg and outside it, performed (really decent) covers of the Beastie Boys, The B-52s, D.Y.S., Dead Kennedys, Minor Threat and Nirvana.
During high school in Flowood, Mississippi, I watched Krock and Burton, along with Brianna Wells (Holy Teen), Martin and countless other key players participate and evolve the Jackson hardcore scene. Most importantly, they exposed to the scene those who might otherwise avoid activities that involve people pushing each other to loud and fast music in a sweaty pit — or at least, me.
But even I have embraced what they created. After I finished taking these photos, I made sure to hop into the mosh pit for Nirvana (featuring Cody Bass, Mary Spooner and Bradley Presson from Dumspell, and Olesya Vladimirovna of Holy Teen).
Yes, I drove four hours from Oxford to see a few musicians do some punk covers, not only because some of these people are old friends, but because the Porn Hall, Spice World and their creators have successfully made Hattiesburg a pocket for DIY punk and hardcore shows.
Together, they have held around 55 shows since 2014.
Bands from Spain and Brazil have played in their living rooms, and they’ve had requests from groups across the states. They are advocates for equality in the punk scene. Almost every band the Porn Hall/Spice World founders and sustainers have formed has had at least one female musician at one time or another.
In many ways, as Burton leaves Hattiesburg to move to California, I believe the Porn Hall and Spice World will continue thriving and serving as examples of what the Mississippi hardcore and DIY scene can achieve.