The Rise and Fall of Westchester Punk

Anarchy in the 914

In 2006, Haack became involved with White Plains's WESPAC Foundation and was offered a room in its office building as a new place to host shows. This offer made the need to charge at the door, which could be prohibitive for jobless teenagers, less of an issue. "Since I was never really part of B.C. Records, I kind of wanted to feel like I was a part of something," he recalls, and almost immediately, a new slate of bands, groups like the Imitations, the Men Who Lunch, Whack, and the Penny Dreadfuls were drawing younger yet overlapping, equally large crowds to the new space.

For Dave, this always fragmented lineage of bands and audiences began to really fall apart sometime around 2008. "That year, things in Westchester really ended. I kept carrying [WESPAC] on, and there were street-punky kids who wanted to play a lot, but they really weren't as good as the ones who came before them." Two years later, he and his bandmates joined No One and the Somebodies (among others) and left the suburbs for the Bronx and Paul Shaffer's House, while exposing a new group of city kids (this author included) to music that had been coming from upstate for much of the past 10 years.

Reflecting on the new possibilities the city opened up for him, Haack expresses a sentiment common among members of this now-dormant scene, noting that because of the move, they've gone "from being the suburban punk band to a group that's trying to do something really different." Of course, living alongside their heroes had a similarly progressive effect. "That's always the way I measured the success of Genuine Imitations, that our music might not be better than No One and the Somebodies—I don't know if you could do that—but that it could hold a candle to them."

The Genuine Imitations
Sasha Label
The Genuine Imitations

Gray, now living in Brooklyn and crafting jewelry for a living, remains more optimistic about the possibility of Westchester punk in the present day. "I definitely think that wave has dissipated because people have left their homes and moved wherever and either started new bands or stopped playing music. In a way, I think that's true—but for all I know, there could be a show happening right now."

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