Jonathan Wright and Dawson BarrettJul 12, 2021
Punks in Peoria
Making a Scene in the American Heartland
University of Illinois Press 2021
In Punks in Peoria: Making a Scene in the American Heartland (University of Illinois, 2021) Jonathan Wright and Dawson Barret explore do-it-yourself scene built by Peoria punks, performers, and scenesters in the 1980s and 1990s. Peoria, Illinois the quintessential Midwest town, where "if it could play in Peoria, it could play anywhere," was fertile ground for the boredom- and anger-fueled fury of punk rock. From fanzines to indie record shops to renting the VFW hall for an all-ages show, Peoria's punk culture reflected the movement elsewhere, but the region's conservatism and industrial decline offered a richer-than-usual target environment for rebellion. Eyewitness accounts take readers into hangouts and long-lost venues, while interviews with the people who were there trace the ever-changing scene and varied fortunes of local legends like Caustic Defiance, Dollface, and Planes Mistaken for Stars. What emerges is a sympathetic portrait of a youth culture in search of entertainment but just as hungry for community—the shared sense of otherness that, even for one night only, could unite outsiders and discontents under the banner of music. Punks in Peoria examines the rich history of this punk scene, including a soundtrack to listen along.
Rebekah Buchanan is an Associate Professor of English and Director of English Education at Western Illinois University. Her research focuses on feminism, activism, and literacy practices in youth culture, specifically through zines and music.