Montclair State University holds a unique and diverse community of students that are a part of a vast variety of subcultures. Today, we pull the punk and goth scene of Montclair State from the underground to get a better understanding of who they truly are.
While many students spend their weekends finding frat parties to attend, punks and goths seek concerts and shows in local basements or at a professional venue. Shannon O’Connor, a senior animation and illustration major, is one of those people who seeks out unique live shows.
“Some of the basement venues that I go to are called the Ghost Harbor [Creative] and the Ghoul Lagoon in New Brunswick,” O’Connor said. “I just saw the band Save Face perform there last weekend.”
Another student, who goes by his artist name, Shiva, is currently a junior political science major. He doesn’t have to travel far for the live shows he attends.
“I’m actually going to the Wellmont Theater [in Montclair, New Jersey] this weekend to see Black Veil Brides and In This Moment,” Shiva said. “There are [also] goth clubs, bars and venues in New York called QXT’s and Saint Vitus that I go to every now and again.”
Sophia Malloy, a junior journalism major, also spends her college weekends seeing lots of live shows.
“I just went to Dingbatz [in Clifton, New Jersey] to watch my friend’s band perform,” Malloy said. “I also know about The Meatlocker that is here in Montclair, but it just shut down.”
Some of the interviewees’ favorite bands and artists include metal musicians Marilyn Manson, Slipknot, Korn, Motionless in White and Rob Zombie. Others enjoy emo rap like City Morgue and classic punk like The Descendents. Despite not typically being associated with goths and punks, pop musicians like Britney Spears and Lady Gaga are also artists commonly listened to.
Punks and goths are big into the arts and are usually very creative. Many of them play instruments, dance, sing or create art. They use their artistic and creative abilities to customize their own clothing and express their truest selves.
They are known to wear personalized leather or jean jackets completely covered in pins, patches, studs and self-made art as O’Connor represented. Shiva also customizes and paints clothing and accessories for sale at a punk store in Montclair called Stokedville.
Alex Murdoch, a senior television and digital media major and New York City drag queen, explains why art and clothing are such a big part of goth and punk culture.
“My art and style are very much inspired by Maria Brink, The Boulet Brothers’ Dragula and many sexy goth icons from the ‘90s and 2000s mixed with bright neon colors,” Murdoch said. “I love the contrast of dark black leather and latex mixed with a rainbow of lighting and highly stylized editing.”
Murdoch additionally works alongside Shiva at Stokedville, creating promotional videos where Murdoch films and edits while Shiva models his self-made clothing.
Punks and goths are known for taking their love for art to the next level through body modifications such as tattoos and piercings to express their interests and individuality.
“I have six piercings and nine tattoos,” Shiva said. “I love my Stokedville logo [skull and crossbones] tattooed on my arm or the eye of Shiva on my chest [who I named myself after]. He is one of the Hindu gods and is called the destructor of the universe. When his third eye opens, all evil and ignorance will be destroyed, which is overall humanity itself.”
Murdoch also has sentimental tattoos.
“I got my first tattoo at 18 and it’s a pink and blue semicolon butterfly,” Murdoch said. “The semicolon and butterfly are for both suicide prevention and self-harm prevention so I got it as a promise to myself at one year clean to never do that again. Plus, if I ever relapsed I’d have to get it covered as I would have broken the promise it represents to myself.”
The effect that body modifications and the general punk and goth aesthetic have on these students has played a crucial role in the way they view themselves and the world around them. Their tattoos and piercings have allowed them to feel truly beautiful.
“[My body modifications] definitely boosted my confidence a lot,” O’Connor said. “I hated my lips before I got my vertical labret lip piercing and my peony tattoos on my arm covered something I was really insecure about. Overall, [I] love art, so putting it on my body makes me like myself a lot more. It also reminds me to not be so hard on myself.”
Many punks and goths are just looking for ways to express who they are on the inside, with the way they look on the outside. Like everyone else, they too just want to feel comfortable in their own skin.
“Growing up, my parents always tried to teach me to have a high self-esteem and that being different was amazing and to be who I am, glitter, chains and all,” Murdoch said. “Looking at myself now, I’ll sometimes tear up just because I see the person my middle school self who felt trapped in their skin always wanted to be.”