10 Punk Bands You Wish You Could Have Seen

Posted on: July 18, 2013

Punk rock is notorious for its brash, unapologetic reputation and raucous, high-energy style. The genre has produced tenured three-chord titans, short-lived lessons in volatility, and every variation in between. Some of us were born a bit too late to see our favorite punk acts perform live, and some of our favorite punk acts imploded before very much of anyone got to see them at all. The following is a list of bands I would’ve risked life and limb for the opportunity to see live in their heyday.

10. Dead Kennedys

Formed: 1978, San Francisco CA

Disbanded: 1986

Dead Kennedys still perform today, but without Jello Biafra at the helm it just doesn’t feel right.

9. Talking Heads

Formed: 1975, New York NY

Disbanded: 1991

The band soldiered on after the break up despite David Byrne’s disinterest in making another album. The Heads released No Talking, Just Head in 1996.

8. Elvis Costello & The Attractions

Formed: 1977

Disbanded: 1986

Steve Nieve and Pete Thomas continue to play with Costello in his current backing group, The Imposters.

7. The Stooges

Formed: 1967, Ann Arbor MI

Disbanded: 1974

The band reunited in 2003 and released The Weirdness to mixed/negative reviews. Despite the death of guitarist Ron Asheton, The Stooges continue to play together. They released Ready to Die this past April.

6. Minor Threat

Formed: 1980, Washington DC

Disbanded: 1983

After the dissolution of Minor Threat, frontman Ian MacKaye decided he wanted a project that was “like The Stooges with reggae.” A few years later, the equally influential Fugazi was born.

5. The Smiths

Formed: 1982, Manchester England

Disbanded: 1987

Okay, okay, The Smiths aren’t generally considered a punk band, however, they DID churn out a plethora of lyrics like this: “I smoke ’cause I’m hoping for an early death and I need to cling to something.” Also, Morrissey.

4. The Misfits

Formed: 1971, Lodi NJ

Disbanded: 1983

Bassist Jerry Only reformed The Misfits in 1995 without Glenn Danzig, the original frontman and main songwriter. The band is still active, but The Misfits without Glenn Danzig is worse than Dead Kennedys without Jello Biafra.

3. The Ramones

Formed: 1974, Forest Hills, Queens NY

Disbanded: 1996

Joey, Johnny, and Dee Dee have all passed away. Now Marky has his own line of pasta sauce.

2. The Clash

Formed: 1976, London England

Disbanded: 1986

The only band that matters.

1. The Velvet Underground


Formed: 1964, New York NY

Disbanded: 1973

In a 1982 interview Brian Eno made the often repeated statement that while the first Velvet Underground album may have sold only 30,000 copies in its early years, “everyone who bought one of those 30,000 copies started a band.”

2 responses to “10 Punk Bands You Wish You Could Have Seen”

  1. michael g

    Saw the Clash in New Orleans at the warehouse in 82 or so….in college….of course I was dosed out of my mind but really enjoyed the political rips of the time. Joe Strummer was a big deal to punk musician writers at the time……they were definitely a thinking mans band, amongst the sex/party/identity ideas back then. However brash.

  2. 10 Punk Bands You Wish You Could Have Seen | Samuel Johnson

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