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Nazis, I Hate These Guys: Denver Rejects Nazi Skinheads at Subhumans/PEARS Show

Many of my friends told me later that night that was the first time they’d actually seen a Nazi in person. I wish I could say the same. I recall seeing them skulking around at underground punk shows in DC as a teen. Playing a show in Boulder in the early 00’s, some bonehead-fuck started sieg heiling on our dance floor. It was frightening. Over the years, the Denver punk community has been plagued by contingents of racist/fascist/nationalist thugs who cause violence at shows and spew hate but that behavior had seemed to ebb until recently.

Now, emboldened by Trump bringing racism and xenophobia to the forefront of American politics, these fools seem to think that they can crawl out from under their rocks and reveal themselves freely. Luckily, Denver sent them packing from the Subhumans/PEARS show the other night in a triumphant display of unity that would make Operation Ivy proud.

The Kerfuffle

From accounts I’ve read online, tension began with confrontations between fans in the front pit area and a trio of very large dudes who were getting violent, throwing Nazi salutes and spewing racial epithets at people of color in the crowd. My awareness of the situation started when, while thoroughly enjoying PEARS’ set, they brushed by me to stand off to the side, remove their shirts, and flex their muscles. Though not realizing the true extent of their terrible nature, I still thought to myself, “This means some serious trouble.” At that point, I just figured they were a group of large idiots going to settle some pit beef. Only once they walked back by me did I see their swastika and “88” tattoos (since H is the 8th letter of the alphabet, Nazis use 88 to mean “Heil Hitler”). Upon noticing their flagrant display of ignorant imagery as they continued to violently terrorize the dance floor for a few more songs (resulting in a concussion for one patron and stitches for another), the entire crowd erupted.

Nazi IdiotsI was right by a security guard and told him that they needed to get those guys out, and fast: either they were gonna hurt someone or someone would try to hurt them. Then, a valiant fan jumped on stage during a song, danced for the last couple seconds and then grabbed the mic to begin a chant of “Nazi Punks, Fuck Off” that soon deafeningly echoed throughout the venue. PEARS, now aware of the situation, asked security to make them leave.

While all this was going on, it turns out myself and FtLP photographer Dawn Wilson were right next to one of the Nazi’s girlfriends. She turned to us to yell that “this is America and who are you to tell them they can’t be here?” Now, I’m no patriot, but I told her that, historically, America has a real problem with Nazis and that I’m sorry she knows such shitty people but her and her Nazi friends are not welcome at any punk show in Denver. Thankfully, Denver punks, you proved my statement right. She also tried to give me the “freedom of speech” argument and I had to remind her that, while they have a right to spew vile nonsense and cover themselves in symbols of hate, we have the same equal right to tell them to fuck off and leave.

At this point, I’d like to thank the Bluebird’s security staff for managing to get them out and confronting the risk of doing so. This situation could’ve lead to a huge brawl and it’s a testament to both their actions and the complete will of the crowd that we were able to collectively eject them from the show.

Full video of the PEARS set and the ensuing conflict can be seen HERE (problems start around 20 minutes in).

The Aftermath

For as toxic as the atmosphere was during all of this, the energy immediately following the skinheads’ ejection was the exact opposite. PEARS (although cut short by the interruption) finished strong with “Breakfast” and “Green Star,” eliciting a most joyous mosh pit from those who now felt free to celebrate the music as they’d intended. Subhumans followed by opening their set with a statement that Denver won’t be remembered as a Nazi town but as the city that thoroughly trounced these idiots through unity and non-violent rejection of their presence that completely shut down all of the aggression these boneheads were trying to incite.

However, for as proud as I am of our community for acting as one, the fear and disgust I feel is equally palpable. What can we possibly do to keep these dangerous bigots out of our scene? I have a couple suggestions:

Nazi IdiotFirst, we make sure our music scenes know who these fools are. So far, two of the three men from the Bluebird show have been identified. The alleged ringleader is Paul Robert Graham (currently on parole and a registered sex offender) and another alleged member is Ed Lif Nelson, a self-proclaimed member of the Soldiers of Odin (a European anti-refugee group).

I urge all venues around the country to share info within their respective scenes and 86 people like this when they’re encountered.

Bullshit Nazi FestivalSpeaking of venues, it is also up to venues to make sure that they’re not giving a place for racist punk/oi/metal bands to play. Just recently in New York, a neo-nazi Oi festival was scheduled, shut down after night one, then relocated for night two. Both venues claimed to not realize what had been scheduled. Side note: the NYC Oi Fest also included Denver band Total Annihilation who recently caught flack from an anti-fascist group.

I know that sometimes it’s common for talent buyers to have someone email them and basically say, “Hey, I have a lineup for a show. You host us/take your cut and we’ll play.” It’s also apparently common practice, especially for RAC (Rock Against Communism) shows, to book a couple bands that seem legit and then fill in the rest of the slots last minute to try and fly under the radar. However, in this day and age, it is unacceptable for a venue to not give even a cursory glance at who they work with. I know they get hundreds of inquiries per day, but the wondrous magic of the Internet allows them to make sure they approve of the music that serves as the face of their establishment. It’s up to them to protect both their patrons and their reputation.

Lastly, it’s up to us as a community to continue to reject the notions of racism/nationalism/xenophobia that these morons espouse and sympathizers protect. It takes a lot of guts to stand up to (often humongous) people who are aching for violent confrontation. I’d like to thank the people in the front rows for not backing down from intimidating thugs in their midst. I’d like to thank the kid who got on stage to call them out from the microphone, even though he risked being ejected from the show or becoming a target. I’d like to thank the bands for reinforcing that punk rock is a collective space for all people and that the very ideas these people hold go directly against the inclusive ideals held by so many of us. Mostly, I’d like to thank the crowd for understanding that removing these toxic people from the show was more important than simply having a good time.

Sure, fighting Nazis always seems like a good idea in the moment when your blood is boiling at the sight of them, but these idiots aren’t worth going to jail for and martyring them with a beat down only reaffirms their notions of persecution.  Our refrain of “Nazi punks, fuck off” and a sea of waved middle fingers will do more to bruise these assholes than a boot to the face ever could.

If you’d like to view the joyous side of the show, you can check out our photo gallery of Subhumans, PEARS, The Rotten Blue Menace and In Loo HERE, courtesy of FtLP photographer Dawn Wilson.

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About Ross Hostage

Ross Hostage

Album Reviews Editor, Lead Contributor, Musician, Punk Rocker.

21 comments

  1. Becca In Denver

    Love ya, Ross.

    I would like to clarify, that in my experience, not all Oi bands are racist or even fascist. Many oi bands are working class, diverse punks who want to disavow politics completely. Many of my favorite oi songs speak to the band’s individual or created culture and are a means of escapism and unity. For me, the revitalization and escape of a great oi set is just as valuable as a band that pushes my thinking further. Overall, I find oi bands to be among the most socio-economically and racially diverse punk bands in the scene. There are many oi bands that allow me to value that diversity while not giving up on my commitment to human rights and equality.

  2. Dear Ross,

    Your entire article stinks of ignorance and cowardice.

    “Nazi Punks, Fuck Off” was written to oppose fashion police within the punk scene, not as a catch cry to uphold your regime’s totalitarian principals.

    If you hate people who don’t agree with your opinions with such vigour, why won’t you risk your personal freedom to fight them? Honestly, it’s pretty weak of such a fervent supporter of antifascism to preach tolerance and apathy in the face of such a palpably dangerous and scary enemy.

    Perhaps, instead of sipping soy latès and enjoying tender, loving, pegging from whichever vegan genderfluid xe/ xim you were able to swipe right on this week, you should be at the gym getting swole.

    But alas, masculinity is toxic and fascist, so your impotent rage from being triggered by your intellectual superiors must be left on blogs for your followers to applaud, rather than doing anything worthwhile to protect the scene you profess to love so much.

    Bless your heart!

    • You seem like a whiny coward. I hate 88s too but kick them out like a man! A Punk not willing to fight ain’t no fucking Punk, he’s just a punk. Stand up for your scene or sit down and shut up. Waiting till some one got stitches to do anything and then asking for security to handle it? What a fucking weak, lame ass move. Punk has gotten weak apparently since I was young and the scene was strong. Grow a pair.

    • Hey Trixie, why is it that fascists are always the first to scream tolerance when they find that their opinions being drowned out?

      ‘Why can’t you all respect the fact that some of us want to put our boots in the face of a minority?’

      It’s moronic, it really is. If someone walked by a two guys kicking a stranger on the ground and, when questioned about it the two guys shout it’s America and it’s free, then if the person were to accept this and walk on they’d be a complete ass.

      Obviously you have something against femininity and, judging by your name, you’re likely a self-hating female. Just because you’re subservient and go weak at the knees for big guys and over-bearing masculinity doesn’t mean everyone else has to be. Stop trying to drag the rest of us down to your level.

      Oh yeah, and Biafra was opposed to Nazis. Stop trying to rewrite the work of other people to fit your own ideals. I know it’s difficult for fascists to come up with their own ideas, hence their constant need to piggy-back on the movements of others (i.e. the skinheads stealing the style of the rude boys), but at least try and come up with something original of your own.

  3. General Pinochet

    Commies suck. I hope you antifa losers get a helicopter ride. The right wing punks and skins need to bash you leftists and physically remove you all.

    • Physically remove us from a scene you could never create yourself? You do realize skinheads originally got their style from the rude boys don’t, a scene that came out of Jamaica and spread thanks to the miracle of ‘immigration’? All those clothes you’re wearing, they’re down to some big black fellas and their sense of style. Maybe you secretly like that though, a big black man dressing you? It’s perfectly fine if that’s what you like, this is 2016 after all…

      Anyway, then punk itself first came from a set of ideas opposed to authoritarian values, something which fascism is diametrically opposed to through its very nature, so your attitudes are ‘foreign’ as well. Finally, even your iconography was hijacked with the Swastika being derived from Hindu culture.

      Seriously, do the Nazis have any original ideas of their own, or do they always need to rely on those they profess to hate to help them. What would you do without them…?

    • Argh, I hate to say this but in the 60’s the image of the “skinhead” was already around. It was mod fashion… They just happened to be poor hence a poor mans mod (It was also a rebellion to the mods hippie are) . They moved into the same seen as the Jamaican immigrants for the music, which became known as “skinhead reggae” for that era. It wasn’t until slaughter and the dogs that the term boot boys was dropped.

  4. In the song “Nazi Punks, Fuck Off” Jello Biafra sings, “In a real fourth Reich you’ll be the first to go.” It was an allusion to a quote from the Hunter S. Thompson book Hell’s Angels: “The Angels, like all other motorcycle outlaws, are rigidly anti-Communist. Their political views are limited to the same kind of retrograde patriotism that motivates the John Birch Society, the Ku Klux Klan and the American Nazi Party. They are blind to the irony of their role: knight errants of a faith from which they have already been excommunicated. The Angels will be among the first to be locked up or croaked if the politicians they think they agree with ever come to power.” (Substitute “Angels” for “right wing punks” and it’s relevant here.) That’s the ironic thing about right wing punks: There’s no room in the mansions of right wing millionaires for a bunch of tattooed punk rockers. There will be no punk in a Fascist America, just nu-country music, 12 rich assholes, and millions of poor. All punks, conservative or liberal, will be forced into reeducation camps or shipped off to war.

  5. You hate fascism so much that you insist someone be removed and banned from shows because of their belief system or clothing they wear….very open minded of you.

    • The fact that fascists came to an anarcho-socialist punk show is beyond the point. They were being violent dicks. If a bunch of Subhumans fans went to a Trumpt show and started punching people, the fascists there wouldn’t be very open minded about it.

  6. How can you mention Total Annihilation in this article? The guys who came out to the subhumans show had nothing to do with Total Annihilation and are not affiliated with the band in any way. Those were legitimate white supremacists with swastika tattoos who belonged to sons of odin, a violent gang. Total Annihilation is a multi-racial Oi! band with a Japanese singer and a Mexican guitarist who have never mentioned anything about being neo-nazis or white supremacists. That’s a complete false equivalency to mention them here. None of them have swastika tattoos or belong to white power gangs. They are completely respectful to everyone whenever they come out to shows and don’t start problems like the ACTUAL boneheads you mentioned did.

    • Respectful? So how does their “Stomp the Crust” graphic that depicts a skinhead kicking a punk who is on the ground in a pool of blood reflect respect in anyway. Seems like mindless violence really…

      • You’re a fucking tool bag.
        Anti-Fa should be a registered fucking gang. For extortion and gang violence. I used to fly the Anti-Fa flag but no not anymore.
        Anyone who opposes them is the enemy. I’m about as far left as you can get but open your fucking eyes and learn to think for yourself. “Crusties” usually from my experience get fucked up and try and slip there aids ridden dick in 14 year Old girls but I mean that’s just what I’ve encountered. I haven’t met a crust punk who’s not a low life junkie.

  7. Kelly McLibhard

    Great. People already think of Denver as a backward redneck shithole and all these conservative/fascist whatevers are proving them right. I’m going to open up a pegging vegan gluten-free cupcake boutique and force all these meatheads to listen to Noam Chomsky all fucking day. ANTIFA forever!

  8. If you’re ANTIFA or BlackBlock you best gtfo because you’re no rebel.
    These groups are now fascist, racist, hypocritical islamosplaining, authoritarians.. and have been hijacked by the very groups they claim to oppose.
    ANTIFA pushes globalist agenda, PC politics, and violence.

  9. I have also been a victim of antifa and no longer wlecome at shows in Denver anymore, because I would not support politically correct or antifa views, i did not preach a hatred for skin color, I spoke out against the wrongs of these 2 groups and now i am black listed you fucks are the true nazi’s, and you are the modern day version of witch hunters and I am going to beat the shit out of everyone of you antifa fucks if you ever come across my way. I am going to destroy ANTIFA and it is war and blood will be shed.

    • Maybe I would not go that far, but you have damn near pissed me off to that pint almost, but I am going to say you violate freedom of speech, i am no neo nazi or racist but I do hate Abrahamic Religions and I hate Antifa for being a hateful gang and that is what you are, Souther Poverty law Center should have you labelled as a hate group.

    • I probably wont do as such but you have caused me problems

  10. Lot of butthurt fascists in this thread. Lots of hand-wringing and gnashing of teeth due to people not wanting a bunch of fucking Nazis at their shows starting the usual problems. Why don’t you wander down to the safe space of a Trump rally and be with your like-minded brethren? You can sig hail and tiki torch all you want there without any consequence.

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