Top 10 Bands for Oogles, Gutterpunks and "Travel Kids"
My mother-in-law was a Depression-era kid, and she shared stories of the rail-riders who would pass through her small Louisiana hometown looking for work. They carried all they owned from place to place, stopping here and there to do odd jobs for dinner and a place to sleep. Those travelers became known as hobos, whose lifestyle was romanticized in songs of the period like "Big Rock Candy Mountain" and "Brother, Can You Spare a Dime?"
Photo by Matt Derrick
History repeats itself, Meemaw often said, and she may have had a point. Our recent economic woes and general unrest have people once again exploring the country by railways and highways. The 2013 model of the American hobo goes by different names -- traveling kid, gutterpunk, oogle -- and isn't necessarily looking for work. Some are looking to escape the conformity or comfort of the suburbs; others are on one long city-to-city party.
Like their tramp forefathers, these new vagabonds turn to music to celebrate their way of life. Rocks Off asked a couple of experts to help put together a list of musical acts these modern-day hobos enjoy.
Matt Derrick of Squat the Planet and "D.J.," from Look at This Fucking Oogle, chronicle the travel lifestyle on their respective Web sites. They shared their thoughts on the bands that keep these travelers moving down an endless road. Together, we came up with these ten groups no homebum should leave home without:
10. Mischief Brew
Derrick is a traveling filmmaker, professional adventurer and founder of Squat the Planet, an online community that has explored nomadic lifestyles since 2001. His site promotes seeing "what the world has to offer when you torch the picket fence and set out for a life of adventure." His first selection is Pennsylvania's Mischief Brew.
"[Mischief Brew founder] Erik Petersen has been around since the beginning of the folk punk genre and has probably inspired a billion different folk punk bands," Derrick says. "He writes really inspiring music with lyrics about revolt, nomadism and the like."
Oogle. Photo courtesy of LATFO.com
Derrick said it's easy to see why hybrids of folk and punk music are popular with these travelers.
"I've definitely noticed that the 'old-timey'/'folk-punk' genre has gotten really popular over the past few years, and it makes a lot of sense, since much like train hopping, it doesn't take much to get started," he says. "A guitar, backpack and something to sing about are pretty much all you need, which fit in well with the punk-rock background that the majority of us come from."
9. Leftöver Crack
Like any society, the travel society has microcosms. Some of these present-day vagrants are marginalized by other travelers because they've stopped living on their parents' dime to hitchhike, Dumpster-dive and "spange" (ask for spare change) to survive.
These kids are often referred to as "oogles," and make up the focus of Look at This Fucking Oogle; the Web site is subtitled "Pornography for Homeless People."
"An oogle is basically a poseur in the train-riding world, usually a new kid fresh from home with way too much stuff in their pack and a Leftöver Crack shirt with patched-up pants," says site founder D.J. "Leftöver Crack is a big oogle band, probably because they sing about shooting up and killing cops."
In a bit of self-promotion, D.J. included Gripe among the bands gutterpunks follow. He's the band's vocalist, so those who visit his site have a built-in soundtrack for hours of scrolling through gnarly oogle pics. The band is a mashup of hardcore-grindcore that "tends to focus on negativity and paranoia," he adds.
"Oogle traveling usually consists of riding trains to different shows around the country and getting drunk," D.J. adds. "Without shows and booze, oogles would have nothing left to do."
List continues on the next page.