Jenny Sawyer / NPR Illinois: “Springfield’s DIY Scene Before Black Sheep”

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Rachel Otwell of NPR Illinois is continuing a series featuring different thoughts and reflections of our most recent Black Sheep announcement on the current state of the venue, show attendance, and things we are currently struggling with. The most recent piece is one written by Jenny Sawyer – show go-er in Springfield from 2001 to 2005 about shows and venues during that time. Check out that full piece along with a few photos of that time right here. From the article:

I have mostly fond memories of this time growing up in the scene, but there was always a presence at these shows that unnerved me, and on several occasions even made me question whether or not it was safe to be there. There were a small group of individuals I came to know as the neo-Nazis. They typically sported white shirts, steel-toed boots and shaved heads. They used intimidation and threats of violence to carve out a space for their rhetoric in a scene that would have otherwise felt inclusive.

It was obvious that they made people extremely uncomfortable, but no one seemed willing or able to confront them. I certainly didn’t feel able to, being a shy petite teenage girl. There were a few incidents that I witnessed or had recalled to me by friends. Words were thrown around, kids were chased, bats were wielded. In what I’ve never been able to determine was an accident or not, I was once shoved over a table at the edge of a mosh-pit by one of them. Unfortunately, their presence at shows went mostly unchecked but over time they started to show up less and less.

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