When Nick Drago started going to punk rock shows about six years ago, he would go alone and keep to himself.
But last year, Drago attended the Long Island Punk Rock Barbecue at Sinclair’s Pub in West Babylon, and he was surprised to find himself surrounded by other Long Islanders who shared his passion.
“I realized there was this whole scene out here,” said Drago, 19, of Merrick. “Now, I’m here with all my friends. There’s a whole group of us.”
Unity is the sentiment at the heart of the punk rock music scene, said event organizer Mike Fullam. He said punk rock is the kind of music that brings people together and gives people who are seen as outsiders a place not to be.
“The punk rock scene is all about everyone being together,” said Fullam, 32, of Westbury, describing the crowd at the barbecue as “the nerds,” “the bad boys,” and “the outcasts,” of high school. “When you go to a show, you aren’t judged on what you look like or who you are, you’re judged by your attitude.”
Fullam, who plays the drums with the band Last Crawl Brawl, said he and a group of friends started the punk rock barbecue six years ago and each year it continues to get bigger. He expected between 300 and 400 people to attend. This year, 11 bands -- including national acts Murphy’s Law and Stigma -- performed.
This year’s barbecue took place as punk rock was being thrown into a negative light because of a fight that broke out at a show in Manhattan on Saturday night, Fullam said. At Webster Hall, a member of the band the Cro-Mags was slashed with a knife by a former bandmate who was at the venue.
“At the moment, we’re kind of getting a bad name due to this weekend at Webster Hall,” he said. “It just takes one bad apple. But you can’t judge the community and scene on one guy who was a little crazy.”
As far as the Long Island punk rock scene, this year’s barbecue was also supporting one of their own, said Brian White, who helped organize the event. He said a portion of the day’s proceeds would be donated to the family of Larissa Hinckley, 43, of Lindenhurst, who died a few weeks ago due to problems with her health.
“She and her husband were good friends of ours,” said White, 25, of Medford. “They’ve been going to shows for more than 30 years, booking shows on Long Island and just really into the hard-core scene. And they were really good people.”
John Kelly, 45, of Astoria, who was at the barbecue to perform with his band Urban Waste, said the event was an opportunity to bring together old and new bands and revitalize the punk rock scene.
Kelly is one of the original members of Urban Waste, which he said has broken up and gotten back together multiple times. He said the barbecue was a perfect example of the old bands and fans mixing with the new.
“I’m glad we have the old-school roots of hard-core playing for the new timers,” he said. “That’s what makes it worth it for us.”