Punk's Not Dead

Stlpunk.com, that is, with new owner John Mancuso.

Dec 13, 2006 at 4:00 am
Stlpunk.com was the premiere social-networking Web site in town — and a place for local musicians and fans to promote shows and themselves — long before MySpace, Facebook and Friendster existed. It began as the St. Louis Punk page nearly a decade ago to serve as a resource for punk bands and punk history. At its peak in 2003 the site had between 5,000 and 6,000 unique users logging in per day.

In recent years, however, stlpunk.com has fallen somewhat into disrepair, as the rise of these social-networking entities (as well as sites such as punknews.org and absolutepunk.net) drew people away. Also, server and other technical problems have led to frequent outages or slow load times.

No one was really surprised when stlpunk.com creator Jerome Gaynor posted a note on the homepage earlier this year soliciting buyers for the site.

"The last couple of years, I haven't been doing it right," Gaynor said in a recent phone call. "I've been spending very little time [on it], which I'm sure everyone has noticed. I have to sell it, because I'm not taking care of it."

The new owner of the site should be familiar to music fans in town: John Mancuso, the local concert promoter who puts on shows at venues such as Pop's and the Creepy Crawl under the moniker John Mancuso Productions.

Gaynor says six to eight people had "serious interest" in stlpunk.com, although potential buyers tended to have either good ideas or sufficient money — and few possessed both. But Mancuso strikes "a good balance between those two extremes, I suppose," Gaynor says. "He's into promoting local shows, but he's been around long enough so I know he's not going to change his mind and disappear." (Both men declined to disclose financial terms of the eventual deal, although Mancuso says his buying price was "probably more than what most people pay for their first car.")

Changes to the site — which is celebrating its relaunch with an all-day show at Pop's (1403 Mississippi Avenue, Sauget, Illinois; 618-274-6720) on Saturday, December 16, starting at 1 p.m. — will be immediately obvious, as Mancuso has completely redesigned the homepage.

Standard stlpunk.com features such as the concert calendar, band profiles and list of online users remain prominent. But visitors to the site now have the option to browse local and national news. They can purchase clothing and skating merchandise from an online store, peruse skater profiles and post on a revamped message board. Mancuso also plans to launch an online stlpunk.com radio station in February.

Skeptics might wonder why stlpunk.com still matters in an online world dominated by MySpace, but Mancuso cites the smaller scope and personalized nature of the site as its greatest assets.

"The way I see MySpace, it doesn't really do what its original purpose was anymore," he says. "It's gotten too big — stlpunk is local, it's all about St. Louis. Basically what I want stlpunk to become — if you're online, you're going to go there. From one spot you can find out what's going on today, today's shows, anything from the Way Out Club to the Creepy Crawl to Scottrade [Center]. Where you can get your concert info, buy tickets. It's going to be more involved in promoting shows."

For instance, users can likely expect an increased emphasis on the weekly Sunday night local show that's broadcast live from Pop's on the Point (105.7 FM), owing to the positive relationship Mancuso has with both the venue and radio station.

"John Mancuso actually approached me and said he was possibly going to invest in the site and wanted to know if I wanted to be one of his main sponsors," says Pop's operations director Rich Donald. "As soon as I heard he was going to relaunch the site and make it a little more local-band-friendly and event-friendly, I was excited to be a big part of it. The local scene is very important to me.

"I think it'll [the new Web site] help grow our events even more," Donald continues. "[Mancuso is] someone that's very passionate about the local scene, and if he dedicates himself to it, I think stlpunk will be back up to where it was before and even better."

Indeed, Gaynor is rather relieved that the site now appears to be in good hands — and not his own. "I feel like my child just turned eighteen and went off to college, I don't know what else to compare it to," he says. "It's a great weight off my shoulders."

Dozemary Pool is still one of the scene's premiere purveyors of sturm und drone, and they're set to release a new album early in the new year. An advance leaked to A to Z reveals a disc indebted to Radiohead's OK Computer, the woozy sprawls of the Verve and the feedback-reverb loops popular with Spiritualized/Spacemen 3. Fab! Catch 'em playing new and old favorites at Cicero's (6691 Delmar Boulevard, University City; 314-862-0009) on Tuesday, December 19, at 9 p.m.