Bent Left 

If you jumped in the Wayback machine and played, say, American Steel or the Lawrence Arms for New York punker kids in 1977, would they recognize it as punk rock?

Punk is far from dead—and I am happy to tirelessly push that point upon you—but I concede that it is very different from what it started out as. People who assume punk rock is total degeneracy, all about drinking malt liquor, slam dancing and fist-pumping to “Hey! Hey! Hey!” choruses aren’t wrong exactly. Those things are still pretty integral to the scene. But most of the notable bands these days are more likely to have English literature degrees than to live in a squat house or spraypaint anything. Far from the Decline of Western Civilization scenes that my mother envisions me in, punk has become an outlet for smart, often neurotic, middle class kids.

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Take the Missouri band Bent Left: With fast beats, driving guitar rhythms and literate lyrics, you can slam yourself around in a mosh pit to its live show or sit at home dissecting the meanings behind songs like “Byzantine Horlogerie” and “Professora Emeritosa.” It’s punk rock, either way.

Bent Left, Edhochuli, Buddy Jackson and Shramana play Zoo City Apparel Mon., Nov. 26., at 8 PM. $5.

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