Locals Only

An 8123 Community blog by Julia Swanson.

Do you ever wonder where your favorite bands started? Or how they decided they even wanted to be in a band in the first place? If you answered yes to either of those questions, then keep on reading!

Growing up heavily involved with music and concert going in general, I have always found my curiosity getting the best of me. When I was 13 years old, I would sit on YouTube for hours, watching interviews from bands on Warped Tour talking about how they formed, the difficulties of staying motivated when it felt it wasn’t going anywhere, and the early supporters of their music who kept them grounded.


As I grew older, I discovered (with the help of my older sister) my local music scene. As much as I loved the local bands my sister showed me on recording, I didn’t start going to local shows until my senior year of high school. But since then, I’ve formed friendships and witnessed support groups stronger than some larger fan groups I’ve been a part of. I feel lucky enough to have been a part of the New Jersey local music scene for almost 3 years now, and while I can’t tell you about anywhere else, it’s almost cult-like here with how much people support their friends in local bands. And let me tell you, it’s magical to watch and be a part of.


Local music scenes have undoubtedly helped shape most of your favorite bands today. State Champs started out in the Albany music scene, Knuckle Puck and Real Friends in Chicago, and The Maine in Phoenix. These bands started out as small town bands that booked gigs and passed out flyers in their high schools to try to pull kids out to shows, and NOW look at them. So who’s to say that you won’t find your new favorite bands in local music scenes?


While it’s wonderful supporting your own local scene, if you are travelling for shows, work, school, or even vacation, it definitely does not hurt to look into some of the local bands of the area and give them a listen. And if there happens to be a show and you aren’t doing anything, get out there and support them even if you don’t know them! You never know who you’ll discover, or who you’ll make friends with.


Now I know it isn’t ridiculously easy to Google “local bands in _______” and come up with a huge list of unknown underground bands. So here’s a little guide to help you discover some local bands from different cities.


Have a Good Season

Starting off with one of my favorite local bands from New Jersey. HAGS are a really cool, emo/indie band with a really fresh sound and a huge emphasis on lyricism. With their intricate melodies, they cultivate a sound unique to them and have fun in the process.

A Will Away

Though they did sign to Triple Crowd Records, I still consider this Naugatuck, CT band to be one of my favorite local bands of all time. With their indie rock infused instrumentals with colorful lyricism that focuses on personal self-reflection, A Will Away know how to hit ya RIGHT in the feels! I recommend not sleeping on this band, because if you do, you’re really punishing yourself.


Hailing from Ottawa, Canada, Bearings are an up and coming local pop-punk band that just signed to Pure Noise Records. Even though they just signed to a label, they’re just now breaking out from their local scene, so do not overlook them! They’re a band with incredible lyricism that paints a story in vivid color for you that makes you feel like a character in the narrative.

Rich People

In my opinion, one of Philadelphia’s best local bands right now. With instrumentals swelling with emotion and lyrics delving into a deep introspection, it’s hard not to feel something while listening to this band. They are extremely easy to be a fan of, and I recommend listening before they get huge.


This five-piece alt-rock band from Buffalo, NY are a very smooth sounding band with groovy drums that make you want to get on your feet and dance. The vocals are very enticing and distinct. The dynamic guitar and bass keep each song fresh and interesting to listen to.


This punk rock band from Bristol, UK gives you the nostalgia trip you need with influence from bands like Sum 41 and Green Day, while keeping their sound fresh and unique. They have two EP’s out currently and I highly recommend giving them a listen.

Just Friends

In fusing jazz, rock, and emo this California band is sure to make your ears happy. Every single song is a full energy piece that WILL get you up and moving. I guarantee you will be appreciative for all the kids who did band in high school after you hear the trumpets and trombone in their music. I mean WOW.

The Midnight Club

An alt-rock band hailing from Denver, CO with powerful vocals that remind me a lot of Brendon Urie. In their music, you can hear the influence from 1970s rock n’ roll and they have a very edgy sound with incredible guitar parts. 

Half Gringa

Mesmerizing vocals and guitar, alongside distinctive percussion makes this Chicago based indie/Midwestern infused band well worth a listen. Did I mention the trumpet? Izzy Olive writes contemplative lyrics layered with coaxing instrumentals that make her sound incredibly unique and tailored specifically to her style. 

Dig Nitty

This garage rock band from Brooklyn is just what you need to wind down with. With the soothing vocals and soft percussion, this quartet is extremely easy on the ears. They have an edge to their sound, as well… I highly recommend you listen, and maybe support them at a gig in New York.

I know I can’t include all of the incredible local bands I’ve been lucky enough to stumble across via the Internet or recommendations from friends all over the country, but this is just a tiny taste of what incredible music is out there for your ears. You may find the next big band before they take off. So don’t waste any time - get out there, go to a basement show, a firehouse, a DIY venue and support local music!!