One for the ages
Family-friendly Reno Punk Rock Flea Market returns
Last year’s Reno Punk Rock Flea Market at the Generator arts space in Sparks drew thousands of people—so many people, in fact, it shocked the event’s organizers.
“We posted a Facebook event, and then it just blew up, and we had probably, like, a thousand people respond to it in a week,” said Jessi “Sprocket” Janusee, the Generator’s coordinator of public programs and communications. “And by the time of the flea market, we had over 5,000 people respond to the Facebook event. And we never paid for any advertising.”
Local folks showed up in droves to the two-day flea market, which featured art vendors, food trucks, do-it-yourself crafts, live music, and an area where participants could pay a fee to take a few swings at a car with a sledge hammer. And much to Janusee’s pleasure, they heeded the all-ages billing for the event and brought their kids, too.
“We had so many kids do car smash,” she said. “Tiny, little kiddos would come with their parents, and their parents would sign the waiver and pay the money, and these 5 year olds are just smashing in car windows. It was the shit.”
Janusee attended similar punk rock flea market events as a kid living on the East Coast.
“I, basically, was joking around last year and just kept being like, ’I’m making this event for my 16-year-old self, and that’s why it’s so organically awesome,’” she said.
Teens were another demographic that showed up at last year’s market in force. Some even came to the event as vendors.
“There was this really sweet 16-year-old kid who had made a bunch of leather jackets and hoodies with the little studs in there,” said Aric Shapiro, another organizer. “Some of us were like, ’Well, you know, normally you wouldn’t sell that, but you’re a sweet kid, and that’s your art, and that’s what you want to do.’”
Punk jackets with patches and studs are traditionally a DIY project—an individual statement made by the wearer—but Shapiro and Janusee said the kid’s vision to sell them as premade art went over well with attendees.
“He was so happy, and his dad was there helping him,” Shapiro said. “It was just cool to kind of see yourself in that kid and go, ’Man, I really wish there had been something and someone to believe in me when I was at that age.’”
To Janusee, herself a parent, the event’s appeal as a multigenerational celebration of punk culture is important.
“I think Reno’s a pretty punk rock town,” she said. “And I think a big part of this is, you know, when you hit your 30s and above … it’s harder to do stuff, especially when you start to make your own tiny, punk rock children. Having a place where you can go during the day, listen to music, meet artists, meet other parents—that’s really huge.”
This year, she said, the organizers are doing more yet to foster the flea market’s family-friend vibe.
In the market
Like last year, this year’s flea market will feature vendors selling a variety of art. More than 100 vendors are booked for either one or both days of the event.
“Paintings, embroidery, patches, buttons—I mean, it’s all over the place,” Janusee said. “There’s this dude who makes tables out of skateboards. It’s pretty varied. And then we have our kids’ activity center. There will be, like, feminist coloring books. And then we have drag queen story time every day.”
Last year, a free clothing exchange—a huge pile of clothing on the floor—was particularly popular with the flea market’s adult attendees. It’ll be back this year and located strategically, Janusee said.
“The possum pile—that’ll be there,” she said. “It’s going to be next to the kids’ area, so mom or dad, parent or guardian, can look through clothes while the kids are coloring.”
Non-profits are another returning feature of the event.
“Last year, we had Planned Parent and Food Not Bombs and a bunch of community organizations, like the roller derby,” Janusee said.
This year, non-profits in attendance will include local groups like nutrition education organization Urban Roots and others from farther afield, including an Oakland-based activist publishing company.
Local artists, including Boomie Bones of Little Bird Tattoo and a group called Graffiti City, are painting backdrops for the a flea market photo booth and for the stage on which 18 bands will perform.
“We tried to keep [the lineup] diverse, to have some political punk, some rockabilly, some surf, some hardcore,” Shapiro said of the bands, nine of which will play each day. They include some 13 local bands and a handful of touring acts from as close as Sacramento and as far away as Virginia.
“Thanks to the success of last year, and how awesome the bands were, we were able to get even bigger acts this year,” said Kimberli Koenig, who was responsible for the majority of booking for the event.
The big names include Reno-based favorites Kevin Seconds of 7Seconds fame and ’90s rock juggernauts the Atomiks.
An additional six bands—three each night—are slated to play kickoff and after parties for the event at two local bars. The after party for the flea market will happen Feb. 9 at Jub Jub’s Thirst Parlor, 71 S. Wells Ave., and the kickoff party is scheduled at Dead Ringer Analog Bar, 432 E. Fourth St., on Feb. 8. The first 100 people to arrive at the kickoff party will receive a special Reno Punk Rock Flea Market patch designed by local artist Angie Terrell of Fish Flower Press.
In booking the bands, Koenig said she was pleased to find a lot of interest from groups fronted by queer people and women, too.
“I’m proud of the fact that we have a lot of queer representation this year,” she said. “And I like seeing that many powerful women on a bill, in general, and it just kind of turned out that way. It’s not like we launched a queer event or a women’s event.”
To Janusee, the type of people who are drawn to the event—from the artists to the providers of feminist coloring books to the musicians—makes perfect sense.
“Punk rock culture and DIY culture have always been so intertwined, as well as art. Do-it-yourself culture is so empowering, and that’s what we’re all about at the Genny, so it just makes so much sense. It’s not surprising that all of us have kind of a punk rock background.”