As the weekend approached, I got that familiar itch for a live show. It had been way too long, and I was eager to dive back into the local music scene. So, I started my search for music venues or maybe a gritty dive bar where I could catch a punk or metal band tearing it up on stage. To my surprise, the city of Valdosta, while still buzzing with life, seemed to have lost its once-thriving metal and punk scene.
It didn't take long for me to wonder what had happened, and soon enough, I discovered the story behind why many bands had packed their gear and set off for greener pastures.
While doing some digging, I unearthed some Valdosta bands that have managed to stay in the game, despite the challenges. Bands like Machinist!, Dying Whale, Glory of This, and Second Death are still rocking on, keeping the underground spirit alive.
Back in the day, Valdosta had its own homegrown label, Indianola Records who is still going strong in the Hardcore Punk scene, played a huge role in pushing the scene forward. Another key player was Vito's Pizzeria, a spot where many of these bands got their start. It was nestled at 132 N Patterson Street, not far from the university. But sadly, it shut its doors for good back in 2009, and that's when things started to change.
For Vito's, it came down to a dispute over rising liquor license costs, which ended up being a case of crossed wires. The city thought the increase should be higher, and they sent a flurry of letters demanding a hefty $6,000. But it turns out, that number was off, and the actual fee for businesses selling and serving alcohol on-site was $4,550. At least, this was one deciding factor in closing the doors.
Despite the mix-up, the damage was done. A lack of communication, city changes, and a string of venue closures left the local hardcore and metal scene with a scar. Today, a few venues are still standing, but most cater to out-of-state bands. Places like Ashley Street Station and the DIY house are keeping the music alive, but there's a sense that the Valdosta music landscape has shifted. The scars from the past remain, making bands and venues a bit hesitant to put down new roots in the city.