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You know those cool international stamps you get on your passport, the ones that prove you've been to a bunch of neat countries? Well, your
scene tattoos are a lot like that. Except they're the exact opposite.
They tell a much sadder story, the story of how you travelled to the
lands of embarrassing musical phases over the years and now youre stuck
with these awful souvenirs forever.
As unique as you like to think your tattoos are, they mostly fall into a small handful of categories. Here are a few of the common types of
scene tattoos and what they say about you.
If you escaped the early 2000s emo scene without some sort of star tattoo, please line up to accept your medal. That includes nautical
stars, the outline of a star, or that lame wispy-cluster-of-stars thing
on your hip. This trend took off right around the time bands started
thinking it was acceptable to turn an entire sonnet into a band name,
e.g. A Dozen Roses For An Endless Sky, Give Up the Fate Of A Thousand
Dying Suns, Sinking Ships In The Passing Calm Blue Ocean. Those were
made up but you probably wouldve listened to them if they were real.
You got your emo stars because it was either that or keep cutting your
wrists until your parents noticed. Happy with your choice?
Aside from emo stars, the sparrows tattoo is probably the most cliché of all scene tattoos. For ladies, anyway. Dudes who have sparrows tattoos
have bigger problems on their hands than being cliché. There are two
places you can get the sparrows. The first is on your hip bones, which
is a delightful way to let anyone about to get into your pants for the
first time know that this territory has already been charted by the
singer of a mid-level screamo band. The other place to get them is on
your upper b****, announcing to anyone who checks out your cleavage that
you own three copies of Thursdays Full Collapse.
An outline of a state is your own personal reminder to never forget all those good times you had at shows in your home town. You know, like
your favorite band whose sets were 10% actual music and 90% blathering
about the inconsequential politics of your local scene. Or that one
farewell show for that popular local band where everyone cried
together at the VFW hall. Good times, guys. Dont forget your roots.
Bro, you were like, mad in touch with nature back in the day. Thats why you got a sick, vaguely Asian-looking koi tat on your shoulder and
why you always wore tank tops to show it off. You had to look good at
all those Incubus and Deftones concerts you went to non-ironically, bro.
Your sailor tattoos tell people that at some point, you were into the rockabilly scene, which is not an actual genre of music, but an excuse
for people to dress like extras from the movie Grease for no
discernable reason. You dudes got $90 haircuts and you ladies spent
obscene amounts of time searching thrift stores for the perfect retro
bathing suits but then refused to go in the water.
While not technically a tattoo, your dangly stretched out lobes are a great way to promptly gross people the f*** out. You were the kid who
was willing to do literally anything to fit into the hardcore scene
including getting ridiculously high gauged plugs. And as your reward,
youre now rocking a set of ears that more closely resemble Betty
A checkered tattoo can only mean one thing: You took your brief, 2-month interest in ska and turned it into a lifelong mistake. The
checkers are often accompanied by the outlined guy on the Madness logo.
Or the outlined guy on the Specials logo. Or the outlined guy on the
Operation Ivy logo. (Wow, ska bands were really into their outlined guy
logos, huh?) While most of us escaped our ska phases with only an
embarrassing collection of red plaid pants and the completely useless
knowledge of how to 2-step, you full-on skanked your way into a talk
with your future kids about how mommy or daddy used to like a band
called Catch 22.
You got your lyrics tattoo because MUSIC IS YOUR LIFE, NOT LIKE ALL THOSE SHEEP WHO LISTEN TO THE RADIO. Unlike them, you really connected
with the bands you listened to and wanted to immortalize that by getting
their words permanently branded on you. Not sure what led you to
believe that was a good idea. Maybe because the bands you liked played
on a stage that was only 6 inches off the ground or because their albums
had clips from Donnie Darko and American Beauty in
them? The problem is that since you chose the standard illegible script
font, no one can read what the f*** it says, which is probably for the
best because most of them were written by a lyricist who couldnt pass a
creative writing class at a community college. (Bonus lame points if
you got the lyrics in any language other than your native one
A face tattoo says that you are a completely insane person who happened to get into music.
If you fancy yourself a cool dude, you likely got some cool dude words across your chest. Something meaningful that defines you, not just
Livin La Vida Loca. Having to face this tattoo in the mirror every
morning is the equivalent of reading your high school yearbook quote on a
For only three Xs, a straight-edge tattoo says so much about who you were and who you are. It says that you used to have an AOL screenname
which consisted of a word surrounded by an ungodly number of Xs.
XxPersiStaNcexX, XxXTruTilDethXxX, xXsXeIsSeXXXyxXx, xetcx. You also
used to X up your hands to go to Strife shows to sing songs about how
poison-free you were. But these days, youve lost the edge, which is
punk translation for you packed on a 30 lb beer gut and get excited
about MMA fights.
A tattoo on the inside of your lip says that you were the kid who was still trying to please their parents well into their 20s. You had to
call home every two hours to check in. You were the least fun person to
go to shows with. You got a little lip tattoo as a small act of personal
rebellion. Now you are an adult whose parents pay your rent.
You know that embarrassing old notebook of high school poetry you have in the closet of your childhood bedroom? The one where you took a marker
and covered it with your favorite band names? Congratulations, thats
your skin now.