A Memorialization for a Friend: RIP Erik Petersen

[The following is a transcript from the latest episode of Dying Scene Radio. As the title implies, it is a eulogy, of sorts, for the late Erik Petersen of Mischief Brew. You can listen to the episode that this memorialization comes from here.]

Howdy gang. It’s your favorite molotov cocktail waiter, AnarchoPunk here. By now we’re sure you’ve heard about the sudden passing of Mischief Brew’s front man, Erik Petersen. In a year where beloved artists are passing at an alarming rate and memorializations are almost as common as news about upcoming album releases, we wanted to stop and take a moment to remember the impact he had on the scene as well as his fans. As one of DyingScene’s resident folk punk aficionados, I felt obligated to weigh in on what his music meant to me.

Erik Petersen was a good friend of mine. I never actually met him, although I spent a lot of time in Philly and we were the same age and hung out with a lot of the same people. Despite never actually meeting him though, I still consider him a close friend. This sense of unearned familiarity was created by his music and the simple, heartfelt approach he took in crafting the songs. It was honest and candid, with no frills, begging people to gather around and unite for crowd sung choruses of passionate protest and camaraderie, always inclusive and welcoming. That openness, that intimacy more than anything is what made him seem more tangible than other artists.

It’s the kind of organic, unpretentious music my parents raised me on, artists like Arlo Guthrie, Cat Stevens and Phil Ochs all helped to create the blueprint years ago. But until artists like Erik and a few others started blending the two distinctive styles, punk music didn’t have anything quite as approachable or fundamental, nothing even close to what modern day folk punk has become. Erik was one of the few artists who was there through it all, one of the true pioneers that saw the genre’s raise to fruition from literally nothing, nurturing it as it gained in popularity, on it’s journey towards legitimacy.

Now, with the news of his abrupt passing we are left with a hole in our hearts but more importantly, there’s a hole left in the community. A massive empty space that will be nearly impossible to fill. Erik’s likeness would most assuredly be on the Mt Rushmore of modern folk punk next to the likes of Against Me’s Laura Jane Grace, Pat the Bunny and Jeff Rosenstock. As one of the founding fathers of the genre, his loss will be felt for a long time and will impact the maturation of the genre for years to come.

I think he would probably be uncomfortable with all of the attention and praise, so I will leave it at that and close out by quoting one his most fitting lyrics: “When the tape slows down, it means the battery’s dead. May your songs never get stuck out of my head”

Thank you for everything, Erik. I’ll see you in hell, boy.


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