A different kind of prom: A behind the scenes look at Toxic Prom 2016

Category:  The Arts
Wednesday, April 27th, 2016 at 10:48 PM

What is the first thing you think about when it comes to prom season? It probably isn’t seeing people dressed up like zombies or pirates as if it were Halloween.

Your idea of dancing with your date is probably similar to a slow dance from a romantic drama, where the lonely guy gets the girl of his dream or the princess in the tall tower. But if you’re like some of the teens and young adults in the Erie area, it might be a lot like an underground Bay Area punk venue in the late ‘80s.

Basement Transmissions’ third annual Toxic Prom took place April 9 in downtown Erie. The venue has been hosting the event in hopes to mix some classic prom night traditions with their live concert atmosphere while giving people a place to go if prom isn’t their idea of a good time.

“Toxic Prom has always been one of my favorite events,” said Robert Jensen, owner of Basement Transmissions. “Every year I see a lot of old faces and a lot of new faces at the show. Some people who have never been involved in local music come here for their first experience.”

Teens from around the Erie area who may not relate to the culture of prom are the target audience for the annual event.

“I think Toxic Prom is gonna introduce a lot of people to BT (Basement Transmissions) who may have never heard of it before,” said Kyle Hammar, local musician and show-goer, “which will be great for the venue and the music scene.”

Last year’s Toxic Prom show was a big success, yielding one of the largest crowds of the year. With some of the highest levels of local promotion the venue sees, Toxic Prom is a widely known event around the Erie area. With bands ranging from Maddock’s dance oriented sound, to Inward Focus’ reggae vibes, the 2016 show offered music for every flavor and taste.

“We love coming up to play Erie,” said Shaun Sweeney, frontman of Pittsburghbased band Instead Of Sleeping. “We’ve headlined Toxic Prom every year since it started, and we’ve had a great time every time.”

There is always a variety of music, which keeps fans of the event coming back every year. From metal to indie, music fans can dance however eccentrically or traditionally as they’d like. People of numerous musical backgrounds can discover local talent who play to their ear, while other bands may spark their interest in new, more exotic sounds. Fans of the pop-punk scene could enjoy opening act, Jurassic Skatepark, while finding more progressive style bands like Jivan or Gnosis different and intriguing.

“Toxic Prom is a great party environment where you can be yourself,” said Rhiannon Pushchak, local music enthusiast. “You felt like you belong there, and no one asked questions about your outfit or makeup, no matter how odd it is.”

While word of the increasingly big shows continues to spread through the halls of Erie area high schools and the threads of social media, the event will look to garner both bigger bands and crowds.

“We’ll be sure to come back again next year,” said Sweeney. “Prom season is always more fun up here in Erie.”

Kyle Myers is a Contributing Writer for The Spectator.

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