There's not a lot of books that are written for the sole purpose of consumption by the punk rock community. Sure, Henry Rollins cranks out a few a year or so, and as of late a lot more "retrospective"-type books are coming out about the early history of punk, but even those are geared to more of a mainstream audience. "Amped" is a definite rare gem - a book written by a punk rocker, about punk rock, directed specifically to people in the punk rock scene.
Author Jon Resh fronted Gainesville, FL pop-punk band Spoke in the early nineties. This book tells the band's story, sort of - while it does start off documenting their first show and it closes with the insanity that was their last show, the book isn't stuck in the "timeline" mode. Yes, most of the chapters run in chronological order, but each chapter is a story in itself - some can barely stretch onto a page, whereas some are over 50 pages in length. Each tale takes on an identity of it's own, which makes for easy reading. You can finish one chapter and put the book down, because each is independent from each other.
Of course, I must warn you: you won't put this book down, so don't make plans when you are planning on reading it. I got it in the mail yesterday at 11:30 AM, and read it sporadically throughout day, coming to the end at 11:30 PM the same day. Jon's sense of humor is great and his timing is impeccable - you'll find yourself laughing out loud multiple times, especially in the exquisitely detailed "Tour" chapter. Jon documents Spoke's first [and only] semi-national tour, describing hilarious encounters with Avail, Stretch Arm Strong, Hoover, 7 Year Bitch, and more.
The book is also very touching and personal at times, like the short but sweet "Pastacore" chapter, as well as the story of Jon living the rock star dream and sleeping with a groupie. The emotion evident in these and other chapters only helps to let you enjoy the book more and develop an attachment with the author. I really feel like I know Jon after reading this.
If you're a musician, you'll also be nodding your head in agreement with many of the stories here. Jon turns into a virtual stand up comedian as he discusses his shitty amps, how hard it is to book shows, van trouble, and how much of an asshole a club owner can be, among others. They're all true to life, and anyone in a band who reads this book will have knowing smiles creep across their faces as they hear Jon spin his fables of woe and regret.
Lastly, and probably most importantly, this book makes me want to hear Spoke, Jon's band. It's kind of weird to have developed such an attachment with the band by only reading a book, so I'll have to remedy that soon and get one of their albums.
"Amped" is definitely worth the measly 3 dollars No Idea Records is selling it for - it's a witty, original, and well thought-out commentary on punk rock and the author's somewhat insignificant place in it. It merits repeat readings, and speaking of which, I'd write more, but I want to read the book again right now. I urge you to do the same.