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Punk at the RioT: RSL’s counterculture undercurrent

There’s a strong counterculture movement among the RSL faithful.

MLS: Seattle Sounders FC at Real Salt Lake Jeff Swinger-USA TODAY Sports

As you make your way to your seats you may not know that The Bouncing Souls or AFI are in the background. You may not know the the people two rows down were at A Global Threat show the night before. The fact is, the punk rockers in attendance at Rio Tinto Stadium on match day carry their passion for Real Salt Lake proudly in their hearts and on their sleeves.

Throughout the stadium you will find a small tribe of people who, either overtly or covertly, have possibly more influence on the game day atmosphere at the RioT than any other demographic.

This, in part, is thanks to native Utah punker Branden Steineckert’s dedication and love for the RSL Club. He has used his knowledge and experience in media and production to not only be a part of the match day experience, but to promote the punk ethos, one of unity and respect, and inject it into the realm and atmosphere of soccer in Utah.

MLS: San Jose Earthquakes at Real Salt Lake Jeff Swinger-USA TODAY Sports

I believe his hard work has in fact done exactly that. His “Believe” anthem embodies punk philosophy—to stand up for your beliefs, be proud of who you are, and to fight for those by your side. A philosophy that RSL has embraced whole heartedly.

The punks themselves use the landscape of the stadium to paint a picture, as much so as any other terrace entity. They fly their flags, don their scarves, do their hair, scare your children, and wear their black. It might be hard to see at first, but these are the people you want on your team. They will do anything for the club, and they will do it till the final whistle.

Then, there are the semi-retired/part-time alum (I fall into this category). Ladies and gentlemen who once had the bullet belts and the dyed mohawks, but now just have the tattoo’s and black pants (maybe the sambas too). I see a lot of people from the scene back in the day representing in the stadium. I’m sure they see the same thing. You may never have learned their names, but you were there in the pit together.

MLS: Sporting KC at Real Salt Lake Jeff Swinger-USA TODAY Sports

This is the part of the iceberg visitors don’t see. A regiment of season ticket holders who return year after year. A group of people who created the RioT fear factor—one of the most feared atmospheres in MLS for many years. Their dedication to RSL is more impressive than any circus act the other American clubs put on. They don’t need some elaborate waste of time to show their pride for their club. They show up, give hugs and handshakes to those around them, and do what they always do. They commit to unwavering support.

The support in this community goes beyond the gates of the RioT. At the local and touring gigs RSL gear can be found en masse. Even the out of state musicians notice the pride and enthusiasm the locals have. Over the years many talented people have left Salt Lake with a gifted jersey. They too now wear them with pride.

So, if you find yourself waiting in line and notice a punk, go ahead and start up a dialogue. You may be suprised, possibly shocked, at the what you learn from someone from this part of the cultural spectrum. You may even start to see the game or even the Real Salt Lake Club from a totally new perspective. One thing is for sure. We’re here for RSL.