As you wander the lush yet dilapidated world of The Last of Us Part 2 you'll see billboards, band posters and other clues as to what the cultural landscape of the USA was like before the pandemic hit. These environmental set dressings are clearly lovingly designed by the development team, often boasting more creativity and detail than is perhaps necessary for something you'll run past while searching for ammo.
The band posters are particularly eye-catching, especially for a punk-music lover like myself; so much so that I ended up coming up with little backstories for each one, in an attempt to add a bit of color and levity to a world that sorely needs it. In that vein then, I've pulled out all of the punk bands I came across while playing The Last of Us Part 2. I'll be ranking them on three main criteria: Name, poster and totally made-up backstory. Hey-ho, let's go.
5. The Clover 4
- Name: The Clover 4 sounds very much like a ska-punk band, and I'm sorry to say that in this house we don't mess around with ska.
- Poster: The placement of the four band members and the focus on the instruments they're playing give off a 'yes, we're serious musicians' vibe, which is not very punk at all. There's a theme here, with the green and the clovers, which does add a bit of charm.
- Totally made-up backstory: Having looked at the name and the poster I'm betting that The Clover 4 were an Irish rock band, dipping in and out of ska and punk stylings. Specifically, they probably formed in the USA, somewhere like Massachusetts, and primarily got their break being played at Irish bars and St. Paddy's Day celebrations. Anyone between the ages of 20-35 will have heard their biggest hit 'Kiss Me, But Let Me Finish My Pint First' given that it was featured on a popular skateboarding game back in the PS1 days. I'm betting not even Joel Miller could resist singing along when some boozehound stuck it on the Jukebox at his local bar.
4. Scribbling Kids Concept
- Name: Scribbling Kids Concept is possibly one of the most pretentious band names I've ever heard, rivalled only by The Red Jumpsuit Apparatus. I'm guessing they make music that they think is a lot smarter than it is, probably a favorite amongst literature majors at college.
- Poster: I only found Scribbling Kids Concept scrawled onto a group tour poster. I imagine their own posters generally consist of blank space with 'this is not a band poster' written in Helvetica.
- Totally made-up backstory: Scribbling Kids Concept was made up of four guys who met while studying mathematics at Oxford University. They were able to leave their hometown of Franklin Farm, Virginia and study abroad thanks to scholarships funded via their rich parents (they wear shabby clothes to hide this privileged upbringing). After reading 1984 and Brave New World at college they started to inject paper-thin anti-establishment political themes into their tracks, bagging them a new and much younger audience. This audience elevated them to relative success and thanks to some extremely unethical investment strategies, the band members eventually ended up richer than their parents. In 2013, all four band members made the list of that year's top 100 donors to the Republican Party. In an attempt to keep his various house staff at work, the lead singer publicly dismissed rumors of the impending pandemic as conspiracy. He was later eaten by his butler.
3. My Android Heart
- Name: My Android Heart is a name that seems laser-targeted at the heartstrings of teens across the world. As a former emo kid, I dig it.
- Poster: This one really takes me back to the days when every popular punk band only had access to black, white and red when designing their album covers. There's robots, blood, and just so much angst. Top marks all around.
- Totally made-up backstory: My Android Heart exclusively made pretty generic pop-punk until the emo boom of the early 2000's. They started wearing impossibly thick eyeliner and began writing songs themed around debilitating illnesses and the kind of love that is built to last long after we die. After a couple of years of being at the top of every teenager's top played list of songs, My Android Heart disappeared into the night, taking their vast riches and tight pants with them. If they hadn't all been killed by clickers, I'm sure their reunion tour would have been huge.
2. Thoughts Twenty
- Name: Thoughts Twenty isn't a bad band name in and of itself, but unfortunately it makes me think about Matchbox Twenty and therefore frat boys. That's something I can't really get past, sorry.
- Poster: I actually really like this one (as does Ellie, given that it's hanging up in her bedroom in Jackson). The black and white theme reminds me of bands like Bikini Kills and Dead Kennedys, while the added splashes of green are pure Blink-182 and pop-punk.
- Totally made-up backstory: Thoughts Twenty were one of the biggest bands in the world in the mid-to-late 90s; one of them even dated Tara Reid at one point. After a hit debut album, the band struggled to follow up with anything as popular. Only one of the original members remained in 2013, and after a series of high-profile feuds involving Scientology, Thoughts Twenty decided to go on indefinite hiatus. Given what happened in the months following this, I'm guessing the hiatus is much more permanent than first intended.
1. The Sick Habit
- Name: The Sick Habit is one of those names that just perfectly signals the kind of music you'll hear when listening to the band. It's the kind of thing a random emo-punk name generator could come up with, but it's great nonetheless.
- Poster: I actually found The Sick Habit tucked away in the shelves at the back of a record store, so no poster for this one. The album artwork is extremely good though, with a hole cut into it to show the striking yellow vinyl hidden within.
- Totally made-up backstory: The story of The Sick Habit is a sad one. They were seen as one of the original emo bands, responsible for kickstarting the movement long before it was popular. Once the boom happened, they struggled to compete with the likes of My Android Heart (their main rivals), who ultimately made more commercial and marketable versions of the music The Sick Habit were pushing. Despite never really achieving stardom, The Sick Habit had a die-hard cult following right up until the cordyceps hit. Real emo fans listened to them, and would waste no time in telling you how great the band really was.
Bonus: Pearl Jam
Definitely a band your dad would listen to....wait a second, this is Pearl Jam. Lightning Bolt was released in 2013 in the real world, meaning that the grunge-rockers likely released this mere weeks before the world ended in The Last of Us. It's entirely possible that Pearl Jam's Lightning Bolt was the last major rock album that came out before civilization crumbled, I'm even betting that Joel lined up to pick it up on release day (with his very embarrassed daughter in tow). I really like Pearl Jam so I sure hope Eddie Vedder and the boys made it out alive.
After much deliberation I've come to the conclusion that The Sick Habit is the best of the bands I came across in The Last of Us Part 2. I have a real soft spot for crappy punk records found hidden away in the backs of record stores, and the completely fake backstory I made up in my head really tugged at my heartstrings. The environments you explore in The Last of Us Part 2 are extremely detailed and teeming with cool easter eggs and artwork (you can read about some of the easter eggs here). If you find any other awesome games, bands or pop-culture references while playing, let us know in the comments below.