It took me a while to understand why the 80s DC hardcore scene is so popular with alternative white ppl/whole foods customers/ppl who ride bicycles. I mean don’t get me wrong, I like MINOR THREAT as much as the next guy and probably like DAG NASTY significantly more than the next guy, but it always kind of baffled my why they fixated on this scene in particular rather than the larger ones at the time like Los Angles, Orange County or NYC. Whenever you meet someone who is old and completely out of touch with current music, yet has excessively strong opinions about “punk” (or as they often say it, “hardcore punk”), they are inevitably huge fans of the Dischord scene and usually know very little about any other facet of punk. It never quite made sense to me until I watched this trailer for “Salad Days,” the latest documentary where old ppl talk about how “amazing” and “groundbreaking” the 80s DC hardcore scene was:
All the typical elements are present: black and white photos that make it look like every show was amazing, old ppl saying dumb shit about how “those weren’t SHOWS, those were WARS!!!,” etc. Yawn. But at :53, Brian Baker (who I have always found to be the voice of reason) drops a knowledge bomb: “It’s not a working class city. So that’s why our punk rock didn’t sound very working class.”
It’s very simple now that I think about it: alternative white ppl who shop at Whole Foods, listen to NPR and think Pitchfork is the arbiter of taste love the Dischord scene because they can see themselves in it– in contrast to say the LA or NY scenes who were largely driven by people who were truly damaged and probably should have been institutionalized or incarcerated.
While GG Allin was throwing his own shit at people, Darby Crash was ODing, and Vinne Stigma was living in the park next to a burned out trash can, the people in the DC scene were starting the “Revolution Summer”– the first time in which people decided that punk rock wasn’t about living fast and dying young, it was about alternative white people gathering en masse to crusade on behalf of oppressed minorities. Squarely in the wheelhouse of the Ikeacore crowd!
The other thing I realized is that the NPR/Noisey crowd’s pathway to “punk” wasn’t like most of ours: most of us probably started out listening to thrash, death metal, etc, whereas they probably heard about the “legendary punk band FUGAZI” through some entry-level media outlet like Pitchfork, MTV, NPR, Rolling Stone, etc. And when it comes to mainstream-alternative/cooldad icons like Henry Rollins and Dave Grohl, the DC scene has that on lock.
Anyway, just my rambling thoughts. If you know any chubby white guys with a beard and low testosterone who use the term “hardcore punk” and claim to love it but do not actually like anything remotely close to actual hardcore, they will probably love this film!