These days, 90% of shows are “The [Cringeworthy Name] Tour,” which consists of 4-7 bands that all look and sound more or less the same making their way across the country (including e-flyer with 125 logos of “sponsors” littered across the bottom). Which I totally get from a marketing perspective, because thanks to the bands being interchangeable it is much easier to market– like if you had NOUNS headlining your djentcore tour but they drop off at the last minute you can just make PLURALS the headliner and problem solved! It’s not like it really makes a difference, right?
For example, this 1994 show was at a church, headlined by a Hare Krishna metalcore band (108), with a uber-PC grindcore band (DROPDEAD) as support and opened by a post-hardcore rock band (SHIFT) whose drummer would go on to play in HOLE and MOTLEY CRUE. The 90s were weird, man.
(photo via Stuck In The Past)
But back in the 90s, that was not the case. Sure, there were some shows where every band was the same (especially in places like NJ/PA with well-developed scenes), but more often than not shows were booked on the basis of “whoever the fuck we can get to play,” because there just weren’t enough touring bands to fill up a bill and you’d take whatever you could get. Also, “the scene” wasn’t quite as rigidly divided as it is these days (although it was still very cliquey, don’t let anyone tell you otherwise).
Which brings me to my favorite example of this, and what might be the best 90s hardcore show I ever went to: a 2-day fest in Indianapolis in 1998 featuring a truly baffling yet amazing lineup of radically different bands that you just would never, ever see today. I just found out that it was co-promoted by our buddy Ryan Downey, who at the time was the singer for the semi-hardline metalcore band BURN IT DOWN and has gone on to become a very respected journalist (Spin, MTV, Alt Press, etc) and manager (Ross Robinson, Zuess, Ben Weiman, etc). As you can see, he’s always been way ahead of the curve, which you will see from this insane lineup:
I don’t remember if they were the “headliner” or not (I put “headliner” in quotes because the scene was way too punx back then to ever use a word like that), but I remember being really stoked to see HATEBREED. This was shortly after “Satisfaction” came out, and they were still in my mind a death metally hardcore band who still played songs with blastbeats in them (such as this one from their demo/7″). They played on the floor and maybe 50-75 people were watching.
To do RACETRAITOR just would really require a whole post of their own, but to make a long story short, they were a SICK metalcore band from Chicago whose entire thing was literally about how awful white people are. Seriously: their EP was called “Burn The Idol Of The White Messiah,” and they called people “crackers.” And at this show, Andy Hurley from Fall Out Boy was playing drums for them in a JUDGE shirt and looked slightly embarrassed when the singer went on his lulzy rants about lynching white people or whatever. But their set was fucking awesome!
And on literally the exact opposite end of the spectrum, there was CHARLES BRONSON. If you’re not familiar, they were a snotty power violence/fastcore band from Illinois who had a bunch of songs about how Victory Records, “jock-core,” hardline, and everything else the above two bands stood for was bullshit. In fact, I remember Mark writing me a letter once and writing at the bottom of it, “I Hate Hatebreed.” They were definitely more at home playing in the basement of a vegan crustpunk “collective,” so to say they were out of place was just a slight understatement lol.
The bizarre clashing of ultra-pc diy punx with semi-hardline, vegan jockcore came to a head after DAY OF SUFFERING’s set. As you may know, they were one of the first hardcore bands to attempt to go full death metal, and by the standards of the late 90s, they did a pretty damn good job. They were also semi-hardline, which meant that they were pro-life (an unforgivable sin in the eyes of the MRR/basement punx crowd). After their set, some girl was lecturing/screaming at the singer of DOS about how he was a cockman oppressor and anti-womyn or whatever the fuck slogans she stole from a hand-screened canvas patch. He tried to have a civil debate with her at first, but she kept getting more angry and eventually he just shook his head like “what-fucking-ever,” turned his back on her and sat down on the curb reading a zine.
And there you have it: perhaps the definitive experience for me in the sad and confusing world that was 90s hardcore. Where the girls looked like boys, the boys looked like girls, and everybody wore jorts.
Note the conspicuous lack of tattoos– u see, in the 90s u didn’t get sleeves and neck tats at 17 to jumpstart ur career in the pop-punk industry
I know what ur thinking: “dude everybody knows about SAVES THE DAY water u talking about.” And while everybody knows their name, I don’t hear nearly enough kids talking about this album for not only being a true classic in every sense of the word, but for essentially creating the template for troo pop-punk/crewneckcore. U heard it here first: without SAVES THE DAY there would be no TSSF! *horrified face emoji*
When this record came out in 1999, it was instantly everybody’s favorite album regardless of what genre they were into. Moshers, emo kids, punx, indie jerks, you name it… if you were in the scene, you loved “Through Being Cool,” period. And for good reason: it’s fucking awesome. There’s not a bad song on the album, which is rare in any genre and absolutely unheard of for a band that was made up of a bunch of 19 year-old hardcore kids from New Jersey. The songwriting is god-tier, and the production is just as great (courtesy of the legendary Steve Evetts, who’s worked with everybody from SYMPHONY X to THE CURE to SUISIDE SILENCE).
The original ‘going on a roadtrip with ur buds and learning a lot about urselves along the way and telling ur parents not to worry bc you’re having the time of ur lives’ pop-punk song (see also “Another Song About The Weekend“). IMO this is one of the best pop-punk tropes and u have them to thank for it!!
It sounds super corny to say, but no other album has captured the vibe of being an 18-20 year old hardcore kid better than this album. Like Tay-Tay said, “happy, free, confused, and lonely at the same time.” When you basically have no fucking clue what to do with yourself or your life, so you just spend your time hanging out with your derpy friends listening to records and hoping that everything will be OK. And of course, traveling to random shows in random places because hey, why not? DOC HOPPER and DISCORDANCE AXIS are playing in Pittsburgh in 3 hours? Cool, let’s go– we don’t know where the venue is but whatever, we’ll just look for kids with hardcore shirts on the street and ask them and it’ll work out (that is a real show I went to btw, and that’s how we found the directions to an ABNEGATION show once in 1997). WE WERE SO CAREFREE AND LIEF WAS SO SIMPLE ;_;
You just cannot fuck with the melody in the intro to “Holly Hox Forget Me Not.” Most bands will never write a single riff this good in their entire careers.
Musically, this album was the first I can think of that successfully rode the same line between hardcore, pop-punk and emo that became troo pop-punk/crewneckcore/tumblrcore (well, I guess there was LIFETIME but they weren’t very good any nobody outside of the tristate area gave half a fuck about them). TSSF, MAN OVERBOARD, MAJOR LEAGUE, REAL FRIENDS, etc are very clearly drawing from the same well as “Through Being Cool” whether they know it or not. The minor key melodies, the pseudo-breakdowns, the punk beats, the ‘preteen braying donkey’ vocals… it’s all there! Oh, and wistful, bittersweet lyrics that would look perfect in handwriting font over a vintage-filtered picture of a forest (except we didn’t have digital cameras back then so if you wanted a picture of something you had to talk whoever the ‘chubby girl with low self-esteem and a messenger bag that takes pictures’ was in your scene into doing it).
feel like the title of this song (“Do You Know What I Love The Most?”) would make a really good tumblr url
Much like the cover art, this whole album just sums up mid/late 90s midwest/east coast hardcore perfectly, and listening to it is a little painful because it instantly takes me right back to that time– the “Victory Records/Krishnacore Time Machine” if u will. Crushing on some 5.5/10 emo girl who lives 3 states away (WRITING LETTERS TO HER because this is before widespread internetting) and moping around because you can’t be with ur soulmate, wearing big chunky New Balances with argyle socks, being a skinny little twerp who feels socially awkward and out of place the second u step outside of your bedroom, and ur entire life revolving around hardcore. GETTIN CHOKED UP RN BY ALL THESE 90S HC FEELS
And while I think most Kids These Days know the name SAVES THE DAY, and maybe a few of their newer songs, I don’t think this particular record gets the shine it deserves as not only a fucking incredible piece of music, but the template for the 2013 version of ‘pop punk.’ If u want to be a REAL 90s hc kid then u need to put on a forest green SHELTER tee and jam this album 24/7, because that’s definitely what was happening in 1999 and for good reason: “Through Being Cool” is a certified classic, and if you aren’t about it then u blew it!
The members of STRAY FROM THE PATH, whose name has the same number of words as “STICK TO YOUR GUNS”
One of the coolest things for me is when I come across someone in a band that I’ve written about/made fun of and discover that they aren’t mad. I mean, it’s OK when they’re mad because that can be funny too, but my thing has always been “making fun of stuff that I like,” like when you are your friends sit around eating Taco Bell and busting each others’ balls. I mean, that’s what guys do when they’re with their friends, right?? And let’s be real, people who can’t laugh at themselves are usually d-bags.
So when I ran into Chris from STICK TO UR GUNS the other day when they were on tour with THE STORY SO FAR and ROTTING OUT and he told me that SYWH was regular reading material in their van, I was super stoked. I mean, to know that the kings of HARDCORE-CORE were reading my blog, wow!!
Anyway, Chris is not only a real cool guy but a veteran of the 90s hardcore scene who did time in WALLS OF JERICHO, slogging it out in all the same terrifying/gross midwest basements, punk rock flophouses and VFW halls as I did back in the late 90s, so we were instant buddies. In this podcast we talk about the differences between then and now, dealing with the presence of jailbait fangirls at hardcore shows, and getting old. Good stuff IMO, and thanks to Chris for doing it!
Follow STICK TO UR GUNS on The Facebook and Twitters and catch them on tour soon!
Via Metal Sucks is exhibit B in the case for “metalcore with rapping” being a thing:
“Well, I’m doing a mix tape right now with everybody on the scene that’s doing well. Danny [Worsnop] from Asking Alexandria, Andy [Biersack] from Black Veil Brides is singing on it. It’s all rap, but they’re singing all the choruses on it. There’s Jacoby [Shaddix] from Papa Roach. There’s Deuce, and we’ve got Craig Mabbitt [from Escape the Fate] singing on it. There’s more too, but every track is going to be someone.”
Lots of “news sources” out there are writing about the “sudden” revitalization of “emo,” therefore, creating a cottage industry for battered and cynical old writers like myself to have a field day with “air quotes.” To cut the bullshit, emo never went anywhere, as much as pop-punk never went anywhere after Green Day’s “Nimrod” record shat the bed. A more important aspect of the late 90s/early 00s reminiscing that seems to be missing are all those early proto-social media sites where you could meet other people who had the same warped tastes and have terrible sex with them.
[White kids x dressed like old people = perfect emo couple]
I met a lot of cool people through MOC and they mostly turned out to be batshit crazy and/or responsible for shenanigans that I got into in my late teens/early 20s. It was the first site that I can recall seeing people who liked The Promise Ring AND New Found Glory equally and were not afraid to establish that. As the name suggests, it was rife with people with low esteem (myself included) to meet make outs with. Because of this site, I’m also eskimo bros with 2/4 of the band, Aiden. Thanks!
[He loves American Nightmare AND The Anniversary! This dude and I are bros]
Only Undies Club
This was supposed to be the “racy” version of MOC, with pasty white kids in their underwear. A lot of the users were based in the East Coast or Midwest and talked about shit that I could give two shits about (such as MACrock or Michigan Fest), primarily because I was 18 and worked at a video store (see: hella broke). During the days of dial-up internet, this was an important alternative to Suicide Girls because there was no SG (or Burning Angel, for that matter). Which brings us to….
This was started by one of the dudes from Sunny Day Real Estate and was pre-SG before SG became popular and totes mainstream. If I’m not mistaken, it’s where Suicide Girls came from (maybe I’m thinking this because they were both based from Portland). Anyway, if you are looking for a lightning rod of blame for white girls with dreads and terrible tattoos, blame this site. As far as the hooking up goes, it had a message board, not unlike every other site in 2000/1, so it was natural that gross dudes in D4 shirts were trying to bang girls with sailor jerry tattoos. I wonder if anyone ever got married from this site.
[She's emotional and busy writing a vegan zine with an editorial about Freeing Mumia]
A lot of people feel that MySpace, Facebook, and Blogger owe their existence to Livejournal, and it’s not like I would disagree, but I would also include OkCupid, Hot or Not, and Face the Jury.
While, LJ was used as a way for butthurt teens to quote Dashboard Confessional lyrics and talk about their shitty teen lives because they got fingered behind a Carl’s Jr (or Hardee’s for others), even more important was how many people met through this medium in the many years of its existence. Commenting and following other peoples’ LJs (which usually had usernames that referenced Alkaline Trio songs), and as more emo kids started to make a living wage (by working at TWO video stores, eat it!!!), they could afford to fly to each other’s states to have terrible sex in someone’s parent’s house (because we all lived with our folks at the time). This was probably the most popular way for kids to meet other weirdos that they could create a front for because they couldn’t get away with that kind of bullshit in their hometown scene.
Do you have a favorite social media site for which you use to meet boiz/girlz? Will someone bring back the emo dating site? Isn’t that what Tumblr is? Did I just kill emo revival?
My guest for this episode is producer/engineer/author Jesse Cannon, who I’ve been getting to know while working with him on his upcoming creativeLIVE class “DIY Mastering (sign up for it now or we’re not friends– it’s free!). You may know him as the guy behind the board for bands like MISFITS, SAVES THE DAY, MAN OVERBOARD, and ANIMAL COLLECTIVE. Or maybe as the guy who wrote the single best indie music business book ever, “Get More Fans.” Or the brains behind the music biz blog Musformation and columnist for Property Of Zack. Or just as a 30-something NJHC guy from Montclair who used to go to Bloomfield Cafe shows.
One of the first things that we said when we talked was “Wow, it’s weird that we don’t already know each other,” since we’re the same age and came up in the same scene and, well, it’s rare for old HC guys like us to *not* know each other. And it turns out that we actually do! We met back in 1998 when I went to NYC for the first time, and went to a show together– pretty sure it was ASSUCK at Deja One on Long Island.
Anyway, if you’re interested in old guys talking about the old days, making a living in the music business (or any creative field), or any of Jesse’s work, then check it out– definitely one of my favorite podcasts I’ve done so far!
This image is called “Epic-Beard-Is-Epic.jpg” brb blackout drunk on rageahol
While it’s obvious to anyone who pays attention to irritating developments in pop culture that beards have become a “thing” in the last couple of years, the specifics are less obvious. When I say that “beard culture” makes me want to claw my eyes out, what exactly am I talking about? And why do so many people think that simply having a beard makes them special in some way??
Fig 1 – an alternative white person whose significant other ‘won’t except the beard lifestyle’
The first element of “beard culture” is the idea that growing a beard is some kind of super rebellious, edgy act that mainstream society disapproves of. Like if u grow a beard ur like “as u can see by the hair on my face, i do not even give a f*** what teachers or my parents think if u don’t liek it thats UR problem!!!!” Like in the QUEENSRYCHE “Queen Of The Reich” video where they are brave freedom fighters rebelling against the fascists who want to ban rock n roll, defending ur right to rock. Not sure what beard ppl are supposed to rebelling against (other than hygiene) or why they think anybody gives a fuck about their dumb beard enough to ‘oppress’ or judge them for it, but it is clear that self-identifying as a victim/rebel is at the core of “beard culture.”
The second key tenant of “beard culture” is the idea that having a beard makes you some kind of hyper-masculine dude that women can’t resist, and kind of reveling in it– like “yah im sexy and i kno it :p”. There is an element of truth to this, in that tons of girls these days talk about how much they like guys with beards. But what is left unsaid is that those girls are generally whales with low self-esteem, and that flying the “omg BEARDS!!!!” flag is of essentially their way of signalling “hey, i’m in the ‘ppl who are not conventionally attractive and suffer from extreme denial’ club also i am dtf. i’ll literally fuck anyone who will pay attention to me as long as u pretend that im not grose. bonus points for telling me that real women have curves and/or ‘big gurls gotta eat’ as u boast about ur recipe for a Sriracha bacon taco.”
Fig 3 – the pussymaster
In conclusion, I believe that “beard culture” is essentially the pop culture version of that trap in the drain of ur sink that collects all the garbage and has to be cleaned regularly or it will stink up ur whole house. It is glaringly obvious that what we have is a collection of extremely insecure people who overcompensating in extremely embarrassing fashion. Clearly they want attention, but lack the talent/work ethic to get it thru any kind of normal means (like, you know, actually doing something noteworthy or even just being a cool person that other people enjoy being around). I mean, it’s not like not shaving is some kind of fucking accomplishment, so obviously the fact that they base their entire identity off something so trivial tells u that, well, there isn’t much else there. Just a fat guy with a big mouth who is desperately trying to get u to care about his facial hair.
Our good friends over at leading independent music retailer VICTORY RECORDS sent us a note about a new video from CLOSE YOUR EYES premiering exclusively on MTVU (which I am told is still a thing). To be honest, this is the first time I actually listened to the band and definitely the first time I ever LOOKED at them. A few notes:
I thought this band was gonna be metalcore, or maybe an ADTR clone. But they’re more like soft grunge tumblrcore. Not what I expected!! Kinda sounds like IGNITE, only if they started listening to TRANSIT or something and were like “yo them jangley guitars doe”
First reaction when I heard the singer’s British accent coupled with the fact that he looks like Triple H off-cycle: wut. If this bands wants to make it stateside, they need an image makeover, and fast– someone get this guy a 50s dad haircut, some khakis and digi-floral print Janoskis, stat!! Oh, and tie-dye crewnecks with their logo in cholo font.