Sup ya’ll, I’m Erick. I’m the latest jaded shithead Sarge has decided to let bore the fucking tears out your regarding the glory days of the ‘core or ask questions about the wacky shit all you kids are into. While there are vast differences between the scenes of then and now, lately, especially as a Bay Area resident, I’m notice that the hardcore scene just seems to be getting less and less fun. While I tend to spend most of my free time in bars, my room, or stoner rock shows than anywhere near 924 Gilman St, I often hear some of the “elder” (i.e. 21-23 year old) core kids going on about how certain bands are “too tough and violent” and other bands “spend too much time talking about feelings, animal rights, and putting out demos on tape”. Personally, you’re a loser no matter what side of this war you happen to be on, but it reminded me of a very special band that I discovered back when I was a wee lad who was “nailed to the x” for life. LOL.
When I was fifteen, the internet barely existed, and once a month a so, one of my friends would convince a parent to drive us up to Santa Cruz, Berkeley, or San Francisco to go record shopping and ultimately some terrible show. Being somewhat of a nerd, I was always attracted to “fanzines”. Some of you may think I’m making up words just to fuck with you, but alas, dear readers, I shit you not. In the 90s, punks, hardcore kids, those with the straight edge, and emo nerds every either vomited bad poetry, bad freshman year old of college philosophy/politics/history, or bad band interviews/reviews onto poorly laid out papers, staple them together, and pawn them off at shows. Chances are, these were the no talent hacks who had no musical ability yet still wanted to get laid REALLY bad.
While most zines were unreadable then and fucking horrific now, a few of them were actually pretty sweet, and had a huge impact on shaping my taste in music and keeping me from being some douchebag who thinks Pitchfork is super sweet. There were two New York based zines, In Effect and Rumpshaker, that spoke of a video documentary being made about the diversity of the NYHC scene. While most of my friends were still riding that Victory/Equal Vision/New Age Records stuff (no offense or nothing, a lot of that shit was cool), the NYHC Documentary featured one band in particular that my sixteen year old straight edge mind tried everything it could to hate, but no matter how goofy they were, how ignorant the mosh, nor how much they drank, I was hooked. This magical NYHC outfit is the now infamous No Redeeming Social Value.
Imagine a time when straight edge kids had even less of a sense of humor than they do now. Earth Crisis was carpet-bombing CNN with their “Firestorm”, Strife was preaching their “One Truth”, and By The Grace Of God was pushing for a more compassionate, intellectual version. Physical fights at shows were more often than not bloody and involved haggard and improvised weapons, and if you were a PC nerd, you better be ready to debate the fuck out of whoever just home from college for winter break with their new found “knowledge” (or way to pull younger babes by talking about some tribe persecuted in some country they’ve never been to). For such a free-thinking, progressive movement, the rulebook was thick and to be abided by. That being said, along comes in this band in the NYHC Documentary, sandwiched between 108’s mystical krsna core and Freddy Madball’s commanding presence and rumors regarding certain violent illegal activities were six nerdy looking dudes who were writing homages to 64 oz. bottles of beer and making fun of kids getting tattoos. I was dumbfounded.
My world of hardcore until then had been so straight edge and with a sense of humor that had no ability to make fun itself. As far as I could gather, all this band did was sing about drinking and making fun of hardcore. During their interview in the documentary, the band shared stories about playing shows with their pants down, and having certain band members so drunk that they just went ahead and played without them. Being the suburban edge warrior I was, these dudes were more or less the same assholes who were trying to fuck with me for not drinking every day of my life. I wanted to hate it…but I couldn’t.
I didn’t totally get it then, as I watched the documentary more, I realized that NRSV represented what really the most important part of hardcore is: fun. Think about it for a minute. Chances are, you’re spending five days a week in school or at some shitty job, leaving you two days to fuck around, blow off steam, and enjoy yourself, and that was true weather or not you were some burger eating alcoholic or someone who refused to eat anything with more than three ingredients and only drank rainwater.
Musically there really isn’t much to say about NRSV. It’s solid New York style hardcore. Fast verses, mid tempo mosh parts, sing alongs, the occasional half-time breakdown. A lot of newer kids would probably consider these guys to be Terror with fetal alcohol syndrome, but the important think about NRSV is the fact they totally embraced the fun side of hardcore, which was something that often got lost twenty years ago just as much as it gets lost now. In the 90s, kids got caught up in “youth movements” and “diet decisions” and it seems like now a days the focus seems to be on level of authenticity or how sweet a band’s merch is. I’m not here to say that those are null and void, but if you aren’t showing up at the show to have a good time, and if you can’t laugh at yourself, you’re missing the entire point in the first place.