I wrote this for some English zine that asked me for a piece on this topic, but thought I’d put it here as well, via print media only being a novelty artform for hipsters. And now that I think about it, I may make “THE DAY THE SCENE WENT FGGT” a recurring feature to document various moments in gheyness over the years. – Sgt D
I want to tell you a little story, because it makes me raeg inside. It’s about some friends growing up, and all the crucial mosh they tried. Then one day something happened, and it scared the shit out of me: kids started showing up at hardcore shows with pompadours, tight black pants and Creepers. They wrote songs about girls. My mind was blown… WTF was happening?? Where did these fggts come from and how did they end up at hardcore shows?? As I found out, the answer was simple: they were the first wave of hardcore kids to jock Morrissey and The Smiths.
Fig 1, Undertow pre-Smiths worship. Giant pants, skate shirt, and bleached hair.
Fig 2, Undertow post-Smiths. Note the 1950s dad haircut.
The year was around 1993, the place was Seattle. Although Southern California is a long ways away (around 100 hectares or decilitres in Euro measurements, I think), the scene was so spread out that we were heavily influenced by what happened down there. Especially our most popular band Undertow, who did a split with a very lulzy San Diego band called Struggle (later to become Swing Kids and The Locust) and toured with Unbroken. It was through Undertow that I found out that hardcore kids were jocking the ultimate artfag band, The Smiths.
Fig 3, The Smiths circa 1983 #nohomorrissey
Fig 4, Unbroken at their prime. Note gas station jackets, bowling shirts and Social Distortion hair.
At the time, it was all about giant pants, bleached hair, and skate shoes– just like your favorite New Deal skate video. In retrospect that look is about as dignified as getting fisted by Danny Dyer, but it was considered cool at the time and that’s how most bands dressed. You can imagine my surprise when Undertow suddenly changed their look from standard, early-90s-giant-pants-skater to “introverted 1950s dad.” And more baffling, I saw John wearing SMITHS and MORRISEY shirts!! WTF! Along with The Cure and Siouxsie, those were the definitive artfag bands… and artfags were the enemy!! What happened?! I realized that the “patient zero” of hardcore’s infatuation with The Smiths and Morrisey was Unbroken, originators of the infamous “San Diego look” aka dressing like you’re Johnny Marr in 1983.
I never knew any of the South County/San Diego guys from that generation, so I couldn’t tell you how they became obsessed with the most beta, gay band of all time, but the whole rockabilly/greaser thing has always been strangely popular in nearby Orange County. Maybe that was it, I don’t know, but I do know the trend was in full effect by 94 or so. All the cool hardcore kids were on the Morrissey/Smiths bandwagon, and it was all downhill from there. Goodbye bleached hair, Mean Season t-shirts and size 46 Planet Earth jeans; hello pompadours, gas station jackets and Creepers!
Fig 5, Dr. Spock of Star Trek
Fig 6, Swing Kids. Perhaps the ultimate “Spock rock” band.
Fig 7, Creepers. These were the San Diego/Smithsfag uniform, usually coupled with highwater black Dickies (see Fig 6).
Although it was gay when Unbroken and Undertow started dressing like British dads, their music was still sweet and moshable so I looked the other way. The much, much more offensive musical crime was the San Diego screamo scene of the 90s. Everybody called the dumb bands like Swing Kids, The Crimson Curse, and Jenny Piccolo “Spock rockers” because well, they all had the same haircut as Spock. They took Smiths worship to a whole new level of gayness, and made me run away screaming from the whole DIY hardcore scene in favor of greener pastures (Merauder, Earth Crisis and Bloodlet).
Although the Spock rock scene died out in the early 00s, it’s my understanding that the kids in Boston picked up where they left off. But since I’m not a homosexual, I don’t listen to Boston bands and really couldn’t tell you about all that. Maybe someone else can explain the Boston “tortured artist” scene of the 00s, and where The Smiths fit in. I’m happy to say that I can’t.