THE WEIRDEST 90S HARDCORE SHOW I EVER WENT TO

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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?

108 dropdead

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.

i am confused

About Sergeant D

I was like yeah ok whatever
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100 Responses to THE WEIRDEST 90S HARDCORE SHOW I EVER WENT TO

  1. Nightshift says:

    Yeah Burn it Down opening for Harakiri I think and Soilent Green in a grimy punk bar full scumbag blue collar metalheads who worked on offshore oil rigs was a culture clash. Attempts at kung-fu quickly foiled by 250 pound circle pitters.

  2. matt says:

    its uncanny how much symphony in peril’s vox sounded like day of suffering… tbh theres still weird ass shows like this in pa from time to ime, but not with bands as good as dos, charles bronson, and racetraitor.

  3. True story: Ryan Downey was the anonymous ‘admin’ of the Demon Hunter fan forum, a place I frequented back in my younger days (8th-10th grade, 04-06), and where I met a good many people that I still know today (prime example: Shiv from 7H7E/ovids).

    To imagine Ryan Downey spending any amount of his precious free time locking threads and hosing down flame wars between a bunch of forums dweebs still makes me chuckle.

    • getxstoked says:

      I was a moderator on that forum, so I probably locked those threads, then Downey deleted them…and I’m pretty sure I outed him when he made a post about Burn It Down at one point. Oh well.

      Also, I was living in Indiana when this fest happened, I didn’t make it from up north down to Indy, but I think I had the flyer for it on my wall at one point.

  4. adam ryan says:

    racetraitor was so sick. i remember calling trustkill records (by land line phone!) to place an order for their 7inch and sticker/t-shirt combo.

    charles bronson is still an advanced level troll band. they were trolling hxc dudes 15 years in advance. one of my favorite bands when i was in high school (1998-2002) i saw one of their 7inches for sale at Phantom City Records in Olympia for 50 dollars.

    the weirdest show i saw was Buried Alive and Saves The Day on tour in 98 i believe?
    also saw eighteen visions, american nightmare, and the locust in c12 warehouses in atlanta in 2001.

  5. Brad Cook says:

    this stuff still happens around baltimore. the last house show i played consisted of us (powerviolence/grind/whatever), a van halen all bass hardcore worship band, a sloppy anal cunt sorta thing, a nu metal band with all japanese players except the singer, but from NYC and a Japanese thrash metal band. This show was also broken up by drunk skinheads because the promoter protested a nazi show down the street days earlier. They beat him up even though they weren’t nazis…weird.

  6. Sergeant D says:

    [insert comment about 'shows like this happen all the time in my stupid city']

  7. noob says:

    this day of suffering song is siq, cool band never heard b4

  8. Mac says:

    Welcome to Euroland 2013

  9. Saves Parky says:

    I was born in the right generation.

  10. Nightshift says:

    I think I tried to like Shift in high school. Where the post-hardcore indie “rock” bands failed was no swagger, natural or forced. All jokes aside, even the Rolling Stones still have enough testosterone to sound like sleazy old dirtbags and not sweater wearing volvo driving milquetoasts like most of their fans. I think a big jump in styles vs honing what you do well partly explains this.

    • Sergeant D says:

      I am with you on this. Aside from Quicksand and Burn and a couple others, I always felt like the “revelation rock” scene was really phony and the music felt very forced– full of people who wanted to make sure you knew that they had “moved on from hardcore,” when in they hadn’t moved on at all, they were more concerned than ever what people in the hardcore scene thought of them and their boring bands.

  11. Cj says:

    Abnegation… Enough said.

    • Sergeant D says:

      I think you are confused. Abnegation did not play this show. So it doesn’t really make sense to leave a comment about them. I can only assume that you meant to leave this on a different post where your comment would be on-topic.

      Or you are having an asperger’s flare-up. Could also be that.

  12. MasterSlave says:

    I liked it when this happened. Sure, most of the people who went to shows had no sense of fun back then, but from the perspective of purely enjoying the music, I like metalcore/tough guy, I like powerviolence/crust and I get bored of hearing the same thing really quickly so these shows were perfect for me.

  13. gear says:

    Were there any black people at this show? I hear there’s black people on the internet.

  14. Jek Porkins says:

    holy lol at NOUNS and PLURALS. they sound like pretty serious bands.

  15. Sandy Cervix says:

    I really wish there was more documentation of the race traitor rants you are talking about. They sound really funny/cringeworthy.

  16. Night Rider says:

    How did all of these bands end up playing at churches? Based upon my limited knowledge of “THE SCENE,” I would have assumed that a lot of these bands would rather do anything than play in a church (via militant atheist punk stuff or whatever). Is it just a case of take what you can get and play wherever/whenever you can? Did they think it was cool or helping the cause if they played “in the house of those closed minded bigots?”

    • TLDR says:

      Is it just a case of take what you can get and play wherever/whenever you can?

      I have always known it to be this ^^^

      I am (or was idk) an angry atheist who has gone to/played many hardcore shows in churches

    • MasterSlave says:

      Some of the shows I used to go to in sydney were held at a police youth center. There were cops there just casually walking around while the place was full of drunk punks and hardcore kids. One faggot in a crust band from melbourne said something over the mic about hating cops, I thought it was mad disrespectful but they never seemed to care about any of it

  17. RickRoss says:

    I love mixed bills I have friends who are like “no our hardcore shouldnt play with ur emo band haha thats weird” but who gives a fuq it’s not like the bands are playing at the same time?

    • TLDR says:

      it’s not like the bands are playing at the same time?

      LOL this made me chuckle I’m going to use it next time someone complains about a lineup

  18. uppercut613 says:

    very interesting post! the last sentence is amazing haha.

    hatebreed’s first album must have been super ahead of it’s time for 1997, because i remember that whole “beatdown hardcore” style (or “tough guy hardcore” as they called it back then) was mostly mainly popular in the early 2000′s and maybe even peaked as late as 2002-2003, around when i started going to shows.

    sarge, did you go to many epifat shows back in the mid-late 90′s? i would’ve killed to be part of that scene (as lots of people on here probably already know). i still back that music hard to this day and it seems as if the people in it would’ve been really laid back/chill and not all militantly PC like the hardcore scene was back then.

    • TLDR says:

      I saw Good Riddance at the Vets Hall in Santa Cruz in like 1999, IDK if t hat counts or not but it was p sweet. Circle pits for dayyyyyzzzz

      Also, I think “tough guy” hardcore peaked around 04-05, for a year or so after Boston Beatdown came out

    • alex says:

      I saw Good Riddance, Vandals, Pennywise, Nofx, Blink 182 (b4 they got famous), Millencollin, Less Than Jake, Frenzal Rhomb, Reel Big Fish, Mighty Bosstones, The Ataris, No Fun At All

  19. alex says:

    This reminds of the time a posi sxe bro told me that he went to a Cock Sparrer show (knowing nothing about them except they were in some way punk or hardcore or something) wearing his yellow animal rights t shirt. He feared for his life. Although not as out there as the 90s it was still cool to see Emmure and Saving Grace support As I Lay Dying in Auckland New Zealand in 2010. The crowd was a mix of metalheads in jeans/cannibal corpse shirts doing windmill headbangs and sxe, vegan, facedowncore bros in basketball singlets and camo shorts spin kicking each other in thye face. Good times.

  20. alex says:

    I like how even in 2013 the population in NZ isn’t big enough for total scene separation. Thats why I still get to experience joys like seeing a less than jake shirt at a deatchore show, having a beer with a crust punk in a propagandhi shirt at a beatdown jockcore show or having a lengthy discussion with a guy in a bad religion shirt outside a black metal show about my passionate love for christian goregrind like vomitorial corpulence.

  21. postcore says:

    simultaneously disappointed and thankful that i’m a bit late to the party to ever experience anything like this.

  22. nu⚡⚡tej says:

    I almost forgot about alqaedacore 4 a minute, that fggt from racetraitor missed out on the semi-ficticious Taqwacore-scene by only a few short years…

    • Bronson says:

      lol, college liberal arts intellectual me had the same reaction to those taquacore bands as I did when I was investigating the freshly irrelevant homocore/queercore/riotgrrrl bands from the 90s:

      “Oh, neat, [x oppressed group] is putting their own unique spin on punk! I still care about punk, so this is fascinating to me.”

      *listens to numerous bands from the genre, realizes they are all terrible*

      “Oh uh, well, I mean, the music wasn’t made for ME, but I am really glad they are expressing themselves.”

      smh

      • They even made a lame movie based on the ex-nihilo NPR buzz, “the Taqwacores”, use ur imagination (but PLEEZE don’t watch it).

        There r plenty of legit “artists/performers/musicians” in the punk/hc-scene who happen to be of *gasp* middle-eastern ancestry but actually rely on their TALENT, rather than their accident-of-birth.

        Eg: Oshie of City Lights (Lesbonese or Syrian or whatevs), Armand Majidi from Sick of it All (Iranian), Mean Steve Murad from One Life Crew (Lebanese Jew), the list goes on…

  23. Jek Porkins says:

    maybe someone who knows this stuff better than I do can answer this, but don’t shows like this make sense more nowadays? since cd (lol what are those?) sales are not strong, don’t most bands make the majority of their money off touring, so wouldn’t these kind of grab-all tours make sense to bring in more people? i remember a cannibal corpse/hatebreed tour, and like a year ago i saw devin townsend with children of bodom and septicflesh. of course this is all anecdotal, but in my head it seems to make sense.

    • uppercut613 says:

      this is a good point. i saw man overboard and the story so far back in april to a decent sized crowd (venue wasn’t anywhere near full though) and then i saw the story so far again with stick to your guns just a week ago at the same venue and it was packed. this could be due partially to TSSF’s ongoing increase in popularity, but also because of the sharing of hardcore and pop punk fanbases.

      • Bronson says:

        Yeah, to be sure, modern pop punk and mall friendly hc have risen in popularity together, and have always shared fans. Point in case: STYG and TSSF putting out a split together, and Title Fight’s shifting label of pop punk or “melodic hardcore” basically depending on who they are playing with.

        Also, given that Hatebreed is so big now that their popularity has obviously transcended their simply being a hardcore band – a lot of their fans see them as an ass kickin’ metal band, which probably explains why they are head and shoulders more popular than any other straight up hardcore band these days.

    • fuzz says:

      bands don’t make any money off of touring tho lol

  24. TLDR says:

    This post rules, I love these ones so much lol. Also Hatebreed’s Filth goes hard as fuk along with the rest of “under the knife”

    As an IHN, I love that EP because I can use it as ammunition in the argument against “all Hatebreed records sound the same”

    oh yeah well what about THIS!!!!!

    “who cares it still all sounds the same”

    (angry muttering as I go back to my cave to lick my wounds and contemplate my rightness)

    • Bronson says:

      lol, yeah, you can show them those first two records and prove that not ALL Hatebreed albums sound the same – some of them have poor recording quality and weaker songwriting as well!

      Obviously, I’m just ribbing you, but nothing makes me roll my eyes like these dorks who wanna tell the world they only like ‘real hardcore not that mall jock bullshit’ so they like a bunch of crappy old hc bands, and then hatebreed’s first record, which just sounds like a weaker, underdeveloped version of what Hatebreed became. See also: “Ball Of Destruction is the only good Madball album!”

      • MasterSlave says:

        There’s something special about the way hardcore/punk/metal songs are written when only a shitty recording is available though. You focus more on speed, changing tempos and variation when you can’t just make it super heavy by putting the gain right up and it is more satisfying to play. I think I’ve always related to it because I never bother to actually plug my guitar in

      • TLDR says:

        “Ball Of Destruction is the only good Madball album!”

        OMG pls call the whaaambulance I just OD’d on rageohol

        I absolutely cannot abide this level of faggotry (srs)

  25. uppercut613 says:

    also, speaking of andy from fall out boy, as some of you guys may know, he plays in a hardcore band called focused minds now. they played at a bar that must not hold more than 60 people near my house a few weeks ago. i went to the show, 1/3 to see my friend’s band open, 1/3 cause there was a sick skatepunkish band called the sheds who played and the other 1/3 for the novelty of seeing the fall out boy drummer playing in a hardcore band to ~50 kids in a small bar. anyway, turns out andy wasn’t with them on that tour, guess he was busy with fall out boy or something. was slightly disappointed.

  26. Nightshift says:

    Metal Trigger Warning: I remember 10 yrs ago Faust, formerly of Emperor posting on relapse records board from norwegian jail listing hatebreed and sick of it all as his favorite hc bands along with cro mags AF and integrity. Yes there was a time of little to no crossover between hc and metal fans but that time is becoming increasingly distant.

  27. Trevor "T-BONE" Buonaccorsi says:

    “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.”

    actually irl dying at slogans she stole from a hand-screened patch

  28. living in south carolina, the scene here is pretty small and tight nit, with the only small handful real bands coming from the scene and making any kind of name for themselves (Stretch Armstrong, Nile, Through the Eyes of the Dead, Graves of Valor). we get a lot of shows like this here, where a straight edge hardcore band will open for a super-not-straight edge technical shred metal band, followed by a satanic blackened death band, headlined by, like, The Chariot. I recently saw He Is Legend (without playing their first album material) headline a show opened by said shred metal band, a mathcore band and a blackened crust band. As a fan of most extreme music genres, I love the variety.

    • richard brunelle says:

      i saw today is the day in spartanburg a few years ago and the full lineup was like 20 emo and stoner bands, some tech death from tampa, and rwake for some reason

  29. Viking says:

    The weirdest show I went to in the 90s wasn’t a hardcore show, but it was at the RKCNDY, which hosted a lot of hardcore shows, so I will pretend it’s on topic. Lonesome Crowded West-era Modest Mouse headlined, and the openers were a super-technical instrumental metal band called Swarming Hordes, and an incredibly mellow indie band called Red Stars Theory. It was cool for me, because I genuinely liked all of those bands, but I think some people were confused.

    I don’t think I went to any hc shows as diverse as the one Sarge describes here. There was a dude in Tacoma who would put on huge shows (as in lots of bands, still 50 people tops in the audience) and he made a genuine effort to have diverse lineups, but the results of this “diversity” were usually 5-7 hardcore bands that sounded like bad death metal, maybe one ska band, maybe one pop-punk or emo band, and Trial.

    That dude and I had a falling out because I wrote something for his zine & he refused to print it because it was a positive review of a CD on Epitaph. Cracks me up now.

  30. Captain Facepunch says:

    I actually saw some kid at Madball recently with a Day Of Suffering shirt and I simultaneously thought “damn that kid will probably actually cry if you say Blood On The Dance Floor in his presence” and “…I kinda want that shirt”

  31. I am from Yurp says:

    In Cold Blood (ex Integrity, so go figure) playing with Metroshifter (90′s midwest emo). Weird line-up, but an excellent show none the less. Everyone present enjoyed both bands, which in these days I wouldn’t expect that much. OneXscene!

  32. Rod says:

    Lolz I have witnessed these vastly overpriced 7″s at Phantom City in Olympia. I bought a Charles Bronson 7″ for like $4 tho.

  33. refusetodie says:

    Goddamn, I fuck with all 4 of these bands, W00D MOSH/10

  34. venezuelandude says:

    all this hxc info is melting my brain sarge :’( waaay too vast and i don’t even know where to start

  35. apt13 says:

    a “fest” featuring racetraitor and torches to rome (or bread and circuits or whatever incarnation of the same band was playing) pretty much sealed the deal for me with never going to any of those ridiculous fests anymore. i think it was in nc. was my first experience with racetraitor. skinny white kids desperately trying to inject the “black uhuru” movement into the scene. i mean i don’t blame them, if krsna can come in no questions asked, why not black uhuru? shit, i even saw the local buddhists in florida try and get into the scene back in the late 80s piggybacking off of krsna. but damn racetraitor was so wholly unlikable that i couldn’t take it seriously and figured it had to be some kinda joke. between their nonsensical kill whitey rants and the question and answer debates in between every torches to rome song, i had had enough. i even used the question and answer portion to tell them all they were full of shit and was given a stearn lecture on buying shirts at the gap from kirsch himself (pre-herself). in which case i officially lost all respect for him and his bands. which was a major bummer. but that fest with all it’s sweater making, rape-quilt, vegan zine workshops was really something to behold and absolute lunacy. and i didnt even mention the random genres of bands that played.

    if we can get an article on the fest-culture of the early/mid 90s, that would be grand.

    • Sergeant D says:

      if we can get an article on the fest-culture of the early/mid 90s, that would be grand.

      YES. i really should do this. what a bizarre and grose scene that was.

      also, totally forgot about how everybody ragged on the gap so much back then. lol

  36. Halby says:

    Every NJ show from ’95-2000 featured some combo of; Ensign, Bigwig, Bouncing Souls, or Inspector 7.

    Craziest lineup was probably; Plan A Project, Baby Gopal,and Thursday, all opening for Discount.

  37. Iba says:

    I have heard that proline makes the best dregde highbanker combos. What makes your combo better than my Keene 3in. dregde highbanker combo? Are you running the stock miners carpet? Or like me the miners moss?

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