"Release us now!/Release us now!/Before we forget what were are/lift up our souls in union!/Before we forget what we are/lift up our souls in union!/Inside us, there’s a nation/hidebound and unaware/of people’s insurrection/of the soul to kill despair/release us/now!"However, perhaps what defines 'hardcore' even more than its musical style, which often edges over into both the heavy metal and punk genres, is the subculture that surrounds it. Hardcore can perhaps be best defined as that genre of music that infuses the rebellious spirit exemplified in all rock, but especially within punk, with a program of social transformation. Hardcore is music with a message; far from glorifying 'sex, drugs and rock and roll,' hardcore musicians often offer profound social critiques while at the same time raging against oppression and offering hope for a better, more egalitarian future.
“We Live in Defiance of Empty Times!” chants the chorus of “Timebomb Generation” (2001) by the band Strike Anywhere. In “When the Angels Sing” (1996), Social Distortion says: “There’s gotta be a heaven/cause I’ve already done my time in hell.” Hardcore is a response to the perception of modern society as increasingly fragmented and atomistic, filled with alienation and lacking meaning or purpose. Much of this is a product of the destruction of the socio-economic framework of many urban areas, especially the Rust Belt, but also of the sterile lives that many found growing up within the suburbs.
Hardcore has a long history in Syracuse and Upstate New York, as evidenced from the sweatshirt I saw this evening that read "315 Hardcore 1993-2003." Throughout the late '90s, the Syracuse Scene became well known as a heartland of Straight Edge, Animal Liberation, Vegan and Hardline Movements. Clustering around musical groups like Earth Crisis, these kids fused deep ecology, animal liberation, straight-edge (rejection of all mind altering substances), sexual asceticism and angry punk rebellion into a potent mixture. Some of this can be still felt today: SARO (Syracuse Animal Rights Organization) had a table at the show with a banner that read "Against All Oppression," and there was a definite presence of Straight Edge kids (evidenced by the prominent black "X"s they wear on their hands). However, much of the movement has died away in the area and while tonight's show hadn't lost it's rage at oppression, it was more diffuse and generalized than the critiques of a decade ago. Despite it all, the music tonight was still catchy, the bands passionate and the mosh pit intense.
For those of you interested in stopping by and enjoying the 315 Scene, I suggest visiting www.315hardcore.com, and coming to next week's show at Westcott- doors open at 8pm, $7 cover, all ages allowed. See you there.
-Posted by Jesse