315 Hardcore- Westcott Style

This evening I attended a Hardcore show at the Westcott Community center. For those of you not familiar with the genre, hardcore (in the sense I'm using it) is a musical style that emerged in the 1980s and fully flowered in the 1990s. Similar to punk, hardcore is incredibly fast, loud and angry music-- taking the music of rage to a level beyond what is usually found within mainstream punk music. Hardcore is at its core, music of rebellion and transformation, as seen in the song “You’re Fired” by Strike Anywhere (2006):
"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


Natalie said...

Ah, the great paradox of hardcore music: the lyrics are often well thought out, but incomprehensible in their screaming delivery ;o)

joe said...

good article chief. 'though i think the kids prefer 'dancing' to the term 'moshing'.

Jesse said...

point well taken Joe, my mistake.

wild turkey desire! said...

Oye Oye!

Hey, what's up? Umm.... I was reading Rural Futures tonight and I saw that it printed an article about Yorkstaters... That is pretty cool, Rural Futures is put together and published by the New York State Legislative Commission on Rural Resources, so looks like the government has even taken an interest in what is going on here.

But, anyways - thought I'd mention that and then continue commenting on the hardcore movement in Upstate, NY. Everything aside, I'm not a big hardcore fan, especially the bands from Upstate, NY. Well, at least for the most part, of the bands I know and this is mainly from knowing several people who have been closely associated with the music. I don't know what bothers me most about it, but I think it is all the mesh shorts and nike shoes. What I'm trying to say is their is to much tough guy, and not enough attempt at developing positive alternative relationships with the environment.

In my opinion, hardcore music has always seemed pretty radical and this is why I think I don't like what I see and hear coming from a lot of the Upstate NY scene, although it is not only limited to this area, it is global and I find the commericialisation and related exploitation of the music a joke and a serious problem.

You mentioned Earth Crisis and I think they are a perfect example of the hardcore scene in Upstate gone sour. I mean, geeezz... one time I was in Mexico and met someone from Sweden and they knew where I was from simply because the hardcore straight edge vegan movement in Sweden listened to Earth Crisis - so it seems they are really famous, right.., But, from what I've heard Earth Crisis are a total bunch of jerks who would beat people up for drinking a beer or something like that. Come on, get a life!

Anyways, I don't mean to rant, so I'll stop now. One more thing, to clarify, I thought the show that is advertised on the poster, which you have above was canceled and moved to Oswego, but I guess I'm wrong. Anyways - I heard, because the show was called off for problems or something in Syracuse and moved to Oswego, but I guess - I'm just not with it anymore.

Peace, yall - mosh pits are not fun, never been a fan.

-wild turkey desire

Natalie said...

Hey WTD,

Someone else wrote us about seeing something in the NYS Legislative Commission on Rural Resources Newsletter... what did it say? And where can we find a copy?

I haven't been in on the hardcore scene in 315 in many years, and I feel like that's true of many people who used to be into it... it was the crucible of dissent and rebellion in their teenage years, and then they left/outgrew it. I'm interested to hear more about what Jesse finds out about the nature of the movement in his studies.

Also, I agree about the mosh pits. I'm a fan of the circle pit...smash the state, not your friends ;o)

Jesse said...

I have to admit, I am a fan of the Pit, but not in violence. I enjoy circle pits, skanking, two-stepping and just letting loose and I tend towards the "posi-core" end of the hardcore spectrum which celebrates life, equality and struggle against oppression. WTD- check out bands like Good Clean Fun, Strike Anywhere or Nakatomi Plaza for something perhaps a bit more to your liking ideologically.

I've been looking into Earth Crisis and the associated Hardline movement a bit lately. They don't exactly fit into your traditional right-left scheme; on one hand, they're deeply concerned about the environment, about the abuse of corporate power and about alienation in modern lives. They consider themselves to be deep ecologists rejecting an anthropocentric worldview.

However, they had a specific program for solving these problems that differs strongly from a traditional Leftist approach. Believing in purity of body and mind, they sought to forge themselves into "knights" who would purge the world of it's "sins" through fire. Let me give you the lyrics of their seminal song "Firestorm/Forged in Flames:"

"Street by street. Block by block. Taking it all back.
The youth's immersed in poison--turn the tide
counterattack. Violence against violence, let the roundups begin. A firestorm to purify the bane that society drowns in. Nomercy, no exceptions, a declaration of total war. The innocents' defense is the reason it's waged for. Born addicted, beaten and neglected. Families torn apart, detroyed and abandoned.

Children sell their bodies, from their high they fall to drown. Demons crazed by greed cut bystanders down.
A chemically tainted welfare generation. Abslolute complete moral degeneration.Born addicted, beaten and neglected. Families torn apart, detroyed and abandoned.

Children sell their bodies, from their high they fall to drown. Demons crazed by greed cut bystanders down.
Corrupt politicans, corrupt enforcement, drug lords and
dealers; all must fall. The helpless are crying out.
We have risen to their call. A firestorm to purify.

Forged in the flames of chaos. Hammered by trials to tempered steel. Convictions, tried and tested,onto a razor's edge, that's true and real. Wrought between the hammer and the anvil, strengthened to never break.
The weakness that surrounds is the evil that I forsake.
Never have I taken in vain the sacred vessel of my soul. I am the master of my faith, my destiny I control. Nobility lies in actions, corrections where once was wrong. Ascension from evil ith a heart that's true and strong. Through this veil of shadows, the light of truth is my only guide. A knight unyielding. To the X I'm crucified."

NYCO said...

Ohhh! (light dawns) so THAT's what all those kids were doing next door when I was trying to run book group meetings at the Day Hab Center over the summer.

I was wondering why they were so polite, yet so LOUD.

Eric said...

I stumbled upon this discussion by way of NYCO's blog. The last thing I expected there (or here) was to be talking about local punk and hardcore. Weird, to me at least. This is a nice description of the hardcore aesthetic and the local scene. I live in Syracuse and run hardcore punk mp3 blog, but haven't been to a show in years. It would be nice to check things out again, and I may actually head out to Westcott at some point. Do kids still do the 'ol circle pit? I stopped going to HC shows mostly because the violence and macho BS got to be too much.

And while we're talking local bands I thought I'd mention old-timey Syracuse HC band the Catatonics, back from the mid-eighties. If you want to listen then head over here