Where have all the hardcore bands gone?

There was a reblog from Deathwish recently titled just say the safe word and I’ll stop which struck a chord with me.

It’s an article discussing the merits of Self Defence Family (current, past, former et et) and their relevance as a band that could leave you walking from a show uncomfortably blown away.

The original poster – safeasmalk talks about GG Allin and Jesus Lizard then referred to These Arms Are Snakes as his generation (and mine’s) equivalent. I was fortunate enough to see TAAS around 5 or 6 times during their career. Being in the UK we take things as they come and appreciate every body-aching moment. I remember maybe the first show, watching Steve Snere deep throat the microphone resulting with him vomiting on the stage. The last time, Ryan Frederiksen toured the entire venue using two bar stools as stilt, at one point using me as a resting post whilst his guitar lead ran nooses around members of the crowd whilst he convulsed atop of his plinths.

It was a truly terrifying experience and yet the most engaged I’ve ever felt at a show. They’re not the only ones I can think of but I can certainly reflect with the original article.

I grew up in the sleepy dull town in the shadow of its parent; Tunbridge Wells. We had an incredible music scene (it still does) and the best independent venue in the country (it still does). At the heart of the scene even to this day has been Joeyfat. A post-punk band with a revolving door on it’s lineup but with one main-stay, it’s front-man Matt Cole.

Over the course of the last 10 years I’ve seen M.Cole on all fours of a table, barking like a dog at a couple who were having a conversion throughout the entire set, rip the clothes off his body during 20 minutes of anguish, and on countless occasions he’s let us join him through warped take on the world.

It’s not about pantomime antics, I know that isn’t what safeasmilk was talking about – neither am I, and I can see why he is discounting Trash Talk who are indeed a powerful force onstage. But once you have seen them 3 or 4 times the illusion is broken. When you realise it is set-pieces rehearsed, in a loose sense, of whatever worked last time. Yes they’ll be in the crowd, yes someone will climb a PA stack, yes we’ll have a circle pit. The same went for the latter Gallows tours, you were guaranteed Frank Carter walking across the crowd and standing on the shoulders of his followers below. It becomes prescribed and unreal, it becomes – a show.

But it’s not just about the intensity in the delivery, it’s the content as well. Have we run out of things to rebel against? Are the wrong people making music now? What’s happened to the disguised anger of Fugazi or brazen assault that was Bikini Kill?

I get the point and I agree, where have all those bands gone?

There’s a recent star in the clouded sky of hardcore that I still pine for today. It burnt hard and burnt fast and that was Blackhole.

I took this photo during one of their last shows and that look, what you see when you look into those eyes – that is what is missing from bands right now.