Friday, January 23, 2009

What is this entity in America's youth called "Hardcore"

What is this new hardcore scene, and why is it so prevalent in Griffin? When I was a teenager, we used to go down to Barnesville to The Depot and watch bands like Blue Druids - even then hardcore held the majority position, musically, around here. Back then, we would get in there and let the music pump us up until we were all good and worked up - the air heavy with perspiration and pheromones. The conflagration of bodies in front of the stage would start to churn and slowly come into a common consciousness that began to rotate (usually counterclockwise, for some reason). Gaining both speed and intensity, it became a vortex not dissimilar from the process of properly texturing latte milk. There was an understood respect for one another in the pit - depending on the band, you might've found yourself like a kid suddenly thrown into the deep end of the pool without your water wings - watch out for the younger kids and don't mow down the girls. Then there were the peripherals - the guys that would stand in the corners of the room, face upturned, arms out, palms up, in some kind of grotesque effigy, soaking up the energy that splashed out of the vortex - then, without warning, the peripheral would break loose in that high-kneed run right through the middle of the pit, a maelstrom of elbows and fists. Those in the know would be on the look-out for these types that were especially nasty and would apply a good stiff arm to them as they tried to come by, effectively ending the transitory tirade.

I'm going downstairs to see what the vibe is - be right back.

Okay, that was not what I expected. There was some type of action at the front, but not much. Maybe it's just being in a new, unfamiliar venue, but there was not the vigor that I had hoped down there. I remember going to my very first hardcore show, aged fifteen, and the music and the kinetics pulled me into the maw of unbridled teen expression as if against my will. I was a classic rock kid - I didn't even know it was a hardcore show that night. Nevertheless, I found myself drawn into the vortex even though it wasn't "my kind of music". We all shuffled and milled around to the unnaturally quick beat like the infected of some viral pandemic movie and at the end of the night, we all left as friends and felt, somehow cleansed through our physical exertion and emotionally vulnerability.

This crowd has not these things, from my vantage point. Anger aplenty, but the soul-wrenching vulnerability of honest teenage angst seems to be vacuously absent. I'm not putting these kids down, I just sense a lack of genuine commitment to what's happening down there. Maybe I'm caught in the, "we did it better in my day" fantasy. Maybe I'm not. Maybe the scene isn't delivering what it used to and maybe that disconnect deprives the kids of the release they are here looking for at seven dollars a pop. Maybe they just need a heavy dose of Blue Druids and Hot Water Music. Maybe it's something else altogether.


  1. What you saw was a bad band that noone was into... I on the other hand ended up down there protecting the buildings integrity with all 150 lbs during of me during a band they did like and I hate it. Music isn't about the physical. Music is about the soul. A true musical reaction is brought on by talent, identity and need. This music had little talent, was needless but the kids did identify with it. Anger and pain go hand in hand in teenagers. I have nothing against these kids and how the vent there frustration but couldn't you do that to James Brown also... I know i did.


  2. Indeed, brother. But pulling those kids down off the pole was good times, yeah ~ H

  3. Another thing - music IS physical. I'll agree, it starts in the soul, from jazz to death metal - what you hear is the soul's expression no matter what sonic form it takes. Last night's show expressed a lot of anger and probably profound hurt, as well, but so does the blues. People respond physically to music and it's impossible not to, at least on the chemical level. Music produces either pleasant or negative feelings, both of which are triggered by chemicals in the brain, which then causes facial expressions of some kind - think it doesn't? It most factually does, so from facial micro-expressions, to toe-tapping, to moshing in the pit, music is both soulful and physical.

  4. I agree that it is a by product of music but not the reason or purpose. This music was created for no other reason and that is what I disagree with.

  5. Music is never made for just one reason - that's like saying a person lives for only one reason. It is simply an impossibility.