We made it to two thousand and twelve, huh? Despite the percentage of Facebook users forecasting doom at the hands of a Mayan prophecy growing at an alarming rate, the global economy teetering on the verge of financial disaster, and (in some cases) crackdowns on the whole alternative movement by an oppressive government; hardcore is very much alive and well (most of us would agree with that right?) in 2012.
2011 was a good year generally for hardcore, I think. While several notable bands may have called it quits last year, just as many from days past announced re-union shows and tours, take from that what you will. So many interesting new bands have appeared the world over in this last twelve months too, and it’s literally never been easier to find new bands or a show to go to. It’s easy to wonder though, what those who laid the foundations decades ago now would think of hardcore today?
Only the technological advances of the last decade or so has enabled the huge swell of popularity of hardcore. The days of waiting 3 months to receive a record you purchased from a mail order distro based purely on the strength of the description next to it are long gone. It’s easy for anybody to access hardcore now at a few clicks of a mouse. The Internet era has wrought massive changes on every aspect of society even as far as our own subculture. The explosion of interest in punk and hardcore, which is of course possibly the best thing that could have happened for the genre, but what else has the new hyper speed age affected in the community?
The Internet, and of course Social Networking (which is another undoubtedly good thing – the Arab Spring, for example), seems to me to have given rise to an endless sequence of ‘one-up-man-ship’ in hardcore kids sometimes. Forgive the term, but sometimes I get the feeling hardcore can be very cliquey. You’re in the cool group, or you’re just some dude at a show. My generation sometimes reminds me of being at high school, the amount of gossiping and name calling there is. ‘Jock’ mentality seems to dominate the current hardcore trends among the younger generations, and people making bold statements like ‘UKHC on the rise’ or ‘UKHC on top’. That’s definitely something I’d like to see less of this year. A lot of the suspects are oblivious to the roots of the UK hardcore scene, they’ve never listened to even still current bands like Knuckledust, never mind any of the multitude of great bands before them over the decades. Everything they draw allegiances to is based on an American-ised stereotype of someone who listens to hardcore, when once our scene was influenced by our own punk and oi bands of the 70’s and 80’s. Before the rise of high speed communication, different scenes flourished organically with their own styles even in the same country (take the difference in the NY versus DC sound in the 80′s for example), but so much of that history has been lost when everyone was suddenly thrown in the online melting pot. And it’s not just the children of the internet generation who have suffered. Hundreds of bitter, jaded blokes with faded tattoos, still sporting a now ill fitting, faded band shirt from the early 90′s hide in the dark of their homes, posting on forums just awash with passive aggressive know it alls locked in a continous duel of who can like the most obscure band from 15 years ago, or bemoaning how much they hate ‘kids today’.
You see, the thing is I couldn’t care if X band playing next week aren’t as good as Y band you saw 10 years ago in some grotty upstairs pub room, that I’ve never heard of because they only pressed 5 records and you own 4 of them, and the other belongs to your mate who was at the show but nobody’s spoken to him in years because all he does is sit in the pub and occasionally buy brogues to wear with his Smiths shirt. And for my generation, I also couldn’t care how much you spent on your over priced designer shirt that you’re wearing at a show, what is this a fashion parade? There’s too many people who seem to look at it as those once ‘you’re in’, you’re in. You’ve got the stripes. Now you have the right to act superior to everyone else and moan continuously.
What they should remember is YOU are NOT hardcore. It’s not a state of mind you can achieve. If all you’re going to do is be obnoxious and arrogant, or sit on the internet and pick apart what others are doing, then you’re not relevent.
Hardcore is so much bigger than all of us. We are simply parts of the entity. If everyone contributes, if everyone decides to start a band, or write a zine, or book a show, we have the chance to enrich people’s lives and leave a mark on history here. So I urge you, don’t let our subculture fall victim to something so trivial. Be humble. Learn where your scene comes from (cause it ain’t the B9 forum, kids), talk to that guy stood on his own at the back of the show. Everyone’s here for the same reason right? There must be something a little bit fucked up in all of us that makes us throw ourselves off stages and flail ourselves around every time we go to a show. Treat this as a rallying cry, get off the internet, and out of your house, do something really productive. Make 2012 the year you do something for the scene, and be remembered.
*Credit Matthew Miller for the photo of Trial at Burning Fight.