I know I haven't been involved in playing in bands, attending shows, spending money on band's music, being militant about being straight edge, as long as a lot of people, who are typically much older than me (I'm only 23). BUT, being someone; who his entire life has been into underground music, always been drug and alcohol free, has for over a decade played in local hardcore bands to show my support for the scene, and discovered / fell in love with hardcore music and straight edge when I was only 12 years old and still have that love for what brought me into it all today; I think I can easily point out how shitty this scene has become and the exact reasons for it. Let us take a brief look:
1. The music. What had always made the counter culture of the hardcore scene so great was the music. What first sucked you into it was it was always dudes, pissed off, screaming about shit they hated or shit they really believed in. If you were anything like me, you needed more and more and absolutely could not get enough of it. You sought out show flyers regularly; visiting alternative stores, records stores, malls, the counters at music stores or music equipment shops; and you kept your eye out for that rare occurance when you'd see someone that was dressed like you; wearing a band shirt you knew, or wearing a choker with baggy clothes, maybe wearing the cuffed jeans, chuck taylors, vans, X's on their hands, tattoos, piercings, etc. etc. etc.; and when you saw someone like you, it was a big deal. Maybe you even went up to that person and sparked conversation about your similar interests, and next thing you knew, you were hanging out with them and recognizing them at shows. But what made the music really so great, was that the scene always provided you with what you needed at times of change. You were getting into hardcore, hearing bands like Hatebreed, Earth Crisis, Strife, Despair, or whoever. Then you needed more, and throughout your desperate search at record stores or shows, because you were a true hardcore kid that wasn't handed everything through the internet and with your parents' money, you found a diverse montage of amazing bands within the scene. You found your bands that played straight up hardcore, your bands that played the 90s metalcore stuff, or your bands that were strictly straight edge or vegan or BOTH. You found your Christian bands or your Krishna bands, your bands that preached left wing rantings or your bands that didn't get big in the scene because they weren't liberal like the rest. You found your bands that played early grind stuff like Converge, Assuck, Anal Cunt, etc. You found your bands that played early screamo and passionate sounding hardcore from the 80's and on. Or if you were a traditional hardcore and punk person and kept to the bands that played the youth crew sound, they were there, and still are. As the mid 2000s came, so did death by being bland. Bands became big only if they fit a mold. Now, I understand, with any type of music, this occurs at any point in time, but this is the hardcore scene remember? Supposed to go against the grain, right? A good example is last year I was in a band that played melodic hardcore, but was becoming more and more like the stuff that got me into hardcore: Strongarm, old Shai Hulud, many "spirit filled hardcore" bands, etc. This jobber kid from Kentucky had the nerve to offer us a management and tell me (I wrote and still write all the music) that I need to compromise our sound to get big. Instead of playing stuff like Strongarm and old Shai Hulud, we need to make it sound like Comeback Kid mixed with Poison the Well. Little does this fuck know, that as much as I loved the first two Poison the Well records and the first Comeback Kid record, we were playing a sound that didn't last very long and were trying to bring it back. When I made this clear to him, he had the balls to tell me the 90s sound won't ever come back. Well, first of all, this punk tours with horrible metal bands of today (what the new "scene" kid would listen to). Second of all, what sound is becoming very prevalent in the real scene again? Oh, that's right, the 90s shit. I think 2009 being a year of reunions, Burning Fight Fest, and the rise of bands bringing that sound back, is all pretty decent proof, huh? Third, if the scene ever relies on compromising music to make it big, it's all gone to hell. Bands, please do me, yourselves, and the scene a favor, play shit that doesn't fit the mold.
2. The "jobber". We all know what a "jobber" is, right? Well, if not, a "jobber" is a new jack kid who talks himself (or herself) up a lot, kisses a lot of ass in the scene, and thinks he or she is the absolute balls. Go to a show nowadays, you'll find yourself surrounded by these types. Kids today have everything handed to them, and that's not just the hardcore scene. Parents have become pussies with their kids. Kids are growing up with no respect for their superiors or for the elderly, and respect is the issue here. When I started going to shows; getting into hardcore, claiming straight edge, falling in love with the scene; along with a few friends, we looked up to people and expected nothing but opportunities to learn more. To this day, I know people that are much older and have been around this stuff for much longer and have records, seen shows, or even played in bands or with bands at shows that I would just die to be a part of. I looked to these people for knowledge. I always wanted to learn about more bands, and to do so I had to do some work to fulfill my craving. Today, a 13 year old kid goes on Myspace (a lame invention), and socializes with his friends and girlfriends online rather than hangs out with them in person, gets into bands of today that are just so horrible and are huge making the big money, and begins seeing that this is how bands who sound metal, punk, hardcore, etc. should be. So then the kid meets other kids that are straight edge or into hardcore music or whatever, and starts loving it. So what's this kid have to do now? Get back online, look up bands that are the sounds he's looking for, and that's it. Go to a store to find flyers? Nah, how about just go on Myspace and who needs a paper flyer keepsake when you can just see a digital one online? Kids getting covered in tattoos, acting tough, talking themselves up as if they were in the bands they wish they knew of long ago, need to learn to look at the scene as opportunity, not as a Myspace gathering at a venue with hardcore bands playing.
3. Girls, girls, girls. What guy doesn't love girls? I mean, my opposing sex isn't my favorite thing in the world right now, seems like they always let you down, right? But in the hardcore scene, what's a girl doing there now? When I was younger, and obviously before I started getting into it all, you would see girls at shows rare to none. But, they were there for the same reasons the guys were there. They really loved the music, they really loved the energy, and to be honest, some girls you couldn't even tell apart from the guys. And I loved it, I think that is a scene, not what we have today. Today, girls are there to either flirt with dudes, get fucked, and pretty much as like the teeny bopper slut they are at school, but dress alternatively (which is now cool) and be the same slut girl from Clueless at a hardcore show. Remember the saying, "Get your clit out of the pit!" ? Sigh...patriarchy can work wonders if you let it.
4. The fashion. Every scene of any decade or period of time has its trends. Hell, I've gone from dressing like a dork when I was 12 listening to punk rock, some Metallica, loving the Bosstones to death, discovering hardcore bands, and becoming straight edge; to sporting baggy clothes, belts hanging down the front of my pants, huge ass Xs on my hands all day every day, wearing chokers, wearing skate shoes, listening to heavy 90s bands; to all black tight shirts and pants, wearing chucks, listening to late 90s metalcore; to wearing cuffed jeans, wearing chucks, wearing plain white ts (not the untalented pop band), listening to more early screamo, more metalcore, and still loving the old stuff; to closer and closer to where I am at today. What's great about all that, is I followed the scene around me. I wasn't dressing like kids at school in middle school and in high school, I was dressing like bands I was seeing at shows. I understand the hardcore scene has had its lame trends, some pretty humorous, and still does, but the hardcore scene has always been one step ahead of the mainstream, ever notice? Well now, it seems the hardcore scene and the mainstream have joined forces in creating such a horrid breed of...something. Kids now left and right are getting sucked into the super tight jeans, super v necks, lame girly hair, vans, piercings, and tattoos. Come on. Who would have thought that what used to be unheard of would become the new preppy? Go to a mall, out on your street, a movie theater, all you see is this shit. I called this shit in my 8th grade year and promised I would blow my brains out when it happens. Well, it's here, and suicide is weak, and I'm not weak.
5. From basements to arenas. This is the last aspect of the ruins of the hardcore scene I will rant about. Remember when shows were like anywhere from FREE to $5? Remember when you would take a few singles to a basement or hall somewhere and get to see tons of bands, maybe even some of your favorites, see a tons of new bands you never heard, get some fucking variety, enjoy the music to the point of exhaustion, can't get enough of what you saw, and feel like you had the weekend of your life? I rememeber that. What's wrong now is shit like Warped Tour, Ozzfest, Hot Topic, and Makeout Club, Friendster, Myspace, etc. Now, there is nothing wrong with Warped Tour still having punk and ska bands like it used to; Ozzfest featuring Ozzy and metal bands like it used to; Hot Topic (as still pretty new as it is) only selling lame goth shit; and internet social network sites being for the kids that have to gossip all day and night with their school friends and look super cool; but what's happened is our beloved hardcore scene and all music that is attached to it, or has been born from it, has enmeshed itself right in with these things. Is that the hardcore way? I think not. You should only be paying a few bucks to go see a group of hardcore bands. You should be seeing bands at random places, halls, basements, churces, anywhere that lets you throw and show. Bands shouldn't be able to make an entire living off playing hardcore music. Not that I don't think it's amazing that dudes are making money off something they love and have loved for a long time, but the fact that it's THAT popular and THAT mainstream, is the problem. Bands are making so much money touring that some cities don't get them there because kids throwing shows can't afford them, sorry east coast hardcore kid that can't see his favorite west coast band because they have a guarantee of $1000 a night. It's absurd. All we have left, those of us who really appreciated what things were like, is holding onto what we do love and keeping it sacred, and hope that when you're at the mall next time you're the only one sporting a Groundwork shirt. But the way things are going, who knows how bad it can get.
So, in conclusion, in no way think I don't still love hardcore music, love shows, love playing in a hardcore band, I do I do I do. But there is so much in the scene that is fake, trendy, and mainstream, I may as well go to a My Chemical Romance show. Hardcore is hardcore, it's not what it looks like today. If you're new to the hardcore scene, learn from those older than you. Really seek out bands and learn to appreciate the variety that the hardcore scene had, and still has the potential to, offer. And if you are in a hardcore band, or plan to be in one anytime soon, remember, play music for the right reasons. In hardcore, it's not about money, being on magazines covers, selling merch at Hot Topic, it's about making sure every hardcore kid hears your name and hears your music. Bands like Overcome and 7 Angels 7 Plagues are very good examples. Those bands are HUGE to those who really love hardcore music, but those bands are NOT huge to those in hardcore just for the ride. It's about notoriety, not fame.