American Hardcore

Two weeks ago, Chicago Weekly ran a blurb called “Why Hardcore Sucks in ’07.” Cyril Spencer wrote it. He got it right. Everything about hardcore punk rock sucks in 2007–it’s banal, redundant, overtaken by zombie scenesters, it’s a social club more than a music scene, and it remains only a shell of what it was in the basements of DC circa 1982. Oh, one more thing, don’t forget to confuse Ian MacKaye (hardcore punk rocker) and Eon McKai (hardcore porn director).

However, that’s far too simple. It’s easy to trumpet the death of a genre, especially if you’re not directly involved in the scene. In other words, hardcore isn’t about the music. It’s about the experience of the music. The sound system feedback, the amateur guitarist, the screaming lead singer–it’s been done before, but that doesn’t mean it’s done for.

The “hardcore punk rock formula” works because every Saturday night, somewhere in Chicago, a bunch of kids are dancing, and that’s what matters. Despite the passage of two decades, hardcore punk rock exists in its original incarnation with little variation. It’s the same setup, the same vocal delivery, the same aesthetic, and the same lyrics. Last Saturday, UxCxHxC (University of Chicago Hardcore), a punk rock advocacy group on campus, hosted another show proving hardcore is still a solid Saturday night event. Cobb coffeehouse hosted the show.

Caleidoscopio de Herpes, a student metal act, easily took the cake as the most intense band of the evening. Fronted by the aptly named “Metal Rob,” the group exploded the second the music started. Rob rolled on the floor, smashing at his guitar, screaming with fury into the mic.

Gun with Occasional Music is a fixture of the campus hardcore scene. Again, the music triggered a crowd-and-band mosh pit mixture that was punk rock as fuck. Andrew Cal, lead singer for the closing band, announced that “This is all about the kids–for the kids, about the kids, and will always be for the kids.”