We all have our ways of coping with law school. I know a girl that bakes to shake away her stress, I know a guy who crawls under his bed when he’s overwhelmed with reading, and I know handfuls of people that cry in the shower during exams. My way of coping with academic stress is to go to hardcore shows. To the uninformed person, hardcore shows may sound like the sort of thing that happens at club Wicked downtown or the backrooms of Zanzibar, but it’s really more terrifying than that.
What is Hardcore?
Hardcore is basically a genre of music that the laypeople would call “punk”. However, believe me, it is not punk, and in certain circles calling it punk could get you some knuckles to the face. Hardcore is basically what punk turned into once punk got watered down in the 70’s. This dilution of punk continues on today and its effects can be seen in whatever the fuck Emo was, and is responsible for turning “Dookie” into American Shit-iot, so the relevance of keeping hardcore separate from punk is still essential. Think of it this way, you can buy punk at Hot Topic, however hardcore is the reason parents still warn their kids against taking shortcuts through alleys at night.
Although hardcore is technically a genre of music it also encompasses a specific dress, dancing style, and outlook on life. Hardcore kids can usually be recognized by tight jeans and t-shirts, 5 panel caps, an array of tattoos, and Vans lace-ups. However, the wonderful thing about hardcore is that it’s a very modernist scene. These kids change with the times. Even over the past couple of years hardcore kids have swapped unkempt hair for slick 50’s cuts and have even added some letterman jackets, and sharp Polo gear in the mix. As for the dancing style, go to Youtube and search “hardcore dancing”, it should explain itself.
Other Hardcore Communities
Within and around hardcore there are several factions of people. The most visible of these is the straight edge community (also known as “edge”). People who are edge basically subscribe to a “one life, drug free” mentality. This means they don’t drink, don’t do drugs, and don’t smoke (some really strict edge subscribers even consider caffeine a drug). This dedication to a “clean” lifestyle can be quite extreme at times. Some straight edge bands are known for knocking beers and drinks out of peoples’ hands when they play. In Boston and Reno “edge” gangs are known for beating up drunks that are found stumbling in the streets after last call. Toronto’s edge scene is a little more subdued; however, I still wouldn’t recommend striking up a conversation with them with a mouth full of whiskey.
To really get an idea of what the hardcore scene is all about its important to talk about the music. Here is a list of bands that you can start out with and see if anything urges you to check out a show.
Fucked up is probably the most accessible and “mainstream” hardcore band to come out of Toronto. They are basically made up of six of the most awesome righteous people that built a band based on music rather than friendship. They are hardcore at their core, but in recent years they have been segregated slightly from the scene as they have moved more into the mainstream (sellouts? It’s arguable). They’re hard, but they have awesome melodies and terrific shining moments, at times it’s too perfect.
Key Tracks: “Year of the Pig (US Edit)”, “Police”, “Queen of Hearts”
Bane has been around the block a couple of times. Coming into prominence around the late 90’s, Bane has run the full gamut of hardcore’s ebbs and flows. Although from a current perspective their work can be seen as running a little bland, you have to remember that they made hardcore this, before it was this.
Key Tracks: “Can We Start Again”, “Swan Song”, “Superhero”
This band scares me more than Nette at an old folks home (what a terrible law joke, GD exams). Basically this is the haute band of hardcore at the moment. They are hard. They are scary. And they are mighty. The lead singer is known for punching or kicking people at shows who are singing or taking pictures in front of the stage. As well, he suffers from manic spells causing him to hit himself with the microphone until he bleeds at every show, and to have strange fits when not singing. I got kneed in the face at this show. It was very appropriate.
Key Tracks: “Skills or Death”, “Down”
Have Heart is a straight edge band from Massachusetts that are sadly no longer a band (they played their last show in 2009). Some argue that they embody all that is quintessential to 2000’s hardcore. Their music is pretty straight forward, but is extremely accessible to all hardcore fans, especially the teenage edger’s with giant exxed out hands.
Key Tracks: “Watch Me Rise”, “Armed With a Mind”, “The Unbreakable”
An X-Files Themed straight edge band?! Yup! This isn’t just a clever ploy, these guys actually know everything there is to know about the X-Files. They talk about the show all the time and during their sets they play the DVDs behind them. It’s not a gimmick. It’s real life.
Key Tracks: Check out the live show they played at Siesta Nouveaux on Youtube.
Other Bands to Check Out: Urban Blight, The Rival Mob, Trapped Under Ice, Ruiner.
As I mentioned above, what really gets me through the stressful times at law school is going to shows and thrashing in the pit. On the whole I was introduced to the HC scene later than most (read: after my tweens) and have no trouble proclaiming that I am still learning its intricacies (am I a poser? That’s argueable too). Don’t get me wrong, I do enjoy the music, but I really like getting into a sweaty pit and pushing until I forget about all my 8:30 classes.
So before you pull out all your hair or decide your best option of passing Tax Law is to take a bath with a toaster, I would suggest finding your own hardcore. Find that thing that gets your mind off everything. Its crucial to hit the “reset” button on all this law stuff from time to time.
If you ever get the hankering to join me and relieve some stress in the pit, get on the B9 message boards ( www.theb9.com ) or scour the Internet for upcoming shows. If you want to really test your Internet search skills I can tell you that the next show will be followed by a complete demolition and destruction of the venue. If you find out where it is, don’t forget to bring a hammer.