LDoMoE Podcast #17 – First Wave Hardcore Volume Two

The Middle Class

It all started with the Middle Class. When one hears the Out of Vogue 7inch, one knows instantly that this is the beginning of something. It laid the proverbial rock-n-roll gauntlet down. Maybe not all over the USA but in LA, and particularly with early fan Keith Morris of the Hermosa Beach-based band Panic who went on to become Black Flag. Black Flag, as we all know, went on to spread the gospel like a disease. Kids afterwards in LA and particularly Orange County wanted to play fast and faster and they started rejecting the over the top look of punk in favour of the more conservative look of the guys in the Middle Class and Black Flag. Hardcore didn’t instantly become a mass movement across America. It started with a small pop in Santa Ana, CA and then it just started to slowly ooze all over the place. Eventually it hit DC, Minor Threat released its first 7inch and that is when shit just blew up. 1981-1984 were Hardcore’s prime years.

Can we all just agree that Out of Vogue was the start of something and move on? The bigger question is when did it end (or did it end at all). One of the stranger things about Hardcore seems to be this practice of refuting anything new and claiming that the stuff that came before was more legitimate and “real”. The stuff that you were a part of. So the dude that was at Oki Dogs in 1980 hanging out with Darby Crash will tell you without a doubt that Hardcore ended in 1982 and anything after that was just poseur bullshit. The original Boston Crew member will tell you it came to an end in 1984 when SSD released How We Rock. The old school DC punk will tell you that it all came to an end in 1985 with Revolution Summer. In Texas it was over when the Big Boys broke up. Maybe it was in 1987 when DRI released Crossover and Suicidal Tendencies released Join The Army? A dude in the New York Crew will flat out tell you that HC was still going strong 1989 with bands like Bold, Gorilla Biscuits and Judge.

Hardcore ended for me in 1985-86. But I can’t choose that date as the end for everybody. As a historical cycle the first wave of Hardcore ended in 1990. The cycle that started with Out of Vogue in 1978 came to its death in New York City towards the end of 1989. The Post-Victim in Pain NYHC was the end of the first wave of US Hardcore. I’m not saying a lot of it was any good. In fact, if you listen to the track by Judge on the attached compilation you may think it was pretty terrible. But it had all of the signifiers that were part of the original Hardcore scene; the mosh-pits, the stage-diving, the Doc Martens, the mixture of weird religious iconography that started with the Bad Brains, the flirtation with Right Wing Ideology, the boys-only crew. Sure some things had changed, the flannels had given way to hoodies but the heads were still shaved. It was all there in NYHC. And then it was over.

And yes, it had been over for a good part of the late 1980′s in most of the rest of the country. Sub Pop was already laying the ground work for Alternative Nation. Am Rep was in full swing. LA was knee-deep in glam. Texas was knee-deep in acid damage. Gillman Street was redefining the San Francisco scene with less of an emphasis on speed and aggression and more emphasis on hooks and emotion. The young punk scene of the early 1990s from Screeching Weasel to Green Day was very inspired by bands coming out of the Lookout label in San Francisco. The Gunk-Punk scene of the 1990′s was well underway and a lot of the older Hardcore folks were playing rockabilly and garage punk. Some scenes just dried up and died on the vine altogether. NYC dealt their hand and folded in 89-90 and the game was officially over.

Youth Crew!

If you don’t want my word for it, how about Andrew Beattie from the early 1990′s power violence band No Comment who stated that his band “just wanted to show that “Hardcore” was still alive yet there was no real “scene“. The few bands playing this form of music in the early 1990s like No Comment were playing in a vacuum. By the late 1990′s a new wave of Hardcore bands had cropped up. But I had moved on and wouldn’t be the expert on that so I will leave that up to someone else to document.

Too many people want to refute their Hardcore pasts. I’ve never understood this. There is no reason not to reflect upon it. It made you what you are today. Chances are, unless you were just a total tool back then, you still are pretty against the grain and face it, Hardcore was a part of that. Other people want to live in their Hardcore pasts. Today, you can go down memory lane and see one of the countless “reunion shows” going on. How depressing is that? Another option is to check out the Hardcore Scene in your town today. You may notice if you do try, that a lot of the signifiers from the 1980′s are long gone. Nobody wears Doc Martens for instance. It isn’t the same. It’s not because it’s not as good, it’s just that your moment is gone. “Never go back”, as Dave Smalley once said. Leave the past in the past.

At least Stumble can make you some podcasts.

First Wave Hardcore Podcast #2

No Empathy – Public Service Announcement
The Worst – Loud & fast
Rebel Truth – Child hosts the Parasite
Impact Unit – Dead Meat
Reflex From Pain – Chemicals
Rhythm Pigs – Baal
Ribzy – All Cut Up
Roach Motel – Creep
Pillsbury Hardcore – kill everyone now
Detox – Radio Henri
Absurds – Future’s Nature
Killroy – 66 big build up
The Malmsteens – Flyhead
Negazione – Cannibale
Artistic Decline – Dolphin

Terveet Kädet – A.l.i.e.n.
Violent Apathy – Society Rules
Fatal Rage – U.O.A.
Love Canal – Friends
White Cross – Child Abuse
Urban Assault – Join The Army
Lockjaw – You Dick
The Fems – Go To A Party
Violent Children – Live free or die
Ugly Americans – Fearchild
Vicious Circle – Blood Race
The Micronotz – Smash

Beyond Possession – Hard Times
The Delinquents – System Pressure
Razzia – Arsch im Sarge
Condemned To Death – Hair Spray Randy
McRad – Sundial
Judge – new york crew
Dead Youth – Phantom Citizen
Artificial Peace – Force It
Mecht Mensch – Zombie
White Pigs – Fuk Fuk Fuk
Vidiots – Laurie’s Lament

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18 Responses to LDoMoE Podcast #17 – First Wave Hardcore Volume Two

  1. Milo Mindbender says:

    As an original NYHC scenester (circa. Reagan Youth / Kraut / The Mob / Heart Attack / False Prophets / Bad Brains et al – my band was The Betrayed), I can tell you that the arrival of Agnostic Front (and their violent fans) marked a transformation of the entire local scene. I fucking hated those aggro assholes with their pitbulls. Pity. They killed the scene for a lot of people.

  2. Joe says:

    Hey Milo! The Betrayed are on the next edition of the podcast. Heart Attack and The Mob are to0. I love early NYHC. My favorite of the bands from NY was Reagan Youth, hands down.


  3. nazz nomad says:

    i agree with yer comments “milo”

  4. Joe says:

    I do too. “Scenes” were definitely a smaller part of a larger historical run from beginning to end. Living thru a couple of the hand-offs from one scene to the next, it did seem like things got worse each time. And then it was all over.

  5. nazz nomad says:

    I grew up in that era (I must know “milo”). I also had long hair. This wasn’t a problem until the Agnostic Front/ Cause For Alarm ilk got into the scene.

    The original NYHC scene was far different than the “sunday Matinee CBGB’s scene” that it rotted into.

    (I also grew up in the same neighborhood as the guys from The Mob- I used to see Jack on the bus all the time!)

    And Davey from Kraut was a good guy.

  6. Bruce/AOD says:

    Jocks and metalheads were the reasons we got into punk and hardcore in the first place. So when they arrived as straight edgers and crossovers in 85/86…that was a good indication it was “over”.

  7. Joe says:

    I got in a fight with some jock steroid abuser when I was a freshman in high school. He called me a “punk faggot” or something in the hall, I told him to fuck off and we both got suspended. I think I was wearing a Germs shirt or Circle Jerks or something. This was in 84. In 89 I went and saw Bad Religion who were touring with L7 for Suffer and the same guy comes up to me in an Agnostic Front shirt, combat boots, a handkerchief on his head and x’s on his hand and say’s, “hey man, what’s up.”

  8. Andrew Weiss says:

    Excellent post, Joe.

    I’m not ashamed of my hardcore days (at the utter tail end of the Boston scene when there was Slapshot and…not a whole lot else). It did save me from the clutches of the thrash metal scene.

    I am a little ashamed that I wore an Agnostic Front t-shirt for my UMass Boston student ID photo, though.

  9. Chris Oliver says:

    My memory of 85-86 is mostly hearing some record by Butthole Surfers, Meat Puppets, Sonic Youth or Fishbone that just blew me away, and trying to talk to other punk rockers about it and getting “Fuck that sell out poseur bullshit! MDC have a new album out, and it sounds exactly like all their other albums, it’s awesome!” I still love old hardcore–it’s my favorite music in the universe, in fact–but I always hated shit like MDC, DRI, Ill Repute, Agnostic Front, all that shit, and it got even worse when they started incorporating the worst aspects of metal into their sounds. Of course, that’ s just my personal taste, if people dig that stuff, who am I to talk shit?

  10. Dave says:

    Eight-Hundred Seventy-Ninth Wave of Hardcore = Diztrict AllStarz

  11. Joe says:

    @Dave – This shit is funky, fresh, fly and double-dope!


    @ Chris – That is pretty much my memory as well. Begging friends in Suicidal Tendencies shirts to go see Big Black with me and then going by myself because drum machines are for “fags”.

    @ Andrew – Do you remember “Wrecking Crew”?

  12. Dave says:


    ^^ Yeah, dunno if you would’ve noticed, but that’s two guys from Adrenalin O.D. and 76% Uncertain in that band!

  13. J. says:

    In Artistic Decline, we were sort of swept up in the tide of hardcore. The punk bands that were playing around us at shows and parties were the minutemen, Descendents, Anti, Saccharine Trust, etc. I heard Husker Du’s ”Land Speed” record (their only hardcore record where they had shaved heads on the cover) and thought that that record was the new minutemen release. Somehow, I conflated those two bands in my head, maybe because they were both part of the SST scene and the minutemen were hanging around and had recently shaved their heads (maybe even as a joke).

  14. KC says:

    Just to say thanks for Volumes 1 and 2. I am really only familiar with the more well known hardcore bands from this era so it’s great to hear all this fantastic music from bands that in the most part are totally new to me.
    I was a bit of a late comer to punk and it was the early eighties before I really became aware of its existence. Firstly by getting into the usual suspects ,Pistols,Damned,Clash etc, before latching onto American bands like Dead Kennedys,Minor Threat,Black Flag and the like. It’s great to find sites like this made by people who are willing to share so much music that I would never get the chance to hear otherwise. It’s also good to read peoples memories and stories from back in the day.
    So thanks again and I look forward to hearing volumes 3, 4, 5……………….

  15. OTTO says:

    It came, it went, it was fun while it lasted…. Defined my late adolescence and early adulthood and I wouldn’t have it any other way.

    Tend to agree with your chronoogy, Joe for whatever that’s worth.

    This summer went to see Negative Aproach in Pittsburgh with my longtime friend and ex college radio co-host JP. It was at some dive bar in Polish Hill that was basically a firetrap. Shitty soundsystem, cheap beer, a bunch of mediocre local bands opening, a lot of inside jokes for the local scene stalwarts, a genuinely wild mosh pit, the band’s van parked outside selling t-shirts…. Felt like a timewarp… but for one night at least, hardcore seemed alive again for me. And it wasn’t half bad.

  16. oddrocker says:

    When i first heard this stuff in the early 90s i thought it was just hardcore . i had no idea that it was a whole other genre of hardcore called “powerviolence” until later. soCAL radio stations like Kxlu and Kspc used to play it all the times No comment is still one of my fave bands . Its funny talkin to all these young punks who dont where pladd flannels or trenches . i got into hardcore around late 80s early 90s when it was supposedly died out .It was bands like No Comment,Infest, Despise You and countless others that kept ( what i call) true hardcore alive when other bands were slowing down and just stayin like that . to me hc will always be fast loud and abrasive @ Joe i kno that feels the sa,me happened to me kats wud clown but wud be wearin somethin similar the nxt time around,i remember an old punk saying from my time at least “punks, we are your future”

  17. Joe says:

    @oddrocker – No Comment, Infest and stuff like that were definitely Hardcore. I just think they were the beginning of the Second Wave. As you say, they were “keeping true hardcore alive” which is a revival of sorts. You can’t revive something unless its dead or near-dead. By 1990, the 80′s hardcore people had completely jumped ship (including me) and the kids in bands like No Comment were really out there on their own. I got loads of respect on all good hardcore music and would love to do podcasts on the Second Wave but I don’t know it well enough having just heard some bands (like No Comment, who you actually introduced me to) over the years.

  18. oddrocker says:

    Not to make anyone madd I’m just wndering why Bad Brain, the Germs, and Fear are not not mentioned as the first of hc bands. From what some sources I’ve read and older punkx I. Know there wud be no Minor threat if it wasn’t for Bad Brains plus when they moved to NY bands. Were also inspired by them as well – espeically sonically, the Germs inspired a bit of the beach bands as well and Fear. Well lol I don’t know if I have to say much about that

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