September 12, 2011

WOW. Can we call this a super-belated review of a super-non important-but-still-kinda-cool event? I submitted this to several local blogs and it never went up, so it just sat on my desktop unpublished…until now!

Book Soup started to fill with the hushed chatter that usually accompanies author appearances at around 7 p.m. This time, however, there were no discussions of the evocative merits of Nabokov’s densely hand-crafted sentences.

Instead, it was the small talk of old hardcore punkers, industry veterans and young fans that is to be expected once the energy and power of a movement has been condensed into a oral history book.

“I haven’t seen Black Flag play since they first toured Europe.”

“I brought my original press of Group Sex for everyone to sign”

“I have to get some food in my system before my 11 p.m. Druid shake.”

American Hardcore: A Tribal History author Steven Blush took the podium and gave a well-written speech about the cultural impact of the hardcore punk rock scene—how all rock music today should be paying royalties to the hardcore bands of yore. He made an argument for how Los Angeles’ outpour of suburban angst changed the look and feel of music forever and reiterated that hardcore punk is the “secret history” of all modern rock music.

The panel he organized to discuss these statements consisted of Lisa Fancher, owner of Frontier Records; Edward Colver, ultimate scene photographer extraordinaire; and Tony Cadena, singer of the Adolescents (previously announced panelist, Keith Morris—Black Flag, Circle Jerks, Off!—called out, saying he was under the weather, which is decidedly NOT hardcore at all).

But instead of asking questions about the far-reaching influence of Los Angeles’ alienated anguish-turned-fist-fight-music, Blush wondered “How was hardcore punk different than anything going on in the 60s and 70s?” and “What kind of pressure were the Adolescents under to change their music once they got popular?”

Panelists obliged by talking about the good old days of riots at the Veterans Hall, fist fights at the Whiskey and how Cadena is still 86ed from most places in Los Angeles. The meager Sunset Strip tie in was cool since it was right outside—the Group Sex cover was shot by Colver just up the block, otherwise, the hardcore scene didn’t much frequent the Strip—but more prolific areas such as South Bay, Long Beach and Orange County were mentioned only tangentially, if at all.

The “great influence of hardcore” answer, however, seemed to elude everyone. When Hot Topic sells Circle Jerks shirts and Green Day is declared the day punk broke by Rolling Stone, it tends to skew perspectives.

“Maybe because I’m out there playing to these kids,” Cadena said, “but I have to remember that we were all angry teenagers once, too.”


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