WHY THE June 25th hardcore show at abc no rio on rivington street in NYC was seriously uplifting and inspiring
A while back a former student from two decades ago--who credits me with being one of the first to introduce him to punk--invited me to check out the DIY hardcore scene in Philadelphia. He was playing one weekend, and it was a bright spot in a really rough divorce year. He's up here in New York for a while taking some graphic design courses, and I met up with him at ABC No Rio, an artist collective that hosted a final afternoon show at their Rivington Street digs before a huge renovation project closes them down for a while.
It was a show full of fun bands I never heard of before, but I liked them a lot. Though I don't listen to much hardcore, I love the energy at hardcore shows. There are few things more life affirming than watching (much) younger people slingshot back and forth through a slam dance pit; I never cease to be amazed at how well these pits (usually) police themselves, with people getting banged around without getting seriously hurt (usually).
This particular show, though, was even more life affirming due to the presence of something you just don't see that often on a hardcore stage: females.
The first band was Short Leash, and the only guy in the band was the drummer. And it was just great to see. I know, I know...I'm sounding just like the old school librarian I am, dangerously close to saying "I was so proud of these girls." Still, it was just great to see a bunch of women eschewing girly-girlness for the far more noble pursuit of playing music designed to inspire people to slam into each other. Which they did. Quite well.
And they were so nice afterward when they let me chat with them for a little bit. Griz, the lead singer, told me about getting in The Germs and other classic bands at 13 when she was growing up in New Orleans. She also talked about the subtle condescension that women face in the hardcore scene, and how people say things like "you guys are hilarious," as if women playing hardcore is a novelty, something that shouldn't be taken seriously.
Well, I took it seriously. I thought about the number of kids who come to my library for lunch recess so as to escape the crushing conformity that is middle school. No doubt some of the girls who come up play music, and some may even aspire to play hardcore. Girls, may Griz (on the right in the lefthand picture above) and guitarist Molly (on the left) inspire you.
You will notice that they appear very tired. They played hard, and gave it all they had. Well done, folks.
Next was Agitator, and as if to say "women belong behind the drum kit in hardcore bands as well," there was Sandy, thrashing away like a madwoman. Once again, many people threw themselves at each other and bounced around inside the pit. I just stood there, smiling.
Afterward, I told her that she now gave me even more that I could talk about with my female students who aspire to inspire hardcore mayhem. She was quite sweet about posing behind the drum set for the photo. Thanks, Sandy.
In short, women like Griz, Molly, and Sandy make me proud to be an American. May they inspire a million girls to follow in their footsteps.