Sound And Fury Fest At The Regent Theater, Saturday June 10th 2017
Hardcore will never die but I will,… beside being a slight variation on a great Mogwai album, I thought about this sentence a lot on Saturday when I attended the Sound and Fury Fest at the Regent. The festival featured a long list of hardcore bands for two days in a row, and if I barely saw a third of them, I got a pretty good idea of the intensity of an event like this. This is obviously more than just a music festival, hardcore represents something else for all these people, it’s a visceral and violent demonstration of an incredible relationship between youth and music, expression, violence. It’s an attitude, an intense way to live. Hardcore will never die as long as there is this fire burning inside the belly of so many people.
I do understand this, I do understand the rage, why wouldn’t these young people angry and enraged? Why wouldn’t they protest during times when politics has become a damn circus, when hundreds of forgotten people sleep in the streets, not too far away from the Regent, when the future could instantaneously be obliterated by a nuclear blast launched by a few narcissistic tyrants who rule our insane world?
I do understand the anger but I have a hard time to make sense of the violence that comes with it. Is this real violence? You betcha! I wouldn’t have for a second, wanted to be in this pit, I couldn’t have survived very long anyway. As soon as I got there – and the festivities had started hours before I got inside – I noticed a large space in front of the space, a space left for people willing to mosh till they drop, and if this scene was certainly entertaining from the stage where I stood up and sat down for about 6 to 7 hours, I wouldn’t have never imagined myself in the middle of it, and be brutally pushed… why do people do that? Is this funny to be hurt?
I certainly don’t belong to the hardcore scene, I am middle age and female, and 90% of these people are young men – although I did notice a few ferocious girls fighting tooth and nail and in the pit – but I feel strangely attracted to the scene. There is a romantic idea attached to such display of testosterone, to all these tussles, these piles of bodies trying to reach the frontman on stage, these restless stage diving bodies,… all this makes a pretty painting in incessant move but ready to be framed, and I am personally obsessed by the perfect hardcore photo with flying and jumping bodies. And since I haven’t shot it yet, I am running after it like the white whale.
I saw many bands on Saturday afternoon then evening, and I don’t feel qualified to distinguish the nuances in all this screaming-hurling-yelling! Did all these bands sound the same? Yes and no, there were distinctions in the heaviness of their beast-like riffs and the degrees of their monster-like aggression, but honestly I should come up with other words than aggressive, brutal, assaulting, threatening, chaos and mayhem, because it could easily apply to all the bands I have seen, from Dangers, Krimewatch, Free, More to Pride, Incendiary and Trapped Under Ice… Nevertheless, I thought the aggression level went crescendo as the day did progress, and it became more and more difficult to take pictures, or to even stay on stage as an impressive number of people soared on stage at many occasions.
I would lie if I’d said that I never stopped shooting unaware of my surrounding! I actually got scared a few times, and was wondering whether I should run away. It was a perpetual aggression, a non-stop stage diving and jumping, but sometimes a bunch of people would get on stage and begin running in every direction and it was hard not to get at least a bit worried. Then there were the acrobatic landings on the crowd, how do all these people get away with this insane behavior, how didn’t anyone break his/her neck? A hardcore festival has this magic aura, although accidents do occasionally happen, I am eternally surprised by the toughness of these people, by their amazing capacity to bounce back without being hurt badly. They play with fire and get away with criminal behavior… because jumping feet first on people’s heads has to be criminal.
Then there were a few surprising things, beside the fact that Gatecreeper sounded much more doom/death metal than hardcore – I had already seen these creepy animals who violently headbang in a foggy green light – there were other remarkable bands, like Krimewatch: these ferocious girls performed in a sea of testosterone while looking damn bold and sexy at the same time. The acrobatic ballet of stage diving was so fun when they played their hardcore songs, it became softer, even elegant, as if men wanted to impress frontgirl Rhylli, who was handling the mic with some cute but impressive Henry Rollins pauses.
Then there was Turnover, a band which managed to squeeze an emo set between the mad aggression of Harley Flanagan and the fury of Incendiary – with a moniker like this, just guess how they sounded! I know that emo originated from post-hardcore, but Turnover sounded (to me) so out of place in a festival like this, and that was just me, because all the hardcore kids knew every single lyric of every song.
The festival lasted two days and it seemed that, for each band, a new crowd of people was gathering around or even on stage, as if they were supporting their team, and the fans of More to Pride were wearing ‘Can’t stop Lynwood’ (the city the band is from) or ‘Fuck the police’ shirts, as if they were rappers, while Trapped Under Ice were insanely threatening, and their fans scared me so much that I ended up kneeling on stage during their entire set, trying to shoot between other people’s legs
Beside the face-to-face lyric screaming of Dangers, beside the constant aggression of the two last bands, there was Harley Flanagan. This guy is a hardcore legend, founding member of the Cro-Mags and a black-belt in Brazilian jujitsu! I am telling you, this was the type to survive a nuclear war, the type you find in a post apocalypse world at the end of a Mad Max movie, he was mad as hell, displayed a don’t-fuck-with-me attitude, and trashed the stage with an insane energy and a constant ballet of stage diving. Meanwhile the music reminded me a bit about Bad Brains, and he was probably my favorite, but what do I know about hardcore?