You're Missing the Point of Hardcore

(Photo courtesy of Kyle Bergfors - Band featured is Red Death from CA)

Some of you people really miss the point of what hardcore is all about.

I see people making fun of the idea of the inclusivity that kids in hardcore speak of all the time. “Funny how hardcore kids preach inclusivity and then  ____.” (99.9% of the time, that blank space is filled with “hit each other.”) Interestingly enough, it’s usually from the marginalized groups that the music was created to uplift in the first place. I’ve heard countless people tell me that they don’t feel comfortable at shows. This ranges from the LGBTQIA+ community, women, people of color, the mentally ill, and other groups that are oppressed in regular society. I have no place speaking on some of those groups, but what I can speak as is a bisexual woman who should have a rewards card for her therapist’s office, and I feel like hardcore shows are a place that, without a doubt, I can feel at ease.

I have spent a lot of days sitting with my loved ones, wishing that we could all get the feeling of full-fledged belonging, community, and hope that we used to feel in church. “When I walked in there, I felt like I belonged somewhere,” my mom would lament. “I thought, ‘wow, this is great, no one’s judging me on my sins, I can be myself, and there’s music.’” Later that day, on my way to a small venue in Gary, Indiana, called The D, I realized that was the exact feeling that I chase when I go to a hardcore show.

Corny or not, hardcore is truly a place where I find acceptance and unity. First, there is the music - bands like Luxe, and Transgression fight transphobia and homophobia. Bands like Kharma, Regulate, and Jesus Piece speak out against racism and police violence. Unlike the pop punk/metalcore/etc. scenes that many of us came from, hardcore has a ton of bands with women in them that aren’t being used as a gimmick, such as No Right, Lethal Contact, and Year of the Knife. It would take hours to list the bands whose lyrics cover important topics like struggles with depression, religion, and more. If you open your mind, there will always be music out there with a subject matter you can identify with.

If you’re not immediately sold with the message of hardcore music, there’s the people. When I walk into a show, within about 10 feet of the entrance, there are at least a handful of cool-ass people of all sexualities, races, genders, and classes. These are people that bring their kindness, talent, humor, and dedication, not only to the scene, but everywhere they go. These are people that help myself and others feel included, people that are riding the same wave of the awesome music this scene provides us with, people that have a passion for what they do. Additionally, all of these people made me feel comfortable enough to speak with them - no cool guy attitude attached.

There is, of course, going to be bad people in the scene. There’s no hiding that there is a lot of shitty and/or abusive people in hardcore. The strange thing is that no one who talks shit about the scene seems to acknowledge that this happens in almost any crowd you find yourself in. When it’s something as vast as an entire genre like this, you simply cannot take the fuck-ups of one as the behavior of the masses. For every shithead I’ve met in hardcore, there’s at least three good people to make up for it. Not to mention, things like abuse and assault are a problem that is arguably more prevalent in EDM or pop punk scenes, but those are not genres that get judged for the sum of their parts.

Another way that this can be corrupted is the people that treat hardcore as if it is a popularity contest. There’s so many kinds of people who are into hardcore for the wrong reasons. There are people who, regardless of age, are permanently oldheads and turn up their noses at new music, people who don’t think they can enjoy the music or integrate themselves because they didn’t enter the scene with a crowd of friends around them at all times. Last but definitely not least, there’s the Internet Hardcore Kid. You know the type; they listen to solely non-local bands and treasure rare merch over the band itself. They want to harp on others with self-righteous “support the local scene!!!” posts while attending 1-3 fests a year, but they never set foot in a hometown DIY show. And, of course, they’re the first people to make some social media post expressing how stupid they think other hardcore kids are, talking about how hardcore isn’t for xyz marginalized group - ironically, talking over members of xyz marginalized group and invalidating anything positive they have to say about hardcore.

What do I have to say to these people?

Get out there. Go to one of the shows near you. Half the fun of being in hardcore is being part of your scene and getting to feel like you’re coming home to a place of acceptance every time you go to a show. If you want to do more, start booking shows, start a band, write a blog or zine, take photos, whatever you can do to enrich the community. Involvement doesn’t just look like one specific thing.

Additionally, reach out to people with like mindsets when you see them there. I’m not saying everyone is going to be your friend by any means, but half the people I thought were scary when I first went in aren’t what I thought they were at all. If someone just doesn’t vibe with you, cool! Again, this happens in any large group.

(What’s important to know: the notion that hardcore is all about shit talking and fighting is largely a thing of the internet, so if you think you can do that and other people won’t notice, you’re very, very wrong.)

This entire piece could be summed up with one sentence: hardcore is not the internet. Your experience in the hardcore scene can be exactly what you want it to be. If you choose to focus on the Internet Hardcore Kid, with his exclusive merch, shit-talking attitude, and hypermasculine, homophobic attitude, that’s up to you. The effects of inclusivity and fun will still be waiting for the people who choose to embrace them.


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