Category Archives: Editorial

A Farewell To Vanna

Where We Are Now, The Sun Sets Here for Vanna

For over a decade, Boston’s Vanna have been creating aggressive music for us to sing along and swing our fists to. Vanna has helped me get through some tough times and made others great. They will remain a part of my life through their music that I will continue to listen to even after they’ve closed the curtains.

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‘We Have No Heroes’: Punk, Hardcore, Positivity In Our Time Of Unrest

There are select moments in history when the entire world is engaged in one singular conversation. We are living in one of those moments.

I showed up at Boontunes, a music venue/record shop in Boonton, NJ on Saturday night November the 12th, 2016, one night after I had engaged in a love rally that marched from Washington Square Park to Trump Tower in New York City. It was just supposed to be another night on the local band circuit, hanging with friends, doing my job as a journalist, and supporting the vinyl release of local hardcore act Hell Mary. What I got was so much more.

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LIVE SHOTS: Staten Island Summerfest (Part 1)

When someone says you’re making a scene, they might mean that you’re being too overdramatic in public for comfort. But here at Staten Island’s Overspray music venue, where the walls are as covered in artwork as most of the show-goers skins, a bunch of punks, rockers, hardcore kids and metalheads (including an eight-year-old who is most definitely cooler than you) came together for August 5th’s Summerfest to make a scene that’s about more than just being overly loud and in your face.

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Record Reviews in Haiku (Part 1)

Nothing is better,
Than finding creative ways,
To write new reviews.

So at HXC,
We have decided to do,
Reviews in haiku.

Continue reading Record Reviews in Haiku (Part 1)

How Hardcore Can Make You A Better Person

Bradley Walden of Emarosa
Bradley Walden of Emarosa

Anything can make you a better person if you let it. Scratch that. Rephrase: Anything can make you a better person if you work with it. Being the best “you” takes effort. Hardcore, as far as music genres go, is uniquely capable of aiding in that process.

Hardcore doesn’t initially sound pleasant or happy or pretty to anyone who hears it for the first time, and that’s not by accident. It’s abrasive and grating and loud for a purpose: To confront the things in life that aren’t necessarily pleasant or happy or pretty. To talk about issues other genres don’t talk about. Let yourself listen to it for a little while, allow the rough sounds to sink in and become familiar, and you start to understand. You begin to tap your fingers, to bang your head and to feel something–the reasons behind the screams. It becomes more and more clear that form, as it always does, reflects content, and that the sounds of raw emotion coupled with the meaning of thoughtful lyrics create music that is more than music. Hardcore—the songs, the lifestyle, and the code of ethics—is a powerful guide if you pay attention to what it has to say.

Look in the basement of your heart
There is a light that just went dark
Look through the wreckage to find reverie
There is a truth that we all must see
       — 
The Path,” Senses Fail (Renacer, 2013)

It’s no secret that hardcore deals with some of the more “negative” emotions. For this reason, it also tends to sound pretty harsh. These very characteristics that draw people to hardcore are what repel others from it. Usually, it’s a matter of how naturally comfortable or willing you are to sort through those kinds of emotions. And this is the first way hardcore can help you become a better person.

Hardcore provides a space for you to confront and work through suffering. Life is messy and troubling. Everyone has problems with it. It’s hard. Sometimes, though what you may want most is to forget about what bothers you, what you need most is to go through the pain; to “look in the basement of your heart,” as Senses Fail phrase it in their song, “The Path.” Hardcore music helps you realize the things that may feel bad or negative are just part of life. In a way, they’re not really negative at all. Hardcore not only sympathizes with you, but reminds you that it’s okay not to be okay sometimes. At the risk of sounding like a fortune cookie: From suffering comes strength, from self-reflection comes wisdom.

In these goddamn dark nights I start to realize
This is war.
I’m gonna have to fight tooth and nail,
Tooth and nail just to stay alive.

Look at me, I’m living proof.
You’re not alone, we have each other and we’ll pull through.
This chapter’s called “you’re alive.”
You’ve been writing it this whole time.
So come back to life.

Don’t write, don’t write your ending.
 
— “Digging,” Vanna (Void, 2014)

Not only can hardcore help you realize that the tough times are worth going through, but also that you’re not alone in going through them. Hardcore is as much about the individual as it is about a community; a community of outcasts, of misfits, of weirdos. If you’re having trouble, this is the place for you. We know what it’s like and we’ll help you through it. As Vanna say in their anthem “Digging,” “You’re not alone, we have each other and we’ll pull through.” Keep going, keep pushing, and you’ll find something worth sticking around for, even if you have to fight “tooth and nail.”

Just as important as accepting others is the ability to accept yourself for who you are. This genre is perfect for wrestling with that, too. Again, I use Senses Fail as an example:

I have learned to love myself
I have learned to care
I have learned to make peace
With the sadness and despair…
…I want to love with the courage of an open heart.
             — “The Courage Of An Open Heart,” Senses Fail (Pull The Thorns From Your Heart, 2015)

Being vulnerable is scary. Leaving yourself open to getting hurt by opening up to others is difficult to do, and for that reason most people avoid it as much as possible. Hardcore itself offers conflicting messages about this. The “fuck this” or “fuck you” attitude is a huge part of hardcore and its progenitor, punk. Although it may seem contradictory, you can say “fuck this” or “fuck you” and at the same time be open-minded and vulnerable and strong. How? By realizing that these words aren’t all antonyms for each other. Stand up for what you think is right, and stand against what you think is wrong, and don’t let people tear you down, but at the end of the day, don’t shut everything and everyone out either. Love with the courage of an open heart.”

Speaking of sticking up for your beliefs, traditional hardcore has a very strong code of ethics concerning staying true to who you are. One of the biggest hardcore bands in the modern age, Terror, dedicates an album to it–2013’s Live By The Code. The title track’s lyrics elaborate on just what that means:

Convictions you built in me /A sense of purpose, firm standing beliefs / We’ve kept traditions, held with clear aims / Respect the roots, but we live for today / Fighting against the grain / Live by the code, the diehard remain / The ethics, traditions kept / Live by the code, the freedom to live / Live by the code / Foundation, you are my strength / You are my rock, the anchor I need / Keep me honest, you keep me tight/  The freedom to live, I remain positive / Fighting against the grain / Live by the code, the die hard remain / The ethics, traditions kept /Live by the code, the freedom to live / Desperation, the broken, we found honor / Live by the code, the music and our culture / Live by the code, the roots and the ethics they have taught us / I believe in now, the new breed /  LIVE BY THE CODE!
            — “Live by The Code,” Terror (Live By The Code, 2013)

While we hardcore kids may put up a middle finger to many things in this world, there is a strong sense of morality behind the gesture. In this way, hardcore music can give you the strength to be yourself against all odds as well as the encouragement to get up and take action. The music video for “Live By The Code” is also a great example of why this scene is as much a culture as it is a collection of records. Sure, it can be super aggressive and even somewhat dangerous, but shows provide a communal space for people to let out their aggression in a positive way that doesn’t end up in destructive, mass violence like you see on primetime news channels. It’s a positive outlet for negative things, and I guarantee you that most of the time after you see people slamming into each other at shows, you’ll see them hugging it out and smiling moments later.

The importance of self-reflection, understanding, acceptance, suffering, individualism, community, empowerment, identity, compassion, self-sufficiency, hard work, dedication, creativity–these are just some of the lessons hardcore has to teach those who are willing to listen and learn. It’s a place to turn to; a home. There are countless other lyrics from countless other bands that could keep illustrating my point, but at the end of the day, what you need to know is this: 

Hardcore is burning through my veins
Without you who the fuck would I be?
Gave me a place to call my own
This will forever be my home.
          — “The New Blood,” Terror (Keepers of the Faith, 2010) 

Aiden, Wil Francis, Thank You and See You in Hell

Photo Credit: Nicole Spangenburg
Photo Credit: Nicole Spangenburg

Now I’ll flat out say it: I wasn’t around for the hype period of Aiden. I am 18. I remember being younger, though, and having older friends who were into Aiden. I remember being in my friend’s room, during the time when the band was on hiatus, and falling in love so fast with their 2006 Rain In Hell EP, especially the song “We Sleep Forever.” I kept hoping Aiden would return one day, but settled on seeing their former vocalist and frontman Wil Francis (a.k.a. William Control) do his solo act.

Aiden went on hiatus after their 2011 album Some Kind Of Hate, when the members decided the band was no longer sustainable. “Towards the end it was clear that punk rock wasn’t going to pay the bills,” stated William Control on his Facebook page nearly a year ago, “which is why both Angel [Ibarra] and Jake [Davison] left the band initially.” But some months ago, Wil announced that he was writing a new, final, and self-titled Aiden record in an open letter to his former bandmates. Word was then put out that Aiden would be playing a final tour, The Last Sunrise Tour, on which they would play their beloved 2005 record Nightmare Anatomy in full.

Finally, the day I wished for came. The show was a small basement show on November 7th at Backroom Studios in Rockaway, New Jersey. I know most of my friends had seen Aiden before this tour and just wanted this one last time. For me, it was going to be the first and the last.

I was packed in a small room filled with people. There was a 70 person cap at the venue, and there were no less than 70 people there for Aiden. There was no barricade, no stage. I was offered nicely to stand up in the front by a girl who I wish now I could find again. When the stage was being set up for Aiden, I realized the mic stand had been placed at my feet. “If this is how I’m going to see Aiden one last, first time,” I thought, “then this is perfect.”

Finally, with no other way to enter, the members came in through the crowd, with Wil being the only original member. I looked to him and saw William Control become Wil Francis of Aiden one final time. He came in front of me, grabbed the mic and screamed, “This is Aiden!” All of a sudden, my face was in the chest of leather and smoke.

“What a beautiful way to see the last Aiden show. This is the reason I started a band, to play basement shows,” William screamed out to us. It made me feel like he didn’t want this to end ever; he wanted Aiden to still be a part of his life. Due to bitter ties and bad behavior, it had been ended. But that was in the past now. This tour was about making the fans happy. No matter when it was that you discovered Aiden, this show was about making all 70 people in the room feel special.

I had many friends who went to Aiden shows before the hiatus. They used to say that Wil didn’t treat them right and that he just never looked interested to meet fans. It left a bitter taste in some people’s mouths. I knew people who met him later as William Control and said he seemed different; more open. This was the Wil that appeared that night, and for a lot of people, it was personal and lovely.

At the beginning of the set, before they played Nightmare, Wil fell on top of me by mistake. He looked at me, pulled me in for a hug, and kissed my cheek. I couldn’t stop smiling at him that whole night. He took a break to drink and a girl jokingly asked him if she could have some, too. “Please, I’m dying,” she said. He came to her, laughing, and poured water down on her. He screamed, “We’re all dying, darling.” I never saw a woman more happy in her life.

When the last song of the set came (“World By Storm”), Wil thanked us all while the crowd poured him all their love, physically and emotionally. What I saw next was the most powerful thing. Wil pressed his hands against people’s heads and kissed their foreheads. When he walked off the stage, he hugged every single human being in that room. This included myself, upon which he told me, “Thank you for coming and loving me, darling.”

While it sucked–really, still does–to see a band like Aiden go away, I know this was the best way of seeing them. And as a fan, I wanted to leave a small open letter of my own to end this:

Wil,

Thank you. For making that whole room feel something. For letting that whole room wish you goodbye in one good fashion. I hope this made you realize we do care. You treated us like we were your friends. You let us become really personal with you in that hour. I met some new friends and became closer with my old ones during that show. Thank you for letting Aiden touch my life once again and the lives of the 70 people in that small room. You were right. It was the most beautiful place to see Aiden for the last time.

by Liz Rainey 

Toby Driver At The Stone

kayodot

Kayo Dot self-describes as “avant goth”, “progressive experimental doom”, and “abstract modern composition”. A bit outside the realm of mainstream metal, but they’ve got a following of their own. So much so that member Toby Driver had his own six night residency at The Stone in New York City this past August, featuring Kayo Dot and some of his other musical projects. 

Guest writer Brad Cryan attended the event and reviewed his experiences there in this six part piece. You’ll find the first installment featuring maudlin of the Well below, and the rest will follow throughout the week over on our Tumblr page. 

TOBY DRIVER AT THE STONE
by Brad Cryan 

Dozens of young White men line an unassuming East Village block. Some passersby do double takes at all the lanky, septum-pierced, black-clad misfits. What the hell is going on here? One man, curious but not shocked, engages me in conversation.

“This used to be a bar called The World. I used to come here all the time. Lot of good Black music, Latino music – everything. It really was the world.”

“What happened?”

“Someone got shot. They shut it down. Heh. The shot that shut The World down. Haven’t been in there since.”

8/25/15: maudlin of the Well

This dingy little room on the corner of 2nd Street and Avenue C was repurposed some years ago to the chagrin of the surrounding Black and Latino community, but it’s not finished making history. This week, it plays host to a six-night residency and career retrospective of metalhead, singer-songwriter and all around avant-garde weirdo, Toby Driver. His first band, maudlin of the Well (the M is lowercase), plays its first show in 14 years tonight.

Towards the beginning of the set, the band plays “Girl With A Watering Can,” a longish song that starts off quietly but builds into massive metal riffage. The sound is shit, and the band turns knobs in a continuous war against feedback, but it doesn’t matter. What matters is that every cell in every body is vibrating. maudlin’s sound features fleeting moments of delicacy that cut through their aggressive metal aesthetic – a delicacy that Driver would devote his entire post-maudlin career to exploring. But maudlin sounds best at their most elemental.

Toby rarely does encores, but this is a special night. The last song that maudlin of the Well ever plays, ever, is “Birth Pains Of Astral Projections,” a prog odyssey from their early days. This time, it isn’t just a song. It’s a reconciliation between brothers.

maudlin

Bring Me The Horizon: The Latest Face of Wheaties?

bmth_throne

A very wise man once said, “I spent my high school career spit on and shoved to agree/so I could watch all my heroes sell a car on T.V.”

For almost 10 years these words sung by Gerard Way in My Chemical Romance‘s 2006 track “Disenchanted” have rung in my ears.  At first I thought I was so attracted to these lyrics because they were the words of my hero telling me how life gets disappointing as you grow up.  It’s emo, and a fact we hear constantly as we get older, but I took it to be more of a thematic message, rather than a literal one.  Who knew that by 2013 I’d watch my hero allow my favorite band to break up in order to actually sell his own botched image of David Bowie-meets-David Byrne not only on T.V., but on billboards and bus stop benches like some forgettable basketball player on a box of Wheaties. To me, Gerard Way, like so many artists before and after him, had sold out. And now, in a post-My Chem world, I am forced to sit back and watch the rest of my musical heroes follow suit.

When it comes to selling out one must ask two things: First, what exactly is selling out? And second, who actually does sell out?

Selling out is a common idiomatic pejorative expression for the compromising of a person’s integrity, morality, authenticity, or principles in exchange for personal gain, such as money. —Wikipedia

Selling Out: To compromise one’s values and/or aristic [sic] vision in order to gain fame and/or monetary profit. Commonplace in today’s musical society. It is rare to find a successful musical artist who has not “sold out”, however, this is not to say that they do not exist. —-Urban Dictionary

Sell Out: To betray one’s cause or associates especially for personal gain—Merriam-Webster

As many of you may have heard, it was recently announced that the deathcore-turned-alternative-rock band, Bring Me The Horizon has left the independent punk label Epitaph and signed to Columbia Records, a major corporation of a music label. By the definitions above–having altered their sound to reach a wider audience and appeal more to the levels of rock being released today while leaving their small time, more avant garde sound in order to do so– BMTH have seemingly sold out.

With the release of their upcoming record’s first single “Happy Song,” fans can see that the transition from deathcore found on staples such as Suicide Season and There Is A Hell… is no longer rooted in the same artful direction as their clean vocal heavy Sempiternal. It is now almost exclusively pop rock with an accented aggression on several musical notes. Gone are the days of frontman Oli Sykes screaming “Crucify me!” and in place are those of him melodically encouraging us to “sing a happy song,” because sometimes rainbows and butterflies make your day much better than well thought out religious imagery used ironically in songwriting.

Okay, so maybe I’m a little biased. However, the proof is in the pudding. With the release of (what is technically considered) the first purchasable single off of the upcoming record, old school fans were even more blasted by the change of BMTH’s direction with”Throne.” Though it upholds strong connotations image-wise to their deathcore days, it is almost a direct rip off of mid-2000s Linkin Park. With accented screams, electronica highlights, and catchy, melodic vocals, metalcore fans were left in the dark and feeling almost betrayed by BMTH.

Sure, many bands “evolve” or “mature” and change up their sound, but it seems as if the introduction of keyboardist Jordan Fish is what really did BMTH in.  Though his efforts greatly helped bring BMTH out of their shell on 2013’s Sempiternal, his continued presence in the press when concerning this record is rather alarming. Rolling Stone labels him as the “keyboardist and primary songwriter” in their latest and only article ever concerned with BMTH, ineptly (yet maybe appropriately) titled “Ditching Metalcore.”  As Fish upholds himself as the voice of BMTH after his work with the band for only one released full-length, it becomes worrisome. Oli Sykes has not been present for the majority of interviews since the release of “Happy Song.”  So, is Jordan Fish taking over the band and corrupting it into a commercialized redundancy of old school alternative rock or is this actually Sykes agreeing to sell out and abandon all that he stood for previously?

But it’s not necessarily fair to blame Bring Me The Horizon for selling out.  We cannot blame a band for going against all that they were when we, the public and music consumers, are the ones who potentially could have forced them into the environment that led them down this path. With a decline in record sales and the need for radio-publicity to spark interest in artists, major labels can expand the horizons (no pun intended) for a band confined to the minute exposure and monetary limitations of an independent label. This generation’s need to consume music for as cheap (or sometimes as free of cost) as possible is what is deteriorating musicians’ abilities to live through their work on smaller labels. But is it worth an artist’s musical integrity? Let’s look at some examples.

Exhibit A: Fall Out Boy.

For many, Fall Out Boy is the poster child of modern day “punk” or “alternative” selling out.  But when exactly did they get flack? Somewhere in between the release of their chart topping full-length From Under The Cork Tree and the release of “Take Over, The Break’s Over,” a fun single off of their follow up Infinity On High where they call out all of their haters. People were angry at the guys in FOB for at the time signing to a label like Island Records (a sub-label of Universal Music Group).  Though in retrospect, it is safe to say that while fans may have been disappointed with their signing to a major label and slight departure from their original underground sound, they still remained in the vein of the sonic aesthetic presented on the lesser known Take This To Your Grave.  Even while boosting their careers on major labels, it wasn’t until their latest record American Beauty/American Psycho  came out that they truly departed from all forms of rock or punk in favor of commercial pop.  As of right now, it took them their entire musical career (and a four year hiatus) to actually sell out artistically.

Exhibit B: Breathe Carolina

Not really punk or hardcore, but still relevant. Breathe Carolina left their minor label in order to sign to *DING DING DING* Columbia Records, just like Bring Me did.  Now, how did that work out?  After one album, Hell Is What You Make It, the electro-duo had a top radio hit with “Blackout” and a self-proclaimed total loss of creative freedom.  Eventually they would depart early from the label to return to a minor league with Fearless Records and even lose founding member Kyle Even.  The sole remaining member, David Schmitt, luckily just decided to grab a backing band and continue on his own with the release of the highly successful record, in both the alternative and EDM scenes, Savages.

So what is it about Columbia Records that was so daunting?  Why haven’t bands like PVRIS or A Day To Remember chosen to find major labels when their sounds are actually marketable to the mainstream?  PVRIS purposely chose to sign to the metalcore label Rise Records, even though they are a pop-synth trio.  A Day To Remember opted to self-release their latest record Common Courtesy rather than be tied to or bought out by any label, even though half of their careers they have gotten flack for “selling out” despite remaining decently in the underground. Why can All Time Low‘s hit singles and chart-topping records go platinum while they perpetually remain on Hopeless Records? There is an element to selling out rooted in the very base definitions above, but there is also a more personal element of selling out that rests on whether you compromise the artistic integrity of your music in order to gain a profit. Whether Bring Me The Horizon will entirely sell out is still yet to be determined, though unfortunately it seems that with “Throne” and “Happy Song” the band that I loved for being so harsh and out of the box will now be known to the general public alongside old Muse tracks and new Arctic Monkeys on top rock radio. But only time will tell.

LA’s Emo Night Brings Back More Than Music

Taking Back Tuesday July Promo
Taking Back Tuesday July Promo

Once a month, in the epicenter of hipster culture in Los Angeles, the Echoplex opens its doors for Taking Back Tuesday—a night that brings every “emo” kid together to listen to their favorite 2000-2006 jams. A group of DJs spin their favorite emo tunes and a special guest DJ usually plays later in the evening; everyone from members of Senses Fail to Blink-182 have played a set. So this June, two friends and I caked on the eyeliner, pulled on our band t-shirts, and headed into Silverlake to see what Taking Back Tuesday (or #EmoNightLA, as it’s also known) was all about.

The Echoplex, as a venue, has seen rock stars of all types, including The Rolling Stones, Beck, NIN, and The Mars Volta. It’s a small venue (capacity caps at 700) and it has that rock ’n’ roll smell of stale beer and deodorants mingling together. Taking Back Tuesday looked like every My Chemical Romance concert I went to over the last decade. But even more importantly, it felt like every My Chemical Romance, every Taking Back Sunday, every Blink 182 concert I’ve ever attended. All these people, men and women with varying degrees of dyed hair and tattoos, came together to celebrate this music and what it does for them.

This is music that grabs hold of someone and sticks to them like sap on a car windshield. No matter how hard you scrape, this shit is on you. It pulled me into a strange time warp, where it didn’t matter that no one was playing an instrument on stage because I felt like I was back at my first concert. It took me back an entire decade, back well before this kind of music was popular—back to a time when I got shit for being an emo kid.

When emo first gained popularity in the early 2000s, the word was widely used derisively. People used it to put down the music and the people who identified with it. Being an emo kid was almost like wearing a target to school that said “I FEEL MY FEELINGS HARDCORE,” giving other insecure middle and high school kids the opportunity to pick on them.

Once I got to the Echoplex and saw the enthusiastic crowd and the excitement, however, I realized things have since shifted. Now, emo kids—or former emo kids who like to dabble in the culture—have taken back the word. There was a feeling in the room, which was amplified by the DJs, that being an emo kid is cool now. The DJs asked, “How are all you emo kids doing tonight?” to which they got an uproarious response from the crowd. No one felt picked on or shamed for being there. It was about celebrating the music and the culture associated with it.

If you look closely at actual lyrics, it’s easy to see why these bands resonate so strongly with confused adolescents (and struggling 20somethings). In the My Chemical Romance song “Thank You For The Venom,” frontman Gerard Way croons, “You’ll never make me leave/ I’ll wear this on my sleeve/ Give me a reason to believe.”  Lost, lonely, and searching for anyone to understand, these lyrics hit close to home for emo kids everywhere. The universal feeling of being misunderstood doesn’t go away entirely when you grow up. People will always misunderstand and overlook and be sort of shitty. You’ll always have to deal with that, and finding a healthy way to channel those feelings constructively, like with music, will always be important.

The feeling emo music gives me is one of acceptance and recognition; like someone turned to me in a moment of my own intense weakness and said, “I get it, this sucks, but you’ve got to stay strong.” That was the feeling that washed over me, like a warm shower, the moment I stepped into the #EmoNightLA crowd. It felt like I had found an old pair of Vans, well worn and held together by colored duck tape, that slipped on like no time had passed. It was like stepping back into my skin.

People jumped, bopped, and moshed to Sum 41, Taking Back Sunday, and Brand New. The moment the opening lyrics of “Fat Lip” blared from the speakers, (“Storming through the party like my name is El Niño/ When I’m hangin’ out drinking in the back of an El Camino/ As a kid, I was a skid and no one knew me by name/ I trashed my own house party cause nobody came”) 300 screaming attendees pushed forward and a mosh pit appeared like a sink hole, pulling in bodies from every direction. The songs that amped up the crowd most were songs about rebellion and being misunderstood, eliciting instant recognition and nostalgic joy.

Emo Night at the Echoplex gives people who never stopped being emo a place to jam together; a place to scream, jump, and enjoy the music that has become part of their soul. It’s a place where the year is 2006, and you’re watching the best damned Warped Tour of your entire life. The fact that this still exists, a decade later, is a testament to how much this music and this community still care. If every night could be Emo Night, then you would know where to find me: Jamming in Silverlake with a bunch of fucking emo kids.

EMO NIGHT IS THE FIRST TUESDAY OF EVERY MONTH

FOLLOW THEM ON TWITTER: https://twitter.com/emonightLA

by Maria Spiridigliozzi

Live Streaming and Hardcore: Match or Misfire?

yahoo live vans warped tour wcar

On June 19th, Yahoo! Screen streamed the first date of Vans Warped Tour 2015 on its Live Nation Channel from the Fairplex in Pomona, CA. The live stream kicks off a hugely important festival for the “underground,” but it also kicks off an important question: Do live concert streaming and hard rock shows really belong together?

We’re all used to seeing live performances on TV by now. Come the Super Bowl, the halftime show is all that matters for many viewers. We watch televised performances from the likes of Rock and Roll Hall of Fame induction ceremonies, The Oscars, and nightly programs like Jimmy Kimmel Live and Conan. While broadcasted musical events have become commonplace, live concert streaming takes the concept to a next level and thus raises next level questions. When a -core band’s show inside a local venue becomes easily viewable from remote locations, is it just cool or does it take something away? When you can watch Stick To Your Guns play a set from your laptop in bed with some hot cocoa, for example, it inarguably changes the experience. But is it for the better?

Vans Warped Tour and Stick To Your Guns aren’t the only examples of streamed shows, of course, and Yahoo! isn’t the only platform for this market. (Others include IROCKE and ConcertTV & Concert Window, for instance). Various acts from genres all across the board have dabbled in the new digital music phenomenon. Bands like The Ghost Inside, Falling In Reverse, Chelsea Grin, August Burns Red, and Bayside have live streamed their shows via Yahoo!, as have acts like Stone Temple Pilots, Infected Mushroom and Meghan Trainor. On one hand, you might note how fair the platform is to music of all types. Heavy bands aren’t usually deemed noteworthy enough to appear side-by-side with ultra-famous pop singers or widely-known psychedelic trance groups. Alternatively, though it may be nice to see your favorite bands emerge from the more shadowy corners of the music world, there is something about watching their performances from a computer screen that can justifiably raise an eyebrow or two.

yahoo live past shows

I’ll admit, the first time I heard about live concert streaming, I thought it was pretty freakin’ awesome. “No way!” was followed by “I’ve gotta try that!” was followed by “I’m totally living in the future right now!” I actually tuned in to a couple of shows to see what it was like or to see how the bands actually performed live. Each time, I stared at my computer screen allowing that exact same train of thought to pass through my brain…for about 60 seconds. Then I got over it.

Then I started thinking, That’s cool. I’m sure the people who are actually there right now are having fun. Because although being able to watch a live show from your couch is admittedly a neat trick, the initial magic wears off rather quickly. Sure, with pop acts and more mainstream sounds it’s probably a bit different. After all, watching Super Bowl Halftime shows is always fun. But pop, hip-hop, and stadium rock acts are what the doorman of Oz would call a horse of a different color as compared to a hardcore outfit. Those streamline genres are more tailored to broadcast performances. For the most part, vocals are really most of what’s going on in a pop act, and the audio engineers are well-adjusted to those kinds of smooth vocals. But introduce some screaming and growling into the mic, some double bass pedals alongside intense cymbal work, and some crunchy guitars and most live music coming from your home speakers sounds crappy. Even though the actual live show at the venue could be insane, a live hardcore band will never sound as good over your internet connection as it will in person. As it always has with this kind of music, it comes down to the live show, and the thing about live shows is you should probably be there when they happen.

A Hardcore Crowd at NYC's Gramcery Theatre
A Hardcore Crowd at NYC’s Gramcery Theatre

Half of hardcore is the live performance. The recorded tracks are what get you interested perhaps, and they’re definitely what keep you going, but the live show is what it’s all about: being between a certain set of a walls with a certain set of people playing your favorite set of tunes. You go to your favorite venue with familiar graffiti impetuously scribbled on the walls. You stand in a crowd of 50, 100, 500 people wearing shirts of bands you’ll be seeing next month or whose CD you have laying around your car. You get pushed around, jump up and down, thrown front to back, toppled, drowned in the sweat of strangers, get a beer spilled on you, and get close enough to the band that the spit as their screaming flies past your eyelids. To use precise terms, there’s a vibe, an energy you get from the sense of community and from the charisma of the musicians striking chords you’ve heard alone in your room a thousand times. You go to a show to not be alone in your room anymore. You go to a hardcore show because there’s nothing like being at a hardcore show.

True, live streaming can allow you to virtually attend a show you otherwise might not have been able to attend. Boiler Room streams music events from all around the world, making it possible for someone who lives in New York City to “attend” a concert in London. Live streaming also may introduce you to new bands before you decide you want to spend your money on a ticket. However, you don’t get an accurate depiction of what the band in question is actually like because you’re not physically in the space, and you could end up hating a band you might have otherwise loved.

Am I standing atop a hill with a torch in one hand and a mace in the other shouting, “Down with the internet!”? No. Is live concert streaming a terrible development in technology? By no means. However, does it make sense for genres that have historically and culturally found a home in dingy basements and mosh pits? Not in my book.