Local up-and-coming favorites Varamchara are sure hitting the scene by force. They are mainstays at one of the more popular places for gigs, PBW: located in Pomona, CA. (Photo courtesy of Miguel Del Angel)
Los Angeles is a huge place inhabited by many different people. It’s a microcosm of different subcultures, ideas and is often interpreted from outsiders as a city made to make it “big.” Whether it is film, art, writing or in this case, music, L.A. is the place to find unique and interesting subcultures, making it the “prime capital” or “the place you want to be” in the United States. Southern California has had a thriving punk rock and hardcore community ever since it’s inception. Currently, the hardcore community is still prevalent in the Los Angeles and greater areas, making it a scene that is unified by progressive minds in this subgenre of rock.
There’s obvious history behind LA Hardcore & Punk Rock. There were bands ranging from the Germs, Black Flag, Descendents, Bad Religion, X, and a whole lot more that dominated the city from the late 70’s to the 80’s. These bands adopted the standard punk rock attitude and ideology. In Orange County, bands like Uniform Choice, Chain of Strength, Insted and No For An Answer were playing at small all-ages clubs for kids under 21 who couldn’t get into the venues. Those bands were heavily influenced from the DC and New York hardcore scenes and it’s straight-edge culture they abided by. Come the turn of the decade, the 90’s still brought bands into fruition like Strife, Ignite and Inside Out while other acts such as 411, Statue, and Farside were expanding and pushing the limitation of the atypical sound of hardcore. As punk rock integrated into mass media, the hardcore scene always stayed at a relatively low-level. Regardless of the the mainstream attention, there were great bands that dominated the SoCal hardcore community throughout the 2000’s such as Internal Affairs, Violation, Final Fight, More to Pride, Rotting Out and countless others.
Orange County’s FURY already have a few tours under their belts and have certainly have risen amongst the ranks of the current hardcore community in the States. With only 2 releases (Demo Cassette & Kingdom Come 7″), they are one of the most enigmatic acts live and are often one of the most anticipated bands on any showbill. (Photo courtesy of Kiabad Meza)
Currently, the Southern California community is still heavily active. Promoters and bookers including the likes of Crash the Clubs, SOS Booking, East 7th Punx and Suburban Fight put on shows to help both touring and local, punk and hardcore bands. These bookings happen at venues such as PBW’s, Union, Bridgetown DIY, etc., usually holding 150+ kids at most. The people involved in the community are more active, either starting bands, taking live shots of bands, making record labels, zines, and in-turn, booking their own shows at their homes and such.
What makes this community special for many is that it has maintained the core values and beliefs since its inception. It is commonly misrepresented as a tough, violent scene, but behind the music and aggression is the passion and the values a “hardcore” kid faces in life. It brings up issues such as racism, sexism, and prejudices happening in modern day society. Hardcore makes people feel unique about themselves and coming to terms with who they are. These quality characteristics that make up a person aren’t shunned in the community, rather they are accepted and well-received amongst each other. A person’s gender identity, ethnic background, or sexual preferences are not what the most important issues in this scene. What matters most is promoting acceptance and tolerance for each other. The community is not a popularity contest; it doesn’t adopt the stereotypical rock star mentality. No matter who you know or what bands someone is in, these egos are put aside and everybody is treated fairly and equally.
Boston’s Bane have been coming back to SoCal for almost 2 decades. With each and every U.S. tour they embark on, they always manage to stop at one of SoCal’s premiere (and many can say, legendary) venue, Chain Reaction. (Photo courtesy of Arron Herrera)
Members of hardcore bands are very humble and contribute to the community by donating the majority show proceeds to touring bands or housing them for a night or two. One of the great things that hardcore does is it promotes good-will and helping out others, even if they are not associated with the hardcore community. SOS Booking has been putting on an annual Toy Drive fest every December for families who can’t afford Christmas gifts for their children. They get bands to play out of their own free time and an attendees admission was just to bring an unwrapped toy. In the end, it not only satisfies a child’s happiness during the holidays, it gives back to the community itself by giving a person a chance to see their favorite band. At certain instances, some bands get back together for shows to raise money for certain causes. They hold shows to raise money for keeping music venues around if they can’t keep up with a lease, medical causes like hospital bills, recovery, and rehabilitation, home damages (i.e. burned down houses), and most frequently, helping out other bands in times of need like stolen music gear or damaged tour vans.
Southern California’s Hardcore scene is just as prominent as any other subculture in the Los Angeles or Greater Area. It’s more than just the music: it’s a community built on respect and acceptance.
Chris Pigao has been going to concerts for over 10+ years. He has been apart of the punk rock and hardcore community for quite a while and it looks like he’s not going anywhere anytime soon, which in his case, he’s fine with. If you have any question regarding shows that are coming up, what bands to check out, or just want to make a friend, follow him on Twitter!