Looks like somebody has a case of the Mondays. Has the reality of getting back to normal life got your down? Don’t worry, a little hardcore music will get you right back in the spirit of things. This Thursday legendary American hardcore band Bane arrives in Shanghai livehouse Yuyintang and you need to start getting pumped now. Some may ask the question; "Just what is hardcore music?"
The modern form of hardcore music is possibly quite different than your idea of mohawks, leather jackets, and safety pins associated with early punk rock. Today’s hardcore fan looks like, well just a bro. Pull-over hoodie, backwards baseball hat, non-descript pants or long pant-shorts, then a simple black canvas shoe. Also the musical style has developed differently from bands like D.O.A., 7 Seconds, The Adolescents, Flipper and others who represented the first generation of “hardcore punk”. Elements of metal or thrash make up much of the current hardcore sound that evolved from early incarnations mostly based in the New York scene like Agnostic Front and Cro-Mags.
Lyrically, politically, and socially many hardcore bands preach unity and togetherness in the music scene above all else. Sub-scenes may differ with content, like the straight edge kids who refuse to smoke, drink, or take drugs or more leftists hardcore groups who focus on vegetarianism and eco action.
Just in case you are curious my favorite hardcore band is Spazz. Now I’m going to share some music from Bane along with five of my favorite Chinese bands that I feel represent hardcore music.
Bane represent the Massachusetts version of hardcore music, i.e. powerful dudes who take care of business in the most pit. Formed out of a side project from the well-respected band Converge, this initially straight-edge hardcore outfit got going in 1995. Due to a rotating cast of over 12 members throughout the past twenty years of the band's existence, not all of the current members are straight edge so they do not promote that ethos like the early days. Bane’s music is straight up hard and in your face and most recently has used more melodic guitar elements and an evolved structure.
From what I understand last year’s record Don’t Wait Up is their last one, so make sure to head down to Thursday’s show because it might be your last chance to check out the bros from Worcester. Bane has always been a positive influence in the hardcore scene with a focus on the scene itself. Promoting self reliance, working together, and general inner strength, you’ll find much of Bane’s lyrics cover more personal topics than broad social issues.
Bane – "Satan’s Son"
Now let's get into my five favorite Chinese hardcore bands…
Unregenerate Blood (Beijing)
Beijing’s longest-running hardcore band Unregenerate Blood is celebrating their 10th anniversary this month. Representing the new school of hardcore a.k.a. CN/HC, being the first out the gate to develop a new scene isn’t exactly an easy task. Unregenerate Blood was lumped into the existing street punk and skinhead scenes that were already prominent in Beijing. That early scene spawned in the '90s had a big impact on members Li You, Li Chao, Chenhao, Li Yang, and Wugang. However, it didn’t take long for the distinct Thrashcore sound they pioneered to take hold and ten years later UB have many brothers in hardcore arms.
Unregenerate Blood – Live @ Mao Beijing
King Ly Chee (Hong Kong)
If you want to talk about really getting into the Chinese hardcore roots than you have to mention King Ly Chee from Hong Kong. Smashing the face of Hong Kong’s cover band scene, which imitated System of a Down and similar MTV hardcore acts of the day, King Ly Chee set out to promote the true ideals of hardcore music. Part of this was band founders publishing a bilingual magazine called Start from Scratch that featured international hardcore and metal bands along with articles representing the culture. Their efforts had an immeasurable impact both on the Hong Kong scene and eventually bled into the mainland. Vocalist Riz is of Pakistani origin and the cast of characters in the band has been a stream of Hong Kong kids. Check out this video which pays homage to the past members and is just a damn heartwarming piece.
King Ly Chee – "The Lost World"
Representing Shanghai hardcore I’m going to have to go with Loudspeaker. Even though they have also been playing over 10 years, Loudspeaker's sound has evolved into more of a hardcore metal outfit. It's straight-forward, hard driving, and intense music that has always remained a positive contribution to Shanghai’s tiny hardcore scene, and you have to give it up to Loudspeaker for staying in the game. Of course I have to mention local expat slayers Spill Your Guts for representing Shanghai in the international hardcore arena. Will Shanghai finally drop their girlfriends' purses and start picking up change in the most pit? Probably not.
Loudspeaker – Live at YYT (POV Pit Cam)
Resist Control (Wuhan)
From the dystopian city that produces intense hardcore by second-nature, I’m going with Resist Control for my Wuhan rock pick. The band has developed into a prolific outfit that is uncompromising in their ideals of spiritual freedom. One of such is not pandering to the masses and staying true to the music ,which is at the foundation of most great hardcore bands. Much of their songs include stories of willpower and personal values along with social injustice. Musically they have also progressed into one of the tightest hardcore / metal band in China.
Resist Control – "We Are Such (Preview)"
Fanzui Xiangfa (Beijing)
My fifth and final choice in this China hardcore roundup is personal favorite Fanzui Xianfga. Representing the more punk than metal side of hardcore, these kids with nothing but angst got their start in 2006. The band is a mixture of locals and expats that at heart represent the DIY side of hardcore music. Having toured not only domestically but across Europe, the band is easily one of the most important ambassadors representing the current Chinese scene.
Fanzui Xiangfa – "I Am Not Like You!"
Remember – don’t be a pit stopper. Be a mosh pit starter.