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Old School Hardcore: It Does a Body Good

Sunday, January 1, 2006
Van Damage / Down to Nothing / The Geeks
The Championship, Lemoyne, PA

On New Year’s Eve I had to work open to close at my job at Pacsun with just one of my managers, which put me in a relatively poor mood.  However, when I found out that there was an all-day hardcore-fest on New Year’s Day, my frown was turned upside down! Aside from making me use Sesame Street phrases, it also gave me a chance to try out my brand new Nikon D70s digital SLR camera.  I had tried to use it previously at the Chameleon Club for an August Burns Red and Further Seems Forever show, but my failure to be able to do so is another story altogether.

The show started at 2, and I got there around 5 or so, presumably with a good 3 hours or so left of music.  However, War Hungry, one of the headlining bands, decided that halfway to Harrisburg, they were tired of driving and decided not to come. Well, boo hiss to them.  When I arrived, there was a band already playing, so I didn’t catch their name, but they seemed to be decent.

The next band to play was a straight edge band all the way from South Korea, called The Geeks.  According to them, they’re pretty much the only straight-edge hardcore band there, being that everyone else listens to crappy music like j-pop.  Korea’s loss is the American music scene’s gain, because they play some of the best posi-core around, and man, you should have seen those little skinny Asian guys jump around.  They also happened to be the friendliest and most appreciative band I have ever seen play; stopping to thank the crowd and everyone who helped them along the way between almost every song.  And to those of you familiar with the short barked choruses and quick breakdowns of traditional hardcore, you know how short the songs can be. Think 2 minutes tops.  But pack the wallop of a pit bull, Chuck Norris, and a room full of angry tattooed kids into those two minutes and you’ve got the kind of hardcore I was subjected to.

The next band to play was a semi-well-known national band called Down to Nothing, with whom The Geeks were touring.  They put on the same kind of crazed show as The Geeks, only the members of Down to Nothing were twice their size, not Asian, and very, very angry.  As a general rule, American hardcore is full of fist-shaking, floor- punching, spin-kicking anger, while Asians stomp and yell with a smile.  Down to Nothing play an impassioned version of music complete with sing-a-longs, positive lyrics, and plenty of breakdowns for the dancing enthusiast.  They put on an awesome set, and the fact that I almost got jumped on and had my skull bashed in several times is merely an indication of a good time being had by all in attendance.

The last band of the day to play was Van Damage, a local favorite, who were also having their record release of their newest album. A bit gruffer and slightly less clean vocally than the other bands that played, they were clearly the crowd favorite.  Their brand of hardcore reaches back to their roots and has a definite old school sound to it, with an intense stage presence to match it.  I was constantly leery of receiving a roundhouse kick to the camera, which would have been far more tragic than one to the head.  One thing’s for sure; all the bands that I saw play would have done Chuck Norris proud.

-Allison Frank