Monday, August 08, 2005

Positively Positive Numbers

I know, I know. Where the fuck have you been? I think it's been at least a couple of weeks since I last posted. Sorry about that. I'm blaming my blog truancy on adult crash. That's my story, and I'm sticking with it.

I've had a week to chew on my Positive Numbers Festival 2005 experience. I was there Saturday, and a few hours on Sunday. Some thoughts:

* I had a pretty good time at the show, despite the fact that I absolutely hate all day events. Fests are pretty much the norm these days, I suppose. Hell, most weekend shows in any scene are practically fests anymore. I mean, your average show usually has 6 or 7 bands smashed onto the flyer. Call me crazy, but I loved paying $10 to go to a 3 band show at City Gardens way back when. The show was usually a really good local band supporting two really good touring bands. You showed up at 6:00 p.m. on a Sunday, and were out the door by 10:00 p.m. Loved it. Nobody does that anymore. Eight bones gets you all the bands you can stand. Hardcore has been infected with Wal-Mart Disease. Kids expect to get a lot of shit for a little money. But I digress.

* I definitely feel old at shows nowadays. At a fest like Positive Numbers where there are so many younger kids, it only compounds that feeling. I figure since I'm now old enough to father your average hardcore whippersnapper, I might as well start sounding like a dad. Have a seat junior, we need to have a talk. Son, it's about all of these stupid tattoos and piercings you're getting. Serious. You're going to need to get a job some day, and despite the glamour that comes with being a circus freak, I have to warn you that the benefits and vacation package are LOUSY. And those huge holes in your ears. You know, some day you're going to have to explain them to potential employers, in-laws, and dental professionals. Even your kids will think you're an idiot. You'll say "I was young and stupid," and they'll probably say "yep." I could see if you were on the Live Fast/Die Young track, but you won't even drink a beer for petesake. So I'm begging you, before you get another tattoo on your neck or knuckles, or if you have another urge to rip a huge hole open anywhere on your head, PLEASE use that drug free noggin of yours and fucking THINK.

* I have always felt that Hardcore is the best music scene out there. It's one of the few forms of music that isn't really considered "entertainment," which makes it feel urgent and important. It's a scene where there isn't a barrier between the band and the crowd, in that, if you want access to the people who write the music and the message, you can usually get it. It's off the radar, giving it the feeling that hardcore music, well the good stuff anyway, is this little secret that only you and your friends know about.

So, in what area does hardcore lag behind other forms of music? In a word: WOMEN!

When I walked into Positive Numbers on Saturday, I walked into the world's biggest sausage party. There was a 20-1 guy to girl ratio. It's the first time that the huge gender disparity in the hardcore scene actually occured to me. Thousands of dudes. Dozens of girls. How does that happen? And to the girls who were there, who actually are into hardcore, I've got to ask: why aren't you pulling your weight? All of those bands in Wilkes-Barre, and not a single one of them with a female member. Are you really happy just being hardcore chattle? Don't you have ANYTHING to say or contribute? You are a member of this community. Stand up and be counted!

And before anyone gets their panties in a knot about my comments, I'd just like to state that I have been on record in the past (Fuck You Fanzine, issue 4, volume III) as saying that what hardcore music needs more than anything else these days is a major dose of female perspective in the lyrical department, because the guys on the mic in this scene keep recycling the same tired old cliches and themes. What this scene needs is a female version of 7 Seconds. That would shake things up a bit.

* Best band Saturday: without a doubt, it was Underdog. I haven't seen them play that well since 1989. Richie Birkenhead has been, and will always be one of the best singers in hardcore. His voice. His delivery. His lyrics. All of these have always stood out far above the pack, and even after being out of the game for years, the dude still has it. I saw them a couple of times during their abbreviated reunion tour in 1998, and at that point, the band just seemed to mail it in each night. Saturday night however, Underdog washed away those sins. They were just awesome.

* I have come to the conclusion that X-watches, old Air Jordans, and original 1980's band shirts are the hardcore equivalent of "bling." Rappers where gold jewelery and get caps on their teeth. Hardcore kids wear hard to find/expensive 20 year old clothing. They're both the same thing when you think about it. Sure you wear them because you like them. But you also wear them because other people don't have them. Seems like a status thing to me. Just my observation.

* Speaking of fashion, I'm definitely in rural Pennsylvania when I pull into a gas station and see three different people sporting a rat tail hairdoo. When children are involved, it's just abusive.

* I wasn't there for the big throw down that shut the show down on Sunday evening, so I can't really speak to what went on. What I will say is this -- despite the fact that most people think clubs and bouncers suck, they were definitely a good thing for the hardcore scene in the 80's, before the trend went toward booking shows in VFW halls and church basements. Sure, you couldn't dive at a lot of clubs, and occasionally you'd get put in a head lock and tossed into an alley by an overzealous bouncer (usually for stage diving), but for the most part unless you were going to completely disregard the house rules, there wasn't really much of a reason to worry about the bouncers. Follow the rules (no diving, no fighting) and everyone was going to get along just fine.

Because we no longer go to shows at clubs with a security staff, there is no longer anyone employed to deal with thugs when they occasionally show up at a show. You may disagree and be saying to yourself " difference," but at least with most bouncers, like I said before -- if you follow the house rules, you should be free to watch the bands without the threat of a hospital visit. With thugs, instead of the rules being "no diving, no fighting," they now switch to "don't look at me, don't dance near me, did you look at my girlfriend, my boy has a problem with your hair." Bouncers are like prison guards. Thugs are like inmates. The current hardcore show model says the inmates have the run of the place. A lack of stage diving is a small price to pay for having the comfort of knowing if someone is going to throw a punch or be a total douchebag, they are going to be repaid in spades by a bunch of bouncers who will beat the shit out of them. As a scene in general, we're basically chicken shit. When thugs show up, they generally have their way with us at any show, because in all fairness, who wants to be the next recipient of a beatdown. I mean really, how often do you see 4 guys jump on some poor bastard, and then another 4 dudes jump in to save him. Um...never?

If a bouncer deals on you for no good reason, at least you can file a lawsuit. I'm telling you, bouncers are alright by me.

* I saw the perfect examples of hardcore jock vs. hardcore spazz when, during BOLD's set, Matt Warnke picked up a football thrown onto the stage, and heaved a perfect spiral for what must have been a 50 yard bomb. It was a completed pass, as the reciever -- Livewire Message Board diva Amy Elizabeth Edge -- caught the ball... with her face. Oops.

* My weekend crew consisted of Dave Byrd, Alfred Ortiz, Steve McPherson and myself. We had two rooms between us. Ortiz, McPherson and I were jammed into one room. Byrd shared the other room with women all weekend. I definitely thought of that empty bed in Byrd's room as I snuggled up to Ralfred. [Shaking my fist] Curse you Dave Byrd!

That's all I can think of. Stay tuned for more updates.

Ronny Little
AIM: BarebonesHC

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