Wednesday, July 9, 2008

Who are you and where are you from?

I have lived in Youngstown, OH my entire life. Where I am from is something that I am proud of (despite it's NUMEROUS and obvious short-comings) and have always done my best to represent who I am and where I am from proudly, and I know that all of my long-time friends from here feel the same as well. I do not just see myself as a representative of my home city, but rather my entire region (Northeast OH/Western PA). I feel EVERYONE should see themselves as a representative of wherever it is they are from. Otherwise, who are you?

In Hardcore, when I was a teen I remember seeing bands which you could always tell exactly where they were from based upon their sound. "Regional Sound" was what it was. Also, a lot of the time you could tell where someone was from just by looking at them... their style of dress and mannerisms could tell you a lot. Today, this is not so much the case. A band that sounds like it is from NYC can be from California, and a band that sounds like it is from Cleveland can be from Europe or a band from NYC sounds like it's from California... in fact, there's not very many bands anymore that I really think "I know EXACTLY where this band is from!" after hearing just a few songs. Also, seeing a band in their hometown, that used to be something special. Seeing a scene's boss band play their hometown was the craziest show you could see that band play... and getting to do a show w/ them was an honor and privilage. Going to a different city used to mean having to learn/respect their customs. Evey place had it's different mosh styles ( and in lots of places some of the things you may do at home were not acceptable), it's different crews, different styles of dress, and different/unique sounding bands. There are still some places and people that are like this, but they are few and far between.

Many scenes have simply lost their identity. I have noted a major decline in the idea that you have to support the bands, promoters, and people from your home region in order to have a strong, functioning scene. People are looking elsewhere. The grass always seems greener somewhere else, and driving out of town to go to a big fest, or a city that has cooler/hipper shows/people is all too easy now that everybody "knows" everyone via My Space. A person or band can be blacklisted from their scene for being a thief or an all-around cock sucker (a decade or more ago, this was like a death sentence) but now all you have to do is get on My Space and beg for shows in other places and your band can tour all over and never even have to play in your home city or you can just go elsewhere and blend into the crowd of all the others who do the same. There are tons of bands and people who do this. I mean, don't get me wrong, stuff like this happened in the past, but the internet has made it so much easier to just by-pass your local scene. Bands no longer have to pay dues. They no longer have to work hard in their hometown and build cred and hook up touring bands w/ good shows in their hometown order to get ones in other places... My Space bulletins will take care of that. Post enough of them and someone will book your band. There are hundreds of hack bands who's demo should never make it past their city limits.

In the late 90's we worked hard to build a scene in our town of Youngstown. For a 5 year period, we had regular shows. the shows were not the biggest in the world, we would not have 500 people show up or anything, but we had enough people and bands to have a functioning scene w/ regulars who attended every show. The scene we had was independant of surrounding cities like Cleveland and Pittsburgh and we had our own mosh styles, crews, sound, and ethics. Even though everything fell apart and now nothing is left of those days, we are still proud of the work we did and what we accomplished by putting our city on the hardcore map... at least for a little while. We hope that someday it will rise again, but the attitudes we find form the new generation do not have any interest in building anything here. They are only interested in touring and conquering the world... only problem is, without a homebase to stand on, that is a tough thing to accomplish. Scenes like ours used to pop up all over, and most faded away... but some remained and endured.

I miss the days of local and regional scenes. If you come form a place that has a strong local scene/sound/etc... please support it. Don't let it die. Support the bands, promoters, and people that represent your scene. Me and my friends do our best to try and build something in our area which will be unique and special. Something that if you come here for a show, it will leave a lasting impression. All the fancy shoes and My Space friends in the world cannot compare to the sense of pride and accomplishment that comes from knowing that a band from your town blew-up because YOU supported them. Knowing that your scene is respected as a result of YOUR work and support. Knowing that YOU are part of something real.

Respect to the people who work hard to support their local scenes. The promoters who book grass roots shows. The bands who support touring bands. The bands who are writing songs with a distinct/unique sound which indentify them and your area. And to the people who devote their time and money on a regular basis to support the promoters and bands.

Are you proud to be who you are and where you are from?

Sunday, July 6, 2008

Headaches & Rewards

Last weekend we did our big yearly show that we throw each year called SUMMER OF HATE in Cleveland. Me, Rob, and Trevor set up the show and we were concerned that due to rising gas prices and the overall current state of division in the world of "hardcore" in 2008 that the show may not go so well.

I showed up to the show at 5:30 (late) and the show was to start at 6. There was already a line of people standing outside and a good number of others scattered down the street... our worries of a show w/ low turn out were put to ease. at this point I was running around with a clip board trying to find and organize the bands and tell them exactly when and where they were playing. I then went into the club and the people working there told me the schedule of times/bands differed from the one they were given previously... and tried to tell me that mine was incorrect. After some time and talking to 10 different people, it was straightened out. At this point, it was 6:15 and the doors had not been opened and we were already off the time schedule which we made for the show. Furthermore, the venue told me they would not let anyone in the show without being patted-down and searched for weapons. As people were finally allowed to start to trickle in (and I do mean trickle) the 1st bands had to be started at the same time to allow all 13 bands ample time to play and stick to our posted time schedule. Also, coordinating equipment for the bands to use, trying to get the guest lists sorted out (the venue didn't want to allow 7 PEOPLE for the entire show!) and whatever else was going wrong. At this point, I remembered why I stopped doing shows 5 years ago.

Eventually, everything was back on track and any/all troubles of the early goings ons were forgotten. All the bands showed up and played at the scheduled times and everything ran smoothly. We got over 300 people to come to a show which was booked, promoted, and run by us... for us. There were no fights, but there were quite a few broken noses and jaws (including mine). All the bands were either the best of the best bands from our region and bands that we felt best represent the best in HC from the US. At the end of thre night we were paid exactly the amount of $$$ by the club that we had promised the bands and we paid every dime (plus some extra out of our pockets) to the bands. Myself, Rob, or Trevor made no profit (as promised). In a socialist/ideal world of hardcore, all shows would go this way, but usually someone makes a profit off a show (whenever there is one to be made, of course), or someone gets in a fight, or some bands cancel... but that's just reality. I am just thankful that all of our work provided a great time/show for everyone who attended and all the bands that played. To me, that was enough justification for all of the headaches and hard work we put into it and was a far greater reward than any profit we could have made off the show if we'd have charged double the price for admission. Also, seeing old faces come out that we have not seen in years was great and also reward enough.

Every band played a great set. WISDOM IN CHAINS ended the night with an hour+ set which included the majority of their material from all of their albums and blew the roof off the place. It was great to see so much energy after such a long, hot, and physically demanding show. We had been worried that the crowd might not have any energy left by the end to give to bands like KNOW THE SCORE, STOUT, and WISDOM IN CHAINS, but all the bands had awsome sets and it was great at the end of the night to talk to the bands and hear them ask us "when can you bring us back???". All the other bands (NO END IN SIGHT, BACKHAND, A DEATH & A PROMISE, TASTE THE STEEL, RIGHT IDEA, COFFIN BROTHERS) all gave it their all as did the crowd. it was great to see so much positive energy and pretty much no negative energy come out of the show.

We look forward to doing the show again next year. Please support your local bands and promoters who are doing shows by us, for us.