Washington, D.C. hardcore

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Washington, D.C. has had one of the first and most influential hardcore punk scenes in the United States since the early 1980s.

Among the earliest DC punk bands were the Bad Brains, Slickee Boys, Teen Idles, Minor Threat, S.O.A., Chalk Circle, Iron Cross (North America's 1st OI! band), Velvet Monkeys, Void, The Faith, Youth Brigade, Government Issue, Untouchables, Red C, Marginal Man, Scream, Black Market Baby and United Mutation, all of which formed in the late 1970s and early 1980s. In the mid-1980s during a time period quoted by some as "Revolution Summer," bands like Gray Matter, Embrace, Rites of Spring, Phlegm, Soulside, Three, Ignition and Rain emerged. Other DC hardcore bands from this time period are Fire Party, Dag Nasty, Second Wind. Aside from Black Market Baby and the few suburban punk bands that followed, the majority of the DC hardcore bands were made up of middle/upper class private school educated children of diplomats and other members of the Washington establishment at the time. Many grew up in the Georgetown and Northwest areas of DC, where they developed a sense of social justice by witnessing its injustices first hand - they were rich kids living in a privileged world, a social elite.

Though the feeling and vitality of the early scene was based on the excitement of punk, the spectrum of music played in clubs and on radio featured Roxy Music, David Bowie, Ultravox, Skids, Slits, much English stuff, and lots of new American bands such as Avant Gardener, Tina Peel, The B-52's, the Nuns, Trenchmouth, The Cramps, Slickees, X, and the garage and punk bands out of New York. With the support of radio DJs such as Milo from WHFS, Xyra and Steve Lorber (who played Iggy Pop and the Ramones on his Sunday evening shows in 1976) from WGTB, everyone was made welcome, and everyone came.

Dischord Records, owned and run by Jeff Nelson, drummer for Minor Threat and Ian MacKaye, the frontman for Minor Threat, and later Embrace, Fugazi and the Evens put out records by many of these bands. Some other important record labels of the 1980s in D.C. include Fountain of Youth and DSI. Due to Dischord's popularity and influence, very few D.C.-based bands who were not on Dischord have received much attention from outside of the DC metro area.

Hardcore in D.C also has grown a large following in the late '80s and the '90s: Swiz, Device, World's Collide, Fury, Battery, Ashes, Gauge, Undecided, Smart Went Crazy, and Damnation A.D., with a majority of these bands releasing albums on Jade Tree Records, THD, Art Monk Construction, Lovvitt Records, and Sammich.

Today, the hardcore scene is still quite popular within the Capital Beltway, having produced such past and present bands as Crispus Attucks, 86 Mentality, Striking Distance, Worn Thin, The Suspects, The Goons, The Homeowners, and more recent bands like Coke Bust, Sick Fix, Moment of Youth, Lion of Judah, The Alleged Bricks, Set To Explode, Time to Escape, Lotus Fucker, Troops of Tomorrow, Give, Darkest Hour, Seminal, Beasts of No Nation, Fairweather, Cloak/Dagger, Bus Fire, Majority Rule, Frodus, Domino Team, SEAS and Walk the Plank, The Black and Tans, Thick Skin, Protestor, Misled Youth, Vile Faith, Pure Disgust, Zoom, Anti-Zen, Public Suicide, Paranoid Minds, Jävla, Nuclear Age and many others.

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  • Andersen, Mark and Mark Jenkins (2003). Dance of Days: Two Decades of Punk in the Nation's Capital. Akashic Books. ISBN 1-888451-44-0
  • Blush, Steven (2001). American Hardcore: A Tribal History. Part Two. "DC: Flex Your Head". Feral House. ISBN 0-922915-71-7