No scene is more antithetical to the jamband-based festival scene than that of the hardcore punks. Since time immemorial (or maybe just since the late ’70s, the annals are unclear), the two groups have existed in mutually exclusive worlds. For good reason too; other than sharing the same general mindset of inclusiveness, each group achieves their sense of musical nirvana in drastically different forms. In the time it takes moe. or Phish to kick out one of their epic jams, a hardcore outfit might be able to run through their entire catalog as well as two encores and the noodle-armed prancers and sundress-clad twirlers that form the epicenter of a jamband crowd would find no solace amidst the consensual aggression that fuels a hardcore mosh pit. Your average hippie goddess wouldn’t stand a chance when a pinballing mosher treats them like Ricochet Rabbit treats a cactus.
[Photo by Dennis Blomberg]
Refused, one of the seminal hardcore bands of the Nineties (let’s be honest, I’ve been told this about them), recently reunited and returned to the States for a pair of sold-out shows at Terminal 5. Those who know of what they speak, revere Refused’s The Shape Of Punk To Come in the same manner that Deadhead’s venerate American Beauty, Workingman’s Dead or that bootleg cassette they’ve played down to the heads. To many, it’s the Sgt. Peppers of hardcore punk.
At Terminal 5, Refused masterfully built the tension towards their appearance. From the moment Ceremony, the opening band, mashed their final power chord and left the stage, an ambient hum remained in the speakers. Inching up in volume during the change, a full-length curtain bearing descended from the ceiling and the rear spotlights slowly gained in intensity to reveal the band’s name. By the time the Swedes hit the stage, the hum was deafening, the light blinding and the atmosphere palpably electric. Once the curtain dropped and the aural assault afoot, the crowd on the floor charged the stage with mad abandon. A veritable parting of the tattooed sea, the headlong rush left a ten to twelve foot swath of open ground in the middle of the floor. The truly remarkable sight lasted only a minute or two as it was soon filled with a diverse set of moshers, many of the same vintage age as the band. Bonnaroo this was not.