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“That was place,” says Gill, who remembers it as “a crack in the wall.” “It was hardly a venue,” he continues, “but it was amazing.
How many music venues in Manhattan at the time would let a bunch of maniacs stand in front, smoking and drinking before a show and then for three hours just let you lose your shit?
ore than three thousand people surround me in the packed Roxy nightclub on West 18th Street in Manhattan. Still, we’re grateful the surface below our feet was custom designed to support hard falls.
But the wind-milling arms, roundhouse kicks, and javelin-like body tosses on this night in ’97 bear little resemblance to the more subdued moves once executed in Roxy’s early days as a roller disco.
They looked like embattled rugby players in various states of worn-out uniform, with no ball or decipherable goal.
A source in Tony Rettman’s oral history book covering ’80s New York hardcore (NYHC, as it’s known) half-joked that those early participants “all had mental problems and they all lived in the street.” The melee’s soundtrack featured songs faster than anything produced in rock before it, with anti-establishment lyrics preaching social consciousness and standing up for oneself. The aggression discharge within the tight space was so captivating that nobody stopped moving, or having a good time.
Local bands like Agnostic Front, Cause for Alarm, Murphy’s Law, Antidote, Kraut and others were welcomed into its tiny, kitchen tile-floored back room, inciting slam dancing and sing-alongs from their fans, which early on numbered no more than a few dozen – predominantly white males in their late teens and early twenties, with a low center of gravity, swinging their arms and banging into each other while carrying crowd surfers and absorbing stage divers.Soon, District 9 became a standout act in the scene, in spite of their propensity to skip gigs and get high in the Bronx instead of lugging their instruments onto the subway to Downtown Manhattan and elsewhere.“We were trying to put soul into the shit,” Ramirez says about District 9’s musical style – a combination of metal and hardcore punk, with an occasional jazz break and rhyming lyrics that were virtually interchangeable with popular gangsta rap songs of the era.“It was punching you in the face, where punk was shoving you and saying, Hardcore’s about ‘fuck the world,’ but it’s also about the opposite: respecting people.” After a few minutes of near complete sensory overload, the band strikes the tune’s last note, the crowd cheers, and everyone readies themselves for the next song.Intense, original and cultivating an infectious sense of community, hardcore music began its reign of underground terror nearly forty years ago. They weren’t talking shit.” * * * article about hardcore in New York, Kelefa Sanneh wrote that it “was born as a double-negative genre: a rebellion against a rebellion.
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” “The energy at those Bond Street shows was electric,” says Mark Scondotto, former singer for Shutdown.