Out of Step, Out of Time

Black Flag, white guilt, blood-red noses collide in self-congratulatory American Hardcore

American Hardcore may fetishize that danger, but ultimately even its more self-congratulatory moments are dulled by the scene's generally self-loathing and self-negating ways—it's a bizarre Yeah That Sucked/Yeah That Was Awesome dichotomy that makes the boasting easier to take. The war over hardcore nostalgia continues, though, especially here and especially now, as the CBGB victory lap pulls every last former luminary back onstage for some reunion debauchery—Harley himself will join Agnostic Front, Sick of It All, and Murphy's Law for an early October bill, just a few days before Bad Brains themselves hold court for two nights at $40 a pop.

S.S. Decontrol, back in the Reagan-despising day
photo: Sony Pictures Classics
S.S. Decontrol, back in the Reagan-despising day

It's all a bit much, maybe, but you'd probably get housed for saying so. "As far as I'm concerned, it's a part of American history," says Harley, who's curating hardcorehalloffame.com in part to cover ground the flick missed. "It's as genuine as folk music was. It spoke about the struggle that was ours. It spoke about the streets. It spoke about that time period. It's as much a product of America as the blues was." An era with Xs on its hands but maybe not Xs on its eyes just yet, faded but still breathing through its broken nose.

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