Saluting Saturday Night Live's Sublime Tribute to '80s Hardcore

Judging from all the adulatory nods around the internet today, it's obvious how well Saturday Night Live's Crisis of Conformity bit--in which Fred Armisen, Bill Hader, Ashton Kutcher, and Dave Grohl "reunite" their old hardcore outfit at a wedding--succeeded as comedy. But, and perhaps more notably (to this old hardcore kid, anyway), the sketch also succeeded astonishingly well as a tribute to '80s hardcore punk.

From the dead-on band name (which groks both the rhythm and the politics of DIY concerns, circa '83) to the Black Flag-checking song they actually wrote for the damn thing--called "Fist Fight in the Parking Lot," no less, another nod to the valor cum violence of early records--whoever wrote this skit (probably Armisen) got the details exactly right. To say nothing of the references to Reagan and fascism in the lyrics, Armisen's frontman antics, and the sublime moment when Grohl's mic cuts out (which only happened at every basement show, ever) and Kutcher comes over to help. Bonus points for the not so subtle shots taken at the Bad Brains-types who can't quite hang it up, even though they really should.

Grohl, who leapt from Scream to Nirvana, is a genuine veteran of these years; Armisen missed the glory days by a bit but clearly heard the records, as any Trenchmouth album will tell you. So it's not like the loving veracity here come as a surprise, but to see the tropes of this era put forward as a joke--that we're all clearly expected to get and, I imagine, most of us do--is weirdly thrilling for those of us who are used to having to explain the comedy of gang vocals on Chain of Strength records. Way to break down the walls, SNL.


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