Music of Detroit - Hardcore - 1980s - 1990s


During this period, the Detroit hardcore scene become most important over the years for Touch and Go Records, which was started in Lansing, Michigan by Tesco Vee and Dave Stinson as a popular local fanzine also started this small hardcore label then moved to Washington, D.C. and finally on to Chicago.

Many small clubs popped up hosting hardcore bands. The Golden Gate, The Falcon Lounge, the Freezer Theater, Kurt Kohls' Asylum, and The Hungry Brain (named after the club in the movie the "The Nutty Professor"). A crucial venue for hardcore fans in Detroit was known as Clutch Cargo's, named after a limited-animation TV series. It featured such bands as Black Flag, Fear, X, and the Dead Kennedys, who played the venue while on tour, while the Necros, Negative Approach, L-Seven (not to be confused with L7) and other local and nearby regional bands also appeared. A present club sharing the same name exists today, but in Pontiac, Michigan and with a different booking policy. The venue was formerly located in a large, former athletic club in Detroit. As Clutch Cargo's often had shows for 18+ fans, many younger hardcore fans either never attended the site due to age, or even knew of it due to their tardy introduction to the subgenre.

The Hungry Brain, situated in a former second-hand store in Delray, Detroit, had been forced to relocate several times and by 1985 found a permanent home at a run down old hall on Michigan Avenue deep in the city of Detroit called The Graystone. Bands that started at the Hungry Brain, like political hardcore stalwarts Forced Anger, often opened for many West Coast touring punk bands, including 7 Seconds, T.S.O.L and Minor Threat, at the Graystone. The band published the fanzine, "Placebo Effect", which produced several compilation tapes featuring upstart punk bands from all over Michigan. For several years the vast majority of all hardcore bands that toured anywhere within a 250 mile radius of Detroit played at least one gig at The Graystone. Many of these gigs were captured by Back Porch Video, a video project of Dearborn public schools run by Russ Gibb (DJ of "Paul is Dead" rumor fame and previously known as the impresario of the Grande Ballroom) and aired on local public-access television cable TV.

Throughout this time Detroit was a mecca for hardcore punk bands. The band Cold As Life developed a loyal following right up to their demise in 2001, even surviving the murder of their frontman Rawn Beauty. Other important bands of that time period were the Almighty Lumberjacks of Death (A.L.D.), fronted by the charismatic and deep voiced Jimmy Doom. A.L.D. always filled the house opening up for all the heavy hitting punk stars of the time (Social Distortion, Circle Jerks, etc.)at venues such as St. Andrew's Hall and Blondies.

Other notable acts of that often violent and exciting time were Heresy, VH8, Disgust, SBLC, The Rogues, The Skraps and the influential thrash/death bands Deathcorp and Ugly But Proud. The Skraps were fronted by members of the uber punk gang, The Apple Sids. Known for their uniform of engineer boots, Brook's leather jackets, and evil tattoos—the Sids were a gang in the scene, they were often employed as bouncers at St. Andrew's Hall, the major venue for shows during the late 1980s through today. The Sids called themselves a club, but they were soon known as a gang and they had the SIDs emblem painted on the back of their jackets to prove it. Burly, tough and evil—the SIDs paid homage to the likes of the Misfits with their devil locks and slicked back hair.

At one time, a major feud broke out between the SIDs, and Disgust who formed their own club called the American Beer Allies (ABA). ABA were all about drinking beer, getting high and having a good time. The SIDs did not like the good time antics of ABA members and swore to squash any hardcore kid associated with this group and the band, Disgust. Some say, that during this period, shows in the city became a tense outlet for the SIDs vengeance and some members of ABA felt the fury of the SIDs. This however, wasn't exactly the case. While the SIDs were not fond of Disgust or the members of ABA, there were never any documented "battles" of any kind, other than a couple of random cheap shots at shows from the SIDs on a few lone ABA members. Once the SIDs realized that the ABA wasn't going anywhere the so-called feud fizzled out and Disgust went on to actually play a show at the SIDs clubhouse in Pontiac.

By 1991 most of the punk in Detroit centered around hardcore, with the band Pittbull leading the way into the future. Shows became much more intense, and the dancing moved from the traditional circle pit of the past to an all out war "hootenanny".

Throughout the mid-1990s many shows were held at the coffee shop located on the University of Detroit campus. The scene at this time had a much more progressive tone, with a heavy emphasis placed on straight edge and veganism. The style quickly moved from tight black jeans, Misfits T-shirts and flannels to baggy jeans, BK Ratch Tech shoes, and Fila vests. Fights at these shows were minimal, and the spirit of DIY culture was strong. One could now go to a show and instead of getting a boot in the head they could purchase a fanzine about some kids road trip to the Circle K while engaging in a lively discussion with Ray Cappo about the merits of Krishna. But the good times and unpredictability of the old scene were now replaced by a new, more politically charged environment.

The 1980s also saw Marshall Crenshaw, actually from Berkley, about 12 miles from Detroit, attain some fame with his releases on Warner Bros. and an appearance as Buddy Holly in the film La Bamba. His hit "Someday, Someway" made the Top 40 in both Billboard and Cash Box in 1982, though the song was released in 1981.

Read more about this topic:  Music Of Detroit, Hardcore, 1980s

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