Believe it or not, it was Boston and not New York or LA that was the home of the original hardcore punk scene in the 1980s. It is also home to the third wave ska and punk generations of music, but what many respect the most is its hardcore punk history.
Hardcore punk is a type of punk rock music that became popular in the 1980s when punk rock was making the scene in the United States and in the United Kingdom. Hardcore punk has a heavier sound that “regular” punk rock and it usually has a faster tempo. This music isn’t for people who love their love songs and girl power anthems. Hardcore punk rock music covers topics like war, politics, alienation, freedom and “straight edge.” I’ve yet to find a “wavy” edge music but I’m going to guess that it might find its roots in Boston as well.
One of the signs that your music is hardcore punk and not just “regular” punk is the “do it yourself” approach the band takes to laying down tracks. This is music that was recorded on four tracks and sold either at the band’s concerts or through mail orders. Concerts were promoted by word of mouth, community radio shows, and the old-school method of advertising: tacking up fliers on every surface available.
Ironically, fans of “hardcore” punk look much softer than fans of “regular” punk. Boston’s hardcore punk fans tended to dress in jeans and t-shirts with easy to care for hairstyles, unlike the punk fans who clothed themselves in safety pins and torn clothing and as many piercings as possible.
One of Boston’s most famous contributions to the hardcore punk scene is the audio compilation entitled “This is Boston, not LA” which featured Boston home-grown bands. Sadly the three largest hardcore punk showcase venues, The Channel, Bunratty’s, and the Rathskeller have been torn down to pave the way for the gentrification of the neighborhoods in which they operated.
Hardcore punk music also influenced one of the most popular types of music played on the radio today: alternative. Alternative music originally went by the name of “grunge” and it was created by hardcore punk bands like the Melvins (who had a huge influence on Nirvana).
While it is true that Boston is home to a great many important sites in the history of the United States (the Boston tea party, Paul Revere’s ride, Bunker Hill, the Boston massacre, etc) it also had a huge influence on the world’s cultural history as well. Hardcore punk helped shape today’s most popular music genre. Without it, the world might not have ever discovered bands like the Dead Kennedy’s, the Misfits, Bad Religion, the Damned, and Black Flag.
Sadly, the places these legends played are probably now Baby Gaps and Starbucks coffee shops, but the influence Boston has had on music history is legendary, whether or not it looks like a Pottery Barn.