Tying up the loose ends of a life in hardcore from 1986 until yesterday lunchtime

'Punkier-than-thou' - The Wire, June 2013.

Friday, 2 August 2013

How The Process destroyed hardcore in Oakland FOREVER!

The calm before the storm
So I had the pleasure of hosting Alicia and B. from Replica (Great band. Check them out.) earlier this week, and Alicia passed on to me a thoroughly entertaining piece of information. We had played together in Oakland, Ca, in October last year, with Iron Lung and Gehenna, and the show was absolutely nuts - 300-plus crammed into a room that should really only accommodate half that. The cops eventually came and closed it down during Iron Lung's set, there was barely enough to room to breathe when Gehenna played, and, when we were on stage, things had already got so nuts that some kid - who was getting in people's faces, punching them and, laughably, attempting to attack Gav - had a bottle smashed over his head for his troubles.

Take as evidence this video from our set. It's all vacant stares and the occasional nodding head, but even by the end of this small section, we'd started to win over the crowd (and even the guy filming it, judging by his comment - cheers!). If you extrapolate that over another 15 minutes then the chaos you're picturing might just match what was going on in front of me when I was playing. (Seriously, I did wonder if I was going to have to jump off the stage and sort out the wee dick that kept trying to punch Gav; of course, the Guvnor doesn't need my help, and defused the situation (a bit) by bending over and laughing in his face. Then, naturally, someone smashed a bottle over the guy's head.)

Then there were fights outside, people collapsing drunk all over the shop, and - this is when the city of Oakland really springs into action - any number of fire code violations taking place. The end result was that, only four songs into their set on the last show of their West Coast tour with The Process, Iron Lung were cut short by the cops turning up and closing the show down.

Now that sucked for Iron Lung, and the 300-plus people there to see them, but it was wonderful for me! Are you kidding? I've always dreamed of playing a show that's been shut down by the police - that's pretty much No 1 on the California hardcore bucket list. Then, as I mentioned earlier, came the icing on the cake from Alicia. It seems that Sugarmountain (a very cool space by the way. Much more reminiscent of a well-run European squat than a typical US venue.) decided to stop booking hardcore shows in light of the carnage that took place that evening. Now let me ask you, had the crowd remained in their stupor as displayed at the start of that video, would the good people at Sugarmountain have had any problems with booking more shows in that vein? I sincerely doubt it. But they didn't. As hinted at by the footage, at the end of that first song, this was a pack of animals waiting to be whipped into a blood-thirsty frenzy by our sexy riffs, pale skin and jet-lagged demeanours. The end result was the cops being called and Sugarmountain effectively banning hardcore bands from ever darkening their doors. And that, my friends, is how The Process destroyed hardcore in Oakland forever*.

Here's Iron Lung's truncated set and the moment the cops turned up.

* I know, I know. We didn't really.

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