Oh, there were far more hardcore kids than that photo would suggest at Damaged City Fest this past weekend. If anything, at 2 p.m. on Saturday, this was the calm before the swirling pit storm that’d take over St. Stephen’s Episcopal Church in Washington, D.C. 
Now in its second year, Damaged City is officially a thing. Promoters Chris Moore and Nick Tape (both of Coke Bust and several other D.C. bands) got this fest down because kids came from all over the country — Richmond, Providence, Chicago, Boston — to pack into one of D.C.’s most historic hardcore spaces. 
Now that I’ve washed the George Foreman-grilled vegan hot dog smell out of my hair, here are the 7 best sets I saw at Damaged City Fest. (Bear in mind that I didn’t attend any of the pre- or after-shows. I wanted to see Barge, Good Throb and Red Death, but look, hardcore is a young person’s game and I honestly don’t think I would have made it out of this pit alive. You pick your battles and I chose pizza and beer in a quiet bar with friends and a jukebox that seemed to only play sad bastard music.)
I’ll admit it, I was cranky on Friday night — standing outside in the rain for 90 minutes to get into a hot-as-balls auditorium is the kind of thing that makes me swear off music festivals forever and ever. But when Latin hardcore pioneers Los Crudos hit the stage to headline, the room changed. The room was c h a r g e d. Frontman Martin Sorrondeguy was nothing but charming — if you can say such a thing about a big ol’ hairy dude shouting down teenagers — especially when he was unapologetic about speaking in Spanish, his Latino brothers and sisters spurred into action. 
Last year, Government Issue's John Stabb joined Coke Bust onstage for a couple of covers, including an insane version of Pentagram's “Forever My Queen.” It was only natural for the ’80s D.C. hardcore band to come back in full, here performing cuts from the 1981 demo and Legless Bull EP. It took a few songs for them to get going, but it was honestly worth it just to see Stabb do some kind of absurdist stand-up between songs. The youth of today weren’t having it, but he was the only true showman all weekend. 
Priests stuck out like a sore thumb on Saturday afternoon, a punk band in a hoard of hardcore kids, with the audacity to open its set with a doomy, feedback-ridden squall. But up until at that point in the fest, nothing felt more antagonistic or outwardly freakish than this performance. The new EP on Don Giovanni, Bodies And Control And Money And Power,is gonna kill. (Priests on Bandcamp.)
The Boston contingent was mighty this year between Waste Management and Boston Strangler — both brought out the swing kids, but weren’t my thing. Draize, on the other hand, was a crusty, d-beaten and doomy hardcore fist in the crotch. The frontman also wins the Illest Patched Jeans of the Weekend award, if such a thing can be offered. (Draize on Bandcamp.)
Cheating a little bit here since Give appeared on last year’s Damaged City recap, but these longhairs went into the fest with a bunch of stellar, new material about to be laid to tape. Imagine a mix of Jesus Lizard, Nirvana, Fugazi and a little bit of Guns ‘N Roses cock-rock and maybe that gives you an idea about D.C.’s weirdest hardcore band. (Give on Bandcamp.)
For all of the time I spent on Twitter and Bandcamp, listening to promos and fielding pitches for NPR Music, I still rely on word of mouth. A good friend with good taste in music is indispensable. That said, thanks to Ariana for telling me not to miss Post Teens, a three-chord hardcore romp indebted to the freewheeling fun and poppy hooks of The Adolescents and Ramones. It was a welcome bit of rock ‘n’ roll levity to a fairly serious-minded line-up over the fest. (Stream The Heat 7” on punknews.org.)
Joe Denunzio is the Hulk, my friends astutely noted. He’s cute and cuddly offstage, the kind of guy that would be the coolest dad. Onstage with the powerviolence pioneers Infest, he’s a goddam bear. Every time the guitarist pulled out a gnarly riff, Denunzio would get this amazed look on his face like What? Can you believe this? How is this even happening I don’t even know and then proceed to stare into the very soul of the crowd as if to me, “You’re mine.”

Oh, there were far more hardcore kids than that photo would suggest at Damaged City Fest this past weekend. If anything, at 2 p.m. on Saturday, this was the calm before the swirling pit storm that’d take over St. Stephen’s Episcopal Church in Washington, D.C. 

Now in its second year, Damaged City is officially a thing. Promoters Chris Moore and Nick Tape (both of Coke Bust and several other D.C. bands) got this fest down because kids came from all over the country — Richmond, Providence, Chicago, Boston — to pack into one of D.C.’s most historic hardcore spaces

Now that I’ve washed the George Foreman-grilled vegan hot dog smell out of my hair, here are the 7 best sets I saw at Damaged City Fest. (Bear in mind that I didn’t attend any of the pre- or after-shows. I wanted to see Barge, Good Throb and Red Death, but look, hardcore is a young person’s game and I honestly don’t think I would have made it out of this pit alive. You pick your battles and I chose pizza and beer in a quiet bar with friends and a jukebox that seemed to only play sad bastard music.)

  • I’ll admit it, I was cranky on Friday night — standing outside in the rain for 90 minutes to get into a hot-as-balls auditorium is the kind of thing that makes me swear off music festivals forever and ever. But when Latin hardcore pioneers Los Crudos hit the stage to headline, the room changed. The room was c h a r g e d. Frontman Martin Sorrondeguy was nothing but charming — if you can say such a thing about a big ol’ hairy dude shouting down teenagers — especially when he was unapologetic about speaking in Spanish, his Latino brothers and sisters spurred into action. 
  • Last year, Government Issue's John Stabb joined Coke Bust onstage for a couple of covers, including an insane version of Pentagram's “Forever My Queen.” It was only natural for the ’80s D.C. hardcore band to come back in full, here performing cuts from the 1981 demo and Legless Bull EP. It took a few songs for them to get going, but it was honestly worth it just to see Stabb do some kind of absurdist stand-up between songs. The youth of today weren’t having it, but he was the only true showman all weekend. 
  • Priests stuck out like a sore thumb on Saturday afternoon, a punk band in a hoard of hardcore kids, with the audacity to open its set with a doomy, feedback-ridden squall. But up until at that point in the fest, nothing felt more antagonistic or outwardly freakish than this performance. The new EP on Don Giovanni, Bodies And Control And Money And Power,is gonna kill. (Priests on Bandcamp.)
  • The Boston contingent was mighty this year between Waste Management and Boston Strangler — both brought out the swing kids, but weren’t my thing. Draize, on the other hand, was a crusty, d-beaten and doomy hardcore fist in the crotch. The frontman also wins the Illest Patched Jeans of the Weekend award, if such a thing can be offered. (Draize on Bandcamp.)
  • Cheating a little bit here since Give appeared on last year’s Damaged City recap, but these longhairs went into the fest with a bunch of stellar, new material about to be laid to tape. Imagine a mix of Jesus Lizard, Nirvana, Fugazi and a little bit of Guns ‘N Roses cock-rock and maybe that gives you an idea about D.C.’s weirdest hardcore band. (Give on Bandcamp.)
  • For all of the time I spent on Twitter and Bandcamp, listening to promos and fielding pitches for NPR Music, I still rely on word of mouth. A good friend with good taste in music is indispensable. That said, thanks to Ariana for telling me not to miss Post Teens, a three-chord hardcore romp indebted to the freewheeling fun and poppy hooks of The Adolescents and Ramones. It was a welcome bit of rock ‘n’ roll levity to a fairly serious-minded line-up over the fest. (Stream The Heat 7” on punknews.org.)
  • Joe Denunzio is the Hulk, my friends astutely noted. He’s cute and cuddly offstage, the kind of guy that would be the coolest dad. Onstage with the powerviolence pioneers Infest, he’s a goddam bear. Every time the guitarist pulled out a gnarly riff, Denunzio would get this amazed look on his face like What? Can you believe this? How is this even happening I don’t even know and then proceed to stare into the very soul of the crowd as if to me, “You’re mine.”

Sometimes you’re just in a late ’90s hardcore mood and the only cure is picking up change. Sourced from Twitter folks and this tab-destroying Facebook thread, here’s a pit-ready playlist of tough-guy (Hatebreed, Madball), Krisha-core (Shelter), unexpected major label crossovers (Quicksand, Far, Jawbox), chaotic post-hardcore (At the Drive-In, Antioch Arrow, Glassjaw), some pretty ish (Hopesfall), and whatever madness the PacNW dished out (Karp). Thanks everybody who suggested a pick! (And, for real, that Facebook thread has some key YouTubes to stuff that ain’t on Spotify, like Reversal of Man, hose.got.cable, Union of Uranus…)

This past weekend, Chris Moore (Magrudergrind, Coke Bust, Sick Fix, D.O.C.) and Nick “Tape” put on a hardcore festival called Damaged City at St. Stephen’s, literally two blocks from my house in Washington, D.C. The whole thing was, from what I could tell, a massive success, spanning age groups and generating serious goodwill for a city that had once been a hardcore haven and aims to reclaim the title.

But the music festivals with the most impact are those that turn you onto bands you’d never hear or experience otherwise. Sure, it was rad to see old and modern legends like Negative Approach, Double Negative and 86 Mentality up close — not too mention Government Issue’s John Stabb joining Coke Bust on an insane cover of Pentagram’s “Forever My Queen” (!) — but there was a slew of younger hardcore bands I’d never heard of, mostly because I tend to keep up with metal and experimental music these days. So without further ado, here are my top three Damaged City Fest discoveries:

  • D.C.’s own Give, with a serious Rites of Spring-on-Stooges vibe. More melodic than anything else at the fest, which, looking back, stood out more because of it.
  • Hounds of Hate doesn’t bring anything new to classic ’80s-style straight-edge hardcore — ain’t broke, don’t fix it — but the energy was right and the songs were solid. Besides, I’m bound to be endeared to you if you say, “Wherever we live, we are always proud sons of the District of Columbia.”
  • Hysterics were, by far, the “holy hell where has this band been all of my life” moment. I walked into the Olympia band’s set halfway through and immediately made my way to the front. These four ladies are doing that  run-off-the-rails Black Flag-y hardcore better than anyone. But the real kicker was the doomy, feedback-damaged My War-style closer, a real ugly piece of bile. I mean, THAT RIFF. I think I’ve found my new favorite hardcore band.
  • Bonus: If you follow me on the Twitters, you know of my enthusiasm for Baltimore’s up-and-coming thrash metal band Noisem. Formerly known as Necropsy, these friggin’ teens (no joke, the drummer is 15) played the after party and downright tore The Pinch’s basement asunder. It was bittersweet to realize this would be the last time I’d see these kids in such a small space — Noisem is gonna explode, just you watch.
dc-damaged-city

dc-damaged-city:

Venues for the after shows are FINALLY confirmed! Sorry for the wait! They will both be at The Pinch. It is a 5 minute walk from St. Stephen’s Church. Both shows are free BUT donations would be nice. Times for both shows are the same. Doors @ 11pm - Show @ 12 midnight. See you there!

The Pinch
3548 14th St. NW

Day 1 FB page - http://www.facebook.com/events/169613373193768/

Day 2 FB page - http://www.facebook.com/events/431001070327231/

 

ALSO….

Striking Distance has been added!

 

This festival can’t come sooner.