Exeposé Music Issue 631, Page 26 (24 November 2014) and Exeposé Music online (26 November 2014)
Let’s face it: anyone’s first steps into the cacophonous world of hardcore music are going to be tentative. No. Scratch that. They’re not going to be steps at all. After your initial introduction to this ear-splitting rage, friends will likely find you rooted to the spot, too shell-shocked to venture any closer, yet too curious to turn back.
For me, it started with a boy I fancied sending me a copy of Architects’ ‘Heartburn.’ Oh wow, this was powerful. Bursting at the seams with adoration, and desperation, and angst… he was definitely in love with me.
Naturally I searched for the rest of the album – but I was in for a shock. The Here and Now wasn’t an expressive throng of power ballads: it was screamo music. As ‘Day In Day Out’ attacked my ears, I was flabbergasted. But teenage crushes are strange things – and after a week of dutiful listening, I began to think there might actually be something here I liked. Architects were full-on metalcore, no doubt about that.
But when Enter Shikari waltzed onto the scene, things took an even stranger turn. They screamed, yes – but they spoke too. And the things they spoke about… well. Politics, innit. There was definitely something in this, and more than simply having found a music genre my dad absolutely couldn’t stand. Shouting along to Juggernauts at prom, I wasn’t just giving myself a sore throat: I was making a statement. All that stuff about empires, and colonising, and community – it was just soooo revolutionary.
And there’s something about Shikari’s music that always creates goosebumps. It’s exciting, it’s crazy, it’s dangerous – so when Chris Batten yells “countries are just lines, drawn in the sand with a stick,” you bloody well listen.
For me, hardcore music was a revelation: listening to Architects and Shikari was a way to get boys in skinny jeans with stretched ears to fancy me. It’s exhilarating, too, having absolutely no room for anything else in your head. It’s also fantastic workout music – mostly due to the comfort gained knowing your thighs cannot possibly be burning as much as that guy’s throat.
Aside from all this, there’s a definite attraction in having earned your place in hardcore-fangirldom. Because this isn’t something you’ve been guided into with warm welcomes and words of encouragement. You’ve had to work to find meaning in the noise, and can now revel in the smugness of understanding something that others “just don’t get.”
So maybe this love was founded on vanity. But it’s lasted, unlike those teenage crushes – and no matter how old and wise I become, there’ll still be moments when Shikari’s eloquent advice: “calm the fuck down. Ghandi, mate: remember Ghandi” is just what I need to hear.