Relative to the universe, rock 'n' roll is a recent phenomenon.
Though the exact moment when the genre came into being is hard to pinpoint, the following is undeniable: It's genesis was a distinctly American occurence, which took place near the beginning of the 20th century. And almost immediately, the genre became loaded with subgenres, which themselves became loaded with subgenres.
Fast forward to the metahistorical, overinformed digital era. Man has almost entirely abandoned the physical trappings of rock 'n' roll. The preferred format is the MP3.
Synthesizers and laptops can mimic any instrument and sample any preexisting soundbite. DJs don't use real records anymore, opting instead for software, like Serato, and automated beat-matching.
Parallel to rock's digitization is an ever-snowballing preoccupation with its own history. And that's the precise point where we run into the Bringing It Back for the Kids Fest, a hardcore punk festival engendered by the reunion-show obsession of the internet age as well as a simultaneous yearning for simpler times.
"Nostalgia really is playing a role in our festival," admits organizer Cliff Wiener. "We remember a time when kids made their own zines, tape-traded, or traveled 20 hours to see a band that only had a seven-inch out. So many of these personal music experiences are just gone from our collective music scene."
Wiener is throwing Bringing It Back for the Kids with his longtime friend and collaborator, Alex Kenny. The pair have been active on the South Florida hardcore scene for quite some time, initially as concertgoers entranced by the intensity and camaraderie of the aggro punk variant. That nascent interest soon flowered into a record label, Undecided Records, which featured releases from hometown emo-mosh heroes Poison The Well, as well as nationally acclaimed acts like extra-metallic Every Time I Die and sentimentally hardcore BoySetsFire.
In 2006, the dudes founded the nostalgically named 1981 Straight Edge Clothing brand, itself a one-time hardcore record label (though now exclusively dealing in apparel) and the official host of Bringing It Back for the Kids. "Straight edge is a personal choice and we're here to help make it fun," Wiener explains. "We strive to create a positive atmosphere in our community. We give people an outlet to let people know their feelings about drugs and alcohol in the form of a t-shirt."
(If you need schooling, straight edge is an intoxicant-free ideological wing of punk that finds its roots in '80s hardcore, quite specifically in a song by the same name performed by first-wave hardcore pioneers Minor Threat.)
Despite the seemingly integral connection the philosophy plays in the organization of the fest and the music of many (if not all) of the acts on the lineup, Wiener says he "wouldn't describe the event as straight edge or vegan." He clarifies further, saying, "Straight edge is a lifestyle that obviously plays an important role in our lives. But it wasn't motivation for the event."
So what is this fest actually all about? What is the It being brought back for the kids? "We wanted to provide a throwback experience for a younger group of kids. I always think of hardcore as an ideal rather than a sound. It's about family and brotherhood."
Dedicated to recreating an archetypal hardcore vibe and atmosphere, the fest relies on a lineup straight out of a previous era. It reads like a who's who of South Florida straight-edge, mosh-metal crossover at the turn of the century with Until the End, Remembering Never, All Hell Breaks Loose, and grandpappy centerpiece band Shai Hulud. Nationally recognized headliners like Evergreen Terrace and Terror saw their heyday nearly a decade ago, although both still find fervent appreciation from niche hardcore audiences.
"Hardcore will always be relevant as long as there are musicians out there with something to say," Wiener asserts, his logic an almost textbook party line of punk's value since its inception.
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Well aware of the social-musical lineage Bringing It Back was wrought from, and greatly interested in locating their festival as the product of such, Wiener offered the following history lesson: "In the early 80s, it was Black Flag and Minor Threat. In the late 80s, it was Youth of Today and Gorilla Biscuits. In the 90s, it was Earth Crisis and Snapcase. Then we had Converge. And now we have Terror."
Bringing It Back for the Kids Fest with Shai Hulud, Evergreen Terrace, and Terror, presented by 1981 Straight Edge Clothing. Friday, May 13, and Saturday, May 14, at the Rocketown, 371 S Federal Hwy., Pompano Beach. Tickets cost $20 via kapiro.com