The Cro-Mags Bring a Second Wind Into the Age of Quarrel

American hardcore, an offshoot of punk rock, is known for its straightforward muscle. A style defined through an amalgam of diverse scenes across the nation, it has undergone numerous changes — often with different ideological leaders at its helm. But it's always been upfront, rough, and uncompromising. American hardcore, no matter what the literature says, does not take itself too seriously.

The Brits brought that easily identifiable punk swag, including the boots, chains, and spikes, after American kids started shows filled with youthful braggadocio and sweat. The scenes just don’t compare. No band — not even Minor Threat, the Necros, or Black Flag — has been more instrumental in defining the genre than New York City’s Cro-Mags. They are robust prehistoric human in spirit and angry American youth in style.

Formed in 1981, the Cro-Mags have always held a sanctum sanctorum for disenfranchised youth thanks to the restless spirits of John Joseph McGowan and Harley Flanagan.

Flanagan was charged with felony assault for stabbing current Cro-Mags bass player Mike “the Gook” Couls and William Berario at the CBGB Festival July 6, 2012. McGowan has carried the torch for numerous incarnations of the band. McGowan and Flanagan’s relationship is at the root of fan appreciation.

All of that aside, the band’s first album, The Age of Quarrel, barely breaking the half-hour mark, is still the litmus test by which all anger must and should be measured. There’s no amount of bickering and posing that can chip away at the iron forge of that captured detonation — kids today can only hope Trumpism will reach the art-informing levels of Reaganomics, which helped pave the way for a very pissed-off segment of American youth.

The age of quarrel has not ended. It’s just getting a bit of a second wind — regardless of who leads its charge or whoever wants to waste their time dwelling on it.

2018 Cro-Mags featuring returning drummer Maxwell "Mackie" Jayson.
2018 Cro-Mags featuring returning drummer Maxwell "Mackie" Jayson.
Photo supplied by booking agent.

Heroes Live Entertainment presents the Cro-Mags, Eyehategod, Shroud Eater and Ether. Sunday, April 1 at 6:30 p.m. at O’Malley’s Sports Bar, 1388 N. State Road 7, Margate. Tickets start at $22 via heroesliveent.com. All ages.

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