The Godfathers Of Hardcore trailer begins with Vinnie Stigma saying, “You’re a band, you know what that means? Once you’re in, you can’t get out.” Is he talking about a band or a gang? Those two concepts have always been separated by a thin line for legendary New York Hardcore band, Agnostic Front. In this new documentary from Ian McFarland, the chaos of that hardcore scene, and the band’s role in it, are distilled to their purest elements.
Roger Miret and Vinnie Stigma are lynchpins of the New York Hardcore (NYHC), and their band Agnostic Front played a key role in defining, shaping and establishing the cultural code of conduct for the movement, not to mention the sound and look. When it comes to ’80s New York culture, most of us know about the gang culture of the Bronx that paved the way for hip-hop.
But there was a lesser-known, equally dangerous and creative movement that followed in hip hop’s footsteps, New York Hardcore, a rebellion against the softening of punk rock and downtown culture into New Wave. If you grew up in Manhattan during that era, NYHC was unavoidable — the skinheads, the suspenders, the hoodies and bomber jackets. They roamed the streets of NYC’s Lower East Side, and when you saw them coming, you got out of their way.
What hip-hop was to the Bronx, NYHC was to the Lower East Side. Both movements were not only dangerous and exciting, but also creative and incredibly DIY. The influence of that DIY culture motivates me and many of my friends to this day. Step inside UPROXX headquarters and you will see a framed collection of all the great NYHC 7-inches hanging on the wall. Those 7-inch covers still inspire us with that “fuck ’em let’s just do it” spirit — the spirit that was Agnostic Front — and it’s that spirit that same spirit that makes Ian McFarland’s documentary come alive and work so well.