My Return to Hardcore … 20 Years Later

If you had told me five years ago I’d be back in a club watching hardcore, I would have thought you insane. Going to clubs was something my youthful doppelganger did in another life. I had resigned myself to an existence of suburban playgroups. The only live music I had seen in years was Yo Gabba Gabba.

Fast forward to last March, after my separation. I had an odd night off, and my friend Zach Gould told me about a show he was going to at Firehouse 13, a space in South Providence named for its former life as well. Zach was one of those scene denizens who never seemed to change, but in a good way. He hadn’t done the married-divorce crap that everyone around me seemed to be doing.

We were going to see Held Hostage. I hadn’t been around “the scene” in years, but the members were people I had known back in the day. Thom Hill played in Are We Dead Yet at the first hardcore show I snuck into at Club Babyhead when I was 17. Trying to get dressed for that show at 17 was just as uncomfortable at 37. What do ex-soccer moms wear to a hardcore show?

I’m not sure exactly what I wore, but it was probably black. I felt ridiculous. I thought of the old shows at Babyhead, and 37 was practically ancient. I just hoped no one would think I was someone’s mom.

I walked in Firehouse, and recognized Fugi LaPlante on stage. But I didn’t recognize the young girl. All of the sudden it struck me. He was on stage, singing with his daughter. It wasn’t just me who had gotten older, gotten married and had kids.

Looking around, the faces were familiar, albeit a little time worn. Weight had been gained or lost; hair had been cut or receded. What hadn’t changed, to my surprise, was the way the music made me feel. Hardcore has its own palpable energy. By the end of that first show, I felt resurrected. There was no more self consciousness, the community that remembered me (perhaps hazily) were mostly my age. I discovered something that night I hadn’t known I’d lost.

Fast forward to the night before Thanksgiving, at Gus Malardo’s opening night at GB&B on Main Street in West Warwick. It’s a small, intimate set-up, which maximizes the use of space. It reminds me of the old school hard core clubs back in the day. Held Hostage played again that night. Unlike some hardcore music, Held Hostage is on point. It’s strange to describe them as “tight,” but even just watching them perform together, it’s obvious there have been decades of friendship.

There was also a band, For Tha Glory, that played that is ushering in the new generation of hardcore. It was a juxtaposition of old and new. And for the most part, it was an amicable atmosphere.

Gus and Fugi poured some damn good drinks, and after a few, I couldn’t help but tell Fugi that Held Hostage was the catalyst for my midlife crisis and renewed love of the live, local band.

I try to go as much as I can. I’m not 17 anymore, and there are kid responsibilities and adult life stuff that doesn’t allow me to go as often as I’d like. But after a long, grueling work week, there’s nothing better than tuning it all out and just going to a show. And it’s good to know you’ll recognize the faces when you do.

You can check out Held Hostage on January 18th at GB&B in West Warwick. Go. I guarantee you won’t be sorry you did. At the very least, you can get a kickass cranberry vodka.

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