On context and contradictions...

Burning Fight: The Nineties Hardcore Revolution In Ethics, Politics, Spirit, And Sound - A book review

Often, I encounter people who speak of hardcore in terms of the distinguishing elements of the myriad of bands and their common musical archetypes: palm muted chords on a dropped tuned distorted guitar; blast beats and breakdowns; growls, screams and sing-along choruses about politics, frustration, veganism among others. While I would agree that hardcore can be defined as a specific musical genre that came out of punk rock, I believe it more than that as it is a set of varying ideas, ethics, principles, attitudes and, yes, music, that converge to form a community.

Brian Peterson’s "Burning Fight: The Nineties Hardcore Revolution In Ethics,Politics, Spirit, And Sound" is a literary testament to the 90s hardcore scene in the United States where he interviews and features commentary from the many participants of the 90s hardcore scene to explore its political, social, ethical and spiritual ideas amidst the screamed vocals and abrasive chords. 

Reading Burning Fight is like peering into a keyhole where we get glimpses of lives, events and emotions. The experience of having read it harkens familiar sentiments like elation, nostalgia, disappointment and hope which comes with becoming a part of an extended family that likewise has its own share of charms and dysfunctions. The encounter that the book postulates helps the reader interact with people and their stories as it replicates the familiar in our own Philippine context functioning as a bridge to remind us of the sweat, blood and tears that rushed in our psyches when we found ourselves in the midst of a scene, or a counter-culture that thrives be it in Tandem, Freedom Creek, Katrina’s or Killah Johns to which it re-crates those memories with vivid accuracy.

The essence of associating the reading the book to the act of looking into a keyhole also signifies the fact that is also an act of looking at something from the vantage point of an outsider looking at the scene from the other side of the door hence it also shows the inconsistencies that sobers us from putting our beloved scene on top of an untouchable pedestal.

It makes us mindful of such contradictions that exist in our beloved hardcore scene and ultimately ourselves, and perhaps the consciousness of them would inform us to make the best effort to be authentic if we are indeed serious in staying true to the ideal that we are promoting.

The collection of personal narratives in Burning Fight comes as a challenge to the later generation of hardcore kids, punks and scenesters to never forget the past and to not fall prey into the traps that their forerunners fell into. It is a call to deconstruct, re-build and re-create appropriating the realities of our context and laying it down on the foundations that still exists in the ashes of our past.

I guess what Burning Fight, teaches us is that contradictions exists in all movements of change which includes the hardcore and punk movements. Perhaps the take-away for us in this book is for us to be conscious of such contradictions especially that which exist in ourselves and perhaps the consciousness of them would inform us to make the best effort to be authentic if we are indeed serious in staying true to the alternative consciousness that we are promoting.

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