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mental invalid

CT Hardcore Article in New York Times

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...ok so im not reaaly into the scene, but i know that my state had always been, and i thought it was cool that the nyt was giving it a write up, and it only took about 15 years!...CT!!!!....rOe



Musical Angst Prospers in Tranquil Connecticut







NEW HAVEN, Aug. 23 — In the dark musical demimonde of Connecticut hardcore, there is an unwritten rule that says: the richer the town, the more unholy must be the title of the band it spawns.


Thus, Dismay comes from Danbury, and Sicboy from Stamford. But members of lurid-sounding Late Night Revenge reside in leafy Simsbury. And in Greenwich, home of dog salons and Ferrari dealerships, there is rising from the ashes of the defunct hardcore band Profound Anger a quartet called Pray for Death.


Not that the bands and their fans — mostly young, mostly male, mostly white and noticeably angry at the world — divide themselves by class, color, sex or ZIP code.


"It's very united, the Connecticut hardcore scene," said John Zumbo, 24, a University of Connecticut psychology student who is the singer with Pray for Death. "But to an outsider, it's definitely violent."


Despite its reputation as a boring but happy place of white-glove politics and private beaches, Connecticut has long been fertile ground for an intense underground music movement known, incongruously enough, as Connecticut hardcore. Populated in no small measure by college-bound middle- and upper-middle- class high school students who form their own four-car-garage bands, Connecticut hardcore has evolved from its Fairfield County, post-punk origins 10 years ago into a dedicated, growing covey of young people united against hypocrisy, greed and sameness — essentially, America as they see it.


It is not heavy metal, not radio-ready alternative rock. Hardcore music, at least the variety popular in Connecticut and elsewhere in the metropolitan region, is defined by exactly those elements that keep it from becoming mainstream: gut-wrenching, screaming vocals and group dancing in which flailing fists, feet and elbows of some fans are expected to meet the eyes, ears and noses of others.


"My friend Mike used to say it wasn't a good show unless he got kicked in the teeth, because he had braces," said Win Vitkowsky, a 17-year-old Greenwich High School senior who publishes Common Sense, a fanzine dedicated to Connecticut's hardcore scene. Mark Sahatjian, Pray for Death's 16-year-old bassist, who is from Monroe, described Connecticut hardcore dancing as "not beating people up, but it's the next closest thing."


Like hippies in the 60's and punk music in the early 80's, today's hardcore movement is a youth-driven reaction to the disappointments of adult life, said Clinton Sanders, a professor of sociology at the University of Connecticut who specializes in deviance and popular culture.


"This is not new under the sun; there's a real continuity in American youth culture," Professor Sanders said of hardcore and its flying-fist rituals. "What's interesting about this form of violence is that it's not antagonistically directed. It's enthusiastic group activity." And, he added, "it has the auxiliary benefit of annoying adults."


To its young adherents, Connecticut hardcore is much more than a sustained Bronx cheer aimed at grown-ups. Behind the bleeding- throat vocals and blazing power chords, they say, is an all-for-one mentality and political awareness easily lost on a newcomer holding his hands over his ears.


"It's, like, everybody's got everybody else's back," said Wes Fortier, 19, the shaved-head guitarist for Death Threat.


Hardcore lyrics, too, are often tributes to environmental awareness, animal rights and racial equality, as well as angst-riddled anthems to teenage love and problem parents. "No one can redeem themselves; no one can be saved," wail Hatebreed, a nationally known band from the New Haven area in their song "Burial for the Living."


"Hardcore is a mentality, dude, it's not just a kind of music," said Jay Reason, 22, a hardcore musician and music promoter who grew up in Orange. "In hardcore, you can be the biggest outcast in high school, and then you go to a show and be one of the most respected people there."


Jamey Jasta, 23, the cherub-faced singer for Hatebreed, produced his first hardcore concert when he was 13. He credits hardcore culture with nothing less than keeping him out of prison.


"Without my music, without that outlet, I'd probably be crawling in someone's window or be locked up somewhere," he said during a cell- phone interview from the Midwest, where Hatebreed was part of the OzzFest 2001 concert tour.


"I get a lot of guys," he went on, in his trademark cement-mixer rasp, "who will come up to me and say, `I scream my head off, I dive off the stage and slam into people; and when I go home, I can wake up and go to work in the morning.' "


By any measure, Connecticut hardcore — sometimes called Connecticore — has come a long way since the early 1990's, when bands would play for family members and free egg rolls in the dining room of the Fortune Cookie, a Chinese restaurant in Norwalk.


Though still plagued by a perception among some club owners that hardcore shows lead to business-killing brawls, the movement in Connecticut has cleaned up its act in recent years. Technology and e-mail have helped hardcore grow. Homemade demo tapes, the sine qua non of any self-respecting band a few years ago, have given way to higher-quality compact discs.


Still, if a band sells more than 3,000 copies of its music nationally, it is considered a breakthrough, and even the most popular hardcore bands play at only a handful of clubs in the state.


It may be the price the hardcore movement must pay for a reputation that even some adults say is ironic, given the type of youths that it typically attracts: educated, suburban and, by and large, clean-cut.


Connecticut hardcore has its share of thugs and bullies, but they are fringe elements, said Morgan Walker, a Wilton resident and the founder of 800 Pound Gorilla Music, a hardcore music publisher.


"These kids are smart," said Mr. Walker, who admits to being old enough to have witnessed the birth of hardcore in the mid-1980's. "They're not swallowing the pablum that's being fed to them."


But hardcore can be a refuge for the prematurely disillusioned. As Ken Susi, 22, the guitarist for the Massachusetts hardcore band Unearth, put it before a recent show in Connecticut: "People aren't that great. You don't see anyone handing out sandwiches to homeless people."


New York and New Jersey have their own hardcore scenes, but they are regarded as less intense, less corporeally dangerous than Connecticut's. Some Connecticut fans say the difference is that youths here must fight greater levels of boredom. "You can only skateboard for so long," said Mr. Vitkowsky, the Greenwich fanzine publisher, who wears baggy trousers, hooded sweatshirts and hair shaved close to his head. "Especially in the winter."


A hardcore show is like watching an industrial-strength pressure cooker heat up and rattle before finally exploding. As the band plays, boys and young men nervously begin to bob and weave, swinging their arms at their sides self-consciously, hoping to make physical contact with someone else. This is the beginning, when personal space becomes group space and everyone waits for the tipping point.


Usually that moment is signaled by a sudden pause in the wailing guitars, followed by a monstrous crash of amplified sound. Young men in the audience break out in manic syncopated contortions, as if earwigs were gnawing on their brains. Heads bang against imaginary walls, limbs fly disjointedly into an open dance circle — the mosh pit — and a singer delivers lyrics as loudly as his lungs with allow.


"The music is about energy and youthfulness and positivity," Mr. Vitkowsky said. "But the average schmo would look at it and say, `I don't get it. Why are those kids so angry, but so clean-cut?' "


True enough; as steeped as hardcore is in death imagery and bloody lips, many of its most devoted fans are polite suburban kids.


During a recent interview at his family's kitchen table, Mr. Sahatjian, Pray for Death's sideburned bassist, talked about of his plans for college. As he spoke, his mother, in furry slippers, offered a visitor lemonade and slices of fresh honeydew.


"It kind of feels good to be unique," he said. "Especially in my school, where everyone's so trendy. You walk down the hall and everyone's wearing the same shirt. Hardcore, it's not something that gets old. It's kind of given me that sense of security until, like, I'm positive of who I am."

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i put my time in the ct scene and here is what i have to say.....


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