Recently, Rubber Gloves Rehearsal Studio, a venue not unfamiliar with hosting hardcore and metalcore shows, made a post to their Instagram account announcing a new policy banning “crowdkilling,” or the act of punching, kicking, or otherwise wailing on a member of the crowd not directly participating in the mosh pit. The post sparked a heated debate in my group chat of concert-going friends. This debate plays into a larger discussion around gatekeeping, posing, and representation in the hardcore community—which I am neither qualified to nor capable of discussing in the present article—which instead seeks to cover a microcosm of the contemporary hardcore scene.

Before the rain started on Friday night, February 2nd, I entered Rubber Gloves as Death Lens began their set. As with all the artists on the night’s lineup, I was completely unfamiliar with the band and their material, but Death Lens’ catchy and emotionally resonant take on classic hardcore made a swift impression. The crowd was sparse during that first set, and there wasn’t much movement to speak of. I was worried that I was in deadbeat company. My worries were alleviated, though, when Death Lens’ two guitarists entered the pit and demanded that the crowd start moshing around them, a call that was swiftly answered by audience members who must have been asking themselves the same question I had: when is the pit going to open up?

Spiritual Cramp was on next, delivering a punchy, danceable fusion of Interpol-esque Brit-rock and dance punk a la Hot Chip—they were the only band on the lineup with a keyboardist. They were also the only band who’s set did not incite any moshing, as their music went in a more melodic direction. Frontman Michael Bingham’s off-beat, abrasive personality shone through not only in his ironical vocal delivery, but also in his crowd interactions. After introducing his band he announced that they would play one more song. He spoke the words “fuck the police, fuck the government, fuck the genocide, and fuck you, too” and the band finshed their set as strongly as they had started it.

Pool Kids, a band who would proclaim the present show to be their favorite on the tour on account of the energy of the crowd, played a set full of flourishing guitars and anthemic compositions. The pit that opened up during their set was tamer than its predecessor—it might be more accurate to describe the participants as frolicing rather than moshing. I sent a video to the group chat and one of my more hardcore-dedicated friends replied that they seemed so happy; it made him angry.

Before the night’s headliner, I made sure to find a better spot than I had managed to grab for the previous sets. This proved to be worthwhile, because not only did they boast the liveliest pit of the night, but Militaire Gun also inspired a great many bold crowd members to climb on stage and hurl themselves back off. When I shot Show Me the Body last February, I never managed to capture any stagedivers in action, but I was fortunate enough this time around to achieve many such action shots. 

As for the band itself and their performance, while I felt all the energy of a hardcore performance—it was difficult not to with bodies flying over my head every minute—I was struck by how much the group didn’t sound like a hardcore act. Frontman Ian Shelton’s vocals could have come from a pop punk song performed by a vocalist with a cold. The instrumentals, stripped of a little distortion, could have come from a 90s alt rock hit. The combined effect was not necessarily unpleasant, but it certainly had more of a pop affectation than I was used to from other bands in the scene.

The positive attitude from Pool Kids’ set transferred over to Militarie Gun’s, albeit with an indelible frat-boyish tinge. Pool Kids’ frontwoman Christine Goodwynne joined the band on stage for a duet and the various other members of the previous bands seemed to enjoy the set from their place in the doorway to backstage.

No one got kicked out of Rubber Gloves for crowdkilling that night, and everyone in the venue seemed to have a pleasant time without causing bodily harm to each other. However, the printed flier advertising the recent policy change, which was pristine and neatly taped opposite the main entryway upon my entrance, had somehow been torn by the time I left that night. 



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