Dearest Sound and Fury,

Its has been months since I have seen you. In the intervening time I have traversed another continent, climbed volcanoes, wound my way through mountains and hills and rainforests, and nearly been trampled by a (baby) elephant but you have never strayed far from my thoughts…

My African adventure notwithstanding, the impact that Sound and Fury Fest 2017 left on me is one that I have continued to feel throughout the intervening months, nagging at the back of my brain and begging for analysis. Well, given that I have the time now, finally, after months of being away or being too busy…now seems as good a time as any.

The trouble is, is what is there to analyze when Sound and Fury is far and away the best festival I have ever been to and, moreover, maybe one of the best period.

What is there to say about a festival who not only understands branding, audience, and the history of their genre so well but also has the foresight to predict and usher in the future of the hardcore genre? How on earth are we deserving of such a fantastically curated and executed music festival?

Let me back up before I get to far in. Sound and Fury is, with the death of Rainfest in Seattle last year, now the preeminent hardcore festival on this entire coast. Last year the stellar lineup included American Nightmare, Guns Up, Shipwreck and a crazy stupid amount of bands that had me coming out of my skin with excitement. I had a couple critiques, but this year the organizers behind Sound and Fury really outdid themselves. With headliners Turnstile and Trapped Under Ice as well as a bevy of underground up-and-comers, Sound and Fury have done something that has put them ahead of most of the hardcore festivals throughout the country, which is put their eye squarely on the genre’s future.

Knee-shakingly incredible festivals like This Is Hardcore in Philly, the aforementioned Seattle’s Rainfest, Baltimore’s Deathfest (for the more extreme among you)…they all show, as most hardcore does, a great reverence for the genre’s history. Lineups are heavily laden with legacy acts, legendary reunions, and well-established headliners. There is nothing wrong with this, of course. It’s the best way to sell tickets first of all and moreover it allows people to see all of these insane acts under one roof for one relatively low cost. What stacking the lineups doesn’t do, is allow for breathing room for the up and comers of the genre—many of whom are at the cusp of a major wave ready to completely reshape the entire hardcore landscape.

We are at a turning point in the history of hardcore (as we are with the history of most media in general). Since its inception in the 80’s, and despite some of its most important figures, hardcore has always been dominated, more or less, by middle-class white suburban males. The aggression and energy provided an outlet and an escape for the frustrated youth of the Reagan era, and a haven for all those to come under the Bushes and Clinton. As it shifted and morphed, through Krishnacore, metlacore, mathcore, melodic hardcore, emo, screamo, powerviolence, deathcore and many other subgenres, weathering the advent and rise of Warped Tour, the Tony Hawks Pro Skater explosion of interest in counterculture, and a million other events—its demographic began to, ever so slowly, shift through exposure.

Now, twenty years on from many of those events, as well as the tireless efforts of women and people of color demanding representation and recognition in every arena, we are really beginning to see that change take hold in hardcore. Bands like Krimewatch, Pure Disgust, GLOSS, Rashomon, Torso, Odd Man Out, Dame, and an increasingly and encouragingly endless list of more names are effectively challenging and bringing an end to that era.

And its about time.

Hardcore is about all of us. Together. Sure there is anger, rage, hope, disappointment, loyalty, truth, misery, frustration, and acceptance, but maybe most importantly hardcore is about unity. It says this world may suck, but this scene, is ours. Ours.

The bands that have come before will always be there—their music is always going to be there to help shape us and give us succor, but so much more exciting is the prospect that there are bands out there—bands led by anyone, be they gay, bi, trans, black, white, asian, latino, native American, foreign, immigrant…a voice out there that we can connect to that is different from our own but shares in our rage, shares in our pain, shares in our hope, shares in our misery, truth, frustration, anger, and acceptance.

Sound and Fury realizes this. 2017 was stacked with this forward-thinking. Primal Rite, Loyal to the Grave, Xibalba, Krimewatch, Torso, Firewalker, Step for Change, More to Pride, Dangers, Queensway, Free, Angel Dust, Turnstile, Vein…these bands are ushering in a new era and I couldn’t be happier that it is being welcomed with open arms by Los Angeles.

So, until next year, dearest Sound and Fury I remain truly and unwaveringly yours.

xo
-Lex