Starter Kit – Youth Crew

*DISCLAIMER* I stand by any and all comments in regards to the toxic, hyper-masculinity of youth crew. I like the music, but c’mon—it’s literally a culture that grew around a group-think mentality and what’s extremely close to a fashion code. Take it all with a grain of salt though—it’s supposed to be a joke (kind of).

Ah yes, it’s finally that time. I’ve discussed my love for the “edgy” forms of hardcore often, constantly citing powerviolence, screamo, fastcore, and crust as the superior forms of the genre. After all they’re the least “bro”-y of all the styles, less full of Hitler-youth-esque guys in Nike Air Maxes and camo shorts than the other genres (PV has always been more of a “you bet there’s a skull drawn in my notebook” type look). In fact, I’ve often embraced those styles due to their rejection of the hardcore bro, their ability to remain fiercely independent in the face of senseless 90’s worship and rejection of some of the more intense aspects of straight edge. That is, however, all about to change as we delve deep into the style that spawned all the horrible hardcore “fashion” that so many awkward 20-something men, fresh off their Warped Tour phase, have adopted in a vain attempt to prove their masculinity. I’m talking of course about Youth Crew, where shirts aren’t necessary but the incessant need for gang vocals and floor-tom heavy breakdowns are.

Youth Of Today – Break Down The Walls (1986)

Have you ever sat by yourself in your room and thought “Gee, I wish I had more songs about family and people stabbing me in the back?” Well, if you have, then Youth of Today may have just the record for you! Released in 1986, and widely considered to be essential listening in the school of youth crew, Break Down The Walls helped to establish Youth of Today as one of the most influential bands in the style. Lyrically, the band helped to establish youth crew’s firm commitment to (intensely heteronormative) friendship in which every other guy with a shaved head and Nike Air Maxes is your “brother”, and any who betray have “stabbed you in the back”. Stylistically they also had a lot of influence as well. Their commitment to their “families” and “crews” was adopted, as well as their pseudo-jock fashion sense and straight-edge lifestyle. It was cool if you loved slamming nerds into lockers and avoiding talking about your feelings, which I think a lot of these guys probably did.

However where their real impact was was from the musical standpoint. The band helped to define the frantic drumming, groovy breakdowns, and gang vocals that would help to define hardcore from the 80’s through 90’s and even today. The lyrical content over that may be cheesy as shit, and I may not be too keen on their punk through the way of hyper-masculine-preppy-jock aesthetic, but the music is undeniably good. Plus it influenced some bands that even my non-camo short wearing ass can appreciate, like PUNCH, Weekend Nachos, and SPINE.

TORSO – Sono Pronta A Morire (2015)

In order to avoid just ripping on youth crew the entire time through out this article, I decided to break it up by introducing a band that stays within the style, but defines it in a much different way. This is, of course, California’s TORSO, a band who introduces a much needed womanly presence into youth crew. In regards to the rest of the style, and especially its whole “positive youth” stuff, TORSO is refreshing as they seem to actually adhere to that standard. They discuss straight edge without directly tying it into a masculine stereotype, while also addressing feminism and veganism, supporting an anti-boy’s club approach to hardcore. It’s needed across the genre in general, but especially in style like youth crew that seems to find so much of its identity in hyper-masculine displays.

 

7 Seconds – The Crew (1984)

Now going back to a classic, and perhaps even more guilty than Youth of Today for encouraging the whole “crew” bullshit (it’s literally the album’s name) is Reno, Nevada’s 7 Seconds. They define the entire movement and sound to an almost comical level, as no track is complete without a healthy dose of group “woah-oh’s”. In addition to this we get some more of those groovy ass, floor tom-heavy breakdowns as well as some break-neck drumming. Heck they even have a song on here called “It’s Not Just Boys’ Fun” about including women in the scene, which is kinda cool, but also does little to actually get women out to shows when the entire attitude of the rest of the scene is reflective of someone flexing a muscle. Anyways, that’s personal beef with youth crew. Going back to a musical perspective this album, as well as all of 7 Seconds discography, proved highly influential to the overall development of hardcore, especially youth crew. It’s an album full of bangers in of its self as well, often being a go-to for me when I want some youth crew but don’t want to feel like I’m being questioned about how much I can bench the entire time.

Further Listening

Project X – Straight Edge Revenge (1987)

True Love – New Young Gods (2014)

Chain of Strength – True Till Death (1988)