Visiting the Intersection of Hardcore Punk and Architecture at ABC No Rio

Posted on: May 23rd, 2016 at 10:21 am by

This image has been archived or removed.

Photo: Hardcore Architecture website

Before the interwebs and before PayPal, if you wanted to hear an underground band or read a fanzine about them, you did it the old-fashioned way: sending an envelope with a check or cash to the band’s address. More often than not, the address on that envelope was the home of one of the band member’s parents. Like SNL’s Wayne and Garth, many hardcore punk bands started in those parents’ suburban basements. Or if not there, then in a downtrodden, pre-gentrification neighborhood like, say, the Lower East Side.

What do those neighborhoods and houses look like now? An ongoing exhibit at ABC No Rio seeks to answer that burning question.

This image has been archived or removed.

Photo: Lori Greenberg

Hardcore Architecture, a project of Public Collectors and its founder Marc Fischer, is a website and an ongoing series of booklets which fill in some of the history of underground American hardcore bands in the 1980s. The project obtained contact addresses from record album reviews and demo tapes, many of which were published in the punk magazine Maximum Rocknroll. Using those addresses, they captured Google Street View images of the homes associated with these bands. Since its start in 2014, over 470 locations have been included on their website.

This image has been archived or removed.

Photo: Lori Greenberg

That the exhibit is at ABC No Rio is fitting, since many of the bands played in the space, which rivaled CBGBs in its rawness.

(ABC No Rio, of course, is slated for demolition in the coming months. The punk institution is re-developing its property into a 9,000 square-foot, LEED-certified Passive House that boasts exhibition and performance spaces, in addition to a green roof and second-floor terrace.)

Though NYC is heavily represented in the exhibit, there’s also a surprising and eye-opening number of homes from all over the country – places that we don’t think of as the birth of hardcore punk.

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Photo: Lori Greenberg

The list of bands is long, including many faded names as well as a few that broke through: A.P.P.L.E., Beyond, Breakdown, Citizens Arrest, Disorderly Conduct, Ditch Witch, Ed Gein’s Car, Knock Out James, Leeway, Ludichrist, Murphy’s Law, NYC Mayhem, Primeval Unknown, Project X, Prong, Pussy Galore, Sonic Youth, Token Entry, Uppercut and Youth Gone Mad.

This image has been archived or removed.

Photo: Lori Greenberg

Public Collectors, based in Chicago, is founded upon the concern that there are many types of cultural artifacts that public libraries, museums, archives and other institutions either do not collect or do not make freely accessible. Public Collectors asks individuals that have had the luxury to amass, organize, and inventory these materials to help reverse this lack by making their collections public.

Hardcore Architecture is part of Lower East Side History Month, and runs until May 26 at ABC No Rio. Please check their website for hours.

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