Burning Fight fest: Unbroken reunite, Split Lip and others play, and more (with pics!)

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Unbroken 5.3.09 - 211

During my three days in Chicago, I photographed 10 bands: Indecision, Converge, Damnation A.D., Underdog, 108, Trial, Threadbare, Split Lip, Bane and Unbroken. I captured numerous images, and have multiple bruises and a cut forehead to prove it. (Hope the pictures are worth it!) More than the music, the sense of community at The Metro was palpable. People came from all over the US and the world, including but definitely not limited to, Australia, Hungary, Germany, and Brazil, to share in this celebration of '90s straightedge hardcore music.

I've been reflecting on why hardcore/straightedge still matters to me at 32. I can't succinctly explain it other than to say that growing up in that scene was a powerful way to foster self-reliance and activism. I am definitely not intimating that there weren't problems in the nineties hardcore/straightedge scene because there definitely were including violence, intimidation, sexism, etc. Some of these negative characteristics led to straightedge/hardcore being classified as a gang in several cities. Personally, sexism in the hardcore/straightedge scene forced me to deal with smear campaigns early on in life but these experiences taught me how to effectively deal with these types of issues. In spite of these negative elements, nineties hardcore/straightedge was a net positive which fostered an international community centered on social activism. The music was the tie that binded us together and still does today.  Maybe that's why my flight home to Tampa from Chicago felt more like a time machine than transit... the plane was bringing me back to my present from a unique glimpse of my past.  I am secure in knowing that I keep in my heart the straightedge hardcore girl from days past striving to be true to myself... XXX.


Unbroken has been a favorite band since I discovered them in 1993 while still in high school.  Depsite seeing hardcore shows all over the country and in Europe, I didn't manage to catch them before they broke up.  From the emotional outpouring at the show, I am convinced that I am not the only person who feels this strongly about the power of this band's music.

Unbroken 5.3.09 - 125

Unbroken 5.3.09 - 010

Split Lip

Unity was a common refrain during the weekend and Split Lip actually covered Operation Ivy's "Unity..." Split Lip will always have a special place in my personal musical history since their music was a default theme song during many pivotal life events. I have fond memories of driving to see them play over in Melbourne at The Brothel with Samuel and then all over the East Coast during college.

Split Lip 5.3.09 - 090

Split Lip 5.3.09 - 049


Hailing from Worcester, Massachusetts, Bane is well known in the hardcore scene for promoting unity and tolerance as well as for putting on some crazy live shows.

Bane 5.3.09 - 107

Bane 5.3.09 - 114

Damnation A.D.

Damnation A.D. is an amazing Washington, DC-based hardcore band that I saw frequently while going to college in the area. Seeing them was a show highlight as was re-connecting with my DC straightedge friends.

Damnation A.D. 5.2.09 - 38

Damnation A.D. 5.2.09 - 19


Underdog is a New York hardcore band formed in 1985 whose members went on to form such hardcore household names as Gorilla Biscuits and Into Another. Since reforming, fans have been delighted to relive eighties hardcore today.

Underdog 5.2.09 - 56

Underdog 5.2.09 - 50


My first big hardcore show was Shelter/108 at Jannus Landing, so 108 naturally holds a special place in my heart. A favorite quote: "I won't simmer in this complacency..."

108 5.2.09 - 082

108 5.2.09 - 068


Trial is from Seattle, Wa., and though I'd heard their records, I'd never seen them. At the time, West Coast bands didn't make it all the way to Florida or to the east coast that frequently. I was glad to finally see them.

Trial 5.2.09 - 01


My college roommate, Megan, is from Minneapolis so we had a unique connection to the Midwest scene through her. Luckily, she introduced us to Threadbare early on...

Threadbare 5.3.09 - 24


Hailing from Massachusetts, Converge is one of the oldest bands in hardcore formed in 1990 and still going strong.

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5.1.09 073


Indecision is a New York hardcore band that managed to incorporate both East and West Coast influences into their music. The band toured constantly from 1993 until their break up in 2000.

Indecision 5.1.09

Nostalgia is a powerful emotion that drives you to do things like spend hours looking up people you haven't spoken to for 20 years on Facebook, or periodically dust off your yearbook to page through notations ranging from sentimental to inane. For those of us growing up in the hardcore straightedge music scene, nostalgia makes us do things like fly to Chicago for an Unbroken reunion.

Burning Fight Mosaic

The Unbroken reunion was the main event of the Burning Fight music fest held in Chicago at The Metro, May 2-3, featuring 22 hardcore bands as well as a pre-show at the Subterranean on May 1. Burning Fight was first conceived as a celebration of the publishing of Brian Peterson's new book, Burning Fight: The Nineties Hardcore Revolution in Ethics, Politics, Spirit, and Sound. Norm Arenas had a similar concept when he published his own book, Anti-Matter Anthology, and hosted two Snapcase reunion shows in New York (also featuring 108, Triple Threat and Supertouch). A testament to how hardcore/straightedge scenes work, both shows were benefits: the Anti-Matter shows raised funds for Cal Robbins, the sick son of rock artist J. Robbins, while the Burning Fight shows benefited Rock for Reading and PAWS Chicago.

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