Taking It To The Streets: Why The “Fuck The Message” Tour Will Save The Hardcore Scene

by Taylor Markarian

Despite the first impression it lends, the “Fuck The Message” Tour is more substantial than its name suggests. Hosted by Sumerian Records and featuring bands Stick To Your Guns, Terror, Hundredth, Counterparts, and Expire, the tour is a reaction to what has become a culture of apathy and superficiality in the music scene–and it’s about damn time.

Many hardcore and post-hardcore bands throughout the decades have been about “the message”. This message, said in so many different words by so many different bands, centers around the same theme: Fuck this, fuck the way things are, and do what you want and what makes you happy in spite of it all. The band members, as well as their fans, are usually personally familiar with issues like depression, addiction, and being outcast and made to feel “less than” by others and by mainstream culture, just for being who they are. This is what makes their music so important, and even what a majority of fans call “life-saving”.

But this isn’t news. What is news is the way this tour handles that message.

I’ll be the first to say that words can work wonders, but when it comes to large scale change, it’s all about turning words into actions. Vocalist Jesse Barnett of Stick To Your Guns says in a promo video for the tour, “Sound has become more important to what a hardcore band is than the things that they’re speaking about or the substance of their words.” And even if a band does have a message, Barnett says, “That message is very rarely ever backed up.” So saying “Fuck The Message” doesn’t mean the message doesn’t matter, but it means that it shouldn’t stop there. In short, he says, “A message is no longer good enough.”

Barnett elaborates that the “Fuck The Message” Tour will boast informational tables, set up so as to provide fans with a means of getting involved and enacting the change they want to see in their world.

For me, this tour is arriving not a moment too soon. Although I’m not even a big listener of the bands in the lineup, this is news I sorely needed to hear after the disappointing tirade led by Chris Motionless, lead singer and frontman of metalcore band Motionless In White, against “the message”.

In a poorly-worded and, frankly, whiny post on his Tumblr, Motionless effectively said “Fuck the message”, only, not in a way that was at all inspirational. In fact, he rails against those who he claims are using it as nothing but a marketing strategy: “Do people not realize that they are being scammed? Are people too stupid to see that the “message” is a money making failsafe plan?” Among other points he makes, some valid and some not so much, he says that he and his band have abandoned “the message”, because it consists of nothing but hollow words.

Well Chris, I think Stick To Your Guns and all of the other bands on the tour would agree with you. But instead, they’re taking those words and giving them real-world meaning through action, instead of angrily ranting via social media and just giving up on it altogether.

STYG, of course, is not the first band with a mind for social change. Rise Against is one band that instantly comes to mind as waving the banner for social and political consciousness. The importance of this tour, though, doesn’t come in its being the first of its kind. Music festivals, we are all aware, have long had a flare for activism. What does make this tour important is that it will serve to remind the kids of this generation that hope is not lost, that they can make a difference, not just for themselves but for others as well. Because sometimes, we just need a push.

Finally, Barnett says, “I think what’s important is to take the message that is supposed to exist in hardcore and take it out of the hardcore show.” It’s an adage that has never been lost but is for some reason often forgotten: Practice what you preach.

The tour kicks off in San Diego, CA on March 21st.

Originally posted on Grimm Rock Review

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