THE DEMISE OF AMERICAN HARDCORE punk has been documented. The story has been written. You're smart. You know that today's punk—built on the same three chords, hyperactivity, and simplicity that spawned some of the most inciting racket ever blasted into youthful ears—has grown into a dull and impotent joke. A joke major labels have given a faux-hawk and shoveled down suburbia's throat.
Hardcore punk—another victim of capitalism, right?
Not so fast. The demise was real, but the essence of hardcore punk never disappeared. The sound was sugared, perverted, and commercialized, but, with the exception of those who've croaked, the people behind the early '80s hardcore scene can still string a few chords together given the chance. They're just older. Perhaps wiser. Perhaps folkier.
MDC is on that list. They're still mad. They still hate cops. They still don't eat meat. And they're playing two shows in Portland this week, Thursday, September 7, at Ash Street Saloon, and Saturday, September 9, at Laughing Horse Bookstore.
Actually, I lied. MDC Unplugged will hit PDX this week—a version, minus electricity, featuring pioneering frontman David Dictor and MDC drummer Al Schultz, along with guitarist Dave Dahl and bassist Mike Smith. All four now live in Portland. Together they play 80 percent MDC material, and what Dictor calls "talking blues rock." Though MDC Electric tours twice a year, complete with Ex-Con Ron and Mikey Offender, these days Dictor spends most of his time with an acoustic. The '80s are over. It's been a long time since the band released the "John Wayne was a Nazi" single. Shit, many of you weren't even alive for the Rock Against Reagan Tour.
Times have changed.
"I love Unplugged and always have. I'm separating the projects and giving quality time to working acoustically. I would say we are political folk," said Dictor of balancing MDC Electric with MDC Unplugged.
Is that it? If the essence of the '80s hardcore punk scene still lives, has it just gotten older and wiser, and gone political folk? In MDC's case, yes, at least half the time.