New York’s best punk band, Show Me The Body, return home tonight. The band will be wrapping up the American leg of their World War Tour with a hometown show at Brooklyn Steel, where they’ll bring along a stacked bill of fellow punk futurists, mostly from out of town.
The corporate venue, the out of town bands… You can already hear the pitchforks of the crustier of hardcore punk purists being raised, right? Well, at the goth bar TV Eye last night, I met two dyed in the wool New York Hardcore (NYHC) types who were on the friendlier end of the spectrum. “They get kids to shows,” one of them shrugged. “They do their own thing.” I asked them if they were gonna check out the show tomorrow, but neither were.
Show Me The Body are among several punk bands balancing the requisite representation of their local scene with eyes towards success that goes beyond their city. Baltimore’s Turnstile are the obvious template, with a world-conquering album, Grammy appearances, and Paramore music videos seemingly putting no dent in the goodwill they get from their local scene. Openers Jesus Piece Philadelphia) and Zulu Los Angeles) are both Black-led bands, and they and SMTB all mold hardcore's traditional sound into new shapes—at the biggest punk show in town, you'll hear shades of hip hop, psychedelia, and experimental jazz.
Show Me The Body have always bristled at the genre limitations enforced by r/NYHC types—when I first learned about them, they were getting sneered at as a “Pitchfork band” and for venturing too far from the straightforward guitar chugs that make today’s hardcore what it is. Worth pointing out though, at the same time they were saying things in interviews like “The Mercury Lounge, Baby’s All Right – these are places where young professionals can take their girlfriends and get a fancy burger. They’re not places for kids—most of them are 21+. When I was a kid I couldn’t go to any of the mad shows that I thought looked awesome, because I wasn’t old enough, so I would never want to put anyone in that position.”
Whatever, times change. The only New York act they’ll be bringing to Brooklyn Steel tonight is their bro, rapper TriPPJONES. You can sense a kinship between SMTB, Jesus Piece, Zulu, and Santa Cruz’s Scowl, who rounds out the bill—they’re all interested in smearing the borders between genres and communities, transcending the strictures that hardcore thrived in as an unfriendly, mostly white subculture, and yes, they’re all pristinely branded and plainly interested in crossover success. But they’re all making the most interesting punk music being made anywhere.
If you miss it, well, I imagine Show Me The Body will probably be back to playing some underground shows around the city soon.