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Friday, Feb. 5, 2010

Milwaukee Hardcore Takes on Domestic Abuse

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While hardcore may not be the most female-friendly genre, there is a long history of punk bands using the stage as a sort of bully pulpit to get their fans to think about such issues as domestic abuse, rape, and sexism.

As a young suburban hardcore kid I was confronted by issues of gender inequality not through the writings of feminist leaders like Gloria Steinem, or through the efforts of groups like the National Organization for Women. Instead, my eyes were opened to these realities by songs like 7 Seconds’ “Not Just Boy’s Fun,” Fugazi’s “Suggestion,” and Reason to Believe’s anti-domestic abuse anthem “True Love Always.” Yes, all of these songs came from the limited perspective of a male—a point that Riot Grrl acts like Bikini Kill and Team Dresch would usefully point out. But they were a start, and without them I have the feeling that a whole bunch of overly aggressive teenage boys would have never even begun to consider such issues.

It is in this tradition that I am heartened to see that endeavors like the upcoming “DIY Against Domestic Abuse” show are still taking place. Jason Ellis, a member of local act Half Gorilla, has been organizing this benefit show for the past three years. And there is little doubt that such efforts are needed at the moment. According to The Wisconsin Coalition Against Domestic Violence, there were 59 deaths in the state in 2009 that were attributed to domestic violence—up from 36 in 2008. Another Wisconsin-based organization, Domestic Abuse Intervention Services, recently noted that 2009 saw the number of victims calling for shelter away from an abusive partner was up 144 percent over statistics from the preceding year. Proceeds from this year’s show will benefit the Milwaukee Women’s Center, a local organization that serves victims of domestic abuse who often lack the resources to escape such dangerous situations (85 percent of those they assist live near or below the federal poverty level). Like all such groups across the country, the center can use all the help they can get in these economically trying times.

Not only is the show for a great cause, but Ellis has managed to stock the bill with a wonderful lineup of Wisconsin-based bands. Headliners Get Rad will undoubtedly stage-test some new material from their upcoming full-length “I Can Always Live” (A one-sided 12” e.p., titled “What the Fuck Happened to Common Sense?,” will be available at the show). I am also excited to see Milwaukee’s Quest for Fire – who throw some Greg Ginn inspired guitar lines over their spastic sound – and Appleton-based Choose Your Poison, whose brutal take on early ’80s Midwestern hardcore reminds me of why I still covet my Necros’ records. And to provide a touch of diversity, Milwaukee metal up-and-comers Face of Ruin and Owlscry round out the bill.

DIY Against Domestic Abuse, with Get Rad, Face of Ruin, Choose Your Poison, Owlscry, and Quest for Fire, takes place at the Borg Ward (823 W. National Ave.) on Saturday Feb. 6. Doors open at 7 p.m.

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