I very rarely felt connected to the hardcore scene. The music all made sense to me, and agreed with me politically, but going to shows and experiencing it psychically just didn’t mesh with me.
I was often left feeling jealous and frustrated as I watched big dudes flying around, sweating on each other. I wanted to do that! I wanted to be able to express myself physically in public. But I was scared—until I saw Hysterics perform. They opened up a space where I felt invited to explore.
Hysterics’ last show was held at the Black Lodge in Seattle on the rainy night of October 11th, 2014. The 4-piece Olympia band had been together since early 2010, a good run including several US tours and a European tour. They were finishing up, not breaking up. People came from all over the country to witness the last show from a band that, to many like myself, was hugely influential. Although the address was undisclosed, the DIY and residential space had hit capacity after the first band played. Still, people were waiting in a line, a block long, to get inside. The venue managed to sneak in about 50 people, but there were still another 80 trying to get in. Upon entering, I was delighted to meet several people, all men, who had tattoos of the bands signature bloody tampons logo (see pictures below), which I also saw on shirts throughout the night.
When it came time for Hysterics to begin their set, the room was packed with more than 200 people. I was at the front. Possibly one of the most memorable moments of the night happened halfway thru their set, as Stephie (lead singer) introduced “Leave Me Alone”, a song about street harassment. “If you identify as a straight, white, cis-gendered male, if you would be so kind as to take a couple steps back for this song. I’m not policing your identity, you can decide for yourself. Everyone else come forward if you feel like it”. This idea made sense to everyone. I watched as the room calmly shuffled while everyone checked in with themselves about their awareness when communicating physically with other people.
The audience that Hysterics brought together always blew my mind. If you were looking from the outside it might look like an insane shit show of body parts flying, people screaming and pumping their fists, but it really was a beautiful un-orchestrated, naturally aware dance. I’m not even sure if the audience realized it, and I don’t really know if the band knows how they inspired such conscious freedom of behavior in their fans. Case in point: about mid way through the show I was thrashing about, enjoying the feeling of everyone moving in the same way. When I got shoved onto the monitor I held on their for a minute but felt a little wobbly and began sliding off, until a strangers arm came around my shoulders. I turned around to see a girl smiling at me who said “Sometimes you just need to be held in the pit, you know?” I sat there precariously balanced on a monitor with strangers holding me up while I pumped my fist in the air with the biggest grin on my face. I was ecstatic.
People often get sad when bands like this aren’t around anymore, but I feel the only right thing to do when great things like this are made, is to continue to explore and expand on the space created, and to share and protect it. Hysterics created an energy that was so inspiring to many around the world, and their music will continue to feed everyone touched by it.