History

How Black Flag, Bad Brains, and More Took Back Their Scene from White Supremacists

Every hardcore band you loved in the ’80s and beyond, from Black Flag to Minutemen to Fugazi, had one unfortunate thing in common: Nazi skinheads occasionally stormed their concerts, stomped their fans, gave Hitler salutes in lieu of applauding, and generally turned a communal experience into one full of hatred and conflict. Punk rockers had flirted with fascist imagery for shock value, with the Sex Pistols’ Sid Vicious and Siouxsie Sioux wearing swastikas in public, but, as early San Francisco scenester Howie Klein, later president of Reprise Records, recalls: Suddenly, you had people who were part of the scene who didn’t understand fascist bad.

By 1980, a more violent strain of punk fans was infecting punk shows. Pogoing became slam-dancing, now known as moshing, and some of ’em didn’t seem like they were there to enjoy the music, as much as they were there to beat up on people — sometimes in a really chickenshit way, says Jello Biafra, whose band, Dead Kennedys, put out a classic song about it in 1981: Nazi Punks Fuck Off — via GQ

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