One of my first exposures to what a “local scene” was came in the mid-1980’s via Atlanta hardcore band Neon Christ. By the time I was into them they had broken up. Actually, the band played it’s final show just before I had turned 15. I knew about them via Georgia Tech radio station WREK. Some of you probably know Cobb County, GA as a McMansioned, snobby, swim-n-tennis la-la land. When my family moved there in 1984 is was still pretty remote, solidly middle-to-lower-middle-class and undeniably Southern (the charm of which was a complete mystery to me until adulthood). In any case, it was as remote a cultural outpost as one could have while still have indoor plumbing.
I was already a total music addict by my early teens but didn’t know anyone in bands. Bands were still pretty mysterious. The Atlanta “punk” scene was so tiny it barely existed but Neon Christ (hailed by some as “the only Atlanta punk band that mattered”) was a bi-racial, politically charged band playing it’s brand of melodic hardcore under a moniker that could have been construed as anti-Christian. (It wasn’t. If anything it speaks to consumerism and material wealth.) Basically, they were cool as hell and tough as shit.
They only released one 7″ while around. Another one, this time a double 7″, was released circa 1990. One of my favorite memories of the mid-1990’s was selling that second one to Chunklet‘s Henry Owings while working at Wuxtry Records. I remember gushingly telling him how essential that record was to understanding the history of Atlanta hardcore (which, in all honesty, he could’ve probably cared less about). He graciously indulged me and bought it and I think he digs it now but perhaps not so much when I sold it to him. Either way, I’ve always tried to tell people about this band but for so long there was literally nothing available by them. Everything is out of print now, again.
The members of Neon Christ went on to play in Gardens Of…, Go Devils, Comes With The Fall, and, um, Alice In Chains. (Founder Kip Duvall co-write that song “I Know” for Arrested Development singer Dionne Farris; he’s currently working with Comes With The Fall and makes his living as a musician.)
Anyone with a good local scene should know how important those scenes are to one’s sense of community and a feeling of connectivity. Neon Christ was one of the first bands to spur this feeling in me. Even though I never got to see them it was just so cool to know that this stuff was going on so close to where I lived.
I’ve put a few songs here for you but there a few more available at the bands website.
MP3: Neon Christ-Neon Christ
MP3: Neon Christ-The Knife That Cuts So Deep