The South Shore of Massachusetts has a storied history of being a hotbed for hardcore, especially in the last twenty years or so. Anyone finding their footing in the Boston hardcore punk scene will quickly find stories of the Brockton shows which took place in the early to mid-'00s as clubs such as the Middle East had stopped allowing such shows.
The region seemed to rise to the occasion more than anyone during this time and created a scene all their own with bands such as Colin of Arabia, Cut Throat, Back of tha Neck, Shere Khan, and many others all dishing out their own brands of fury and despair at The Tiger’s Den and other DIY venues practically every weekend.
Chris Cesarini was one of the young men who witnessed this scene firsthand, attending shows as young as the age of 13 when the scene was just finding its footing. I recently was able to interview him about his time in the scene and his music career building up toward his current project, Street Power.
Having played guitar in bands since he was a teenager, most recently for Years Apart and currently for the aforementioned Back of tha Neck, Chris said he wanted to try his hand at singing for a group. “I’ve recently been wanting to do something different… as in not playing guitar. I love playing guitar, it’s my main instrument but I’ve always loved sharing the mic with my friends bands and stuff so I really wanted to try being a frontman out.”
Chris stated on how the project was conceptualized and really began with Chris wanting to step out of his comfort zone and try handling vocals. He continued, “Matt Azevedo and I sat down one day right in this room and we tossed some shit around and eventually we wrote the whole EP. He’s really motivating when it comes to putting the songs together so he writes most of the stuff and I either just helped arrange or give suggestions. Going forward this will be a collective effort with the entire band.”
The self-titled EP consists of three meaty yet fast hardcore songs, much more akin to heavy hardcore bands such as Death Before Dishonor, and even Payback from Philadelphia. Chris’s influences come from a lot of the bands he saw growing up and attending Brockton shows, “Bands like Product of Waste, COA, and The Mongoloids have always been really influential for me and I think they really rounded this release out with what I’ve taken from them over the years while putting my own spin on it from stuff I’ve done in my past bands.”
The opening song, “Try Me,” starts off with some towering riffs that are sure to split the pit open and have people smashing the poor bystanders at the sides and toward the front of the stage. It’s lyrics deal with pointing out the shortcomings of an unnamed adversary with tales such as, “You went and pulled your gun outside at the show/you’ll never fucking use it/everybody knows.”
Harsh depictions of the stuff that goes on within the hardcore scene; all of us may come together for a good time but there’s plenty of idiots who need to be put in check. This isn’t necessarily tough guy boastfulness, these lyrics are just reflections of real experiences that happen to be gritty. The track also features a very antagonistic verse from Ed Whitmarsh from Back of tha Neck so you know it’s bound to be getting the kids riled up in the pit.
Chris’ vocals are right in the listeners face as he yells out his tales of the harsh reality he’s witnessed growing up on the South Shore and the things he’s witnessed throughout his time in the hardcore scene. With superb production for a debut EP he comes across extremely clear and pronounced, as though he’s yelling these tales in your face while clenching your shirt collar and possibly even holding a gun to your head. It’s ferocious, it’s mean but most importantly you’re not gonna mistake a word he’s saying.
One of the key songs on the EP is “Perfect World,” which has the opening lyrics depicted on the cover. “Won’t bend to the world’s desire/I’ll light the match that sets it on fire” is a line that could have easily ended up in a track off Blood For Blood’s Revenge on Society. It’s not overly poetic but it could be the rallying cry for any protest.
The last year has been influential on the record with Chris commenting, “The civil unrest and collapse of society really influenced these songs. Just how I see and perceive things, I can’t make stuff up though I like to just draw from experience and let that speak for itself.”
The first announcement Chris made about the band was a video of protests against police brutality which took place last year which contained footage of people jumping on cop cars, protestors clashing with police as well as police officers macing themselves in the face. This video showed me two things: Street Power are hard as fuck and they know how to market themselves.
When asked about where the name Street Power came from Chris had a pretty interesting response. “It sorta came from the protests and stuff, it also came from the lyrical content. I knew that I wanted a tough name but it could also be slightly corny.
"We were stuck on a name for awhile and I’m awful at picking names but one day I remembered my friend has this unopened can of this failed energy drink and it’s called ‘Street Power’ and it has flames on it and I was just like, ‘that’s it, we’re Street Power.’” The name fits their style of, as I like to describe it “rob you at gunpoint” hardcore but shows that these guys have a sense of humor and don’t want to waste energy taking themselves too seriously.
The final track of the EP, “As You Die,” is a revenge oriented track, you know the type of hardcore track that makes you want to walk into your job and shoot your boss or simply give in to the murderous impulse you feel when someone cuts you off in traffic. It’s full of tasteful breakdowns and mosh parts but especially has some opportunities for piling on at the front of the stage toward the end with Chris belting out, “Look me in the eye as you fucking die!” repeatedly.
“I’ve always been a fan of crowd participation, like people clamoring for the microphone and stagediving, that’s my jam.” I get the feeling that this song's ending was specifically written for just this because it’s a perfect collection of breakdown riffs and singalong vocals. As difficult as it can be to get people at the front of the stage due to fear of losing teeth, it's pounding singalongs like this that allow people to overcome that fear and dive headlong into the fury. These are moments you never forget. Street Power’s first show is going to be devastating.
Chris states that while he was nervous about doing lead vocals for the first time in a band he eventually just decided it was something he really wanted to try that pushed him forward. “It sucks going back in a recording and hearing your own voice but this was something I really wanted to do so I feel like if you just go in there and you’re confident then that's half the battle. Think about how many hardcore bands that are huge with terrible lead singers. People are gonna love it or hate it and really who gives a fuck?”
Street Power may come off as serious guys but Chris’ goals for the band are entirely about having fun in both recording and playing. “We’re all pretty grown and have families now, Martin, Chad and I all have families now so we may be a bit more conservative with playing shows but I do want to travel and do shows. We really just want to have fun playing regularly around here and maybe doing some weekend runs along the coast here and there.”
Chris has also been busy building up his local scene with his run of shows in Brockton run by him and Colin Campbell (Colin of Arabia) in what they call the “Gatekeeper Jam.” The first show in August featured Cruel Hand, Payback, Ritual Blade, Vantage Point, and Bed of Razors, which was very successful as were the following Jam’s in October and November.
These shows have displayed a bit more activity in the Brockton area since the early '00s but Chris said that he’s not chasing ghosts, he really just wants to build something new in Brockton for the younger members of the scene like what he witnessed in his years attending Brockton shows.
“Going to those shows shaped who I am today. That’s where I fell in love with hardcore and punk. I don’t wanna chase the past because it’s never gonna be what it was ever again, it has to be something new and better. Yeah, we like bringing bands from ‘my era’ there like 100 Demons and such but we’re also bringing newer bands into the mix.”
Attending these shows at the Brockton VFW does bring back that community feeling that I’ve heard about but it’s also something brand new and the bands are expertly picked.
“I think the hardcore scene is a little bit divided in terms of, these kids don’t go to these shows but it’s always kind of been that way with the Boston kids, the North and South Shore kids, etc. Boston was always the middle ground for everything," Chris said when asked about how he feels about the hardcore scene at the moment.
When asked about what bands in particular inspire him to push himself further with this project he stated, “Sick Minds are one of the sickest live bands in Boston. All of them are so talented and they’re all great together. Adrienne is another one, they’re starting to kill it right now, even old heads I talk to are into their '90s metallic hardcore style. They pop off.”
Street Power have just announced their debut show opening for 100 Demons in Brockton alongside Mindforce, Risk, and Adrienne:
Street Power's EP is out now on Bandcamp and all other streaming platforms. Be sure to check them out on Instagram for updates on shows and merchandise and while you wait brush up on learning the lyrics of their songs so you can scream them into the microphone at their shows.
The band has come out the gate screaming and it will be interesting to see how they develop in the coming years.
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