Thursday, April 16, 2009

Astoria, Queens - New York City Hardcore

Outburst sing along at CBGB, NYC, Photo courtesy of Miles To Joe

Joe Outburst occasionally hits me up with some great little tidbits and funny stories, most of which will turn into full blown entries here eventually. Not that we haven't already had some Outburst coverage, but we're always down for some more stories from the Queens boys. Joe linked me to a piece on the Blackout! Records site he wrote about the backstory of the Queens hardcore scene of the 1980s ( Though I had seen this before, I thought it was worth posting up here for those who may not have checked it out. NYHC. -Gordo DCXX

A roof top view from Astoria, Queens NYC, Photo: MDPNY

“Yeah that’s right, you can tell by the way this song is…Astoria, Queens rules!” Jimmy Gestapo - “A Day In The Life” by Murphy’s Law

During the golden ages of “New York Hardcore”, you could paint the term NYHC with a broad brush. The bands, friends & fans that made up that unforgettable scene could always claim representation from somewhere within New York City’s five boroughs (Manhattan, Brooklyn, Queens, The Bronx and Staten Island) as well as Westchester, Connecticut and New Jersey. And there was plenty of neighborhood and crew representation to go around: “Lower East Side“, “Youth Crew“, “Alleyway Crew“…just to name a few.

But today, I'd like to take a few minutes to reminisce fondly about my hometown - the little neighborhood in Queens that spawned her share of NYHC bands - Astoria.

When you take a roll call of the bands that had members who either lived in Astoria, went to school in Astoria or just came to Astoria to hang out, the list is pretty remarkable: Kraut, Major Conflict, Murphy’s Law, New York Hoods, Abombanation, Token Entry (originally Gilligan’s Revenge), Leeway (originally The Unruled), Outburst, Breakdown, Show of Force, Fit Of Anger, Cold Front, Everybody Gets Hurt. (Please comment if I’ve inadvertently forgotten any other band(s)….)

If you took a census of the blocks on the south side of Astoria Park from 12th street to 18th street, on any given night in the mid to late 80’s, you’d have an Astoria Park bench where A.J.(Leeway), Saso (original Leeway drummer), Mike Dijan (Show Of Force, Breakdown, plenty of other bands), Tony (Show Of Force), Nick (Cold Front), Chris (Fit of Anger, EGH), George and myself (Outburst) would all be hanging out for hours on end. I remember one night, Eddie (Leeway) brought Doug (Kraut, Cro-Mags) to hang out at the park and we heard a few rough cuts from what was to be The Age Of Quarrel record.

Outburst at CB's with Gavin Van Vlack on guest vocals, Photo courtesy of Miles To Joe

Anthony (Token Entry, Raw Deal/Killing Time), A.J. and all five original members of Outburst attended St. John’s Preparatory, Astoria’s Catholic high school. Just a few blocks away on Ditmars Boulevard was Pizza Palace, where the hardcore kids (the few that there were in the early days) would congregate after school. A few more blocks from there, you had the Pyramids, a public area by the Con Edison plant on 20th Avenue that doubled as a skateboard park. Kraut memorialized the park fondly in the song “Pyramids” on their Wetting The Scythe record.

You could’ve ventured a couple of miles east to neighboring Jackson Heights, where Anthony, Civ, Walter, Arthur (Gorilla Biscuits) and Dylan Schrifels & Gus Pena hung out. Or, you could’ve went back to Astoria Park South and hung out at the apartment/studio of B.J. Papas - NYHC’s resident and loyal photographer. On any given night, you could’ve been hanging out there, shooting the breeze with Pete from Sick Of It All or Mackie from the Cro-Mags, or even a certain founder of Blackout! Records. Since B.J. was (and still is) one of the coolest girls you’ll ever meet, and she only lived a mere two blocks from me, I found myself hanging out there quite often.

For a great period piece on Astoria and what it was like in 1986, check out the film A Guide To Recognizing Your Saints, starring Robert Downey, Jr., Rosario Dawson & Shia LeBeouf. The film was written & directed by Astoria native Dito Montiel (Major Conflict, Gutterboy). Coincidentally, Dito’s dad was George’s little league baseball coach and one Halloween night, during an Astoria Park/Ditmars Blvd egging rivalry, some of my friends and I were fire-extinguished in an alley somewhere near 21st street by Dito. All in good (and retrospectively dangerous) fun, of course.

Whenever I hear “A Day In The Life” I still get a kick out of Jimmy’s line, comically bragging about his hometown that ruled beer & herb. He may have been singing tongue-in-cheek, but he was definitely onto something. Thank you, Astoria, Queens.

R Train departing 46th street station, Astoria, Queens NYC, Photo: Olm


Billy said...

I like the PRONG graffiti in the background

Matthew said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Matthew said...

I could tell you a thing or two about Astoria and hardcore. I'm older than all those dudes. I remember when Doug was into the Grateful Dead, long before hardcore. I was into metal when they were all just finding cbgb and hardcore. I had a few bands in Astoria. Rapid Transit one, I did solo stuff under my nickname, Matt the Rat (i got the demos somewhere), and in the late 80's we had Execution Style - we lived on 1st St and 27th Ave in a giant loft. Ek (Warzone, Straw Dogs) played with me in that band for a while. Frenchie lived there for a while, Mike the Skin.. etc

Maybe you would consider changing that subway picture to the Broadway station (now the W, formerly the N and before that the RR), where Jimmy and Doug were from or maybe Ditmars (Gilligan's Revenge, Cold Front, EGH), or even Hoyt Ave (Dito, Nerf, John Groody and their posse) That's where everyone was from, not 46th St.

Anyway bravo on the props to Astoria. That was cool reading about the homefront, where the real NYHC was from.

Anonymous said...

Wow - haven't seen John Groody in ages...another regular at BJ's apartment on 14th Street once upon a time.

Nick B (Cold Front) and Chris B (EGH) were from around my way, Astoria Park make that the Hoyt Ave N/W train station...haha.

-Joe Outburst

Norman said...

I grew up in Woodside, but went to school in Astoria in the mid-80s -- closest to the Broadway subway stop. My fourth grade teacher in 1983 or 1984, Miss Koncz, was Johnny Feedback from Kraut's sister. She introduced me to Kraut when I was ten years old. I still think that's my most bizarre Astoria story.

Freddy Alva said...

Ha! Funny comment about all the Outburst guys going to St. John's Prep. I went to aviation H.S., the rival public school. I remember every day after school, kids from my school just chasing the St. John's kids, those Catholic school uniforms were such easy targets! what up Joe! Somebody should do a piece on my hood: Jackson Heights, maybe I will...

Johnny T said...

My name is John and I also grew up in Woodside. I went to Bryant H.S. and graduated in 82. I remember hot summer nights and cold winter ones cruising around Astoria park chasing the betty's around. Walking around the neighborhood with big radios blasting out Black Sabbath, Jethro Tull. And even the new Wave scene The Cars, The Police, Joe Jackson. Those were the days. Racing over in Laurel Hill. I miss New York so much. Yeah I know their were some grimy parts about it, but it was our grime, and I miss it.

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vibradores said...

I suppose every person must read it.

Zenbiker said...

Every person must move to Astoria! I miss it sorely ! Ah growing up in Astoria in the 80's ! St. Joes,Bryant H.S. (technically in woodside) and trouble all over Astoria Park,Sunnyside, Woodside and the occasional 20 person BMX bike trip into manhattan to terrorize its residents.
John K. @ Zenbikes NYC