The plight of the old punk is boring. They either fall out of the scene or shame themselves trying to skateboard in the pit—sell out, burn out, or fade out. What can be expected from a community mostly fueled on youthful energy? Life hits with a closed fist, and subsisting against the grain is suspiciously similar to a real job. Except working for yourself has even worse benefits.
There’s another way though, and once again we turn towards Washington, DC for inspiration. The city never really disappeared, though with the ascendance of bands like Bat Fangs, Turnstile, GIVE, Kombat, and so much more, DC hardcore and rock is back on the map in a myriad of electrifying modes. This is the freshest of blood though, hungry and seemingly near cold fusion levels of limitless energy. How long can it last?
Let Red Hare answer that question with a resounding riff that translates to “as long as you want it to last.” Sure, the logistics can only get worse, but a lot of that is the cancer of capitalism. A band need not exist for unchecked growth. If fame fuels you then buddy prepare to be set adrift post-haste, but if you’re content to slash it up however you can, then there’s no reason we can’t ring out a racket until the last days.
Little Acts of Destruction is Red Hare’s second album, but the band’s pedigree goes way beyond that: Dag Nasty, Bluetip, Sweetbelly Freakdown, Retisonic, Swiz, etc., all DC-based must-hears. If you’re familiar with those bands, Red Hare won’t really surprise you—tempos usually pound upwards, the guitars are all spittle and snarl, the vocals a mix of Shawn Brown’s literate bark and Jason Farrell’s sly croon. It’s quick and crunchy, in no small part to the granite-solid production of J. Robbins, the man behind the boards for your favorite band’s favorite bands.
This album isn’t merely consistent with the rest of the members output to date. Punk can be accused of lacking real wiggle room but that’s the lamentation of an untrained ear. Little Acts sprints out like the band’s namesake and darts to and fro, coiling their sinewy guitar lines tight but rocketing forward, giving the listener so much to hang on to for every ride. The energy doesn’t dip so much as torque, twist, and writhe. It’s fitting that the cover art and Farrell’s hand-animated video for the title song pit the bony hares against snakes and political-cartoon pigs, the metaphors haven’t shifted but the execution has sharpened.
Young punks act like they don’t care, but every scene spawns fashion and thought police. The best among them pick up these instruments not because they’re bored or cajoled, but because hammering away in basements and garages is a life raft. A sometimes that raft gets you to shore, ferries a few souls with rock ’n roll, but the saved aren’t required to strum forever.
Others though, this is the air they breathe. They’d be writing songs and jamming together even if it was just four old punks in a basement with nothing to show for it. Red Hare are lifers, and I get the sense that Little Acts of Destruction is as necessary for them as it is for me. Even if they can’t cross the country or push units through the stratosphere, it’ll reach who it needs to reach and magnify the sun into a burning point of light between their ears. I hope they keep kicking up muck until the end.