For the past six summers in Philadelphia, hardcore punk entrepreneur Joe Hardcore has been throwing This is Hardcore, a four day festival bringing the worlds' hardest bands and fans together to dance, dive, have some fun and possibly share a cheese steak or two.

If you're heading to the fest, you know this years' line-up is quite a stunner, with everyone from Suicidal Tendencies to the Cro-Mags to Gorilla Biscuits to Earth Crisis providing the soundtrack to the moshing mayhem. But beyond all those great bands, there are both up-and-comers and hardcore veterans among the line-up that might not be on your radar. Below is a list of such units. Be sure to find time to check them out in-between running up the Rocky steps and visits to the Mutter Museum.


The sound and spirit of Baltimore's Mindset harkens back to the late '80s Southern California Straight Edge scene when bands such as Hard Stance, No for an Answer and Against the Wall ruled the roost. Rest assured, if you ever donned a hooded sweatshirt or a pair of cammo shorts, this band will have you up and finger pointing in no time.

Maximum Penalty

When it comes to veterans of NYHC, Maximum Penalty takes the cake. Plugging away since '89, these guys are still unrelenting in their fury and unique musical vision. And if they bust out the above track Hate from their first demo...forget it; you know you'll be moshing.

No Tolerance

Whoever said Boston Straight Edge was dead better shut their trap, because No Tolerance is coming through! Made up of members of Mind Eraser, Never Healed, Soul Swallower and Look Back & Laugh, this super group evokes the sound of both early SS Decontrol as well as late '80s groups such as Brotherhood and Confront to put on one powerful as hell live show.

Hard Skin

If you're looking for a laugh at This is Hardcore this year, London's Hard Skin are your band. With song titles like "Oi! Not Jobs," "We Are the Wankers" and "Ding Dong Merrily Oi! Oi!," this burr headed trio are both a parody and a back-handed homage to the early '80s British Oi! scene and should not be missed.


Many a hardcore heart both young and old went a flutter when they heard the original line-up of this legendary late '80s NYHC group was getting back together. And who could blame them? This band exemplified the sound and vibe of the time with tracks like "Sick People," "Life of Bullshit," "You Gotta Fight," "Safe in a Crowd," "Street Fight" and – of course- the immortal "Kickback."


Featuring ex-members of Friday night headliners Terror, SoCal's Nails serve up a potent brutality that references everyone from Discharge to the Cro-Mags to the 'power violence' of Infest and Crossed Out. Be sure to check 'em out.


Named after one of the lesser vinyl releases from pioneering hardcore band 7 Seconds, this Maryland based band serve up melodic though driving 'core ala Dag Nasty, Chain of Strength or Verbal Assault.

Negative Approach

Although Detroit's Negative Approach are definitely the most historically significant band playing the festival, their importance is overshadowed for some reason by groups on the bill who were barely out of diapers when the band formed in 1981. It's all good though. Once they launch into their set and vocalist John Brannon's patented yowl fills the hall, we'll all know who the daddies are.

For more information on This is Hardcore, check out their website right here.

Tony Rettman is a freelance music journalist whose work has appeared in The Village Voice, Arthur, Swindle, Signal to Noise and Mean. His 2010 book Why Be Something That You're Not: Detroit Hardcore 1979-1985, is a must-read for any fan of heavy music and can be purchased on Amazon.

More From Noisecreep