What’s Inside New Jersey’s Hardcore Music Scene: The Growth of POC Musicians and Fans


Photo by Dazey Doom.

BY ERIKA HEINRICH | South Jersey Information Equity Project

BELMARSalty’s Beach Bar is a bar that seems to be your normal, peaceful establishment, with a quiet surrounding environment.

However, once inside, you realize something completely different. Live music with loud drums, screaming vocals and an aggressive bass.

A pit opened in front of the stage where people started to mosh, slamming into each other and even into the crowd, sometimes ending up with their backs to the ground, ripped-up shirts, and bloody noses.

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The crowd was full of different ages with attendees as young as 10 (the show was for all ages). It’s the type of music that you can feel the sheer power of the song playing in your chest. This is what is known to some as the hardcore scene.

The spirit of hardcore for some is to be able to embrace a violent, chaotic side of humanity, within a space that encourages a form of rage that is shared collectively among hardcore fans.

“I would describe it as ‘organized violence’ if that makes any sense. To make yourself known and show passion for the music that you love,” said Damien Biñas, a drummer for a hardcore band, Banishment. To destroy, but from destruction, to be rebuilt with a stronger foundation.

The hardcore scene in New Jersey has always been present, a DIY quasi-professional community that hosts shows throughout the Northeast. Shows are in Philadelphia townhouse basements, bar shows in New Jersey, and various shows in New York City.

Damage Control is a hardcore band based in South Jersey. Max Scales has been the bassist since 2022. Fairly new to the public eye in the hardcore scene (their first show last January.) Scales loves the energy everyone brings, the music, and the connections he has made with his bandmates.

The band Damage Control plays at Salty’s Beach Bar. Photo by Williams Marks

Danielle Carnevale is the lead vocalist in Damage Controland saysthey created the band together after Max found his love for hardcore music. 

“Max brings more of the death metal side of our music to the bandMax has a lot of awesome ideas that make Damage Control more than just a hardcore band.”

Carnevale recalls a moment from their recent tour,

“We were staying in a very gross motel on tour in Pittsburgh. To wake up to Max drinking beer with Bankrupt(a Philadelphia Hardcore band) at 11 in the morning… it just shows you that he’s just kind of getting along with everybody.”

Scales moved to Washington Township in 8th grade. He found his love for metal music in high school, with idols like Cliff Burton and Terrance Hobbs. He started creating music after he received his first bass on a Christmas morning.

“It is a blessing being able to make music that people like from me,” Scales said about being a Black musician in the scene. While Damage Controlwas in Brooklyn for a show, Max was happy to see the new demographic Brooklyn brought, a lot more Latinx and people of color. Even people saying they wanted to try to get into music after seeing him perform.

“It makes people want to play hardcore like, why not?” he added. “Some [Black] people came up to me after the set and told me they really rocked with it you know? And that’s really cool.”

All the people in this scene do it for the love of music, all band members have their day-to-day jobs during the week. Scales is a student at Temple University studying audio and live entertainment, as well as a student worker at Temple University for Housing & Residential Life.

While bandmates Carnevale (vocal) and Dice (guitar) are licensed cosmetologists and Nick (drums) is a full-time welder.

The New Jersey hardcore scene is growing with more people of color as fans and new bands forming. Carnevale shares that the scene wasn’t always as diverse as it is today.

“The presence that people with color bring to the hardcore scene is very important and it’s turned hardcore over the years into something that is more accepting and open than it was years ago,” they said.

Diverse backgrounds bring diverse voices, Binas of Banishment states.

“An existence of people of color in the scene…Their lyrics, their experiences can rope in and bring a whole community together. Bring the youth that is trying to find their place, their home, their friends, their community, find their community in hardcore based on the many experiences that people share.”

Damage Control is having its next show in Philadelphia for the Hardcore At The Pieron July 2at the Graffiti Pierwith around 12 other hardcore bands.

This show is a community effort show that encourages people to bring water, snacks and beer to share among the people. The pier is located in a small alleyway that connects to a large pier with an abandoned concrete structure that was left from a Conrail project in 1991 and has now been reclaimed by nature and graffiti art.

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