Are we still sounding this refrain? Ever since Fugazi went on hiatus nearly a decade ago, young D.C. bands have had to answer for the city’s punk-rock legacy. Even Slate economics columnist Matthew Yglesias, in a recent, widely criticized blog post on D.C.’s lack of nebulously defined “hipness” relative to other cities, hammered the hardcore chord as a sign of faded cultural vitality. And so the easy answer to your question is: It’s a poorly premised question.
In fact, there are plenty of very good bands in D.C. More importantly, there are plenty of very good bands who’ve been hearing that their scene sucks for years. Here’s what they thought of your question.
“D.C. bands only suck to people who sit at home and talk about how much D.C. bands suck right now rather than contributing in some way to local music,” says Ian Graham, of the goth-pop duo Lenorable.
“WOW, REALLY?” writes Ian M.W. Thompson, who started an excellent noise and hardcore label, Cricket Cemetery, in 2010. “How was the Snow Patrol show last night? Nice boots and vest, MAN. So sorry you missed any one of the great D.C. bands that play live regularly in this city because you were too busy cuddled up in a coffee shop using free Internet to update your ‘Things white girls say while drinking hot chocolate’ blog. Fuck. Off.”
Patrick Kigongo, of the dance-rock group Ra Ra Rasputin, says that absent a dominant “D.C. sound,” the city is home to a huge diversity of rock music, to say nothing of its hip-hop, jazz, EDM, and go-go scenes. “Whoever’s complaining about local bands sucking must be stuck in the Shins-lite indie rock era of 2006-2008 and probably attends one show a month.”
City Paper contributor and Tereu Tereu frontman Ryan Little’s response oozed righteous sarcasm: “Yeah, man. It’s like D.C. bands forgot they’re supposed to keep trying to replicate a moment that peaked nearly 30 years ago. As if a broad spectrum of talent is a positive thing! Most of those assholes aren’t even making much money off it—it’s like they’re just ‘making art for art’s sake.’ Pathetic. Wake me up when someone drops a dubstep remix of Minor Threat.”