The appeal of hardcore in 2023 is no mystery to anyone paying attention to the news of the world. And as Time Void proved last Thursday at Mano Oculta with a punishing sonic assault on “climate change and billionaires and shit like that,” there’s no better outlet for one’s fury than to put yourself in the path of some gale-force punk and its acrobatic fans. It’s pure catharsis amid the knock-down, drag-out fight for our very survival.
To these ears and eyes, the best representatives for the future struggle might be Natural Human Instinct, a quartet of Asian and Latino punks from San Jose. The group’s songs are short, controlled burns that vacillate between crushing despair and unbridled rage, with singer Matthew Martinez shouting that we are “running out of time” and that we’ve all “lost our touch with the world.” Headliners Witness Chamber may have had the tighter set and the more enthusiastic fans, but they couldn’t match their tourmates’ passion and intensity.
As with any hardcore show, it’s hard to tell whether the political and intensely personal lyrics of these artists were actually being heard and absorbed by the audience, though the Antifa logo tattooed on the back of one young man’s head suggested the messages are sinking in. On the other hand, the roundhouse kicks and cartwheels that he and the rest of boys in the crowd discharged like a hyperaggressive form of parkour indicated that, for some, shows like this are a necessary release valve from the tensions of simply trying to exist in our current era.