Youth crew

Infobox Music genre
name= Youth Crew|bgcolor=crimson
stylistic_origins= Hardcore punk
Straight edge
Melodic hardcore
Crossover thrash
cultural_origins=Mid-1980s North America
instruments=vocals - Guitar - Bass - drums
popularity= Low to Mid
derivatives= Hatecore - Metalcore - Positive hardcore
other_topics=Hardcore dancing - Straight edge - DIY punk ethic

Youth crew is a subgenre of hardcore punk that was pioneered by 7 Seconds in the early to mid-1980s, and which thrived in the New York hardcore scene of 1988. Youth crew is distinguished from other hardcore and punk scenes by its optimistic, fraternal and more moralistic outlook. The original youth crew bands and fans were often straight edge, and also sometimes advocated vegetarianism. Some of the later spin-off bands delved further into ascetic spiritual and political interests.

Early musical influences included Minor Threat, Bad Brains, Negative Approach, Cro-Mags and Agnostic Front. While some youth crew music is similar to melodic hardcore, youth crew also includes breakdowns intended for the hardcore dancing style associated with live performances. Youth of Today was a very thrashy youth crew band, with abrasive vocals and fast songs too short to include a lot of melody (similar to early Agnostic Front, and contrasting with the other big New York City youth crew band, Gorilla Biscuits). Later youth crew bands took increasing influence from Heavy metal.

Origin of the term

The term "crew" was a hardcore slang word for a group of friends. Youth of Today had a song titled "Youth Crew" on their 1985 7" "Can't Close My Eyes", and 7 Seconds had a 1984 record called "The Crew". Warzone had a song called "We're the Crew" on their 1988 album "Don't Forget the Struggle, Don't Forget the Streets." Judge had a song called "New York Crew."


Youth crew was most popular from 1986 to 1990, primarily in New York City and, to a lesser degree, Los Angeles. The sound was largely defined by a series of releases by Revelation Records, including albums by Youth of Today, Chain of Strength, Sick of It All, Gorilla Biscuits, Bold, Judge, Side By Side, and Uniform Choice. Like 7 Seconds, these bands were all straight edge, and lyrical concerns included brotherhood and community values. However, many of these bands were more aggressive in their attitudes. Ray Cappo eventually converted to the Hare Krishna faith, and 108 and the Cro-Mags also participated in the Krishnacore offshoot. The California band Vegan Reich established the hardline wing of straight edge youth crew hardcore. Although hardline had few adherents, its attitudes and militancy had a notable effect on later bands such as Earth Crisis and Racetraitor. The youth crew scene also included the participation of skinheads, many of whom were fans of Warzone, Cro-Mags and Youth Defense League. [cite web |author=Schreifels, Dylan |title=Youth crew memories |url= |publisher=Double Cross Webzine |accessmonthday=June 8 |accessyear=2008] Youth crew bands were contemporary with, though noticeably distinct from, crossover thrash, thrashcore, crust punk, melodic hardcore, and emo bands.

In the 1990s, bands inspired by this scene became increasingly influenced by thrash and death metal. These bands, including Earth Crisis, Snapcase, One Life Crew, Integrity, Strife, Hatebreed and Blood for Blood, recorded for Victory Records, and were partly responsible for the contemporary metalcore scene. [Christopher Pearson, "Beer and Loathing in New Jersey: Earth Crisis in Concert", January 20, 1999 [] Access date: June 20, 2008.] Groups on Trustkill Records, such as Nora, Walls of Jericho, Eighteen Visions, Racetraitor and Shai Hulud, were also part of this current.

Youth crew bands first achieved visibility in popular culture through Zack de la Rocha's third band, Rage Against the Machine and Civ (featuring the former singer of Gorilla Biscuits). Later youth crew-derived music became increasingly associated with metalcore, particularly in the cases of Earth Crisis and Strife. The late 1990s saw a revival of the youth crew style, revisited by bands such as In My Eyes, H2O, Ten Yard Fight, and Ray Cappo's Better Than a Thousand.

Youth crew fashion

The youth crew fashion, different from the stereotypical skinhead or punk fashions worn by many NYC-area hardcore music fans circa 1988, is preserved in record-liner photos, videos, and zine photos from that era. The look was more conventional than a lot of punk fashion. In an interview in 2004's "All Ages: Reflections on Straight Edge", Cappo described the youth crew look as being "Tony Hawk meets Beaver Cleaver".

Youth crew fashion included bleached hair, crewcuts and similar haircuts, athletic wear, letterman jackets, sportswear, army pants or shorts, oversized T-shirts bearing band logos or straight edge slogans, hooded sweatshirts and hightop basketball shoes. 7 Seconds and their fans often drew black lines under their eyes in a similar manner to athletes. Hardliners and more militant straight-edgers sometimes wore camouflage and military surplus gear. The Swatch X-Rated became popular in youth crew fashion.

The year 1988 is often considered to be the peak of youth crew straight edge New York hardcore, so the abbreviation "'88" sometimes appears in songs, T-shirts, album cover art or other media. 1988 is also commonly remembered as a year that was very violent and dangerous in the New York hardcore scene, when a lot of clubs closed or banned hardcore concerts. While the number 88 is also used as code among neo-Nazis, this is unlikely to have any resonance in the youth crew scene.


Andersen, Mark and Mark Jenkins (2003). "Dance of Days: Two Decades of Punk in the Nation's Capital". Akashic Books. ISBN-10: 1888451440
Blush, Steven (2001). "American Hardcore: A Tribal History". Feral House. ISBN-10: 0922915717
Lahickey, Beth (1998). "All Ages: Reflections on Straight Edge". Revelation Books. ISBN-10: 1889703001
O'Hara, Craig (1999). "The Philosophy of Punk: More Than Noise". AK Press. ISBN-10: 1873176163


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