January 30, 2014

7": Hysterics - Can't I Live?

Hysterics uncompromisingly reclaim hardcore as we thought we knew it.

When I began planning this review, I thought about various conversations I have had with other women about the fear of being labeled "crazy" simply for feeling and expressing emotions. This unnecessary anxiety is a result of centuries of repression, labels, and cultural stereotypes. To summarize a lot of psychiatric theory, "hysteria" was initially considered a physical, sexual disfunction that was limited to women. It's difficult to reclaim the words that have been used against us, especially when language is problematic and inherently patriarchal. With this in mind, Can't I Live? is an appropriate title for Hysterics' new 7". The group's desire for control is blatantly shown in the song "Leave Me Alone," "Leave me alone / don't waste my time / or my space."

This is how I envision a Hysterics concert: four women (Stephie, Shannon, Jessica, and Adriana) throwing their bodies and instruments into a thrashing crowd of people to the mantra of "Get me out of this body / get me out of this world." And based on video evidence, I feel like this is a pretty accurate image. The group's chaotic noise and the whiplash quality of Stephie's voice make the lyrics mostly indecipherable. Language is conveyed through savage shrieks that express the primitive human emotions of anger, pain, and frustration. The band's fans range from Kathleen Hanna, who compared the group to Pussy Riot, to indiepop god and fellow Olympian Calvin Johnson who said, "their fierce ire blasts you clean." Hysterics do not feel like a band that is harkening back to the its hardcore forefathers (forewomen). It is an uncompromising reclamation of the male-dominated hardcore genre.

 Listen to Hysterics on bandcamp.

Written by Quinn Moreland