The band Soulside emerged in the D.C. punk community in the mid-80s, making headway after the Revolution Summer of 1985 redirected the young, fervent scene away from hardcore’s bleak, macho assault and toward a fluid posthardcore aesthetic that prized melody and politics.
Revolution Summer lasted barely more than a season, but it sparked changes that unfolded throughout the 80s; as Soulside front man Bobby Sullivan sings on “K.T.T.K.,” “You say that the revolution is over / It’s just begun.” Like many great punk tracks from the nation’s capital, that Soul Side track is steeped in the scene as it existed then, but remains accessible beyond its time frame and social boundaries–same as the environment that incubated the band.
I’m not sure Sullivan could’ve predicted that the revolution he referenced would create a permanent, unparalleled imprint on pop music. That legacy has recently been treated with a rash of celebratory documentaries–among them Salad Days—set to premiere on Hulu any day and sporting a trailer with a gushing sound bite from Foo Fighters front man Dave Grohl. (They go back a ways. Grohl’s first band, Mission Impossible, released a split seven-inch with Soulside when they were called Lunchmeat back in 1985, and Soulside’s first reunion show was a 2014 postpremiere party for Salad Days at Black Cat, the vaunted D.C. venue Grohl helped open in the early 90s.)
Before flaming out at the end of a six-month European tour in 1989, Soulside helped develop a D.C. posthardcore sound that grew out of the deep grooves of reggae and go-go. Soul Side could dole out elastic, resonant bass lines, fevered, jagged guitar riffs, and crackling, swinging percussion with anthemic force. Dischord reissued the band’s penultimate album, 1988’s Trigger, last year. Its highlights make it feel like the revolution is still just getting started.
Coliseum and the Poison Arrows open. Sun 11/11, 8:30 PM, Subterranean, $20. 17+