My Quest Continues: Re-Discovering Chicago Hardcore

Norwood Park Allstars Cobra LoungeFor the last several months I’ve been doing some heavy research in to Chicago’s early to late 80’s hardcore scene. If you’re new to this era and genre you can check out some of my favorite bands like the Effigies and this Punk database to get an idea of what other bands were a part of the scene.

But I wanted to find more than what I had already read about and listened to.

I wanted to know more about a very obscure era that I began to hear about as my research unfolded.

I wanted to learn more about a specific group of bands that seemed to lack an extensive historical record or live show documentation.

I wanted to learn more about the bands of the NORCORE era.

I started to get discouraged because I was coming up a bit short in my quest to uncover more info beyond what I had discovered so far from various sources about the NORCORE era:

Between 1985 to 1987 an underground punk rock music scene thrived on the near north side of Chicago in and around a blue-collar neighborhood called Norwood Park. The bands were diverse in sound and development, but bonded by common influences, recording-styles, and management. The scene was referred to by many names and descriptors, but most widely used descriptor was “Nor-Core.”

It was mostly punk, but had a strong glam rock and big guitar/big vocal influence as well. Occasionally some ska and rockabilly would be thrown into a set with mixed results. Bands played at old Northside clubs like the Envoy, The Lift Off and the Montrose Ave. Slot Car Lanes. Many all ages shows happened at the Courtside Racket Club.

But gladly my hopes were raised due to the recent emergence of a tribute band. And thanks to one of its members I was able to find more answers to my long list of unanswered questions about the Nor-core live music scene.

I’m excited to share with you what I found and present this exclusive Live Fix interview and story about a crucial period in Chicago live music history.

Interview with Dave Bergeron of the Norwood Park All-Stars

This week I spoke with Dave Bergeron who was a member of Bloodsport and is the lead singer of the Norwood Park All-Stars tribute band.

Since the NPAS will be playing tomorrow at the Cobra Lounge, I met with Dave at the Cat Box studios, one of their secret and undisclosed Chicago locations where they practice and record.

I asked Dave to talk about his memories of Chicago’s hardcore scene and tell us why the Nor-core live music scene was so important, yet mostly unknown.

I also asked him to explain the mission of the Norwood Park All-Stars and what the psychological difference is between a tribute band and a regular band, since he’s played in both.

I hope you enjoy this three-part video interview and the few bonus questions below in which Dave explains his approach to performance and his love for Chicago’s live music scene.

And, by all means, if you have any other information on this very obscure — but highly crucial moment in Chicago live music history — please help a brother out and drop the info in the comments below.

LF: What do you love the most about performing live?
Dave: The sense of immediacy.

As an artist, what “Little Things” do you look for during a show for real-time insight or inspiration?

I look for the interaction between us on stage; if we are all well engaged the performance can’t help but take a hold.

As a fan, what “Little Things” have you noticed during some of your favorite concerts?
I wouldn’t call it a little thing as the effect on me makes the hair on the back of my neck stand on end. I had the pleasure of bartending at Metro for the past ten years and during that time I saw a great many bands. Every great once in awhile a band would perform and would just be hitting on every cylinder; I’m not even sure the band was aware of how they were doing it! It is something just shy of magic and can’t be bottled.

What was your first live concert like as an artist and what did you learn from it?

My first performance was at a college party at IIT; I learned that I had know idea of how to sing…I now have a small understanding but still have a long way to go.

What elements or characteristics of your favorite bands’ live shows do you draw inspiration from the most?

The excitement and energy that they brought to the stage.

What part of Saturday’s Norwood Park All-Stars show are you excited about the most? What will make it unique from other shows?
I was given free reign in putting the bill together for the evening; a bunch of great performers that are all good people. There is a common thread among the bands.

Thanks again to Dave and the Norwood Park All-Stars for bringing us into the Cat Box studios and shining a light on Chicago live music history.

Begin your Nor-core history quest to today by joining the Norwood Park All-Stars Facebook group.

Show Info

Cobra Lounge

235 N. Ashland in Chicago.

Saturday 2-27

with Matt Hendricks, Vendoo Za and the West Side Winders.

The show starts at 9:30.

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