The Merrimack Valley in northeastern Massachusetts
was, for a time, a prolific breeding ground for hardcore
Merrimack Valley Hardcore, or MVHC, sounds much like hardcore/emo from all over the United States; based on the work of Rites of Spring, Sunny Day Real Estate, Fugazi, and other bands of their ilk.
Shows were performed in such legendary locations as the Town Hall in Andover, the Georgetown VFW hall, the Knights of Columbus in Lawrence, UFI (for Unidentified Flying Iguana) in Haverhill, the Art Space in Worcester (which is not actually in the Merrimack Valley) and The Red Barn in North Andover. The Red Barn was closed to shows after one audience member (supposedly) seriously injured himself in a stage-diving accident. The closing of the Red Barn was a major setback for MVHC as cheap/free performance spaces were few and far between.
Key features of MVHC shows, and probably of suburban hardcore shows in general, are:
•Shows with no stage; the band is on the floor with the kids in the crowd. This leads to much audience participation.
•Mosh pits, complete with all the classic hardcore "dances" like "pickin' up change".
•Really bad sound. Really. Bad.
•Speeches about the hardcore scene before/between/after songs, speeches about Straight Edge, rants about "losing your edge", exhorations to "stay true", leftist politics, veganism, etc.
•Boundless energy and enthusiasm. Love of the scene. Love of hardcore. Love of playing/going to see live music. Solidarity. Community. The occasional really good band.
MVHC, at all times in its history, has been declared "dead". I don't know when the era of true, living MVHC was, but it's always in the past relative to you and whatever show you're at.
Some notable bands in the MVHC scene are/were (in no particular order):
Ten Yard Fight
In My Eyes
Ester of Wood Rosin
Kid Kilowatt (ex Ester of Wood Rosin)