With feedback grinding from the speakers, DARE’s drummer Anaiah Lei quickly sketched a large X on each hand with black marker. The dim, classroom-sized Locker Room stage at the Garden Amphitheatre was packed to the exit with hardcore punk fans eager to hear the relatively new band play. Still at first, the crowd began to slowly swarm when DARE’s guitarist Marco Soto strummed some abrasive opening chords. Then, with the rumble of bass drums and a shout from DARE’s singer Angel Garcia, the entire room frenzied into a vicious mosh.
Even in alongside the numerous hardcore legends who played at the Garden Amphitheater last Sunday––including Cro Mag and Terror–– DARE is unique. Everything, from their commitment to a straight edge lifestyle to the purple NSYNC shirt Garcia wore on stage, runs contrary to people’s expectations of a young hardcore band. Individuality is what this OC based straight edge band does best.
DARE’s second EP “S/T’, released in October 2018, is the band’s first album with its new lineup. “S/T”expands expectations of a hardcore album, while maintaining an edge. Technical drum lines, a variety of tempos, and guitar rhythms laced with funk and punk influences give the album its characteristic sound.
“We kinda let it flow, we didn’t really have a solid answer,” DARE’s bassist Aaron McQueen tells the Weekly regarding their second album. “We wanted to make sure we stayed to the point pretty fast, hardcore punk. Then there was other elements, kinda like groovy elements, that came naturally and sounded pretty good so we were like, lets just fucking go with it.”
“I definitely like a lot of the bouncy vibes from the ’90s New York hardcore bands like killing time and Mad Ball with a cool up tempo,but still hard and fast at the same time,” Soto says. “A lot of influence from that, and a lot of hip-hop influence.”
Key to this success is the diverse musical backgrounds of its members. You can hear the psychedelic influence Lei brought with him from his band The Bots, and Soto’s hip–hop influence in the melodic breakdowns of “S/T”. Every member plays multiple instruments. Sometimes Lei would step off drums and create a guitar riff, or Garcia would lay down a drum fill. From the time they met, the band’s versatility allowed them to mesh and create an enormous amount of songs.
“First couple months we were practicing, we’d write a couple songs a practice,” McQueen recalled.
“I’ve never had that sort of writing process with people because the couple bands I’ve been in, it’s always been one person doing their thing. We all came in from different corners,” Lei says.
Few places in the world can boast punk and hardcore legends like O.C. The band looks up to OC straight edge legends like Uniform Choice and Stance, as well as the L.A. based band Terror, with whom DARE recently toured.
“I think specifically OC is kind of a breeding ground for straight edge bands,” McQueen says.
DARE may be straight edge, but they aspire to reach people of all backgrounds and musical tastes like one of their favorite bands, the Wu-Tang Clan.
“There’s straight edge bands that’re cool with being secluded, and that’s cool, but we want everyone,” Lei said. “If you like our music, that’s all that matters. I can’t wait to see the day when it’s like hardcore kids, punk-punk kids, hip-hop heads, and hipsters, everyone coming to these shows.”