When it comes to the genre’s agitated inception, the heaviest rally cries of 1980s hardcore still echo from under shards of busted bottles and stomped cigarette butts along frost-mangled sidewalks that Gang Green’s Chris Doherty skated on.
The Gang Green party machine hit a wicked serious snag when founding member/guitarist/singer Doherty suffered a stroke on Halloween. The condition hammered both his heart and brain, leaving him paralyzed on his left side. While emergency brain surgery prevented an early epitaph, the dude has a long way to go and no health insurance.
In a scene where loyalty is lauded, it was only fitting that regular acts from the days of the Rat, along with local knuckleheads, put together Not A Wasted Night: A Benefit for Chris Doherty, a one-night-only show with hometown hardcore heavyweights including Slapshot, the Dogmatics, the Outlets, Unnatural Axe, White Dynomite, the F.U.’s, and SSD’s Springa. It all goes down at the Paradise on Jan 11, when South Shore stalwarts Worm will also join various Gang Green alumni on stage to raise money for Doherty’s recovery. Truth is, he can’t live without it.
“They were a step above most others locally in that particular genre as far musicianship is concerned,” Agnostic Front and Slapshot guitarist Craig Silverman said of Gang Green’s unique take on chaotic thrash style speed. “They weren’t just a hardcore punk band. I heard lots of rock and roll and metal influences that weren’t evident in most hardcore bands of that era. They didn’t sound like anybody else, and nobody does today either.”
Gang Green championed a simple, snarling message: Tear it up with an eight ball, have fun, skate to hell, terrorize, and show more enthusiasm toward drinking than fucking. That youthful insanity earned them a place alongside Minor Threat, Black Flag, Bad Brains, and the Dead Kennedys, to name a few OGs of hardcore.
“I got a copy of This Is Boston Not LA from TAANG records, and I was amazed that the bands on this comp were contemporaries with my national punk heroes,” Unseen bassist Trip Underwood told the Dig. “Only difference was, they came from areas I could relate to—Fall River, the Cape, Braintree. Their stickers were visible on the back of road signs and skate ramps up and down 93 south. You still find their albums for less than $8 at local thrift stores or mom and pop shops in the ’burbs. For whatever reason, in my 15-year-old brain, being able to visualize the towns where this music was born helped me contextualize it so much better.”
Gang Green also helped align skateboarding with East Coast punk rock when Doherty appeared on the cover of Thrasher in 1987, the same year a few members of Marshfield’s Worm were born.
“A lot of the old punk and hardcore Boston bands were all outta the South Shore,” Mike Worm said. “They blazed the trail for our era of punk, early 2000s and South Shore punk bands.”
Legend has it that the Braintree-born rocker delivered pizzas via skateboard in Quincy at one point in his early days. There are countless elder tales about “getting wasted with Chris” at some shitty townie bar, or about the group ripping the roof off of a VFW hall in some random suburb.
“When I got to see Gang Green play live, the first thing that struck me was how freaking young they were,” said punk rock writer Nancy Barile, author of I’m Not Holding Your Coat: A Punk/Hardcore Memoir From a Woman’s Perspective. “They were kids up there, probably still in or just outta high school, playing crazed, noisy, energetic hardcore.”
Gang Green saw many lineup changes, but Doherty held firm in the fun and frenetic hellscape. With the Paradise show, the scene will respond to help him recover so that he can get back to his two loves: Gang Green and his daughter Grace.
“Chris Doherty is Gang Green,” said Wizard Security sorcerer Jeff Freeman. “Whoever was in the mix when they played, it was always a great night of craziness and fun music. The energy started as soon as they showed up at the venue and lasted till the club was shut down for the night after a good mix of music and insanity.”
NOT A WASTED NIGHT: A BENEFIT FOR CHRIS DOHERTY OF GANG GREEN. PARADISE ROCK CLUB, 967 COMM. AVE., BOSTON. FRI 1.11. $25-$75.
Nate is a Boston-based reporter who has written for the Boston Phoenix, the Boston Metro, and DigBoston among other publications.