The abiding paradox of Washington's hardcore punk scene is that it's wildly turbulent yet stubbornly evergreen. Since the arrival of Bad Brains, young bands have been rapidly forming and imploding in perpetuity, but the shows never seem to stop. How does that work?
In a proudly D.I.Y. scene such as this one, much of the credit goes to those coagulant characters working hard in the background — the indefatigable scene-boosters who set up the gigs, wire up the PA systems or do both. Chris Moore is one of those people. The 31-year-old show organizer and sound engineer can be spotted operating the mixing console at many of Washington's liveliest punk shows, including the few nights he clocks in at the Black Cat nightclub each month.
Moore estimates that he has a hand in roughly two shows per week, and at a variety of venues — the Pinch, Slash Run and St. Stephen and the Incarnation Episcopal Church among them. He's also the main organizer behind Damaged City Fest, an annual District punk festival that welcomes bands from around the world each spring.
But Moore doesn't live his life entirely behind the curtain. In addition to all of his backstage hustle, he also plays drums in numerous punk groups — including Coke Bust, a long-standing outfit that still operates at breakneck speeds, and the Rememberables, a more melodic group in the mode of Dinosaur Jr., Weezer and the Smoking Popes. Moore says that touring with these troupes has taught him a lot about what bands expect once they haul their amps onstage. As for the rest of his education in live sound, he got it by relentlessly peppering sound engineers with questions whenever his bands are out on the road.
"Oh, I'm such a punisher," Moore says. "I'm never too proud to ask about what I don't know."
Lucky for us. What he's learned has helped some of our city's most urgent music sound louder and clearer.
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