Rites of Spring was an American post-hardcore band from Washington, D.C. in the mid-1980s, known for their energetic live performances. A part of the D.C. hardcore punk scene, Rites of Spring increased the frenetic violence and visceral passion of hardcore while simultaneously experimenting with its compositional rules. Lyrically, they also shifted hardcore into intensely personal realms and, in doing so, are often considered the first emo band, but Rites of Spring itself rejects any association between themselves and emo genres.
The band only performed around 15 shows in the DC area. Vocalist/guitarist Guy Picciotto and drummer Brendan Canty went on to play in Fugazi in the late 1980s.
1 Band history
1.2 Post-breakup and musical influence,
2.1 Studio Albums,
Allmusic's Matt Kantor described the band's music as being at times "fast and furious" while also being "at other times lush and evocative though always with a sense of drive and melody."
Though rooted in the loud-and-fast style of hardcore punk, Rites of Spring is claimed after the fact as being the founders of the emotional hardcore genre, or what is now commonly and retrospectively called emo-core, a precursor of screamo and emo. Jenny Toomey notes that, "Rites of Spring existed well before the term did and they hated it."
They were influenced by The Faith (Eddie Janney's previous band) and their 1983 EP Subject to Change with their introspective lyrics and angry, melody-tinged songwriting.
The band is named after the symphonic ballet The Rite of Spring by Igor Stravinsky.
Rites of Spring was the band's eponymous debut album from 1985. Its twelve songs were recorded at Inner Ear Studios in February 1985, produced by Ian MacKaye of Fugazi and Minor Threat, and released on vinyl in June of that year as Dischord Records No. 16. The album was re-released on CD and cassette in 1987, with an additional track from the same session, "Other Way Around", as well as the four songs from the Rites' follow-up EP, All Through a Life, Dischord No. 22. The CD and cassette originally retained the number "16" while the 1991 repress, as well as the 2001 remastered version of the same seventeen songs, were numbered "16CD" and given the new title End on End. The band broke up in January 1986.
Post-breakup and musical influence:
Picciotto, Janney, and Canty formed One Last Wish with Embrace alumnus, guitarist Michael Hampton (not to be confused with Michael Hampton, lead guitarist for Funkadelic).
The Rites of Spring personnel reunited for a quasi-reincarnation called Happy Go Licky, releasing an LP/CD of various live concert recordings though never producing any studio work. The music was much more experimental than Rites of Spring, heavily improvised and featuring tape loop effects.
Picciotto and Canty eventually teamed up with bassist Joe Lally and former Minor Threat, Skewbald, Egg Hunt, and Embrace singer Ian MacKaye (co-owner of the band's label, Dischord Records) in Fugazi. Mike Fellows went on to do session work for the Drag City label and form Miighty Flashlight, releasing an eponymous album under this name in 2002.
Picciotto himself doesn't recognize the attribution of having "created" emo. When asked about it in an interview his response was, "I've never recognized "emo" as a genre of music. I always thought it was the most retarded term ever. I know there is this generic commonplace that every band that gets labeled with that term hates it. They feel scandalized by it. But honestly, I just thought that all the bands I played in were punk rock bands. The reason I think it's so stupid is that - what, like the Bad Brains weren't emotional? What - they were robots or something? It just doesn't make any sense to me."