Without a doubt, the event that stirred up the most ruckus so far at this year’s San Diego Comic-Con was the panel featuring Kristen Stewart, Robert Pattinson and Taylor Lautner, the three stars of the ubiquitous “Twilight” movie franchise. One of the major headlines coming out of yesterday’s presser was the fact that Stewart appears to be fully embracing her current role as Joan Jett in the biopic about the Runaways. She showed up to the event in her Jett hair and wearing a T-shirt that said “Minor Threat” on it.
But what is Minor Threat? Glad you asked. They were a short-lived hardcore punk band based out of Washington, D.C. The group was lead by Ian MacKaye, who later went on to form Fugazi, one of the most important and influential hardcore acts in punk’s second wave. MacKaye was a punk’s punk who believed that punk rock wasn’t just a movement but an entire lifestyle. In fact, the Minor Threat song “Straight Edge” essentially invented the ethos of the same name, wherein punk fans forgo smoking, drinking and premarital sex for the sake keeping the mind sharp. Later in their bried career, they proved that hardcore didn’t have to be just three chords and shouting, as tracks like “Salad Days” used acoustic guitars and ended up being one of the more definitive tracks of the era.
Though Minor Threat only released a single full-length album (along with three EPs), the group’s influence remains strong. The label they established, Dischord, remains one of the most respected independent labels in the U.S., and has put out music by Fugazi, Scream, Rites of Spring and the Faith. MacKaye established Dischord and also produces dozens of other bands, while Lyle Preslar ran Caroline Records (which jumpstarted the careers of Peter Gabriel, Ben Folds and Smashing Pumpkins).
Stewart is clearly doing her research and embracing the era during which Jett became a force, so it’ll be interesting to see what other shirts she rolls out. In the meantime, check out the Minor Threat back catalog (especially their self-titled EP, a blast of youthful aggression and razor-sharp execution).