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Rites of Spring was an American post-hardcore band from Washington, D.C.marker 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 generally considered the first emo band.

The band only performed 15 concerts. Vocalist/guitarist Guy Picciotto and drummer Brendan Canty went on to play in the influential post-hardcore band Fugazi in the late 1980s.

Band history

Though rooted in the loud-and-fast style of hardcore punk, Rites of Spring is claimed after the fact for being the founders of the post-hardcore or emotional hardcore genre.

The band is named after the ballet of a similar name. Guy Picciotto didn't like the glamorized aggression direction that the DC-based punk scene was taking in the mid-80s, and decided that his band would be based on an openness and willingness to discuss hurtful experiences and pain.


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 #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 #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 and 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."


Studio Albums




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