Even if you don’t have your finger on the pulse of contemporary hardcore, you’ve likely heard of Milwaukee’s reigning champs, Big Laugh. After a self-released demo in 2019 and a 2020 7” (Manic Revision) on 11 PM Records, 2023 saw the release of their debut LP Consume Me via the legendary Revelation Records. While the isolation of 2020 and 2021 washed out the weak, Big Laugh returned to the fold like a honed blade, sharper than ever.

Landing somewhere between the untethered mania of first wave hardcore freaks like United Mutation and YDI, the floorpunching fury of late 80s NYHC luminaries like Breakdown and Rest In Pieces, and even the odd burst of patented D.C. melody a la Rites of Spring, Big Laugh are one part combat boot and one part Air Jordan. As self-professed “punks who listen to Judge”, the band manages a tight rope act that lesser groups would never even attempt. Underpinning these sensibilities is a masterful ear for hardcore songcraft that translates just as well to the car stereo as it does to a basement full of rabid mutants tearing each other apart. But, like all quality hardcore acts, Big Laugh is best experienced live—As exemplified by the crushing, razor sharp performances on their winter 2023 run with fellow up and comers Gel.

In a sea of pale imitations and trend hopping opportunists, identity is a precious commodity, and Big Laugh has it in excess. Whether you’re a sentient studded bracelet or a semi-conscious embodiment of a Lockin’ Out hoodie, Big Laugh’s got the goods.