Złodzieje Rowerów final show, by Piotr Nowak, facebook.com/butlon
Złodzieje Rowerów final show, by Piotr Nowak, facebook.com/butlon
News Stories

Refuse Records: three decades of resilient ethics in shifting landscape of hardcore punk

4 mins read

In a world accustomed to the quick ebb and flow of trends, the prospect of a hardcore punk label enduring three decades deserves more than a cursory nod. Refuse Records, a Polish stronghold in the intricate cosmos of hardcore punk, has achieved this feat not by compromising its ethos, but by doubling down on its DIY roots and progressively radical ideals.

To celebrate their 30-year stint, Refuse Records has curated a two-part festival that promises to be a microcosm of its extended lifetime—full of dissonant chords, provocative ideas, and the indelible ink of community and culture.

Launched in 1993 by Robert, Refuse Records has been a tireless advocate for the hardcore punk scene, utilizing its platform for distribution, booking shows, and coordinating tours while releasing close to 200 records. Robert didn’t just stop at distributing albums; he was the catalyst behind numerous acts touring relentlessly across European soil. He brought together bands and artists who shared a kindred spirit of questioning societal norms, inciting a kind of musical activism through every distorted guitar and impassioned lyric. (check out our 25th anniversary interview HERE).

“Three decades of excitement, dedication, and idealism,” Robert reflected, setting the tone for what Refuse Records has always been—a project and a mission, bigger than any individual or band. This label wasn’t just throwing pebbles into the ocean; it was creating ripples that touched shores globally, notably emphasizing European and Polish acts that have inspired multiple generations of hardcore punk enthusiasts.


As part of their 30th-anniversary celebrations, Refuse Records has orchestrated a multi-venue, multi-city event, an affair as layered and complex as the hardcore punk genre itself. It kicks off in Berlin across three days from September 15th to 17th, at well-known haunts like Tommyhaus, Köpi/AGH, and Cassiopeia.

On September 15th at Tommyhaus, you’ll hear from bands like DEADSTOOLPIGEON from Amsterdam, DREGS from Vienna, and SCHWACH, a local Berlin band. From NYC, SIRKKA will bring their unique sound, followed by DISAVOW from Gothenburg, MANIC RIDE from Malmö, LASSO from Brazil, and BURNING KROSS from Belgium.

The next day, September 16th, Köpi hosts a line-up featuring COKE BUST from Washington D.C., VITAMIN X from Amsterdam, BEYOND PINK from Malmö, and SCRAPS from Lille. Don’t miss Dresden’s THE TANGLED LINES and Warsaw’s GOVERNMENT FLU either. In the second room, Koma F, MORUS from Warsaw, EAT MY FEAR and THE FOG from Berlin, and STATICØ from Belgrade will be playing. Plus, there will be a panel on upcoming books about hardcore punk.


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September 17th at Cassiopeia offers a fantastic closing lineup, featuring NATIONS ON FIRE from Belgium, MAINSTRIKE from Arnhem, RAW BRIGADE from Colombia, PROTEIN and FORESIGHT from Kraków, and Berlin’s own ANTI-CORPOS. Whether you’re into classic punk, straight edge, or hardcore, Berlin’s venues will have something for everyone.

Then, a second wave of the celebration rolls into Warsaw on October 13th and 14th. Interestingly, the Warsaw leg will feature over 20 bands linked to Refuse Records’ history.


For those looking to catch some live music in Warsaw, Poland, you won’t be disappointed. The city has a diverse lineup of bands from different parts of the world. Get ready to mosh with the French punk outfit SCRAPS, or headbang to the heavy sounds of INFEKCJA from Wrocław. From Oslo, MODERN LOVE brings a Scandinavian touch to the scene. Local bands like THE CORPSE from Łask and Warsaw’s own YE.STEM and HUMAN RIGHTS are also featured, giving a taste of the city’s homegrown talent. Other bands like FORESIGHT from Kraków, WATCHING ME FALL and MOIRA from Bielsko-Biała, and BLISS from Lublin round out the lineup.


On October 14th, Hydrozagadka is hosting a special event featuring bands like NATIONS ON FIRE from Belgium, CHANGE from Vancouver/Seattle, Canada/USA, and GOVERNMENT FLU’s FINAL SHOW from Warsaw itself. Also joining are VITAMIN X from Amsterdam, ODD MAN OUT from Seattle, SPIRIT CRUSHER from Germany, DREGS from Vienna, REGRES from Częstochowa, HEATSEEKER from Warsaw, and DRINK DEEP from Berlin. This night is sure to be an eclectic and electric celebration of punk and hardcore music.


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For those looking to be a part of this milestone, it’s worth noting that the events are being held in venues with which Robert has a personal and professional history. “It’s going to be a 3-day event planned in the venues where I booked shows / worked with in the past,” Robert shares, giving us a sense of the organic relationship he has maintained with these venues over the years.

Beyond the cacophony of guitars and the palpable intensity of drums, there’s an underlying narrative of activism and community that Refuse Records has embraced. The anniversary events aren’t just concerts; they’re cultural symposiums where like-minded collectives and organizations will host stalls, advocating for a better world, a testament to Robert’s ethos that Refuse Records has always been an integral part of the worldwide underground network.

As it celebrates its 30th year with a carefully curated set of events, Refuse Records offers not just a nostalgic look back but a promising glance forward, reiterating that even in a genre defined by its transient intensity, dedication, idealism, and community can sustain a lifelong journey.

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Karol Kamiński

DIY rock music enthusiast and web-zine publisher from Warsaw, Poland. Supporting DIY ethics, local artists and promoting hardcore punk, rock, post rock and alternative music of all kinds via IDIOTEQ online channels.
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