Because the term emo has come to define a sensibility more than a particular sound, it can be difficult to pin down even if you're not an outsider. Yet there's a general consensus -- by no means universal, but fairly solid -- that Washington, D.C.'s Rites of Spring were the first true emo band. Their music epitomized emo (or emocore, as it was then more often referred to) in the original sense of the term: an emotionally charged brand of hardcore punk marked by introspective, personal lyrics and intense catharsis. While Rites of Spring strayed from hardcore's typically external concerns of the time -- namely, social and political dissent -- their musical attack was no less blistering, and in fact a good deal more challenging and nuanced than the average three-chord speed-blur. Although they didn't exist for long or record that much (two releases in just under two years), and didn't attract much attention outside of D.C. during that time, their influence was tremendous and far-reaching. Not only did they map out a new direction for hardcore that built on the innovations of Hüsker Dü's Zen Arcade, they spawned a host of imitators, first locally, then elsewhere; these descendants in turn gradually brought emocore to a wider underground audience, from which point it mutated into varying strands that often bore no surface resemblance to Rites of Spring, but owed them a great debt nonetheless. Additionally, half of the band went on to join Fugazi, whose status as punk icons helped shed light on Rites of Spring's small but still-potent recorded legacy.