Free Pussy Riot!

Pussy Riot are a Russian punk band that started early this year. Or at least, early this year they started doing their most awesome stuff, some of which has included being arrested – but more on that later.

Now I’m often skeptical of bands who call themselves punk these days. They’re usually conflating punk with “whining” and with “playing loud and fast”. They miss the furious, unrelenting political stances; the desire to offend and provoke; the home-grown ethic and the frankly limited musicianship.

So when I saw that someone had called the music that I downloaded “punk rock”, I took it with a pinch of salt. Track one was enough to re-illusion me of this belief, with vocals on “Deliver Pavement” being recorded, badly, on top of the church, with wind and car horns providing backing vocals. And I don’t even think that they have indoor voices.

Yes, that’s them.

And the politics? No spare second of music is left without an anti-fascist statement – I assume; I don’t know any Russian, beyond “da”.

Which brings me onto the next part of this article – 3 of the band are in prison.

They are there because a lot of their songs criticise the eminently criticisable Vladimir Putin. I don’t know what they say about him, but really nothing would surprise me. All I know is that their EP and its title song are called “Kill The Sexist!” If that doesn’t say it all…

Well. Isn’t this shit? People are being imprisoned for singing. What is this, Joffrey’s Court?

Understandably, a bunch of people are pissed off about this. Well, aren’t you? They’ve been put in prison by a fascist regime for writing songs about that fascist regime, in the hopes that one day they won’t live in a fascist regime. I’m not sure how this can be any clearer.

So a movement has been arranged, with the intention of doing what the band cannot – at least while imprisoned. To get some measure of justice. And to get them out of prison. Peaches, who you may know of, has started a campaign, with a bunch of big musical backers, to support the home-grown activism Pussy Riot were spearheading and which is now campaigning to get them out of prison.

It’s just a simple petition: FREE PUSSY RIOT.

If you’ve been interested enough to read this far, click that link above. Just to watch the video, for fuck’s sake!

Others who’ve signed – The Hives, Lykke Li, members of  Yeah Yeah Yeahs and Scissor Sisters… But really, they aren’t important – I’m sorry to have made this a popularity contest. Because even if this is just a silly petition that only tells you that “we” care rather than implements serious societal change, we owe it to ourselves to say we don’t approve of this, no matter what.

On that note, here’s Billy Bragg:

Briefly going back to the music, maybe it isn’t as good as some stuff I’ve heard. But maybe it doesn’t have to be. It has to galvanise, and state it’s point, and from the tone of the songs, and the response it’s gotten, I’d say they achieved that.

And on top of that, it doesn’t hurt that the music is still pretty kick-ass!

* * *

Also of interest: whilst looking for pictures of the band, I found this –

… And while this is funny – which it is, don’t get me wrong – I have to say that my response is “Er, yeah.”

Nothing about this, about any of what’s gone on, is about the fact that they are women – with the possible exception that the news get more interesting pictures to post*. What’s happened has been all about what the band have done, and about what they’ve had done to them in response.

* And quite frankly, I wouldn’t say the band themselves are above knowing this fact and using it to strengthen their attack on Putin. Good on them if they did, because they’ve attracted the (unwanted) attention that Putin deserves and needs.

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Posted on August 20, 2012, in Music, Politics and tagged , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. 1 Comment.

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