Pussy Riot has never been about music and it shouldn’t be mixed with it either. They’re your favourite protest group and rightly so, writes Jesus Jones.

Nothing more hateful than a punk band selling out”.
“A thin line between the rebellion between hip hop lyrics and punk lyrics.”

These two statements have been thrown around for decades, ever since the seventies. These same acts since the seventies have gone on to define genres, sub-genres, inspired generations, created riffs between gangs, hell! They’ve even instigated civil wars. As a punk listening comrade, I have dug every bit of it, the highs and the lows, the bad and the good and most importantly the various phases—from Bad Brains, The Clash, Black Flag, Bikini Kill, Minor Threat, Riot Grrrl, Sham 69, to even Greenday.

Then, Punk music went into a coma.

We were almost out of good raw independent music, when all of a sudden, people started acknowledging what Russia gave us, the Pussy Riot. A bunch of women led by Nadya Tolokonnikova, clad in masks and that belted out some kick-ass anti-Putin, feminist and pro-LGBT rights lyrics in all places possible (churches included). As long as it was unusual and had a sense of guerrilla-ship to it, they performed.

An absolute gasp of fresh air for some. Punk looked raw, brutal and lip-smackingly good again in their eyes. Russia of all countries had given them a punk band that made use of some of punk’s oldest DIY ethics—a counter-cultural act of protest, spurned from absolute contempt for and the absolute rejection of the mainstream. Pussy Riot had it all right, except for one tiny detail, their music was absolutely fuckin’ terrible.

Bad music or not, the performing act, sure got the Putin governments attention, so much so, that they were thrown in the slammer. In 2012, Nadya, Maria and Yekaterina were arrested for hooliganism. Six months later, Yekaterina was freed and the other two band memberswere thrown in separate prisons.

Eighteen odd months later, a million news agencies, a bunch of mainstream artists, musically and theatre inclined, rallied around for their freedom. Even Amnesty International adopted their case, claiming the women were ‘prisoners of conscience.’ They were finally freed in December 2013 and they became the face of a movement that was instigated by art and it was a victory for every rebelling soul around the world, including me.

Since their outburst of a circus, Pussy Riot has gone from being an underground band, to a mainstream musical act. The video art aspect of Pussy Riot has taken leaps and bounds in terms of aesthetic and political value -but in my world of punk-they’ve been pussy footing around punk long enough to have me write this piece.

Over the years, they sound has moved from terrible punk riffage, to terrible pop trash (their noise to me as well), though they still continue to be everyone’s favourite civilly disobedient protest group. And that is what they should remain, without trying to appropriate punk.

Disdain aside, this last week saw the release of yet another video by them, Straight outta’ Vagina (is it just me or does a Bappi Lahiri version of Straight outta’ Compton come to mind?).

The video once again is a brilliant piece of protest art and revolves around a young girl in a church, who is given a vagina shaped candy by a priestess that is played by Pussy Riot’s, Nadya Tolokonnikova, who obviously wears the band’s signature ski mask. The track however, is much like their last track/video –Chaika.  Only this time the music gets a little worse.

My honest suggestion to Pussy Riot and their fans, pick another genre to shit on because it is already hard enough to get people into loud and raw music, without having a bunch of protestors getting arrested in churches and calling themselves punks. The genre has suffered enough already.

 

 

 

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