Punk culture, and its tightly linked punk rock music, emerged in the 1970s and has since delivered a multitude of subgenres and sounds. It began as a rebellion against 1950s mainstream culture that was largely driven by The Beatles’ popularity. Anti-establishment views, individual freedom, and gender equality are at the heart of this movement. Punks prize DIY-ethic, non-conformity, and taking direct political action through strikes, sit-ins, and other forms of protest. From early acts like Debbie Harry and The Dead Kennedys, to skate punk’s Blink-182 and mid-2000s emo’s Jimmy Eat World and Dashboard Confessional, to more current mainstream bands like All Time Low and Modern Baseball, they all belong to the punk family tree. But with each new branch, the original staples of this culture and sound have become a little more amended and diluted. Most common, bands call themselves “punk” for their looks and sounds, but not for their ideologies and actions.
While first wave punks may grumble at today’s youth and their appropriation and misuse of “punk,” I don’t think musicians or any creators have to carry the political and ideological responsibilities affixed to punk and its history. Creators should do what they want to do, and are free to stay silent on politics and personal beliefs. But in this day and age of political unrest, punk is not dead. And I’m not just talking about its sound or style. There are many bands who’ve embraced the actions and philosophies of this scene.
Panic! At the Disco
Longtime supporters of marriage equality, Panic!’s no stranger to speaking out about their beliefs. Frontman Brendon Urie regularly sports a Pride flag on stage, speaks out against transphobia and homophobia during sets, and remains vocal about politics on Twitter.
. @realDonaldTrump Can you just go away? You are so not POTUS material.
— Brendon Urie (@brendonurie) February 6, 2017
After the Orlando Pulse nightclub shooting, they sold their Girls Like Girls and Boys shirt to raise funds for the victims and held a pre-show blood drive in Miami. Most recently, they’ve released a shirt in support of Planned Parenthood. On the U.S. leg of the most recent tour, Death of a Bachelor, two fans spearheaded a project where the audience is given rainbow colored paper hearts to illuminate with their cell phones during “Girls/Girls/Boys” in support of LGBTQ people, and the band has taken steps to notify event staff at each venue of this tradition so that it can happen at each show.
All Time Low
We're going to match your contributions and donate an additional $12,000 to the @ACLU. Thank you all for supporting something so important.
— All Time Low (@AllTimeLow) February 22, 2017
While this band isn’t the most politically outspoken, they recently released a specially designed shirt in support of ACLU and raised $12,000, which they matched and donated to the ACLU.
— All Time Low (@AllTimeLow) March 13, 2017
Frontman Alex Gaskarth recently wore a Love Music Hate Racism shirt and tweeted their support of this U.K. based movement from the band’s account.
In the past year and a half, Modern Baseball has become increasingly vocal about and involved in making sure their concerts are safe and welcoming for everyone. To them, this means having gender neutral bathrooms at every venue and a hotline fans can call if they feel unsafe during a show. They’ve also become outspoken about mental health issues, sexual assault, and gender equality.
In the final days of the 2016 Election, Modern Baseball released an anti-Trump song as part of the 30 Days, 30 Songs series.
While this band is by no means perfect–they recently came under fire for headlining a tour of all cis straight white dudes, which has since been canceled as the band needed a mental health break–their actions and efforts to make the scene and the world a better place are very punk.
PVRIS recently performed at a SXSW event in support of Planned Parenthood. They’ve also released shirts to raise money for causes such as the victims of the Orlando Pulse nightclub shooting, ACLU, and Planned Parenthood. Frontwoman Lynn Gunn is also open about being gay and feels it’s important to use their band’s platform to speak about it and other issues so as to enact positive changes.
Halsey is known for being supportive and vocal about LGBTQ issues, women’s rights, racial equality, and mental illness, having experienced prejudice and hardship as a biracial, bisexual female performer who is bipolar. She’s also been recently vocal about her support of Planned Parenthood after her own experiences there following a miscarriage. She and Katy Perry marched together in D.C. at the Women’s March. Later, she posted a powerful message about the march and her experiences with Planned Parenthood, and began a Twitter campaign where she pledged to donate $1 to Planned Parenthood for every retweet this message received in the next five hours. Halsey ended up donating $100,000.
Taking Back Sunday
On the day of Trump’s inauguration, Taking Back Sunday announced they’re putting together a compilation album, Music For Everyone. The album will feature artists such as Frankie Iero, Anti-Flag, and Allison Weiss. John Nolan of Taking Back Sunday said he was inspired by the threat the new administration poses to people of color, Muslims, women, and the LGBT community, and wanted to do something to support those people as well as the ACLU, who is know for fighting discrimination. The album is set to release sometime in the spring with the proceeds going to the ACLU.
PWR BTTM’s proud, gender queer existence is resistance in and of itself. But their music and message is of love and acceptance. In a recent performance at SXSW, they sang about using gender neutral pronouns and ending fascism, along with plenty of their relatable relationship-centric songs.
some folks have brought up tht our shows could be safer/more inclusive 2 POC! If any POC have thoughts/suggestions on this our dms are open!
— PWR BTTM (@PWRBTTMBAND) March 4, 2017
They remain cognizant of what they can do to make the scene and their shows more welcoming and safe to everyone, especially minorities.
These recent efforts to oppose Trump and everything his posse stands for by current alternative musicians not only shows that the philosophies of punk are alive and well, but also that this scene wants to be welcoming, safe, and supportive of everyone.
Featured Image: Halsey Updates
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