The social conditions in modern Britain are providing fertile ground for a rebirth of anti-establishment rock musicby Oliver Ward / April 30, 2019 / Leave a comment
You may remember the first time you heard punk music. Perhaps it was back in 1976, when the Sex Pistols and piercing enthusiast Johnny Rotten broke onto the scene—just as James Callaghan’s chronically broke Labour government went begging to the IMF for a $3.9bn bailout package. Or perhaps it was in 1979, during the winter of discontent, when rubbish lay strewn across Britain’s streets, and Ian Curtis of Joy Division was warping minds with his generally incoherent vocal slurs.
Whenever your first time was, you will know that punk is hard wired into Britain’s national consciousness. Defined as a loud, fast moving, aggressive derivative of rock music—punk is able to encapsulate the mood of the day through its searing guitar riffs, unrelenting drum solos and belligerent vocals.
In the 1970s punk’s aggressive anti-state, anti-fascist heartbeat helped to define a generation’s political stance—most notably in Leeds, where punk was a response to the deterioration of race relations, the rise of the National Front, and the historic suppression of women. In Leeds, the early founders of post-punk had stumbled upon a music type that would come to serve as the perfect conduit for political expression.
Over the coming decade, punk rockers would direct their distain towards a political class accused of pomp, avarice and ignorance. In the absence of social media, punk became the mother of all outlets, and in truth it helped the political class of the day understand what the post-punkers, and wider working class, really thought about government policy; ranging from austerity in the UK, to apartheid in South Africa. You could even argue that punk did actually help to formulate policy—albeit through rather abrasive means.
Now in 2019, it feels as though anarchy has returned to the UK. We are in a state of political paralysis over Brexit. Amazingly, Nigel Farage has returned to frontline politics; ready to decimate Labour’s vote share in the much-anticipated European elections. And just as we thought the national atmosphere couldn’t get any more febrile, Extinction Rebellion steps onto London’s streets to remind us all that our doom is imminent. How fitting that in the age of mass hysteria, punk music has returned to the British mainstream.
And punk’s return to popular culture has been oh so, well, punk. Springing up out of nowhere with its signature…