In a world in which a Trump presidency is on the horizon, I could not help but consider the reaction it would have in the arts. This has certainly shaken up other facets of the world. The creative industry can act as a barometer of the cultural consciousness. So what will the readout be?
However, music is perhaps one of the most visceral media. Instant connections made via vibrations in the air. This makes it a particularly effective counter-cultural medium.
Since its inception, punk has always borne antagonism towards the systems of the world that tend to stifle, dull, or leverage control over our daily lives. Financial industries, big business, status quos, governments, and more have been the target of rapid-fire, distorted power-chords in tandem with comparable vocals. Emphasis here is on emotion, not composition. Feel over form.
Here’s how the night went:
The first band, Useless Id, set the tone of the night with their own sonic barrage. A way into their set, the singer asked the crowd, “Who here voted for Trump?” The response was largely negative. The singer-bassist then followed that up with a condemnation of the President-Elect and an approval of Bernie Sanders before launching into the next song. There’s a lot to unpack in that moment, but I’ll move on to PEARS.
How would I describe PEARS? Well, I would say that they deliver hardcore punk that comes straight from the heart. I would say that attaching wires from a generator onto Zach Quinn could be a viable solution to powering a small town. I would say that anyone who likes their music with teeth should check them out. Especially live.
Then NOFX comes out on the stage and the place, packed floor to balcony, erupts. It turns out that their stops here in Omaha have been few and far between. You could almost feel the audience hanging onto every sound that night.
The band loves to interact with the crowd, making the spaces in between the songs some of the most interesting moments. Singer-bassist, founding member Mike feels at home poking fun at members of the audience and just simply being at play within the moment. He expressed sympathies for the women in the audience, saying that they “just got kicked in the fucking head” with this past election. He also lambasted all of the religions to a cheering crowd. Political correctness be damned. This is punk, ladies and gentlemen. Dissatisfaction with a world not of our design, where the artifice is becoming more visible by the day, set to a soundtrack. When your average song is no more than two minutes, you can cover a lot of ground at a punk gig, and NOFX’s set list was comprehensive.
There is an authenticity to this band that armors itself from the usual criticisms, the familiar comparisons of the old sound with the new sound, accusations of adapting to a more lucrative identity, etc. But NOFX is NOFX. And the people got what they came for.
I predict that there will be a resurgence of punk music during a Trump presidency; not the punk laced with pop sensibilities, but rather the raw kind in which the energy can be directed towards reunification and ideological combat.
Here come the punks.