Counterculture

Burma Punks Way, Way Punker Than U.S.-Brand Punks

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For your all-important daily dose of America hey, is not that bad, or if you're aching for an authoritarian regime to vicariously rebel against, check out this article in Spiegel Online (via Gawker) on the trials and serious tribulations of being a punk in Burma. Back in (London) punk's heyday Johnny Rotten may have been knifed in the hand by fans of Queen Elizabeth, but it's still just a whole other level of punk rock when you're doing it in one of the least free places on earth.

Der Spiegel:

The punk band Rebel Riot stands on a makeshift stage in an abandoned restaurant on the outskirts of downtown Rangoon, Burma's largest city. They wear their hair spiked straight up and studded leather jackets. "Saida! Saida! Saida!" singer Kyaw Kyaw barks into the microphone, "Resistance! Resistance! Resistance!" The drummer pounds away at his set while the guitars reverberate through the room. "No fear! No indecision! Rage against the system of the oppressors!" Kyaw Kyaw howls.

Meanwhile, about 50 fellow punks, none much older than 25, are romping around in front of the stage wearing T-shirts that say "Fuck Capitalism" or "Sex Pistols." They jump around wildly and fling themselves to the ground. The air is hot and sticky. The entire crowd sings along: "Resistance! Resistance! Resistance!"

In Burma, punk is far more than just a superficial copy of its Western counterpart. Here, what is probably the most rebellious of all subcultures in the Southeast Asian country is going up against one of the world's most authoritarian regimes. Punk gives young Burmese a chance to symbolically spit in the face of the hated government, which took power in 2010 in the wake of what was widely considered a fraudulent election. Although the government has shown initial signs of greater open-mindedness, which included the release of political prisoners in recent months, Burma is still far from a state that embraces the rule of law.

Read the rest here.

And check out the band Rebel Riot who sound just as authentically terrible as early Sex Pistols or Slits.

And definitely, definitely check out Michael C. Moynihan and Reason.tv's 2009 interview with Gorki Águila, lead singer of Cuban punk rock band Porno Para Ricardo.