two bars three stars: local tribute to pussy riot

28 Aug

If you belong to any social media network, there is no way you haven’t seen at least vague mentions of the Pussy Riot debacle currently unfolding in Russia. I won’t rehash all the details, but in case you need an outline: back in March, a feminist Russian punk group called Pussy Riot released their most controversial work yet. The group, which is part of a broader opposition movement to Russian president Vladimir Putin, released a music video of themselves performing a sacrilegious, anti-Putin song in a Russian church. In reaction, Russian police swiftly arrested several members of the group, and they were taken to prison. Currently, three members of the collective are charged with “hooliganism” and received two year prison sentences, while two others have fled Russia to avoid prosecution.

While this story is devastating in so many ways and should outrage every single one of us, the silver lining to this tragedy (and many others like it) is the rallying of support that has bubbled up from all angles. Many world-famous artists, from Red Hot Chili Peppers to Sting to Madonna, have voiced support for the group; Vivian Girls will play a Pussy Riot tribute show; and Bjork is even selling Pussy Riot t-shirts on her website. Most importantly, Bikini Kill, one of Pussy Riot’s biggest influences thanks to their work as part of the riot grrrrl movement in the 1990s, has touted this event’s historical and artistic significance.

But it’s not just international superstars who are rallying to speaking out against this whole mess- local musicians are getting in on the action too. I was recently exposed to this tribute song, “Already Winning,” which was composed by a group of DC artists operating under the psuedonym “Coward Collective.” The song is definitively punk, but tailored to the event at hand: we’ve got an eery, church-like falsetto in the intro, which quickly melts into an aggressive guitar riff. Most interestingly, the lyrics were written based entirely on Pussy Riot’s letters from prison, culminating with the chorus “scared by a punch of pussies.” Whoa.
This track is a solid, well-crafted punk song in its own right (let alone the importance of its message, let alone the creativity behind using Pussy Riot’s letters as  lyrics fodder). Between the aggressive instrumentation, the jarring lyrics, and the sheer weight of the situation that the song speaks to, this song hits hard. Talk about locally-sourced, globally-focused art.

Check it out and spread it around. This is local music of which to be proud.

“Already Winning (Pussy Riot Tribute),” Coward Collective

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