Punk un­der­ground goes wild be­neath the Hledan fly­over

The Myanmar Times - - The Pulse - SA­MUEL SCH­LAE­FLI s.sch­lae­fli@mm­times.com

THE set­ting looked promis­ing from the first mo­ment: A black drum­set, some amps and mi­cro­phones stood sand­wiched be­tween two high street lanes un­der a mas­sive con­crete fly­over. Be­hind the in­stru­ments, a painted wall ad­ver­tised “Su­per Cof­feemix” in bright red, adding an ag­gres­sive vibe as if set up with this con­cert in mind.

Close to the street lead­ing to down­town, a red diesel gen­er­a­tor the size of a small car promised power to come. One of the or­ga­niz­ers told me that they paid K30,000 to fuel en­ergy costs of the elec­tric gui­tars, mi­cro­phones, elec­tric pi­anos and the stage lights.

It all seemed right on key with the at­mos­phere of Novem­ber 12’s free seven band punk show, with an au­di­ence of around 200 peo­ple at peak time. At around 5pm trash/punk band Sys­tem opened the event. The punk crowd did not hes­i­tate a sec­ond be­fore launch­ing into pogo danc­ing and even­tual mosh­ing. Many of them dressed in black leather jack­ets, legs squeezed into leg­gings im­printed with lit­tle skulls. From the black Doc Martens shoes on their feet to the col­or­ful mo­hawk hair­cuts on their heads, an air of counter-cul­ture re­bel­lion was as plain as the art­ful tat­toos on their naked tor­sos. Never Re­verse and The Rebel Riot fol­lowed with more punk rock, be­fore Kaiza Tin Moong in­tro­duced a more laid-back vibe (read: some­where be­tween punk and folk) that elec­tri­fied the place with heavy rock n’ roll gui­tar riffs. “This must be the sound­track of the next Tarantino movie”, I yelled at a guy next to me. He seemed to like the idea.

As the hu­mid­ity mixed with beer, sweat and diesel fumes, the raw en­ergy of Yangon’s au­then­tic un­der­ground mu­sic scene grew even more pal­pa­ble. This event was per­fectly un­cut: from the do-it-your­self qual­ity of over-amped loud­speak­ers, to the Myan­mar beer bot­tles dragged along from the clos­est “city ex­press”, to the ex­plicit “F*ck off wankers!” patches on their ubiq­ui­tous leather jack­ets. “If there is one place where punk is still alive, then it must be Yangon”, I ha­rassed the guy next to me again.

After fe­male Hip Hop group YAK took over the stage, the bound­aries be­tween crowd and band dis­solved. As night fell over the un­der­pass,the event mor­phed into a huge party, with most peo­ple “on-stage” to sing-a-long to the YAK-songs. After Band No U-Turn con­cluded a suc­cess­ful U-Turn back to raw and noisy punk, it was time for Yangon-based band Kul­tureshock to play parts of their first self-re­leased al­bum – fin­ished just a cou­ple of days be­fore the Hledan con­cert. While the drum­mer de­mon­i­cally bat­tered his in­stru­ment and the singer yelled into the crowd, the lis­ten­ers could de­cide if they pre­ferred to shower in wa­ter foun­tains spilled out of bot­tles or beer foun­tains out of filthy mouths. Some guys even laid proof that one doesn’t nec­es­sar­ily need a stage for the plea­sures of stage div­ing. One thing is for sure: the Clash, the Ra­mones and the Sex Pis­tols would have been proud had they seen what heights – and depths – Yangon’s un­der­ground punk scene has reached.

Pho­tos: Sa­muel Sch­lae­fli

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