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Saturday night at DYI feels like a journey back into a darker time and dimension; I am here to see Part1 a postpunk band, who formed in 1980.
Their sound mirrors the more sinister soul of that very decade often represented and remembered in its later flashy and flamboyant outer skin, but also marked by gloomy politics engaged in a nervy cold war and by violent street protests. Punk music was in many ways what carried and spread the vox populi against the establishment then and amongst the young rebels and anarchists.
Part1 had disbanded in 1983 and in they got back together in 2013. I wonder what the reason behind their re-banding is. More generally, I am curious to know what the current nostalgia is all about? Is it just a temporary fashion or is it more than that? Because revivals, some would argue, don’t always aim to recreate a past momentum in its original intent and maintain its substance. Often what becomes a revival may just be a more superficial need for imitation, a public response to the call from fashion magazines to follow the retro trend of the moment. What I mean is that the return to punk, may as well just be providing a sonic accessory to go with the oversized monochrome coat and the boyfriend’s jacket, now coming back in high demand to the high street. Although this is not the impression I have tonight.
I speak to Part1’s drummer, Chris Low. He points out how alternative festivals such as Rebellion in the UK are prompting comebacks, reunions and various resurrections of long silenced acts. Lately also noticeable the increasing presence of punk groups even at more commercial gatherings such as Coachella in California (where, to give an instance, Eagulls performed in April 2015). Chris believes the return of punk is not a fashion caprice. He explains how parallels can be drawn between the post-war anxieties expressed then (in the 80s) and the more contemporary distress experienced by the generations today on the backdrop of Iraq and Afghanistan. How the whole movement emerged out of the depression of the late 70s and today we have a similar situation in terms of economic recessions leading to austerity.
As Part1 start their set, the crowd occupies the space in front of stage and becomes more dense and numerous each second. The heavy and dark tunes, too cool for melody, are powerfully involving despite the intended lack of descant, and the vibe is good. I notice a sense of integrity both on stage and off stage that reassures me again this is not a fashion exploit.
The following band, Anasazi, has formed much more recently in 2010 in NYC and is now touring Europe – it is the first time I see them and although I am not familiar with their socio-political beliefs, their attitude on stage aids to clear any doubt that anyone would be in this scene for the prêt-à-porter…
Find out more about Part1 and the DIY: