Punk as a Rebellion

What is Punk Rock?
What is Punk Rock?

Punk is the mixture of the American avant-garde and the British roots that boomed in the 1970s. This subculture is very contradicting and hard to define.

Punk rock opposes to anything that art rock represents. Punk is a chaos. The chaos becomes evident in everything that punks have to do with- in their clothing style, in their behaviors, in the aggressive attitudes. Punk is the culture that is against the social imprisonment of certain people. Punk is a rebellion against dullness.

Fashion in the mid to late ’70’s took a dramatic plunge from the glamour rock era (late 60’s – early 70’s). From suits and gowns to torn jeans and shirts, and marvellous make-up to tattoos and safety pin body piercings. Punks’ weren’t the most pleasingly aesthetic group to socialise with! Along with their ragged dress style, punks’ flaunted their behaviour to go with their shocking visual appearance. Parents considered punks’ to be an undesirable influence on their children due to the latent violence, explicit music, sexual attitudes, drug habits and the way punks’ presented themselves both visually and musically.

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Musically punks’ were very inexperienced. Punks had a Do-It-Yourself (DIY) attitude which basically encouraged the youth to start a band even if they couldn’t play their instruments. Most band members had only been playing their instruments for a few months before they started. Punk rock brought rock ‘n’ roll back to its bare essentials; four chord songs but strummed a lot faster to create a chainsaw buzz.

This buzz created a head nodding action in both the crowd and the band members, sometimes around 240 times a minute. Nearly all concerts were drug fuelled and bands presented loud chaotic performances. The majority of punk songs were about the way the youth felt about their political stance in society. This resulted in indecipherable and non-intelligent lyrics.

Where does punk fit in? Basically the New York Dolls created ‘Punk Rock’ before there was a term for it. They set the scene and aesthetic for what eventually became known as ‘punk’. The generation they influenced in New York and Londoncreated the terms Punk and Punk Rock. The first ‘punk rock’ band was The Ramones from New York. The Ramones created the musical ideas of ‘punk’. They achieved this by speeding the tempo up significantly and breaking rock & roll down to its basic form – four chords; simple catchy melody and alluring inane lyrics. In Britain, the Sex Pistols were the first and most influential punk band.

Their immediate impact in 1976 directly inspired almost every punk band that started. The Sex Pistols formed the blueprint for British punk, using simple, raw, stripped-down guitar riffs. Their ‘in your face’, playful destructive exaggerated behaviour resulted in the band being physically attacked in the streets and the media portraying them as ‘demons’. The Sex Pistols weren’t the only key punk band in Britain. Incorporating early rock and reggae, the Clash became the most politically idealistic and musically eclectic group in punk.


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