Amoeblog


PUSSY RIOT Benefit Show Held at The Smell With Vivian Girls and More

Posted by Billy Gil, August 22, 2012 05:38pm | Post a Comment
pussy riot benefit show vivian girls

At some point in the past few weeks, Pussy Riot became the most important band in the world. They’re not “important” in the 9.0 review on Pitchfork kind of way. Rather, Pussy Riot is a band that reminds us that music can, and does, have a very real worldwide impact.
 
I won’t attempt to re-report the tons of great coverage the Russian feminist punk band has received since reaching international attention, but here’s a summation: the Moscow-based band has held public performances wearing colorful masks and clothing while playing songs that directly criticize Russian President Vladimir Putin as well as the politics of the Russian Orthodox Church. These quick concerts are filmed and then put online, having appeared in places like the band’s livejournal page. One such performance, at the Cathedral of Christ the Saviour of the Russian Orthodox Church in Moscow, on Feb. 21, 2012, landed three of the collective’s members in jail, and after a widely publicized trial, they were found guilty of hooliganism and inciting religious hatred against the church. 
 
The verdict has been widely criticized as overly harsh. The United States State Department, The U.S. Embassy in Russia, U.S. President Barack Obama, Amnesty International, Human Rights Watch, among others, have expressed disappointment or disgust with the decision. Artists including Bjork, Madonna, Tim Minchin, Zola Jesus, Patti Smith, Paul McCartney and others have expressed public indignation over the decision, while on Aug. 16 a demonstration was held in New York, where actress Chloë Sevigny, writer Eileen Myles and others read writings and court statements from the detained members of the band — Maria Alekhina, Nadezhda Tolokonnikova and Ekaterina Samucevich. Vice Magazine editors got tattoos of the word “hooligan” in Russian to show their support. The Guaridan (U.K.) edited together a montage of Pussy Riot supporters with their song “Putin Lights Up the Fires.” Marches and protests have been held around the globe, with supporters donning similar attire to that worn by the band during its performances.

 

 
 

Over here in L.A., local bands have come together for a benefit show at the Smell, taking place this Monday, Aug. 27, at 8 p.m. The all-ages show will feature Vivian Girls, Pangea, Haim and Kremlin Head (with members of Bleached/Mika Miko and No Age playing punk covers), as well as DJ sets. Tickets are $10 and will go on sale at 12 p.m. on Thursday, Aug. 23. All proceeds will go toward the Pussy Riot Defense Fund. Buy tickets here and visit http://pussyriotla.tumblr.com/ for more information.
 
I sat down to speak with Vivian Girls and La Sera’s Katy Goodman about the show and what a band like Pussy Riot means to her.
 
Amoeba: So let’s talk about Pussy Riot a bit. Where did you first read or hear about them and what did you think?
 
la sera katy goodmanGoodman: I heard about it a few months ago. One of my bandmates was like oh man, have you heard about this? I did some research and it seems crazy to me. The fact that they just got sentenced – I didn’t think they’d get two years. So I’m glad to be able to participate in this.
 
Amoeba: I wasn’t sure what to expect of the music, but it’s really ferocious, reminds me of Bikini Kill. Are you guys going to try to cover any songs?
 
Goodman: No, we’re not going to cover any of their songs. I feel like for us, in America, we get to play and sing about anything we want. And especially because we’re an all-girl band, we can play pretty much wherever and whenever we want to without risk of imprisonment. We’re just doing our songs, I think all the other bands are too. I don’t think we could do one of their songs.
 
Amoeba: The Russian might be tough to tackle.
 
Goodman: That would be hard. I guess we could look up the English translation. … We just want to play a show and show our solidarity to them, and hopefully they realize how many people around the world support them.
 
Amoeba: How did this benefit show come together?
 
Goodman: I don’t want to go too into detail. It’s somewhat anonymous, kind of in the vein of Pussy Riot. I feel like there is gonna be a series of shows … of people who support the cause.
 
Amoeba: Will you guys be donning the masks the band wears?
 
Goodman: I don’t know, I guess you’ll have to come to the show to see! I think … there will be stuff like that going on.
 
Amoeba: It’s been really amazing to see what an impact this has had worldwide. It’s sort of a reminder to all of us who work with music that it can be a lot bigger than just the day to day. What do you think about that — these women putting their lives on the line with their music because of what it can represent? Does it make you think about what people’s goals are with their own music?
 
Goodman: I definitely have taken for granted throughout my music career, I take for granted that I’m allowed to say whatever I want. I can write songs about politics or I can write songs about having a crush on someone. And I can play in public, no matter what I’m saying, without fear of going to jail. These women understand the situation in Russia is very different. It’s amazing they’re putting themselves out there this way with their message. Not all of their messages are about being women — they went to jail for saying Putin and the church, that there should be more of a separation between church and state. We’ve had that since day one in America. They’re still fighting that today. I think different people use art in different ways to express themselves. Some people use music to express their political views, which is what these women are doing. And I think what they’re doing is amazing.

Relevant Tags

The Smell (3), Bikini Kill (2), Mika Miko (2), No Age (13), Bleached (15), La Sera (10), Vivian Girls (6), Pussy Riot (2), Pangea (7), Haim (13), Katy Goodman (2)