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

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 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?
Goodman: 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.

Sh*t I Slept On

Posted by Gomez Comes Alive!, January 11, 2009 11:15pm | Post a Comment
People tell me I have good taste in music. I have to disagree with them. It’s not that I’m humble, because I’m not, it’s that I’m a natural-born skeptic and my cynicism gets the best of me, especially with music. Most people can like a band, song or album instantly. I have to scrutinize it until I see everything that is wrong with music before I see what is right. This is especially true when I see an artist perform live without knowing anything about them. Without having the knowledge of an artist’s music beforehand, I’ve denounced many artists that later on I've found myself loving. Here are a few of my worst blunders, in no order.

Latryx @ The House Of Blues (1996)

I went to check out DJ Shadow, who was opening for Jeru The Damaja & De La Soul. When the curtains opened, Lateef The Truth Speaker & Lyrics Born, otherwise known as Latrx, came out, rapping simultaneously with two different rhymes. I thought, “What is this weak shit?’ The truth was I just wanted Shadow to do his Endtroducing jams and I wasn’t in the mood to hear anything new. I remember some kid in the audience scolding the L.A. crowd after their lackadaisical response to the group’s performance. “Yo kids, ya’ll sleeping on them!” A year later I couldn’t put the Latyx CD down, as well as the Blackalicous e.p. I guess I was sleeping.

Bikini Kill
@ Jabberjaw (1992)

L.A. was the home of The Runaways, The Go-Go’s, The Bangles, L7 and Hole. Frightwig, The Mudwimin, and Tribe 8, and Spitboy from The Bay area played in Los Angeles years before the arrival of the Riot Girl movement. So what was the big deal about Bikini Kill? Most people at the show were there to antagonize them for their outspokenness. We also had to suffer through one of the worst opening bands in the history of music, a short-lived band called Pussy Willow, who droned and wailed for more than an hour. The show was just a back and forth with the audience, who tried hard to break the spirit of the group. The show ended with the band exhausted and in tears. It was like seeing the Sex Pistols in Texas on their first tour. Since I really didn’t know their music at the time, I lost out on Bikini Kill's barrage of Black Flag licks with Exene meets Poly Styrene vocals. To top it off, the band wrote best punk songs to come out of the 90’ retrospect, of course.

Helios Creed
@ Raji’s (1990)

Here was another, “you are the opening group and I don’t know you” situation. I had no idea who Helios Creed was, nor that he was once half of the band Chrome. I went to see Nomeansno, a band I could care less about now. I think I waited at the bar and missed ninety percent of Helios' set. What was worse is that that was the line-up that had Rey Washam on drums, who played with (among others) Scratch Acid, Rapeman, Ministry, The Big Boys, The Didjits, Lard, and Tad. Yes, one hell of a drummer. Now I can list Chrome as one of my biggest influences, but back then, I had my head up my ass.

Freestyle Fellowship @ The Roxy (1992)

This one is real embarrassing because I write so much about them and their influence on Hip-Hop. But back in 92, they were the opening group for-- get this-- The Disposable Heroes of Hiphoprisy! I went to the show because this Hip-Hop hating girl I was dating liked them because they were, “intelligent,” unlike the Rap that I loved so well. I think she thought she was doing me a favor, exposing me to Michael Franti, who was and still is the poster child for the overly conscious, overly educated, privalaged people of America. Of course, their audience did not get Freestyle Fellowship, but neither did I! I felt so awkward in the audience of college rockers, all I could think about was leaving. I really didn’t pay attention to Freestyle Fellowship’s ability to flow their asses off. In fact, I didn’t even know what freestyling was! Aceyalone, Mikah 9, Jupiter 9 and P.E.A.CE. traded verses like jazz musicians traded solos. In retrospect it was the equivalent of a lyrical Bird, Dizzy, Roach and Monk jamming on stage. After the Disposable Heroes of Hiphoprisy set, the Fellowship gang got back on stage to freestyle, but the entire audience, seeing that Franti wasn’t coming back on stage, just left. A few months later I got a cassette of Inner City Griots and I was hooked. It’s easily in my top 10 favorite Hip-Hop albums of all time. I can’t even tell you the last time I’ve even seen a Disposable Heroes of Hiphoprisy CD. Clearance bin perhaps?

Notorious B.I.G.
@ The L.A. Sports Arena (1995)

It wasn’t that I didn’t like Biggie; it was more that I went to the show to see The Wu-Tang Clan. It was a radio show (92.3 The Beat, back then) and the bill was Biggie, Ice Cube, Coolio, The Wu Tang Clan, and various other rappers. After the Wu Tang and Ice Cube sets, a huge fight broke out on the Sport Arena floor. Ice-T, who was the MC for the night, tried to calm everyone down but the fights continued. I got fed up and started to walk towards the exit. At that point, the group of people that got kicked out of the venue for fighting started blasting in the parking lot, people started running back into the Sports Arena for fear of getting shot. I then went back to my seat. Coolio tried to do a set before LAPD got involved and shut down the show yet again. I was going to wait it out for Biggie but I saw the riot squad arrive and I started to think that maybe it would be best if I left. I never found out if Biggie performed that night or if they ended the show then and there. To tell you the truth, I don’t want to know if he did. I rationalize my decision to leave with the thought that I witnessed The Wu Tang kill it on stage that night and I that I saw Cube play all of his hits. Yet, once again, I listen to Biggie more now than I do Cube or Wu Tang.