Monday, September 7, 2009
O'Hell with Anok in the PRC
Dave O'Dell traveled to China in the mid-1990s as a foreign exchange student for a semester and wound up staying for 8 years. This period of time proved fruitful in the form of several jobs: writing for Beijing Scene, working for Pearl Printing's technology sector, developing and printing web promotions for bands on the Rock Records label, as well as some film work with IMAR Film Company (the first independent film company in China).
A chance meeting with China's first punk band, Gao Wei And Underbaby, led to many organized punk gigs, including the first punk festival, titled (you guessed it!) Punk's Not Dead. A shy friend by the name of Xiao Rong said he was starting a band called Brain Failure. Although, the first incarnation of the band didn't last too long, a new incarnation was started when Dave decided he would join as bassist and it wasn't long before the band became a hit sensation with Chinese youth. Brain Failure even went on to play in US musical events such as CMJ and SXSW in the late '90s/early 'oughts.
The Anarchy Jerks are basically a Chinese Oi band. Their gigs are almost always followed by government repression of various sorts, which usually end with shows being shut down by cops with guns and in riot gear. They even played a rave in Yunnan province on a small island that was located outside of Dali, where police landed and demanded to know what a DJ was and whether raves were considered subversive. The police asked one kid if his wallet had some kind of political significance and used this as the reason for shutting down the rave.
Although, a Westerner may think that some of this music simply hearkens back to English punk and oi, it's amazing that a youth movement of this sort can flourish in such a repressive and contained environment.
Anarchy In The P.R.C.