Softer, expressive punk in the Trump era

Left-leaning artists have declared war on the Trump administration—through their music. Punk rock, in particular, has become more politically expressive in the months following the inauguration of President Donald Trump.

Pop-punk bands in the 90s generally focused on themes of emotion and inner-expression. Today, we see a slight shift in tone. It’s a shift that finds its roots in late 70s punk. Bands like the Clash and Dead Kennedys wrote overtly political songs, often preaching left-wing ideals with a sense of fervor and defiance. These politically-charged anthems gave punks leverage as respectable commenters on society.

A portion of today’s youth are fed up with, what they believe, exclusive and xenophobic policies of Trump and his constituents. Through their soulful rage, however, modern punks have found a softer side to their political dynamic compared to some of their predecessors.

An article in NME mentioned Diet Cig as one of these hip, politically-driven punks. Music journalist Thea de Gallier, said the duo employs empathy in sharing their outlook on the word.

In the interview posted on NME’s website, Alex Luciano said, “It’s OK to be empathetic and show your feelings and listen to other people’s feelings,” said Luciano. “It doesn’t make you any less punk or less strong. I think it actually makes you more punk.”

At the same time, there are some that say Donald Trump’s presidency will benefit the punk scene. These advocates argue, essentially, that whacky society equals more meaningful punk songs. In their eyes, the resistance will make the art more interesting.

“Donald Trump is going to make punk rock great again. We’re all going to crawl down staircases into basements and speakeasies and make amazing satirically political art,” said Amanda Palmer, lead singer and lyricist of the Dresden Dolls in a Guardian interview.

While this view is certainly prevalent in the punk realm, others in the scene simply don’t feel the same way. Luciano said only privileged people would make that statement.

“A lot of people are scared for their lives right now, who aren’t thinking, ‘oh good a catastrophe’s happening but we’re going to have good punk music,’” said Luciano.

Political expression has always been a staple of punk ‘s creative edge, and today’s punks are making the most of it. Its effect on society, however, is to be determined.

This article was written by the host of the Punkadelic Radio Hour on WIUX-LP Bloomington. The show airs on Saturday nights at 11 p.m.

Sources: The Guardian, NME, Stanford Daily.