What about tomorrow? A lecture on the history of punk music in the USSR and Russia

When: Monday, March 9, 1:30 – 2:30 pm
Where: Mandel Reading Room (303)
Facebook Event: https://www.facebook.com/events/943831382697961/
What about tomorrow? A lecture on the history of punk music in the USSR and Russia by Alexander Herbert is a PhD candidate in the history department at Brandeis University focusing on the history of the late Soviet Union. His research interests include environmentalism, youth culture, macabre film, music, and politics toward the end of the socialist experiment. He is a veteran vegan, self-ascribed environmentalist, occasional musician, opportunistic freelance writer and translator, and fan of beet and pickle pizza.
The presentation will chronicle the history of punk rock in Russia from its earliest manifestation in 1978 to its current standing. It looks at how punk entered the Soviet Union and managed to persist despite the cultural police, how it struggled for definition in the 1990s, and how punks formed Antifa, animal rights, and feminist groups to help carve out safe spaces in an otherwise conservative country. Please join Alexander for a presentation, a chance to listen to some music, and a discussion. 

One Reply to “What about tomorrow? A lecture on the history of punk music in the USSR and Russia”

  1. As a musician myself I found it very fascinating to learn about Punk Rock in Russia. I learned that Punk Rock started in Leningrad in 1978 with a bunch of friends who got together to play. By the mid 80s, kids started forming bands and recording songs from their homes. Then came the Leningrad Rock Club, which was a place where amateur bands could go play. It’s very interesting that in the mid to late 80s, this music was still very much apolitical. It embodied the other 3 factors of Punk music though — those being style, spaces, and music. The songs were mostly about drinking, hanging with friends etc…
    Then, the disappearance of the Soviet Union happened and an ideological vacuum opened up and left people not knowing what to do or think. They didn’t want to talk about politics; they just wanted to live their lives. By the early 1990’s there was a shift in the lyrical messages. The songs shifted and now incorporated politics. This resulted in riots and protests, which also resulted in Punk Rock becoming more underground.
    Because of all the political incorporation, Punk Rock bands started forming and being more vocal about their political ideals. A female group, Pussy Riot, formed and have been called “the first political feminist punk rock band in Russia.” Another band formed called Stresshold. This band is very feminist and politically oriented. They sang about the place of women in punk scenes as well as objectification of women and how they are viewed in their societies.
    Overall I found it very interesting to learn about the rise and spread of Punk Rock. I also found it very interesting how the music went through such a shift in a matter of years. At first the music was extremely apolitical, but as events unfolded, the songs reflected more of the peoples’ lives. One of my biggest questions to the public would be- Do you think music should be sending political messages? Is that a musician’s role when writing, sharing, and performing their music?

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