Atari Teenage Riot and the Power of music.
I’m not typically an angry person. Seriously, my instinct is to laugh at confrontation before I’m prone to act violently. The inclination has been rather helpful in interpersonal relationships. However, this is not to say I’m a person that operates without passion. Far from it, actually…
If you’ve read any of my previous posts, follow me on twitter, talk to me at the pub, or interact with me in any forum where my opinion is unshackled; It’s pretty obvious I’m a bit outspoken. I’m a Sociologist, so any time I see a system being abused, I tend to pounce. I could write a million essays about social injustice, but that’s not the goal of this blog post. Hi-Fi Lives is about inspiration, and very few artists have pushed me to act on that inspiration the same way as have Atari Teenage Riot.
I grew up in a hyper-conservative region of the U.S., so it wasn’t uncommon to have the feeling of a logical conclusion appear deviant to my community. Somewhere towards the end of high school, I discovered Atari Teenage Riot. I’m sure my friends were drawn to the rawkus electro-punk inertia of ATR’s sonic offering and, as a 17 year old at the time, I admit it was initially the aspect that drew me in. However, there was something else there on which I couldn’t quite put my finger. As I got older, I realized the “point”. The epiphany wasn’t like some mystic whisper of God. It was more akin to Alec Empire, the primary engine of ATR, grabbing me by the hair on my head and yelling full volume into my ear to tell the truth, put up my fists, and join my fellow man in reclaiming society for good of the people.
If you think I’m being hyperbolic about the strength of Atari Teenage Riot, or underselling the potential of group think, may I recommend this riot footage from Berlin in 1999:
Cut to the present; Atari Teenage Riot releases their first album in years, “Is This Hyperreal?” (Honestly, could a more poignant question be asked?) and it couldn’t have been timelier. Reading the myriad of internet feeds has made me grow more and more anxious by the day. It seemed like my hands were tied and my mouth was taped shut no matter how outspoken I may be, until someone who reaches many more people than I do said these simple words:
There’s a unified axis of government and corporate power
I needed Alec Empire to make me feel like I wasn’t the only one feeling the tension that’s being ignored. I wanted to act. I wanted to quit my job, take leave from academic study, and stand with the people. Not months after the release of “Is This Hyperreal?”, the Occupy Wall Street movement sprang, and ATR, aligning themselves with Anonymous ( as if a more perfect match could be imagined), used the video for Black Flags to illuminate the situation. I’m totally in.
Here is probably where I should discuss my social research about the declining aspect of social commentary in popular music, but I’ll save that discussion for another forum at a different time. Let’s just say that we should never underestimate the power of music. Ever. It can move us to love, hate, sing, dance, and in the case of ATR, to stand up to criminal injustice and make one’s voice be heard. Cheers…