Hoist the Punk Rock Music High
By: Sophie Luchinsky
‘Broken bones and broken glass,
Broken hearts and broken heads.
Livin’ the life.’
These words from Anti-Flag’s new ‘The General Strike’ album (2012) from the one of the first songs they played at rock festival seemed to be definitive for their tour they started this year.
This year Anti-Flag went to United Kingdom to play at Reading Festival and the next day at Leeds Festival. Anti-Flag an American punk rock band from Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, formed in 1988, is well known for its left-wing political views, focusing on anti-war activism, imperialism, class struggle, human rights, and various sociopolitical sentiments. The line-up includes singer/guitarist Justin Sane and drummer Pat Thetic, who founded the band; later members are guitarist Chris Head, and singer/bassist Chris Barker who replaced Jamie "Cock" Towns, who had replaced original bassist Andy Flag in 1997 following his departure one year prior. Anti-Flag is known also for their advocacy of progressive political action groups such as Greenpeace and Amnesty International. Most recently, the band has declared solidarity with the global Occupy Together movement.
Anti-Flag started their world tour since May 2012, going to Australia, then USA tour and after that European tour + Reading and Leeds UK. After succeeding with their tour in Australia, USA, Switzerland, Germany, Sweden, Poland, Spain, Hungary, Austria, Italy, Slovenia, Czech Republic, Belgium, Netherlands they finally made their way to Reading and Leeds, UK.
Their last album like last previous ones is very political but with sad sentiments. Songs like "Controlled Opposition", "The Neoliberal Anthem", "1915", "The Ranks Of The Masses Rising", "Resist" show their attitude to nowadays situation in the world.
‘No justice in a legal system run by criminals,
If you don’t like the court ruling then you shouldn’t be poor.
Now, go die...’ "Controlled Opposition" (‘The General Strike’ album),

‘In a letter to every president, congressman, career politician,
Scrawled in spite across the envelope
With all of our conviction.

Murdered by the capitalist’ "1915" (‘The General Strike’ album),

‘Your gas n guns, your clubs n thugs, your lies on the TV,
None of that can save you now as your reign is swept away.
Get up! Get up!
Your voices are needed.
Become, become the pulse of the revolution,
In the ranks of the masses risin’.’ "The Ranks Of The Masses Rising" (‘The General Strike’ album)

‘No heart, no soul, no care.

Resist. We won’t back down, we’ll never die.’ "Resist" (‘The General Strike’ album). ‘Close my eyes try to make it last.
Outrun the wretched memories of my past.
It moves too fast.
I got no chance
A freight train racing set to crash.’
I actually went to Reading festival to see Anti-Flag though there were great bands there, so it was worth seeing them. In a few hours I found myself in a train going to Reading and a little bit later surrounded by many other young campers in a big crowd going somewhere in a Reading town towards to festival area. People, young and old, some dressed in unique and weird clothes, some taking many pints of beer with them but all happy and elated reached the festival gates where I got my wristband and entered inside.
We were lucky because the weather was not that rainy as it could be. Although I was waiting to see typical British weather but it was good - there was not muddy. Apart from gusty wind it was alright. It was plenty of time before Anti-Flag’s performance and there were many opportunities to go and see many bands here and there. At Main Stage there played Cancer Bats – mixing hardcore, southern-metal and punk, Deaf Havana – post-hardcore from Norfolk with a pop punk twist, Coheed And Cambria – energetic metal riffs, Angels And Airwaves – Alt-rock band with mix Radiohead and The Cure influences to make their atmospheric cinematic space-rock, Crystal Castles – mixing dance, rock and rave, You Me At Six – young rock band, Bombay Bicycle Club – dynamic indie-pop spliced with understand folk vibes, Paramore – punk-pop superstars with a fine line in emo anthems, The Cure – all-time great British alternative bands. At NME/Radio 1 Stage - The Maccabees – distored pop and beguiling phychedelia,
Foster the People – Californian band catchy synth pop, The Courteeners, Graham Coxon – Noel Gallagher calls him ‘the most gifted guitarist of his generation’, Passion Pit – Electro-pop
The Blackout – killer full-throttle pop songs with ear-bleeding guitars, The Hives – garage rock icons, Spector – self-described as ‘particulary English power-pop’, listen out for for smart angular tunes that have critics swooning, Friends – swagging funk, Future Of the Left – synth-driven post-punk band. The Subways – good old fashioned rock’n’roll, anthemic garage rock, Fidlar – fun, catchy and authentic punk rock, Funeral Suits – a Dublin-based trio who match gloriously harmonious pop songs with messy distorted guitars and a dash of electronica at Festival Republic Stage. Mikill Pane – hip hop artist from Hackney, Proxies – rock and electronica combine, Fish Tank – chunky bass lines, mysterious vocals and a smattering of synths, Park Bench Society – acoustic indie collective with songs incorporating a dash of ska,
We Were Fronties – indie folk-rock band, Marsicans – describe themselves as ‘Indie-bit’Poppy’like’ at BBC Introducing Stage and some other bands and others that played the next days.
At Lock Up Stage it was always crowded and in my opinion it was the best stage with punk rock music. Everytime I was there it seemed to be always a good rock show and many people who gathered there to watch the bands. Pettybone – one of the best UK punk bands of recent years, Dead To Me – punk-rockers who describe themselves as ‘downright awesome, Star Fucking Hipsters – punk, ska, hip hop, metal and folk, with serious hardcore roots, Random Hand – ska, punk and metal, A Wilhelm Scream – heart-racing riffs and gut-churning basslines, Saves The Day – New Jersey finest, melodic hardcore and pop-punk anthems, Bouncing Souls – punk-rock.
‘Wake up wondering: “How’ did I get here?”
Ecstasy, tears, bravery, fears,
This boat may float, but it don’t steer.’
It was getting dark, raining, cold and it was a lot of joy due to free beer and many bars that were opened. Some people were just sleeping outside at the ground but some still made an attempt to watch bands. I made my way to Lock Up Stage and decided to stay there to be close the stage. Every Time I Die – hardcore punk with extra swagger band made people go wild (but some were just under alcohol influence). To that moment venue near the Lock Up Stage was crowded.
Many Anti Flag fans like me were close to the stage as well. The stage sank into the darkness and finally it was revived with Anti Flag music. Justin appeared at the stage and Chris #2 jumped out with his guitar. Starting off with The Press Corpse song (‘For Blood And Empire’ album) they went on with one of the new songs from the new album "Broken Bones" from The General Strike album (2012).
In short breaks between music and Chris #2 jumping with his guitar they showed their punk attitude towards the police in ‘Fuck Police Brutality’ song ( ‘Die For The Government’ album), then ‘This Is the End (for You My Friend)’ song ‘For Blood & Empire Album’), mentioned economical situation in the song The Economy Is Suffering... Let It Die song (‘The People or the Gun’) album which made crowd really crazy (one of fans’ favourite song) and supported Pussy Riot. Songs from new and previous albums If You Wanna Steal (You Better Learn How to Lie) (‘The Bright Lights Of America album’), Death of a Nation(‘ The Terror State’ album), This Is the New Sound (‘The General Strike’ album) made fans really happy and they also played two The Clash cover songs ‘The Guns of Brixton’ and ‘Should I Stay or Should I Go’.
When they started to play ‘Turncoat’ (‘The Terror State’ album) people were singing it along. Also as ‘Die for the Government’, ‘Cities Burn’ (‘Blood & Empire’ album) and ‘Power to the Peaceful’ (‘The Terror State’ album) when drummer went down and played drums in the crowd. The Lock Up Stage was the most cool place that night. Anti-Flag could rock it. And later after Chris #2’s speech and great show I remember myself holding Justin’s hand and thanked him for the show and he looked very modest, nodding and smiling all the time. That was the best show of that day, that’s for sure. Social Distortion, punk-rock legends headline with tunes heavy on harmonies and rockabilly guitar, was the last band that played at that stage that night.
Guys from Anti Flag had to leave for Leeds then and I had to come back to London.
‘Life’s long and winding roads leading us
To a never ending trail to keep our youth.

So now you’re livin’.
So now you’re livin’.’