There was a groundswell of opposition this winter in the wake of President Trump’s proposed travel ban targeting a number of majority-Muslim countries. But for many of our fellow citizens, discrimination while traveling is nothing new. Boston / Philly punk four-piece The Kominas remind us of this in their new video for “Freedom,” another brilliantly satirical clip from the band that previously addressed racial profiling in their “See Something, Say Something” video.
In this video, directed by Omar Majeed, live footage is intercut with a re-staging of the bandmates enduring asinine questions from an offscreen source — which could be a TSA agent, sure, but could also be a journalist or a clueless dude at a show.
“Why’d you guys come to America?” we hear the offscreen voice say at one point. Singer-guitarist Shahjehan Khan pauses, perplexed, and responds “I was born here.” Continue reading →
Racial profiling is no laughing matter. But sometimes it takes well-played comedic satire to make us re-evaluate our own life, perspectives, and actions; to make us laugh while making a larger, more important point. The Kominas are the latest project of Hassan Malik, a Philly punk rock dude who, like his bandmates, comes from a Desi family (that’s a loose term for the people of the Indian subcontinent, if you’re not familiar; India, Pakistan, Bangladesh, Nepal, Bhutan, Sri Lanka, Maldives). Malik’s music, both in The Kominas and previously in Sunny Ali and The Kid, often addresses American xenophobia head-on. Continue reading →
Amongst punk-leaning and DIY-defined artists in this city, Sunny Ali and the Kid are virtually peerless. Singer/guitarist Hassan Malik and drummer/multi-instrumentalist Abdullah Saeed took their music through an evolution from cheeky rockabilly and minimalist garage rock to a newer sound that incorporates electronics and ethereal soundscapes – all the while vaguely repurposing South Asian musical themes and punk urgency in punchy songs that defy easy categorization.
The band took a significant break through a roughly year-and-a-half-long period that saw Saeed’s journalism work flourish (he works with several publications and writes a popular VICE column on marijuana) and both his and Malik’s ongoing work with The Kominas, a punk band known for songs that similarly play with South Asian and Islamic musical tropes while incorporating lyrics that involve jabs at Western misconceptions of Muslim belief.
As men of Pakistani descent with a comprehensive and intuitive understanding of why their music and livelihoods defy racial stereotyping, Sunny Ali and the Kid personify the mission that the folks behind Rockers! (whose events highlight artists who otherwise don’t fit into the white-male-heterosexual-dominated rock world) take into every show. This is probably why Malik and Saeed are playing their first show in two years by headlining the last Rockers! show of 2014 at West Philly Ethiopian spot Dahlak Paradise.
We caught up with Malik and asked him about their return, race and class in scene politics, handling geographical divides and making music with a mission. Continue reading →
Providence revolutionary rockers Downtown Boys have been making a lot of noise on the underground level the past few years, and with a new deal on Sub Pop Records, this punk five-piece is poised to fight the good fight at a much bigger level. The band just released its latest single, “Somos Chulas (No Somos Pendejas)” — which it told NPR was “a declaration of one’s ability to decolonize one’s mind, and the importance of fearlessly unlearning the ways white supremacy conditions people to think and exist.” Listen below, wait with baited breath (like us) to get word on Downtown Boys’ upcoming Sub Pop LP (no details are available yet), and check the XPN Concert Calendar for tickets and information on the band’s headlining show tonight at Everybody Hits. Continue reading →
Philly’s Camae Defstar is the longtime organizer of the ROCKERS series, and also creates aggressive spoken-word sound-art under the name Moor Mother, which just signed to Don Giovanni Records. Tonight, the final ROCKERS happens at Community Futures Lab Everybody Hits, and Moor Mother performs along with The Kominas and Ghetto Songbird. More information can be found at Facebook; listen to “Deadbeat Protest” below.
“Most nights were fueled by whiskey, cigarettes, and caffeine and it sounded like a fight between hip-hop, punk rock and the blues” - songwriter / guitarist Joe Jordan
For over a decade, ROCKERS has held down its spot as the city of Philadelphia’s only event dedicated to showcasing punk, metal and hard rock bands fronted by women and queer musicians of color. Throughout its 10-year history, it has acted as an incubator for some of the city’s weirdest and most unique underground rock acts while creating a space of free expression for it’s performers and audiences – comprised largely of black and brown women performers and audiences.
These ROCKERD nights, all helmed by the event’s longtime host, the charismatic and confrontational poet and performance artist St. Skribbly LaCroix, laid a powerful, long lasting foundation. But on August 3rd, the series will be coming to an end. It’s a move the event’s founders Camae Defstar (aka Moor Mother) and Rebecca Roe have been contemplating since Roe moved to California last year with LaCroix and Defstar took the reins as the primary organizer. In the past year, Defstar’s profile as a performer and sound-artist has increased internationally as well, via her Moor Mother project and her work with the Black Quantum Futurism collective. When asked why the duo made the decision to end such a beloved Philly institution, Defstar states plainly that “ROCKERS is ending because it’s completed it’s mission.” By taking the initiative to create a space for black punks and metal kids to rock out freely, without judgement, while nurturing and empowering countless bands and influencing the city’s new generation of artists and activists, ROCKERS leaves behind a legacy that embodies punk’s DIY spirit. Without question, the event will go down as one of the city’s most unique live music nights — loud, roaring guitars, a packed, sweaty room and dreads swinging in the moshpit. Continue reading →