A week after the conclusion of the presidential election, people all over the country are still hurting. Some, including many right here in California, are taking their frustrations out onto the streets, and thankfully the majority of those people are keeping their protests peaceful. But there's still a lot of anger out there and a lot of healing to be done.
Remember this, though: History has proven that some of the best art comes from a country, or at least a region, in turmoil. Look at what was happening in Detroit in the '60s with Motown, The MC5 and The Stooges, while a social uprising was taking place on their doorstep. When Germany was split into democratic west and communist east, groundbreaking bands Kraftwerk, Can, Neu! and Einstürzende Neubauten emerged, and characters like Iggy Pop, David Bowie and Jayne County found inspiration in gloriously decadent Berlin. Squalid Liverpool gave birth to Merseybeat. And here in the States, amazing punk, metal and hip-hop emerged during the Reagan years.
Maybe we have that, at least, to look forward to. Music has a great way of informing people, focusing energies in a positive way and offering a safe and constructive outlet for our collective frustrations. Here are five local artists that we feel might be best-placed to provide the soundtrack of protest to the Trump presidency. We certainly hope that there are a lot more.
Prophets of Rage
Who provided a better outlet for our collective frustrations in the ‘80s and early ‘90s than Public Enemy and Rage Against the Machine? Chuck D and Tom Morello in particular are seasoned musical campaigners, both capable of distilling untold anger and impossibly complex emotions into four-minute slabs of intelligent fury. They joined forces this year, along with B-Real from Cypress Hill and former RATM members Brad Wilk, Tim Commerford and DJ Lord — just in time as it turns out, and one would imagine the guys are going to have plenty to say about events as they unfold.
As recently as October, Bad Religion’s Jay Bentley told us, in reference to the then-imminent election, “We can’t just sit by and let this happen without at least having some sort of vent.” That’s fairly typical for the outspoken punks, and we love them for it. The band has always had the ability to write about social injustices with charm and wit, not to mention some much-needed hope. Bad Religion offers a timely reminder that the people don’t have to reflect the bad behavior of their leaders. So what the hell are they going to make of Trump?
You didn’t have to be a woman to be offended by Trump’s pussy-grabbing comments, but it’s fair to say that men can’t really understand what it feels like to be told by the president-elect that he considers your body his plaything. Fortunately, we have plenty of talented, strong women here in SoCal and, in the wake of this election, some of that riot-grrrl mentality that bands like the still-touring L7 helped forge will go a long way. The Neighborhood Brats, formed in 2010 and fronted by the inimitable Jenny Angelillo, have a knack of capturing millennial frustration with a surfy hardcore sound.
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Open Mike Eagle
There are a few rappers within the Project Blowed hip-hop community that could and likely will provide us with some poignant topical tunes over the next four (or, gulp, eight) years. Open Mike Eagle is a fave of ours, not least because of his breathless, I’m-in-on-a-joke vocal style and his self-professed art-rap vibe. A song like “Informations” hits home because OME raps about an over-abundance of technology, but he does it with wit. Yep, Johnny Rotten was right when he said “anger is an energy,” but sometimes we want to learn something without being yelled at. We have a feeling Open Mike Eagle will have some choice, smart words coming up.
The Chew Toys
In some ways, vice president-elect Mike Pence’s views are more extreme than Trump’s. For example, Pence has a long and shitty list of slights against the LGBTQ community, suggesting at one point that money should be directed away from AIDS and HIV causes and toward therapy to help homosexuals change their behavior. Eagle Rock’s powerhouse queercore two-piece The Chew Toys rage and rock about a full range of topics, and maybe these events will fire them up further.