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Punk Rock Bands

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By the early 1970s, music had evolved into an extremely commercialized industry, in which the large record labels focused primarily on creating a product that would sell, rather than on reflecting any real social message. Although punk rock bands such as The Velvet Underground and The Standells date back to the mid-'60s, it wasn't until the seventies and eighties that the punk genre truly made an impression. Punk rock bands such as The Sex Pistols and The Clash connected with a wider group of disenchanted individuals looking for some type of social change.

Punk rock bands were initially born as a reaction to the music and social conditions of the time. The '70s saw the birth of large, complex orchestral rock bands, to which punk offered a counter of stripped down and raw angst. Similarly, the lyrics of most punk bands dealt with everyday social issues such as unemployment and other central concerns of the lower and labor classes of the period.

Although punk bands remained on the fringe for a number of years, the music's raw energy and powerful messages caught on with a segment of the youth, literally growing into somewhat of a social movement. Bands such as The Ramones connected with a part of the population that was looking for some type of release and found it within their aggressive guitar riffs and rebellious lyrics.

From its height in the '70s and early '80s, punk rock eventually went into a lull, replaced by the artificial sounds of the '80s New Wave era and early '90s grunge. Nevertheless, punk has remained a part of the musical landscape, although it could be argued that many of the current acts that claim to be "punk" are merely packaged bands signed to major labels that use the moniker of "punk band" as an image more than a message.

Punk as a Style

Although being punk is in great part related to the type of music you listen to, it also encompasses a particular style of clothing and hair. Sid Vicious and The Sex Pistols were among early punk bands to appear with spiked hair and ripped clothes held together by clothespins. As much as the music was anti-establishment, so was the appearance of the punk rock bands playing it.

Punk rock songs are generally short and aggressive. In essence, they aim to create bare-bones rock and roll, devoid of any excess thrills. Punk rock style follows the same philosophy. In both cases, it could be said that it's neither about the quality or quantity, but more about the energy and emotion put into the music or represented by the clothing that matters most.

The Relevance of Punk Today

At its core, punk music is also about empowering individuals. Punk rock bands were born as a way to circumvent the system and find alternate ways to be heard, even if it didn't fit in with the norm. In essence, it's about fighting conformity and promoting self-expression. Nevertheless, over the years, punk style has become a part of the social conscious and has been absorbed into more mainstream parts of our culture. Some may say this has made punk's message more universally heard but has diluted it at the same time.

Punk music today exists in many forms. Over the years, offshoots of the genre (such as the more emotionally charged emo) have appeared, spearheaded by bands such as Fugazi. More mainstream bands such as Green Day and Pennywise can retrace much of their roots to punk's earlier influences, while bands that blend genres, such as the ska-punk group Sublime, have seen significant success as well. In all, although punk has gone through significant changes throughout the years, it has left an indelible mark on music and continues to inspire young artists every day. The idea of "doing it yourself," no matter what, is what keeps punk as relevant today as it was 30 years ago.

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