Tuesday, December 1, 2009

Branching Out: Punk's Assorted Sub-Genres: 3


ORIGINS: United Kingdom, 1970s

Here we have what one could call the opposite of the art punks. Oi! punks were white working class fucks who were actually pissed (about not getting paid, being hassled by the police, unemployment, running out of booze), and were none too pleased with the "trendy university people using long words, trying to be artistic...and losing touch” in the words of Steve Kent, guitarist for Oi! punk band The Business.

The term "Oi!" is Cockney slang for "hey," and summarizes the meaning behind the movement: "Hey, stop talking, let's get fucked up."

SOUND: The sound of Oi! punk laid the format for most general "hardcore" punk music. It consists of ferocious drumming and explosive three-chord guitar riffs, often repetitive and varying slightly from song to song. Musicianship was NOT a major consideration for Oi! punks. Vocals were often shouted and usually hard to to discern to the untrained ear. It's common to hear a "shout and shout back" theme in their songs, in which the vocalist(s) are echoed by their audience or set up the crowd
for a response.

This is all part and parcel to the equality of the low-class nature of Oi! musicians and their fans. Oi! shows also set the standard that hardcore punks have adopted, where the stage is not elevated in the performance space so that the crowd and band are on the same (proverbial) level.

An Oi! punk's style is essential to their scene.
Note: There is some confusion and misinformation when it comes to "Oi!" punks and "Skinhead/Nazi" punks. Their looks are similar and some bands fall into both categories, but it is important to note that not all Oi! bands and fans are skinheads, Nazi's or sympathizers. It happens to be that the source of the Oi! movement also has roots in the skinhead/Nazi punk movement. While there are similarities, it's important to not lump them all in the same racist category, as many Oi! punks are strongly against racism or bigotry.

Many Oi! punks wore their hair short, mohawked or shaved completely. Tight jeans or camouflage pants were worn, sometimes bleach splattered and worn with suspenders. Oi! punks favored plain white shirts or band t shirts, bomber jackers, plain
vests and lots of tattoo ink. Footwear was almost solely high boots, from 14 to 20 eyes. The look presented unification among its (pretty much all male)members, a disregard for anything "fancy" and allowed the freedom to dive into a mosh pit without restraint.

STARS: There were many notable acts of the Oi! scene, from the beginning to recent days. Of the original crop, there were Cockney Rejects, Angelic Upstarts and the 4-Skins. A second wave brought bands like The Business, Cocksparrer, Peter and the Test Tube Babies and others.

Here's a video by the 4-Skins, one of the most popular bands in the scene and the one with the best name.

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