By Setota Hailemariam
Though America’s current political climate reaches new and horrific lows with each passing day, the somber state of the Union doesn’t seem to be reflected in the music the nation is listening to.
Many prominent musicians have used their platform to speak out against troubling issues, such as Trump’s decision to end DACA, but it’s safe to say most will stay away from such topics on their future records — and, albeit, they have a right to do so.
INVSN (pronounced ‘invasion’), however, doesn’t shy away from politics — even the politics not of their native land. The band, hailing from Umeå, Sweden, played at DC9 September 7, and showcased their trademark brand of socially aware post-punk music.
The tiny stage gave the nightclub an intimate feel, as if the audience had been invited to drop in on a basement or garage band practice. As people clumped around the outskirts of the room waiting for the openers to come on, beers in hand, one could start to wonder if they were here for the show or just for the experience.
Ed, a self-employed D.C. resident, fell into both categories. “I like Swedish music, Swedish art in general, so I decided to give them a chance … I’m optimistic,” he said.
The opening band, Maulrat, soon took the stage, and launched into their unique set of songs, described on their Facebook page as “powergoth,” across between traditional punk and metal. It’s definitely an acquired taste, but the powergoths from D.C. came into their own by the end of their set and won over the crowd.
Kat Bittner, a project controller at an engineering firm, said she enjoyed Maulrat much more live than when she listened to them online. She had also checked out INVSN on Spotify, having won tickets to the show, and said she liked “their atmospheric sound.”
Atmospheric is certainly the right word to describe the mood created when the Swedish punks assumed their instruments. The stage was shrouded in darkness and their microphones had an echoey effect, which made for a haunting rendition of “Love’s Like a Drug” from their brand newly released album The Beautiful Stories.
Lead singer Dennis Lyxzen addressed the crowd soon after, explaining how before embarking on a tour, he usually sits down and thinks about what political issues he should address on stage. This year, he said, America is “making it so damn easy.”
He then went on to talk about Trump’s refusal to completely condemn Nazis, something unheard of in Sweden. “Now here’s a song about the destruction of the patriarchal system,” he announced after the interlude, and the band dove into their song “Immer Zu.”
Though they market themselves as a punk band, their music blurred the lines between punk and alt-rock, as evidenced by the number “Valentine’s Day”: a song not so much about romantic love, but about not being able to be someone’s savior.
The band never strayed too far from their political passions, though, as they next chanted “we constructed everything, let’s deconstruct it all” in their fittingly titled song “Deconstruct Hits.”
When asked why they chose to make politics such a big component of their work, Lyxzen cited the origins of punk itself. “One of the essential ideas of punk was talk about the stuff you care about, and it made me a political person … once you start viewing the world for what it is, it’s hard to kinda go back on that.”
Lyxzen is passionate about using the band’s platform to educate their audience on a number of topics, particularly the patriarchy and feminism. “It’s an issue that’s really important to us. Also, when you play in a rock environment … it’s mainly dudes, so we try to talk about the fact that we are still not equal and we need to fight really hard to make that happen, because a lot of white men are really afraid of losing their position of power.”
INVSN makes great music, but what’s even greater is the use of their talent to inspire change.
Featured Photo Credit: Courtesy of INVSN’s Facebook.
Setota Hailemariam is a sophomore journalism major and can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.