Words & Photos by Scott Murry
Svetlanas lit up the crowd just before Barb Wire Dolls with a volatile set fitting to Jello Biafra or Henry Rollins as lead singer Olga frequently blasted the crowd with raised middle fingers. She hopped off stage and yelled in audience member’s faces, immersing the room into her rage calisthenics. Banned from their mother Russia for a vocally anti-Putin stance, the band is outspoken on inequalities and absurdities in social justice (along with an admiration of borscht and booze). Their unflinching, reeling tempo made for an incredibly dynamic show.
But seeing them last Thursday night at Boston’s Thunder Road to with 57, The Devil’s Twins, and Barb Wire Dolls, I didn’t realize it would be the last time of the tour for such a lineup. Just past the halfway point of a massive US tour, Svetlanas dropped off tour with death threats and Nazi issues arising. Unfortunately this absurdist racism is still happening in 2017. The next night in Manchester, NH according to Svetlanas, an audience member showed up with an “SS Skull patch” on. The band stated on their social media, “The main reason for us to stop this tour is: We don’t want and can’t continue to support on or off the stage a band that after a long face to face talk says everyone including Nazis are welcome at their show and that an ‘SS skull patch is just an opinion.’”
It was an interesting statement that elaborated with, “We have found many divergences with Barb Wire Dolls during this tour but this is the highest reachable level for us and we cannot accept it. Their subsequent excuses looks like a pathetic trying to hide the dirt under the carpet and we are glad to announce the S.Korean band 57 decided to leave this ambiguous tour as well.”
Shortly after this statement went out, Barb Wire Dolls responded, “ANNOUNCEMENT: In the last 7 years we’ve played hundreds and hundreds of shows in lots of countries and we’ve never had any issue with discrimination or hate at our shows…until last night. Let it be known that we don’t tolerate discrimination or hate at our shows because we’re all about sharing the music with good loving vibrations. We’re very saddened to hear that both supporting bands, SVETLANAS and 57, have left the tour as of tonight because of circumstances that happened at last night’s show that involved discrimination and hate from someone we don’t know who attended the show.”
The post continued, “We’re very sorry that we didn’t back up the Svetlanas as they told us that we should cancel the show and leave, but at that time we were given false information from others at the venue and not until the today did we find out the full truth…but that’s no excuse. We played the show. We apologize to them. We have never wanted or tolerated Nazis at our shows and never will. There has been many misunderstandings and false information put forth by others. We wish both bands the best and all of our remaining shows will go on as usual – and we’re doing our best to spread more love into this world. It needs it now more than ever.”
The Sex Pistols had fashion designers developing the now iconic style of studs, safety pins, and spikes. It was a brash aesthetic aimed at separating them from the status quo. The image went hand in hand with the band’s anarchist politics. Barb Wire Dolls embrace the fashion aspect—Their street punk look is informed by lead singer/designer Isis Queen who writhes on stage in a studied swagger. According to their statement, this fashion aesthetic doesn’t welcome the niche of individuals that think wearing Nazi fashion is cool.
Nazis are the worst, their beliefs are so heinous and narrow-sighted that it’s pointless evil. They were, are, and always will be wrong. In the immortal words of Mr. Biafra, “Nazi Punks, Fuck Off.” The Barb Wire Dolls tour continues in Baltimore on Tuesday.
South Korea’s 57 began the night, followed by Boston’s rockabilly corpse punks, The Devil’s Twins. Nikki Coogan showed her raspy range of scowl and scorn with a throat full of honey. It was half vaudeville show as Jeremiah Louf swayed like a possessed Johnny Cash with catchy riffs.