Fringe Review: Pussy Riot: Riot Days

Adelaide hosted arguably the most “punk” outfit in existence today. Read the review of the show here.

By
Overall
5

Reviewed at The Attic Adelaide University Friday 1st March 2019

“Punk isn’t about mohawks or studded leather – it’s about resistance to tyranny in any form.” – Henry Rollins.

For the very first time, Adelaide had the immaculate pleasure of hosting arguably the most “punk” outfit in existence today who wholeheartedly depict the aforementioned Henry Rollins quote; Russia’s feminist protest group Pussy Riot. Famed for the controversial arrest of numerous members in 2012 for a guerrilla protest performance in Moscow’s Cathedral Of Christ The Saviour aimed at Vladimir Putin’s borderline “dictator” leadership and the Russian Orthodox Church; the show resulted in a two year prison sentence for multiple members. Masha Alyokhina was one of the prisoners who are an active part of Pussy Riot, she suffered excessive inhumane treatment during her sentence and Riot Days is her and their story of the experience.

First and foremost, while Pussy Riot are a “punk” group, it does not necessarily mean they play punk rock. Truthfully, throughout the entirety of the Riot Days there is not really an element of that sound at all. Their art, especially with this project, was more affiliated with jazz, percussion, spoken-word and even elements of hip-hop – but their message was the very definition of PUNK and it was as devastating as it was entrancing.

Six members played at this event as Pussy Riot, which included two men – the audience was reminded that the band are not “all girl”, but humans who share the same belief and message which they want to expose the world to. The showcase entailed a cinematic backdrop which had a running film of what the arrest and prison experience Masha underwent, not necessarily “actual footage” of what transpired (although there were many snippets of this); more-so of Russia and the desperation and depressive state of millions of people’s existence in that nation. It was revealing to the point of painful to watch, but the near-capacity crowd were not looking away; to be frank if you blinked you may have missed something. The film also included English subtitles as Riot Days is performed in Russian, this realistically added an intensity and authenticity that enhanced the bleak aura of it all.

The members all take part in their own way as well as swap their roles in the band: trumpet, saxophone, keyboards and numerous percussion instruments make up the sound of Pussy Riot for this exhibition. Visually, various members dance and climb around the stage reciting their protest, it is dramatic and impassioned to a degree that everyone at The Attic HAD to contribute. There are also numerous costume changes and even role-playing; honestly this isn’t really a concert, it is a musical theatrical showcase with a powerful message of revolution.

The story is wounding for all those who witness it; however not in an undesirable aspect, it is inspiring. Ultimately, what this writer and hundreds were informed at the end of Riot Days is that this is very far from over for Pussy Riot, veraciously they are still at their beginning.

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