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Anti-Flags Politics Take Center Stage

Performing in Russia last week, the U.S. punk bands concert was as much a political rally as a performance.

Published: July 2, 2014 (Issue # 1818)



  • U.S. punk band and political activists Anti-Flag.
    Photo: RCA Records

  • Drummer Pat Thetic, left, poses with a local fan at last weeks concert.
    Photo: Sergey Chernov / for SPT

Amid no-shows, bans and cancellations Marilyn Manson just had his concert banned in Novosibirsk and canceled due to a hoax bomb threat in Moscow Anti-Flag, one of the most vocally political U.S. punk bands, performed three concerts in Russia last week.

In St. Petersburg, the bands frontman Jason Sane denounced homophobia, nationalism and sexism to the cheers of hundreds of fans.

With the bands short speeches and songs like No More Dead, Die for the Government and Power to the Peaceful, Anti-Flag, who take part in or perform at protests, effectively turned the show into a political rally.

In Moscow, the band, which spoke out in defense of the imprisoned Pussy Riot members two years earlier, supported the people jailed in Moscow over the May 6, 2012 anti-Kremlin protest on Bolotnaya Square by having their photo taken with the poster Free Bolotnaya prisoners.

Ahead of their local concert, The St. Petersburg Times sat with drummer Pat Thetic, who co-founded Anti-Flag with Sane in 1993.

Q: Are you the right band to talk about the connection between art, music and politics?

A: Well, we are a band that blends those things together. We are not the only band in the world, but we are very passionate about it. Because I think every revolution has a soundtrack, and I think that music has the power to inspire people to make change. I dont think music changes things on its own, but music inspires people and people make change.

Q: Where did the connection come from?

A: We come from Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, and Pittsburgh has a history of union, and in the late 1800s there was a lot of steel production in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, so there was a lot of union. A lot of immigrant workers came in and unionized and fought against the steel owners, and the steel owners beat them down. So in Pittsburgh there is a strong union tradition of we need to stick together and work towards a common goal. That leftist idea of union and bringing people together to change things has always been part of Pittsburgh, which then came into our music.

Q: How did you come up with the name for the band?

A: Justin came up with it. In the late 1980s-early 90s, there was this weird time in the history of punk rock music when people would say pledge allegiance to the flag and had this really nationalist thing going on. And we thought it was really stupid, because we thought that punk rock music was supposed to be an anti-establishment music, and being proud of Americans and stuff like that we thought was very establishment and we thought it was very stupid, and we wanted to make a statement against that. So we came up with idea of Anti-Flag.

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ALL ABOUT TOWN

Friday, Oct. 24


SPIBAs ongoing Breakfast with the Director series continues today, featuring Tomas Hajek, Managing Director of the Northwest Division at Danone Russia. Hajek will be discussing collaborations between businesses from different cultures. The meeting is at 9 a.m. at the Domina Prestige St. Petersburg hotel and all who wish to attend must confirm their participation by Oct. 23.


Get your gong on at Sounds of the Universe, a concert at the city planetarium this evening incorporating six different gongs to create relaxing songs that will transport you upwards into the stratosphere. Tickets are 700 rubles ($17).



Saturday, Oct. 25


AVA Expo, the eighth edition of the event revolving around all things pop culture, returns to Lenexpo this weekend. Geeks, nerds, dweebs and dorks will have their chance to talk science fiction and explore a variety of international pop culture. Tickets for the event can be purchased on their website at avaexpo.ru.



Sunday, Oct. 26


Zenit St. Petersburg returns home for the first time in nearly a month as they host Mordovia Saransk in a Russian Premier League game. Currently at the top of the league thanks to their undefeated start to the season, the northern club hopes to extend the gap between them and second-place CSKA Moscow and win the title for the first time in three years. Tickets are available at the stadium box office or on the clubs website.



Monday, Oct. 27


Today marks the end of the art exhibit Neophobia at the Erarta Museum. Artists Alexey Semichov and Andrei Kuzmin took a neo-modernist approach to represent the array of fears that are ever-present throughout our lives. Tickets are 200 rubles ($4.90).



Tuesday, Oct. 28


The Domina Prestige St. Petersburg hotel plays host to SPIBAs Marketing and Communications Committees round table discussion on Government Relations Practices in Russia this morning. The discussion starts at 9:30 a.m. and participation must be confirmed by Oct. 24.



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