title: „Punk Ist Tot”
keywords: alternative girls just wanna have fun punk live performance performance performance poetry punk riot grrl riotgrrl spoken word Poland
Review By: Jan Strach
Why the German title? Because this is a (great quality) live recording of a show that the troublemaking duo gave in Fischladen, Berlin. Now for those of you not in the know, Siksa (an ironic band name, as in Polish this is a term used for a young girl who knows nothing about life) is a band which in its dynamics immediately brought to my mind Sleaford Mods – an incredibly laid back mellow dude in the background laying down the music track (in case of Siksa it is the bass player Piotr, bass guitar being the sole instrument used by the project) and an incredibly lively, in-yor-face, no-nonsense, cussing and rowdy frontperson (here it is the vocalist/poet/perfomer Alex).
Now to the show but being the pretentious twat I am, of course first I have to say something about myself. I descend from the different branch of performers, the introverty/conceptual/overthinking type crippled with insurmountable performance anxiety. Thus knowing who Siksa were but not knowing their music I was sure I wasn’t gonna like it, as my polar opposite. But I was wrong, I loved it, for that exact same reason – the record immediately became a window into the crazy, direct punk (sorry, not yet “tot” on this album, not in the slightest) live, communicating energy that I have always been so envious of.
Alex begins with a disclaimer (she will do it many more times, kindly explaining in clear english what she will be talking about in a minute) laying out that she will be impersonating several different persons throughout the show and that is to ridicule them, while Siksa’s viewpoints are for the most directly opposite to these characters. And then the ride starts and what a ride it is! Bass generates noisy klangs and Alex wails like a banshee. As soon as I heard those tortured screams I knew that these guys mean business. And although each tune here consists of nothing but a more or less rhythmic narrative and a bass track, it never becomes boring! Piotr, while keeping it simple, produces some well thought out rhythmic bass tracks, akin to cold wave/punk/post punk territory, while Alex talks/screams about all the things wrong in this world, Poland in particular. She keeps her language simple yet does not transcend into cringeworthy, and throughout the show touches upon the current waves of nationalism/racism/sexism in Poland, but also ridicules Polish tv shows (Project Lady), tough-guys wannabes (Agresive), esteemed public persons…and both of her parents. She is also a natural extravert, engaging with the audience and all the time making sure their message is loud, clear and understood. The poems often transform into punk anthems along the way with the duo chanting the lyric snippet over and over like a chorus.
Well to be honest I expected it to be intense, but what I did not see coming was that there are also gonna be some hilarious moments on the way – Alex is quick with her wit and able to engage you in her world momentarily, and suddenly laughs abound. My favorite moments were definitely her absolute on point impressions of venerated polish rock band Dżem and poet Marcin Świetlicki – actually laughed out loud at those!
So there you go! Music-wise it is just vocals and a bass guitar. Performance-wise, a ferris wheel of poems, songs, chants, screams, impressions, performance arts, pictures of lives both near and far, verbal assaults, aggression and hilarity. Best punk-influenced performers this land has to offer. And in these dark times for this country, we need such fearless personalities more then ever!